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Grateful for your review of my house plans

Bee Ree
10 months ago
last modified: 10 months ago

Hi everyone

We are about two weeks away from signing our building contract, very exciting!

I would be really grateful for any comments on our layout. Is there anything that should be reconfigured or could be improved upon? The external walls can't really be pushed out any further as there are easements on our block.

We are considering relocating the water tank to add a small study (2000 x 3000). We also may make the ensuite a little wider (1650 instead of 1500), taking the extra from the alfresco. The WIL is going to be a drying room.

We have a one year old, would like to have another child and plan to stay in this home throughout their school years.

Thank you so much!



Comments (58)

  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    Have you thought about the distance between bedrooms and laundry. The laundry/drying room area, for me,is not flowing with the home. It's just appears to be put in the middle, not easily accessible by the rooms that would require access. I have visions of sheets, towels, clothing being carried through the hallways to get washed. Where will this home be built, that requires a drying room? Could the laundry drying room, be located where bedroom three is? Accessible by garage and bedrooms. Also having a door so you don't have to walk straight into your laundry from the garage.

    Bee Ree thanked dreamer
  • PRO
    Paul Di Stefano Design
    10 months ago

    the master ensuite and bedroom probably better flipped with master achieving the prime light & outlook. You may need to widen the room to access the ensuite behind, alternately put the ensuite where the robe is and accommodate robe to the south

    Bee Ree thanked Paul Di Stefano Design
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  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Thanks dreamer. I like your plan and I wish we could move the laundry to a place where there would be an external door, but there is no where else bedroom 3 could go (on the south-side) and still have a window. We can't shift the house any further east because of the easement and we can't push the garage any further west because of street frontage.


    We are building in Canberra. I can't wait to have a drying room having spent the past winter with clothes drying from one end of the house to the other.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Hi Paul


    We did originally start with the ensuite and bed-space in the master reversed. But we changed this as we found there was more space the other way around (because of the need to have a 1100mm walking channel in the WIR). We can't widen the master without taking space from the other rooms along the south-side and are not sure that this would be a good idea.


    Thanks for your input, I do appreciate it.

  • siriuskey
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I'am looking forward to the plan being posted with readable dimensions to look into what I see as several flawed areas ie: a smaller issue is the family bathroom layout with the bath squeezed in between the shower and vanity, for me it would make better sense to swap the vanity and WC, The WC doubles as a bench seat when bathing children.


    Bee Ree thanked siriuskey
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Thanks siriuskey, I look forward to your further thoughts and comments, if you are able to provide them. I'm going to add more images now.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Thank you all kindly for your feedback. I really do appreciate your comments on what is going to be a massive financial and emotional investment.

    I've attached three images which I hope provide clearer numbers and an overall indication of our block limitations.

    The block is already ours, that's not changing. When asking for the plans to be drawn up, our only requests to the designer were:

    - as much natural light as possible, particularly in the rooms where we will spend most waking hours.

    - aim for a solar passive design with the best EER possible.

    - 4 bedrooms (preferably 3 toward the back of the house including the master, and the 4th toward the front).

    - master with ensuite.

    - powder room, if possible.

    It seems that there's a general consensus that the current plan is a bit clunky. If you're willing to keep sharing your ideas for changes I'm listening!

    We don't really want to make the overall size of the house any bigger - it's already bigger than we had planned.

    Many thanks



  • Kate
    10 months ago

    Good luck. Design is always a compromise. Small change, move the sliding door near the fridge further along wall so have space for a bigger fridge. Plan for the widest fridge or two fridges for failsafe. Also consider putting bathroom between the two bedrooms.

    Bee Ree thanked Kate
  • Kate
    10 months ago

    You could also flip the couch backing onto alfresco to back onto dining. The would allow you to move the tv unit to centre of wall.

    Bee Ree thanked Kate
  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    These are my thoughts. Place laundry, drying room, where bed 3 is and push all rooms down, and around, utilising the alfresco. You have a wonderful north facing area for entertaining, there would be no need for the alfresco. And walking through your living to outside, would be easier to have sliding/stacker doors on the north side. Leaving the east wall of living as a solid wall for tv/furniture placement.

    Bee Ree thanked dreamer
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Thanks Kate. We thought about separating bedroom 2 & 3 with the bathroom but then decided that it might be less disruptive for sleeping kids for visitors to access the bathroom without having to go past the kids doorways. We really have given everything quite a lot of thought! But you are right, there will need to be some compromises.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Hi dreamer, I like what you've drawn, thank you. We did originally think about putting the alfresco/deck on the north-side where you have it. We changed our minds because we were concerned that the roof of the alfresco would prevent good light coming through the windows and darken the lounge and living areas. (I definitely want some of our outdoor space to be properly covered as I have very pale skin). Do you think our concerns on the light being blocked are correct? Thanks for helping.

  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    Hi Bee Ree, yes you want the northern light to come into the home. But why do you need a fixed roof system. You can install retractable awnings, a vergola, etc.
    This allows you to monitor how much light you want into your home, and also provide cover if required.
    We have retractable awnings on our northwest side of home. And days like today, 40 degrees, I have the awnings out, but during winter, the wonderful northern sun warms up my home.

    Bee Ree thanked dreamer
  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    ,,

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  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    Hi Bee Ree, if you keep the original plan. I would recommend a double brick, if building in brick. Or double thickness wall, between bed 3 and garage. This is to reduce the noise factor of vehicles. Your plans are only showing a single internal wall.

    Bee Ree thanked dreamer
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Hi dreamer, using something retractable to cover the outdoor area if we move it to the north is very good point. We always thought we would use a permanent roof and so east seemed the only option. It's funny how sometimes after an option is presented it's hard to see past that idea to see any other solution. Definitely we will think out the repositioning of rooms and outdoor area that you have proposed and see if that would work better for us. Thank you.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Hi Paul, please don't be sorry. The feedback you've provided is exactly why I posted in the first place. I’m happy and grateful to hear constructive criticism and improvement ideas. You're right in saying we put ourselves in the hands of the designer attached to a building group, that in itself was the start of a financial commitment.

    I'm not sure if our plans were designed by only one individual, and so I'm really grateful that I have this opportunity to crowd-source feedback from some clearly very in-the-know and generous people.

    We did ask that the design use minimal windows that point west because we've lived in places with full west windows in the past and we didn't want to go down that path again. When you suggested capitalising on the street dimension did you mean that our western windows would increase drastically? Would you opt then to add awnings all along the front of the house?

    The builder is about to come back to us with "final" construction plans and it's hard to know exactly how we should direct them, should we decide to make changes. We have been back and forward for months now (nearly 8 actually) and any changes we have requested have been slow-going to come back. I'm not sure how the request of a dramatic overhaul will be met, particular as we are a little unsure ourselves as to how we should proceed!

    Definitely we will think about all you have put forward though. My sincere thanks for your time.

  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    Bee Ree, what ever you decide to do. Remember it is YOUR money, YOUR time and YOUR family, that is paying and benefitting from the correct, thoughtful, process of design.

    Bee Ree thanked dreamer
  • oklouise
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    a few extra ideas to add to the confusion and i'd reconside the extra deep eaves as they add no appreciable benefit to east west and south walls for your climate and adjustable external blinds or retractable roofing will provide more effective seasonal shelter for tall northern glass...check myhome.gov for specific window advice


    Bee Ree thanked oklouise
  • siriuskey
    10 months ago

    Bee Ree, as already mentioned, it's going to be you home and you must have it your way, I found the Drying Room interesting, I cam remember years ago drying cabinets were the thing in cold climates where I lived.

    My floor plan was trying to keep the bedroom wing separate with better access and a feeling of security by entering into a small anti room from the garage.

    The bedrooms, making the kids rooms the same so there would be no differences/ arguments on who gets the bigger room, I also thought that the master should retain a similar foot print to allow for as much early morning sun into the family Room.

    And forgetting to mention Pauls comment, re having a separate master bedroom, the sitting room, at a later date could become a wonderful master suite, by adding an ensuite where you currently have the water tank, I would relocate the tank from the beginning, so that this space can be better used for alfresco space or an ensuite, plus out of sight from entering the house. I also thought it a good idea to have the Bathroom with or without a separate WC next to the garage for the home coming rush to the WC.

    I also kept the powder room as such without the shower for guesta to use without the possible mess of a shower. I also thought it was better to take more space for the Guest Bedroom from 2.9 to 3m which will make that a better room.

    Good luck

    Bee Ree thanked siriuskey
  • PRO
    Paul Di Stefano Design
    10 months ago

    Hi Bee Ree, to answer your question re western windows, yes any glazing to the west will require some control, whether external blinds or integrated shade structure with the building, but that said potential heat/solar gain issues are controllable/manageable, whereas building zoning and spatial experience is determined by the planning.

    I appreciate you may have gone down a certain path with a builder to this point. At the end of the day it's your house and my position on these things is relatively hard headed. Trust your instincts and don't commit to construction unless you're 100% that it's a good direction for you. It's not the end of the world if you choose to change your course and any work, money or time spent to date in planning is never wasted, rather it's part of the process in you working out exactly what you need and want and what's best for your investment, which ultimately is all about your family and living experience. What I would suggest is try not to get hung up on the fine details that can be controlled, but rather step back and try and look at the overall longterm functioning needs of the home. You have your block, which is great, but the house design best be derived from these two factors, rather than taking an off the shelf plan and trying to force it. It's not to say you need to go down the full on expensive custom design route, but possibly you'd have more success working with a design & construct builder who is possibly a little smaller in scale/operation and more flexible and able to customise a layout for a certain home construction more effectively, which in your case clearly is important considering your site and your needs.

    Bee Ree thanked Paul Di Stefano Design
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Thank you, oklouise!

    Wow. This is amazing and you've drawn the whole house!! Thank you so much for your design, I love what you have done. The whole thing just feels more fluid now, with no random walls jutting out anywhere. I really like that the kitchen/dining/living is now one even space. If we were to hand your drawing onto our designer to recreate would that be ok, is there a protocol we would need to follow - or even pay you?

    There's one key element that we've struggled to find a solution to from the start and that is having the main entryway and the entry from the garage coming together, so that there would be a communal place for household members and guests to take off shoes and hang up coats. We've shuffled things around a few times to try and get it right. Do you think there is anyway it's possible to achieve this while holding on to the current layout?

    With your design, we wouldn't mind making the guest room slightly smaller and deleting the shower in the powder room in order to link the entryway and garage?

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Hi Siriuskey,

    The plan for the drying room is to mount an indoor clothesline in an enclosed space with underfloor heating and an extraction fan in the ceiling. I know people who dry their clothes in their bathrooms which are set up in a similar way and I'm told it works really well. I already know it's going to be one of my favourite parts of the house!

    I think the possibility of converting the sitting room to a bedroom with an ensuite in the future is a great suggestion. I'll definitely file that one away!

    Thank you again for sharing your ideas.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Thanks dreamer, you are so right, no one is going to care more about the design than we are. We will keep working and thinking to get it as right as possible. Thank you.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Hi Paul

    Thanks again for your insights. As you say, keeping everything in perspective is so important and you have definitely helped me re-align some thoughts. Better to make a 1k mistake now than a 100k one down the track; and to make sure we build what we truly think will be right for us.

    It's nice to hear your say that you think our block is great and full of potential - we have always thought so but others (in the building industry) have shared their doubts. I guess you can get a differing opinion on just about anything.

    It sounds like you really care about helping people get the very best out of their build. Thank you for helping me.

  • siriuskey
    10 months ago

    This with master at front of house and kitchen turned. Kids wing now has a rumpus multi purpose room opening to the garden,


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  • PRO
    Paul Di Stefano Design
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    No worries. There is always potential, whatever the situation or limits involved......yes, I deeply care for my clients & their projects - the responsibility of what I do is significant - we advise on how people spend huge amounts of money, and investing into something they will be actually experiencing/living with firsthand for years and so the stakes are high. Two things I do, (which perhaps others may not): are, Firstly I spend a lot of time at the start understanding client goals intimately. We (or anyone!) can't design anything until there is clarity on certain aspects of the project, in terms of lifestyle goals and specific details. Sometimes clients think they know what they want, but in fact are missing critical areas of detail once you dig in, then sometimes they say they have no idea, when in fact once you get into proper discussion it's clear they have very specific opinion on what they like and what they don't,...so first things first we work out exactly what the project goals are and develop a clear vision. It's not our job to spoon feed a client and tell them exactly what sort of house or lifestyle they must have - I'll leave that for others who are more "product" based with their particular type of "service". Secondly, the way we perceive and negotiate constraints and limits is the quite the opposite of what most of the industry does. I like to turn the limiting factors into strengths and see things such as odd shaped or steep sites as exciting potential to exploit and create something unique and special within. Even when the budget is limited, doesn't mean our creativity is limited. It just means the conditions have shifted and so the outcomes will be different, and so the strategy shifts and you need to be flexible in the way you think about things. Whatever we end up with is always unique, individual and intimately derived from the client's goals.

    Anyway I digress, but hopefully this has given you a bit of confidence to trust and follow your instincts and continue pushing for the home you want, as it's all about you, your investment and your family.

    Best of luck with it all PD :)

    Bee Ree thanked Paul Di Stefano Design
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Hi siriuskey, thank you for the work you've put into drawing this up! To be honest we had not gone down the path of separating out the master because we just didn't want to, but seeing your version does make me think twice and start to consider the merit of it... I also very much like the way you've spaced out the kids' wing... This is a great blueprint if we do decide to veer down that path. Thank you, I truly appreciate your effort.

  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    Hi Bee Ree, the drying room is a great idea. We made an area in our garage for drying clothes. This week, I have clothes in there, because the weather has been almost 42 yesterday 39 today and due to be 40 tomorrow. (Perth) It stops the clothes from going crisp and fading. But in the winter, it is dry and warm. So all seasons are covered. We have a retractable clothesline, which gives me around 15 metres of hanging. Also big enough for sheets etc.
    This might be an option, instead of the drying room being 'in' your laundry. Our area is 2200 x 3150. Just more food for thought.

    Bee Ree thanked dreamer
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Hi Paul, you know, now that you've put it like that, I actually don't think we have had strong consultation or adequate conversations with the designer on what we want (or what we think we want). We had two shortish meetings early on, and since then every attempt we've made to talk to the designer directly (via phone or in person) has been intercepted and steered away by the building company's sales person who is our direct point of contact. It has been a little frustrating as we feel like things have been lost in translation or just missed entirely. I don't actually think the sales person is trying to get in our way, I just think that's how they do things as the 'control piece'. One thing is for sure, I feel very strongly now that we won't be signing a contract without having one more face to face with the designer. Thank you for your insight on this!

    Your clients are lucky to have found you as their designer. I feel lucky too and very grateful that you responded to my post. Thanks again.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Hi dreamer, it's interesting that drying rooms aren't more popular. Our builder actually seemed a little bit miffed when we raised it, as though they hadn't had such a request before. Another great benefit of a covered clothesline is no bird poo, they seem to go for big white sheets at my house... I'm not sure that a line in the garage would be so effective in Canberra's winter, our garage is freezing in the middle of the year, but maybe that's just a poor insulation thing (it is 20+ years old). Thank you for the suggestion though, I might still give it a go.

  • siriuskey
    10 months ago

    Hi Bee Ree, Just a thought has the builder/designer shown you any 3D drawings so you can get a better sense of what you are looking at. I am lucky that I can visualise things but most can't. I would be very happy to do some 3D so you understand what you are actually looking at. And don't forget the old drying cabinets that looked like old square fridges

    Bee Ree thanked siriuskey
  • dreamer
    10 months ago

    Bee Ree, yes you have very cold weather, compared to our ' I might need a jumper today' weather. I congratulate you, in, being a forward thinker re the drying room. More cold weather climate builders should take from your lead. All the best for your build.

    Bee Ree thanked dreamer
  • oklouise
    10 months ago

    my ideas are free for anyone to use but your original plan may belong to the designer and subject to copywright...attempting to make a central entry with access for the guest room, powder room, garage and sitting room with a set down mudroom is very challenging and my initial thought was to move the guest room to the bedroom area and have the sitting room where the guest room is now but that creates a problem with kitchen and pantry and doesn't make best use of the interanl spaces.... we need to better understand the block, local climate and how you want to use the rooms to make any realistic suggestions..eg a home in the tropics may be ideal for young parents with one child but unsuitable for a family with several older sports mad kids in a cold wet climate ..your post has uncovered some major problems and i suggest that you delay signing any contract when, despite your designer having full access to you and all the facts, their plans are not complying with your preferences nor making best use of the size of the house or the generous block of land... it may be an expensive decision to delay and/or change builders but the most cost effective decision will be finding the best design and a more collaborative relationship with your builder

    Bee Ree thanked oklouise
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Hi siriuskey, that is such a generous offer but I wouldn't want you to spend so much time on something like that for me. I'm feeling a little confused about our direction and wouldn't want to potentially waste your time. Thank you very much for your kind offer.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Thank you, dreamer. I hope it works out! I'm willing to try because if successful I think the payoff will be priceless.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Hi oklouise, there's no issue with copyright as the building company told us quite clearly from the very beginning that the drawings were ours to do with as we please, including engaging a different company to do the build if that's what we choose.

    Thank you for giving the central entryway a go. It's good to know that this has been tried by a few experts now and it simply won't all work together (with our current layout).

    I'm not sure how we are going to progress, I think we will be reluctant to cut-and-run and I'm not sure we want to. I think we'll push a littler harder to all work together on the planning (us, builder and designer), and definitely we are going to insist on another face-to-face with the designer where we will hopefully be able to iron out the kinks. It may just come down to communication issues.

    Thanks again for your helpful contributions.

  • siriuskey
    10 months ago

    Oklouise makes a lot of sense, it would appear that your builder/designer haven't devoted enough time to you and your home which you should be entitiled to, you should have been able to see everything in 3D plus a walk around.

    Signing a contract just prior to Xmas would not be a good time, it's the crazy season and everyone is flat out trying to meet dead lines Yes you could lose the builder but it will take a lot of pressure off you. For me personally I would not be pushed into signing a contract just prior to Xmas. Very happy to spend sometime doing 3D images on my old program

    Bee Ree thanked siriuskey
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    I'm so appreciative of your offer siriuskey, I just don't think it's fair for you to go to that amount of effort (I don't know much about 3D design but I can imagine it's a LOT of work). Sincere thanks for asking.

    I've been through all the paperwork we have received regarding the build and I don't see anything that indicates the building company will supply 3D imagery (with the exception of the kitchen). It's something I will raise with them. Thank you for flagging it!

  • siriuskey
    9 months ago

    My old program 1997 can do this and a more technical version but I haven't been able to produce anything that I like with it, maybe more practice, this is from the floorplan with the kitchen turned


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  • oklouise
    9 months ago

    this variation has the central entry, much simpler roofline, the guest room can make an alternate baby's room and could swop with either childs bedroom, the study and laundry could also swop but i would include an external laundry door and window for better ventilation and an outside clothesline for good weather.. add retractable shading and/or a deciduous vine covered pergola along the north and consider a separate alfresco gazebo that can be located away from the house to suit the ideal location instead of under the main roof


    Bee Ree thanked oklouise
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    Thank you siriuskey, you are right, it definitely does help to see a flat image created in 3D! Thank you for creating it, what a useful tool. Although, I'm pretty sure we are decided on having the kitchen/dining/living all lined up together, I appreciate you mapping out an alternative.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    oklouise, your drawing is so good! I see what you and others have mentioned about how incorporating flow is really important, somehow even just looking at your plan makes me feel like it would be a calming space. Thank you for creating it.

    Do you think it would work to move the guest room alongside the sitting? So they would sit side by side (similar to bed 2 & 3) and would both be entered via the entryway hallway at the front of the house. Both rooms would then also have north facing windows. If this were possible, could the master then slide down and occupy what was the guest room, and thereby leaving the original alfresco where it was? I'm hearing that a covered alfresco joined to the house is not too popular on this thread but its something we are quite attached to (for better or worse!). Do you think that could work?

    There are so many good elements to your drawing but I really do like the entryway/garage/mudroom intersection. For me I would probably swap the study and the laundry around, and we definitely will be installing a outdoor clotheslines too. The drying room would mainly be used on rainy days and overnight. Overnight as we have bats in the area.... some days I get to clean up after all three Bs - bat, bird and baby...

  • oklouise
    9 months ago

    another variation but i've had to sacrifice the walk in pantry and reduced the size of some rooms but there are always other options depending on accurate set backs


    Bee Ree thanked oklouise
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    Hi oklouise, sorry for the very delayed response! Again, you have drawn something that is very appealing. Thank you for taking the time to make the adjustments. Seeing all the possibilities that you have presented has really assisted with planning, and I think we've come to a place where we are now happy to proceed. I truly appreciate your time and effort, thank you.

  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    Hi everyone

    I want to say a big thank you to you all for helping me through this. I've been blown away with your thoughtful insights and selfless time-giving - how are there so many kind and generous people grouped together on one forum?!! Amazing.

    I'm not really one for writing things up on the internet, and by many accounts it can be a negative and hurtful environment, but what I've experience here has been so positive. It makes me feel really happy and hopeful about the giving and kindness that exists in our society, particularly in this generally anonymous internet world, so thank you all for that too.

    As for the house plans, after carefully considering all of your advice and suggestions, we met with our building company and following a long conversation I'm happy to say that I''m now quite happy with the direction we are heading in.

    Thank you all again and best wishes.

  • siriuskey
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    sorry for this late addition it's been sitting on my computer for a few days while I was distracted. This plan also shows the garage and front entrance side by side, I would like to have a small external entrance foyer to protect visitors and for unloading the groceries from the boot of the car. Then you will enter the house and if doors are open you will see through to the rear garden and possibly a new pool. All the best with your new home




    Bee Ree thanked siriuskey
  • Bee Ree
    Original Author
    9 months ago
    last modified: 9 months ago

    Oh thank you siriuskey, you are truly kind for doing this for me. I really like that you've managed to link all the spaces in the house whilst still keeping them separate. Your front of house image paints a pretty picture, I'll have to look into shutters like the ones you've drawn, they look good! As I said above, I'm fairly confident we've come to a design now that we are happy with. I really do thank you and appreciate the time you've taken to create alternative images to help me. All the very best to you.

  • Kate
    9 months ago

    Some locations need garage recessed compared to front of house. It’s more pleasing and allows parking in driveway