webuser_319610855

Layout dilemma

HU-319610855
21 days ago

We have recently bought a block in Tasmania and are in the initial design thought process. While we anticipate getting some professional help, we also want to have an idea of what we want before we start.


Our block is oriented so it is on the low side of the road, moderate slope. The road is on the North border, the ocean views are to the South. There are houses to the East and West and we anticipate maximum widows to the North and South, with minimal windows East and West. There is also a moderate cross slope (West high side).


in order to make the most of the outlook, we are trying to keep the house one habitable room deep, so the major rooms all get the benefit of both Northern light and Southern views.


In order to achieve the above, we were thinking two story, upside down house with open plan kdl upstairs (one big rectangle ~5m x 12-14m). Then two large (~3.5 x 5m) king bedrooms, plus laundry and bathroom downstairs.


The bits I am having trouble with include whether to have a powder room upstairs (obvious advantage, but where to put it, and is it not a bit uncomfortable going to the toilet in the middle of the kdl?). And how to orientate the stairs both in relation to where they enter upstairs and how they depart downstairs in relation to the entrance etc as guests etc will head straight up. I envisage the bedrooms to be at opposite ends of the downstairs.


Thank you anyone who takes the time to try and help.

Comments (81)

  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    Thank you different ways

    I will check out the Liveable shed people, sounds promising- agree re prefer a skillion roof esp with a shed aesthetic

  • differentways
    15 days ago

    (siriuskey)

    It would certainly capture that southern view . It would be a good idea to find a space and mark out 12 x 5 with a couple of rocks etc. So you really feel the space it's quite small

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  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    Thanks differentways

    that is a good tip to see how it sits on the block

    my current kdl is 5.5 x 14 and that does include an extra little sitting area between the dining area and the lounge area. So I have a pretty good feel for that size space. I did think that we might push out to 13 to allow a little more room for stair/entry/biw downstairs. Obvs that will also give an extra metre upstairs. We are aiming for something that is comfortable and all well used. I am strongly anti McMansion esp for a couple, and smaller = less cleaning, less heating/ cooling, less build cost (leading to more money for things like nice windows/ joinery / floor coverings etc)

  • Kate
    15 days ago

    As a thought... could the rectangle upstairs be a different size to the top?

    HU-319610855 thanked Kate
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    Thanks Kate

    They COULD be different sizes. If they were to be significantly different that might be worth it, but as the requirements do take up a very similar amount of space, it kept things simple to be a match, especially if going for a shed company for the shell etc. to just be one metre shorter in the upstairs would be a bit odd. If I went for a completely different plan then it might require a difference in sizes

  • Kate
    14 days ago

    That’s fair, the shed look will look amazing. You could also have them running as like a T shape. But I’d imagine that’d cost a fair bit more. So many options but you guys also know what you want :)
    Have you looked at the kit type homes? Only because they often work in blocks/rectangles, could have some floor plan ideas there as well :)

    HU-319610855 thanked Kate
  • oklouise
    14 days ago

    if the upstairs were bigger than downstairs the overhang (with or without the extra balcony upstairs) could create a verandah downstairs on any of all four sides and create the shelter over windows not usually available in a two storey home..have a think about how you might use that option and i could attempt a plan to suit

    HU-319610855 thanked oklouise
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    Thanks Kate - have had a look at some kit home places and while thei designs haven’t tended to suit my specific requirement, some are fully customisable and I can have whatever I like, and can finish them whatever way I want. My only concern is that as I don’t feel up to taking on an owner builder role myself, whether conventional builders are happy to take one on when it is a smaller job overall for them and they can’t put their margin on the bits supplied by either a kit home or shed company, and it’s not how they usually do things. Re the T shape, while it would look cool, this plan has been all about the orientation north sun/south view and I would not want to lose that for either floor.


    Thanks oklouise- I had thought about having either different sized “boxes” or offset ”boxes” to incorporate the verandah/ decking situation. I am unsure about a few aspects though......firstly that both floors are about the right size to incorporate my wants/needs, we really did like your drawings and with a little tweaking, feel that they could work for us. So I am reluctant to significantly change the size of either by much (as I said 5x13 may fit better for downstairs and your drawings for upstairs could incorporate an extra metre without to much drama). I had thought that I would go for matching, full length decks out the southern side, a bit torn on the width to be useable, without being too dominant, particularly being aware that the top one will overshadow the bottom one. Before I got into the specifics of this block, I did like houses where the top floor is actually smaller than the bottom floor, allowing a deck that was (or at least partially) on the “roof” of the downstairs with less overhang. Re the “front” (north) side I am a little concerned about two things - one whether it will look less appealing being dead flat and two, how to encorporate just enough screening/ shading on the windows to keep the summer sun out and let the winter sun in, especially over a two story build where the roof will not provide an equal amount of shading to the two floors. One option I had considered was pulling the top floor forward (north) relative to the bottom floor to allow some overhang at the front and less overshadowing at the back, but this would mess up the stairs, take away from a clean shed aesthetic, take a little more engineering and building and maybe not achieve much. Individual squarish window overhangs on each window, perhaps with a larger overhang over the front door may be a much better option. My apologies if this is rambling, just trying to let you know where my thoughts are.

    Thank you all for your continued interest and imput.

  • oklouise
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    my concern with a bigger downstairs forming a floor for an upstairs balcony is the potential for leaks..but, instead of a long narrow upstairs balcony i would consider a bigger deck outside the dining room overhanging a smaller downstairs porch outside the laundry bathroom, 1500 tall windows in the living room and a porch at the front door with fixed eaves or external shutters for the exposed windows as needed and, thinking about downstairs, if the eastern bedroom were the main bedroom there would be space for an extra door to allow for potential division of the other bedroom and having the bathroom fixtures arranged at either end, rather than along the outside wall allows space for a 1200 wide vanity, a 1500 wide shower and a loo with a view




    and with a simple skillion roof and steel cladding the house could look something like this


    HU-319610855 thanked oklouise
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    14 days ago

    Thank you oklouise

    Thanks for doing a mock up of the Northern elevation. It was good to see the relative window size and placement (although I am not so keen on a port hole window). Good point about the water proofing for a flat roof section. The deck idea is more practical and useable and leaves uninterrupted views from the living room and kitchen, I don’t really like the look of one big rectangular section jutting out, but it is definitely more practical and prevents overshadowing of the bedroom. I had imagined that the bedrooms would have either sliding or French doors so would also need to consider that re the downstairs deck area. Having the deck there, I think that I would ensure that the loo with a view only had a high window - no one likes the reverse view.


    I know that it is no more floor space, and probably does increase saleability, but I am really not very comfortable with a three bedroom house for a couple, it has taken a bit of a push for me to have two and had consoled myself with the fact that we would dress and use it more as a multi functional room, rather than an empty “bedroom“. I would not want that dividing wall in my hous, although recognise, that allowing the space for a second door, does give others the option (although I am not primarily building for “others”).

  • oklouise
    13 days ago

    i realise that you didn't want three bedrooms..only added the wall to show what's possible and the porthole is to identify where a small window could be placed to light under the stairs and very sorry that you don't like the view from the loo as a simple venetian adds privacy and paving along the south side will give walk out space from the bedrooms with or without a roof over but any roof in front of the bedrooms would detract from the view

    HU-319610855 thanked oklouise
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Thank you oklouise

    due to the slope (high north to low south, as well as a lesser slope from high west to low east), so construction will be on an elevated floor/ stump, so direct walkout from the bedrooms will not be possible but will require some kind of decking/ stairs anyway ( I realise that there had been no mention of the slope since my first post)

  • oklouise
    13 days ago

    a deck without a roof in front of the bedrooms is what i was expecting

  • differentways
    13 days ago

    (siriuskey)

    Your house could look something like this

    open up the entrance by adding a large widow above the door

    Re the balcony to have or not to have, you can just do a Juliet opening for each of the sliding doors as I have tried to show in my 3rd shot




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  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Thanks differentways

    I actually love the LOOK of it the way that you have done it, but I need the Northern windows to be a lot larger to allow the winter sun to flood in, warming and lighting the house

  • Kate
    13 days ago

    It’s tassie, big northern windows essential, windows to south limit to what you need to appreciate the view as glass is not a great insulator.

  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    While I do agree overall Kate, this particular block is all about the view, so regardless of what else has to be done tp accomodate it (eg blowing budget on double or triple glazing, or compensating with hydronic heating etc) this house will have maximum southern glazing whatever else we have to sacrifice to achieve this. It is the whole point of this block and build.

  • oklouise
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    the high wide windows look so much better on the north side and would flood the house with light and not need to be screened for privacy like the bigger windows.. both 3D variations show there's a great view inside your bedroom with the big northern windows...if there's no view from inside out to the north the high wide windows would be much better for light with privacy and keep the bigger windows for looking at the ocean views...a shadow plan could show exactly how the different windows would affect the light inside but that needs much more specialised equipment and local information

    HU-319610855 thanked oklouise
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Thank you

    I did think that I would need larger northern windows


    The views North would be pleasant (our garden) before rising up towards the road (but not spectacular like the south side).


    I would like to be able to look out that way, but would settle for that being a standing sightline given the impressive south view. Do I not need the Northern sun to land all over the floor in order to help warm the place?


    also, since I wanted to keep closer to your initial layout I guess that the top right windows would need to be two smaller ones. I also liked your internal window next to the stairs and wouldn’t that want a matching external window?

  • oklouise
    13 days ago

    focus on inside looking out first and passive solar warming depends on a range of factors including what the floors and walls are built out of and how much the floor is exposed to the sun..teh sun can't warm a floor covered in furniture and carpets..check yourhome.gov for specific info to suit your area but if the windows would always be covered for privacy then the impact of sunshine warming inside could be reduced lost so instead of big tall windows you could consider a combination of low and high wide windows but i'm also wondering if the stairwell were designed as a passive solar chimney that would also help heating and cooling as long as the stairwell can be closed off from the living areas when needed to avoid draughts..lots of research for you to consider

  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Thank you

    Not a big privacy concern it is a very quiet spot, no/ minimal passing foot traffic, slope, set well into block and house opposite well back from the road and we are not paranoid people. Because I have lived in rural or semi rural suburbs, I have only closed bedroom window covers. I would anticipate closing bedroom window covers at night. all windows to be clear and uncovered by day. would want to be able to look out the north windows also (decent windows, but not floor to ceiling). Yes, would endeavour to be able to close stairs off. Will check out the website (I think that I have looked before, but need to revisit as thoughts/ plans coming together. Not sure yet about floors and flooring. As it will be two floors and not on a slab, I need to investigate weight implications of solid flooring (if on a slab I would have gone for concrete, brick or tile flooring)

  • oklouise
    13 days ago

    we use 1500 and 1200 tall windows depending on furniture preferences and if privacy is not such a big issue reconsider the window from the bathroom

  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thank you

    re the toilet window I would definitely want a window to look out from the bathroom but I think shoulder height and up. It is not random passerbys that I am worried about, but us and our guests standing on the balcony/ deck, up close and personal to the toilet.

  • differentways
    12 days ago

    (siriuskey)

    The 3D exteriors are part of showing you what my suggested floorplan windows and doors could look like.

    Would you consider changing the angle of the roof so from NTH down to SOUTH, you could have bigger high windows on the north side and floor to ceiling 2400 sliders out to the Southern ocean view

    The Solar panels can be accommodated by either a sloping pergola of solar panels, An open porch, or an enclosed Porch which could enlarge the entrance. This could run the full width of the building or just what is needed.

    Just another thought, you are building a small but very comfortable house and disagree with the need to shut off the stairwell with all the double windows needed to do this.I wouldn't want my guests to arrive to then have them climb the stairs and open a door to feel the warmth of the house. Keep it open and welcoming for the short cold period. so that it can be enjoyed for all seasons. I have tried playing with different windows to give you some ideas



    HU-319610855 thanked differentways
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thank you differentways.


    it is nice to see a picture of what it could look like - and looks better than I had thought it would.


    good to know that you don’t think it necessary to enclose the stairwell- gener I don’t like too many internal doors and agree it will feel “friendlier” open.


    not sure about suggestion to have the opposite direction slope to the roof, and less keen on the solar panels on the pergola thing, but will give it some thought about how that could work.


    are the top floor windows low enough to be able to look out?

  • oklouise
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    open stairwells create horrible cold draughts in cool climates but you need to live with what suit you and, after having lived in a two storey home, i would much rather have a single level house built to suit the slope

    HU-319610855 thanked oklouise
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Oklouise - potentially I would have gone with a single story but I could not fit my over riding aim of being only one habitable room deep and also the view does get better with height.

    I haven’t lived in a double story house since I was 13 years old so I am not hyper aware of the pitfalls. Maybe I need to make sure it is possible to fit doors, layout wise, at least giving the chance to retro fit if we find it draughty?

    I thought that between ”hot air rises”, the extra light and the presence of a wood burner, the upstairs living where we would spend most time would be warm enough, and while downstairs may be chillier, that is what good doonas, electric blankets, underfloor heating in bathroom and pj’s are for just for sleeping?

  • Kate
    12 days ago

    We’re currently in a split level and it’s super drafty, you feel the cool air coming up. So you’ll either have to keep it warm downstairs as well, or make it so you can close it off. It also means the heat you do get downstairs does escape upstairs. We live in the very south of Victoria for area reference. It’s not as friendly to guests but it would be far more comfortable temperature wise and probably waste less energy

    HU-319610855 thanked Kate
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thanks Kate - good to know

  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    10 days ago

    Kate/oklouise - do you think that I need to have doors top and bottom of the stairs or will one or the other end suffice? Thanks

  • oklouise
    10 days ago

    the challenge will be finding the best location to fit the doors..my suggestion had a door at the top of the stairs to separate the toilet from the kitchen but i've also had great success with a heavy curtain across the bottom of stairs so downstairs heat stays downstairs but heated air in stairwell rises upstairs with or without upstairs door closed..but as you wish to have such a lot of big windows thermal insulation will be critical and you need to research the relationship between windows size, rating and any shading and satisfying BASIX regs

    HU-319610855 thanked oklouise
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    10 days ago

    Thank you- yes I am still inclined to go with your layout for the upstairs with position of toilet / stairs etc and like that there is a second door between kdl and toilet. I will have to look more closely at the bottom of the stairs option, a heavy curtain would not be my preference.


    Do you think that most builders (in conjunction with window suppliers etc) have a good handle on insulation, reaching star ratings etc, or do you think that given the climate and big windows etc I need to have a specialist advise/ oversee this side of things?

  • Kate
    10 days ago

    I’d be inclined to go with a smaller or passive house builder. None of the “standard” volume builders I talked to (about 10 companies or more here in vic) either understood what I was talking about or wanted to charge a ridiculous amount for something as small as increasing insulation. You don’t have to do a full passive house build but these builders understand the importance of different ratings (like R value) in my experience (which is having built 2 houses one with volume this one with a smaller local builder). And talk to a few, talk to an architect with experience in these builds too, can make a huge difference in comfort and efficiency.

    HU-319610855 thanked Kate
  • oklouise
    10 days ago
    last modified: 10 days ago

    don't let me start...in our experience even the best builders will install the cheapest and easiest products that they've already used before ...you must have a contract that specifically agrees on the brand, size style and quantity and any special installation requirements including expected extra costs eg we like solid core internal doors that cost about $250 each (compared to about $25 for a hollow door) plus extra time and effort for installation that takes carpenters away from other tasks but the solid doors are so much better for sound and thermal insulation and, extra rated insulation is thicker and may need thicker walls than standard but if these sorts of details aren't specified they can be overlooked and you can end up having to settle for less than desirable because no one wants to go back and start again...building a house is a carefully choreographed team coming and going at different times and everything has to happen in the correct sequence and then there'll be hassles with weather or delivery delays or the dreaded "owners' changing their minds" ..our builder is happy for us to negotiate the fine details with suppliers for windows and doors and we also like to organise all the taps, PC items, water heating, AC, water tanks, light fittings kitchens and built ins etc to make sure that our choices are chosen, ordered, paid for and ready before needed.. (this can sometime be a problem if there's some changes so make sure you keep everything safely stored with all documentation in case you need to return unused items)..anything in your house that needs special attention needs lots of research and full involvement from you and/or your architect and designer..problem is that all that extra effort takes time and builders are usually in a hurry with several jobs happening at once so make their task easier by making sure you know what you want and don't expect them to know what you haven't told them and they've agreed to in writing

    HU-319610855 thanked oklouise
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    Thank you- sounds daunting! I have no problems making choices re all the things I can see, but I clearly have to do a lot more research on the things I can’t see (insulation, windows (ratings, weight implications), ground works, engineering etc.). Luckily I do have time up my sleeve because we are not able to start this build yet as we are not currently able to spend enough time on site (and as you point out it seems like even good builders need a lot of time/ imput from owners- frustrating when they have done it many times before, and owners none). I will continue educating myself in the meantime. Luckily, my engineer brother will be starting his knock down rebuild soon, and though his is a totally different location, site, family size, build type and budget, I’m sure that there will be a lot of lessons to learn. I have done an extensive reno before, but this will be my first new build

  • oklouise
    9 days ago

    after it's finished you'll be glad to have made the extra effort.better results comes with careful planning.. our constant reminder is we want it done better not quicker and even then you'll probably find, in retrospect, you could have planned differently but all lessons learned for "next time"

  • differentways
    9 days ago

    Even though you have allowed time to research there will always be things you would have done differently ,so going with that I wanted to show you the difference between a split staircase with powder room and a straight staircase with powder room and how that changes the useable floor space within your compact build. The broken lines within my floorplan demonstrates that.

    The long wall of the long staircase is hip height to allow Norther sunlight into the whole space.

    Underfloor heating would be perfect in this build walking on warm polished concrete or large tiles immediately gives a feeling of comfort/luxury, and certainly no shock going to the bathroom during the night something else for you to research. I think a must will be solar panels with a now affordable battery storage backup


    HU-319610855 thanked differentways
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    Thanks differentways

    This layout is pretty much what I was thinking originally including the kitchen layout

    I came to like many aspects of oklouise’s upstairs layout


    I am concerned about a couple of things with this layout-

    is it ok to have a single run of stairs with a 3m ceiling or will that give too many steps?

    Still feel that the toilet is kind of oddly placed stuck on its own in the corner

    What is the dotted line around the stairs?


    I agree that if we can fit it in the budget underfloor heating would be excellent- will have to investigate further, including any implications of having hydronic in non slab flooring and weight implications. Had intended having largish, rectified, concrete look tiles throughout as this should be a lot lighter than the real thing. Solar and batteries come with their own costs, but again are definitely on the agenda, finances permitting. Should also help with star rating


  • oklouise
    9 days ago

    the underfloor heating is excellent in cold climates (like an electric blanket in slab, under tiles, timber or carpet... relatively cheap to install compared to many other options, doesn't take up any visible space around your rooms and your solar panels will help offsett running costs ... we use it in bathrooms, entries and laundries but despite being lovely and warm any electric, hydronic heating or AC doesn't have the psychological boost of a cheery flame fire in a sitting area

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  • differentways
    9 days ago

    the dotted line marks out the area that would be covered with OKL split stairs The ceiling height of the upstairs won't change the number of stairs required to reach that floor ie: the height of the top floor ceiling won't change the number of stairs in anyway the ceiling can get higher and won't change the height of the floor

    The view and Northern light was your brief and the single run staircase does that beautifully. I agree with OKL that even a visual token fireplace makes us feel warmer.

    HU-319610855 thanked differentways
  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    Thanks

    I meant downstairs ceiling height

  • differentways
    8 days ago

    sorry I thought the downstairs was normal ceiling height if it is taller then this will expand the size/length of both staircases to adjust to that.

    Interesting my son mentioned that people in the US were buying Tesla car wrecks to use the batteries to store their solar energy apparently a cheap way to get a battery.

  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    shame (in more ways than one) that there aren’t more Teslas in Australia

  • differentways
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    siriuskey

    The following show the exterior with an entrance Porch which enters from the side with possible cover under the small roof which slopes up from the front /north and the first floor pitch high from the front north and sloping down to the south. It also shows larger front bedroom windows which don't allow privacy from the street. I have shown the porch with and without the front wall to give a better understanding of how the foyer works. This foyer allows for the stairs to be open to the upstairs with the bedrooms able to be closed off.. The foyer could accommodate golf clubs etc with widow size and shape to be considered








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  • differentways
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    siriuskey

    This second group shows the upstairs open plan KDL with floor to ceiling windows and doors (2400) which will perfectly and simply frame the ocean view.

    It also shows the widows above the stairs opening up the KDL to the North

    . Without going to the trouble of reversing the actual stairs it also shows the possibility of the stairs arriving at the kitchen instead of the living. This change would have the stairs arriving further into the kitchen and would also change where the stairs start.

    I have't added a first floor deck as I personally don't think it's needed as you could just add a glass Juliet balastrade across any doors.












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  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    Thank you differentways

    I have been astounded how generous you (and OKL and Kate) have been with your time and energy drawing these things up for a stranger.

    I am happy with the big bedroom windows and don’t have privacy concerns because the house will be well set back from a very quiet road with very little foot traffic, we will establish greenery, especially up closer to the road, and we will have good window treatments for night and getting changed etc and if someone catches a glimpse into an empty bedroom as they drive by during the day, well that won’t be too exciting for them or me - they won’t glimpse a Monet on the wall that they would be enticed to steal!

    Might still prefer the laundry under the stairs, but this does show an option.

    The porch/ entrance area is a generous (maybe too generous, esp with view/ sitting area as well), but could easily be trimmed up to suit.

    Thanks again for doing some elevations to give a rough idea what it could look like, including providing one in a light palate to compare to the darker palate given earlier.

  • oklouise
    7 days ago

    siriuskey's images look so stylish and comfortable

  • HU-319610855
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    Following on from a Passiv story I saw on Houzz, has lead to a list of builders/ designers/ architects/ window people etc with those leanings in the greater Hobart area, and though I don’t intend to go full “Passivhaus“ it is good to know that there are people available who have interest and knowledge re the aspects of insulation/ orientation/ heating/ house performance and comfort etc.

    I am itchy to get the ball rolling, but know that it is not possible yet, and I will have to content myself with more learning and planning.

  • oklouise
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    research and planning is always time well spent..add an air sourced water heater to the list: we've just installed one in a property without gas or solar, in a similar to Hobart climate, and so far excellent results, happy learning

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  • differentways
    7 days ago

    I always hoped that if someone broke in that they might feel sorry for us and leave something instead of taking, good luck with going forward, pleased to have been able to help

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