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What do you think of this floorplan?

I'm wrapping up the design stage of a PassivHaus-compliant two-story 1800 sq.ft. home [1] in Salt Lake City (6B) and if any of you have a few moments to review the floor plans, I would be delighted to get some of your feedback, within the context of the project [1]:


Here's the first story floor plan:


and here's the second story floor plan:




[1] http://1010-design.blogspot.com/2012/02/more-detail.html

Asked by Jan Nielsen
Posted Aug 23, 2012 12:18 AM ET


14 Answers

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Why put the stairs on the south side of the house? The stairs belong on the north.

Answered by Martin Holladay
Posted Aug 23, 2012 6:25 AM ET


i prefer, if at all possible, to have natural light in the bathrooms. baths with exclusively artificial light are kind of creepy...

Answered by erik olofsson
Posted Aug 23, 2012 10:11 AM ET


Sorry if I went nuts on you, but you have a good concept to start, and by doing some minor adjustments, it’ll make it more livable and user friendly. FWIW, designing is my business.
1. Designing your house in 24” increments, as in outside dimensions, you’ll save money in framing material. Its part of advanced framing techniques.
2. Your dimensioning is a nightmare for any framer and subcontractor, and it could lead to too many mistakes. Your first line of dimension should be between outside wall to middle of next opening to 1 side of a room wall, from there to middle of next opening to 1 side of the next room wall, etc to outside wall, all continuous. Second line of dimension is between same room walls. A third line of dimension should be from outside wall to outside wall. I suggest not dimensioning wall thicknesses, as they lead to fractions, thus harder to read.
3. If I could, I would flip the garage/mudroom/bath to the north and the office to the south. It would line-up the 1st floor plumbing to the 2nd floor plumbing. Also, the opening of the garage to the south, I’ll allow the snow to melt and not have ice built-ups.
4. Redesign mudroom to save space. Too much square footage is lost in traffic pattern. Maybe shrinking the mudroom to make a bigger entry room (?).
5. I don’t get the “vestibule” idea in a small house, even with the office traffic, unless you have too much outside visitors/clients. Too many doors in a small entry room create a traffic nightmare, especially with folks with mobility issues, your elders, or you some day latter.
6. Maybe if the office is on the south side, it can have an outside entrance and bigger closet or built-ins, and it’ll allow more southern exposure with big windows
7. I would open the stairway to the living room; it’ll give more of an open feel.
8. A stove on a small kitchen island is difficult with mobility, counter space, and ventilation. With ventilation, down drafts are worthless and dropped hoods block visibility. I would flip the sink and the DW, move the Refrigerator to the east wall and the stove to the outside wall; it’s easier to vent, and it allows a better traffic pattern, especially when you have two cooks.
9. I would install a French/sliding door between the dining and living room to a shaded west porch. It creates a better traffic pattern to play or cook outdoors.
10. Consider shading the west windows, and possible door, somehow.
11. Bed#1 is too disproportionate; interior dimensions appear to be 17’10”x9’4” (?), with two small closets for both bedrooms. Bed#2 appears to be 14’11”x11’8” (?). I would design both closets on the east wall of Bed#1 & Bed#2, allowing Bed#1 to be 15’6”x11’8” (?) and bed moved to south wall, and Bed#2 12’7”x11’8” (?).
12. Closet door in Master closet, if installed from the bathroom, it’ll give you more shelves/rod space, and a person can get dressed w/o disturbing someone still sleeping. Some folks like it, some not. If the question to follow is about humidity in your clothes, you should have a humidity controlled fan anyways.
13. The door in the laundry room seems too small to get the W/D inside (?).

Answered by Armando Cobo
Posted Aug 23, 2012 11:02 AM ET


A couple more thoughts:
14. Martin is right on designing the stairway on the north side, however, in this case I would rather have all plumbing on one side of the house. I would install a tall window above the stair landing if you need help with the passive solar design.
15. If the garage is moved to the north, even with the noth wall of the house, maybe you could design a south entry to the house.

Answered by Armando Cobo
Posted Aug 23, 2012 11:48 AM ET


Armando... simply amazing, bravo

Answered by aj builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a
Posted Aug 23, 2012 9:32 PM ET


Hi Martin @1: Why do the stairs belong on the north?

Thanks for the quick reply!

Answered by Jan Nielsen
Posted Aug 23, 2012 9:54 PM ET


What Armando and Martin said, plus: is that a door from the mud room directly into the shower? Seriously bad idea, methinks (rusty hinges). In addition to Armando's comments on the stove, the location shown is also a safety issue. Too little countertop on the left side means pan handles could easily project into the aisle space. Tempting for a toddler to grab, easy to knock as an adult brushes by.

The entry is awfully narrow. The linen storage at the top of the stairs will be oppressive. The bedroom layout could get a lot better. Overall, a lot of cramped too tight corners. 17 risers on the stair: 16 is plenty up to 10' floor-to-floor, you could also gain one rise on the half-landing. That would let you open up the upper landing.

Here's a thought: have a couple of beers, get a nice fat soft pencil and some overlay trace, loosen it up a bit - needs some right-brain thinking. Digital drafting is great but it can get you in a box.

Answered by James Morgan
Posted Aug 23, 2012 9:58 PM ET


Hi Eric @2: I completely, agree - I'm a big natural light fan, too. The downstairs bathroom is a bit of challenge to get the natural light in from the window in the shower but I've doubled the size of the window widths in the bathrooms upstairs for this reason.

Thanks for taking the time to look over my design!

Answered by Jan Nielsen
Posted Aug 23, 2012 9:58 PM ET


Hi Armando @3: freakin' 'eh - great feedback! I'm digesting - give me a bit, but on #2, can you help me understand? . In this design, as you may have read, the structural wall is the inner 2x4@24 wall of the 12" assembly which has a 9.5" Larsen truss on the exterior. So, in the office in north east corner, the "first line of dimension" places the office door at 24"-increments from the outside of the structural east wall (by the entry); the "second line of dimension" places the south wall (north of hall-way) in 24"-increments from outside of the north structural wall; and, the "third line of dimension" moves the 40'x26' to the outside structural wall dimensions and therefore an 43'1"x29'1" outside to outside dimension. Did I understand that correctly?

It may be hard to believe, Salt Lake being where it is, but we have several good local micro-brews - rounds on me when you're here next, Armando!

Answered by Jan Nielsen
Posted Aug 23, 2012 11:01 PM ET


Hi James @ 7: in the trade-offs between dirty dog versus stainless steel hinges...dog wins - I'll gladly spend a bit more on hinges for that alone. :-) Good point on toddler toppling tricks...stove moving. At four feet, you think the entry seems narrow (it is a "small" house by US standards, after all)? Excellent point on the half-landing - I'll see if that can move the south wall further south.

Thanks for looking over the plans!

Answered by Jan Nielsen
Posted Aug 23, 2012 11:36 PM ET


Vestibule width: there's a big difference between 4' and 5' when greeting and bidding farewell to guests and it looks like you could easily steal a foot from the mud room without a great deal of pain. Then I'd move the doors in the N & S mudroom walls far enough to the left to give a full wall of storage on the right and easily gain back the functionality. I guessed there was a dog involved in the shower door arrangement: s/s hinges or not the door threshold will be vulnerable to shower leaks and long-term framing damage. I'd just move that door N. so it was into the main part of the bathroom and not into the shower itself. There should be no part of the shower enclosure that is susceptible to water damage, including the door itself.

Answered by James Morgan
Posted Aug 26, 2012 8:37 PM ET


Hi Armando @ 3:

1: makes sense - after reviewing the plan in this perspective, I gained lots of framing simplifications with this;
2: agreed - reworking the dimensions to be based on structural wall instead;
3: agree but, unfortunately, there is not a good way to do that;
4: yes - as James also noted - this is something I'm considering now, in addition to moving the west interior wall of the mud-room a bit east making the room smaller;
5: the interior foyer door is optional - I'm still undecided;
6: unfortunately, moving the office to the south is not an option;
7: considering (it's solid to provide wall-space);
8: yes; I'm reworking the kitchen details to work a bit better;
9: I prefer to make that a "soft" separation (with furniture, etc.);
10: yes and SGHC are modified as well - a portico provides some shading but, as you know, west shading is hard;
11: great idea - reworking the bedrooms to be symmetric with a small storage area between bdrm 1 and the stair - looks like it'll work nicely;
12: great point - not sure about the bathroom access but I'm revisiting the details now; and,
13: door is 2'4" which should work fine for my w/d.

Thanks, again, Armando - you're obviously passionate about design and I greatly appreciate your thoughtful input!



Answered by Jan Nielsen
Posted Sep 2, 2012 6:32 PM ET


Hi James @11: good point on the width & feel of the vestibule - mulling it over; the mudroom-bathroom door is going to take a bit of a moisture that's true, but the shower curtain should take the brunt of it. Thanks for reviewing the plans!

Answered by Jan Nielsen
Posted Sep 2, 2012 6:38 PM ET


First off, GBA-ers, thank you for all the great feedback. And an especially big Thank You to Armando who not only provided great feedback in his post but also followed up with a deeper design discussion (off the GBA site) - just awesome. You folks, well, you're my kind of folks.

I've incorporated much of your feedback including James' suggestion of "a couple of beers" (I'm not usually a "more is better" kind of person but in this case I made an exception). I'm still mulling over the foyer width suggestion which just seems like a good idea but my left brain is getting in the way...

So, here's the final floor plan, just prior to getting getting bids on the project:


If you're holding anything back, please don't - send it along.



P.S. Martin, you won't be surprise at this, but I did have a local PH architect suggest a mini-split, too, on my project blog.

Answered by Jan Nielsen
Posted Sep 15, 2012 6:22 PM ET

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