Author Topic: Driving myself nuts!  (Read 1882 times)

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Offline redbird

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Driving myself nuts!
« on: March 09, 2012, 01:12:16 PM »
 :(  I'm totally driving myself nuts trying to decide on a floorplan.  We are terrible at making this type of big decision.

One thing I know for sure, we want to be on our land in the country.  My biggest issue is this, we live in an old farm house, now with huge rooms.  I love it, it looks like an old farm house, its near a creek, I have a nice garden, etc etc.  But we rent, and we are at the point in our lives where we feel like even though we are living cheap, we might be able to live even cheaper by building.  We are paying for the land though.  We just have tons of energy and are constantly making small improvements here and there.  Would love that effort to benefit our own stuff.

I do love John's plans.  However, there are just minor things I'd change floor plan wise in each.  I'm a very spatially affected person and I know what might make me feel uncomfortable.  I need space around me, or I feel very claustrophobic and unhappy.

I've been playing around with plans on a architectural program that gives me 3d views of rooms.   I'm struggling on ideas and just hoping for some floor plan ideas, space ideas, ideas on cost, etc. 

We also live in tornado alley, which also gives me concern.  We almost always have super high winds and so after reading John's post about tornadoes, the roof thing is a concern.  The house we live in now is about a mile (as the crow flies) directly east of us, but on a hill and not in the valley. 

I'm sure we are going to have to hire out, we just don't have the knowledge to do it all, but we could do all of the finishes ourselves no problem.

Help! ???

« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 04:49:54 PM by redbird »
“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 02:00:25 PM »
If I were you, living in tornado alley, there is one thing I would do for certain. That is, have a basement and in a corner of that basement I would have a "tornado safe room". Safe rooms could be built on a ground floor level too, but as one of the important things is to anchor it safely to the ground so it won't blow away, in the ground seems better to me. Concrete ceiling, strong door.

Anyhow I wouldn't build a home in that widespread tornado prone area without the design including a safe room. That means no pier and beam construction. A basement or properly designed and constructed crawlspace would be the starting point.

FEMA has some info on safe rooms starting on this page. Lots of links through a few other pages to other informative sites. A good, as strong as possible, roof and walls comes along with the planning and design.

I know that is not what you asked, but to me that is the place to begin. Then, you know the number of rooms you want or need (2 different things) so if you supply some drawings and/or 3D models we can all give our opinions.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 06:55:15 AM by MountainDon »
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline Squirl

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 04:18:07 PM »
Great point don.

As far as the high wind framing there are lots of guides at fema.gov and awc.org.  They have pictures, diagrams and charts, most of them are completely free. 

Here is the AWC high wind and seismic guide.

http://www.awc.org/pdf/2008WindSeismic.pdf

For the framing it will help to read a basic illustrated book on framing before you get to the high wind designs.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 08:08:17 PM »
I read through the FEMA document (fema320.pdf) and see basements and slabs are the primary recommended foundations. Also safe rooms could be designed to be a bathroom or a storage room so it need not be a space that doesn't get used for anything else. Some areas need to take possible flooding into account. Crawlspace foundations require a solid foundation, not a wood floor for the safe room. Concrete basement walls in the safe room area need special reinforcement, above and beyond the normal basement wall. Doors need to be able to withstand a 15 lb 2x4 traveling at 100 mph and making end contacvt with the door.  !!! 


FEMA drawings that are mentioned in the 320 publication     Page 16  shows their door details.

Additional info: National Storm Safety Association
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline Don_P

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2012, 12:45:22 AM »
Remember a safe room door swings in, there will be debris outside preventing it swinging out if it ever happens. Some other high wind things came to mind. A low, wide, profile... it's easier to blow a high profile tractor trailer over than a lincoln continental. Hip roofs shed the wind from any direction and are braced better.

I've lived in cramped quarters and don't care for it long term, the long run of bad weather, the need for seperate sleeping and midnight roaming quarters when one of us is ill or hurt.

These were in this month's ICC newsletter;
http://media.iccsafe.org/news/eNews/2012v9n3/tornado.html
http://www.iccsafe.org/Store/Pages/Product.aspx?id=8850P08_PD-X-SS-P-2008-000001

Offline Erin

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2012, 06:42:24 AM »
I'm going to assume that like me, a basement, cellar, storm room, etc. isn't considered a "special feature" any more than the bathroom is...  It's one of those "well of course we'll have one!" things.    ;)  BTW, I'm up in the Breaks in the NW corner.

Also, a basement will provide bonus space, particularly if you orient for a walkout.

To the original question:  Take the plans you're looking at and remove all of the walls except the load bearing ones.  Then, look at your current house and what you like and what you don't.  Are there any rooms you don't use?  (For us it was always a "dining room."  I never have found use for such a thing.  Not to mention a living room AND family room).
Bathrooms and kitchens tend to be the most expensive rooms in the house, even before appliances, because of the plumbing.  Carefully weigh how many you actually NEED vs. how many you WANT. 
We have two kids, for example, and have lived in a house with a single bath.  The house we're building will have two with an option for three.  lol

Ask questions like how big does your bedroom actually need to be?  Do we need three bedrooms or could we get away with two?  etc. 

Personally, I looked at a LOT of floor plans (coolplans.com or something like that has a bazillion of them) to get a feel for what it was I wanted, before I ever drew up anything.  Then, I  modified at least three different times before we ever started excavating for the basement. 
The house that is going up now has nothing to do with the first house I drew.  lol
The wise woman builds her own house... Proverbs 14:1

Offline MushCreek

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2012, 12:32:16 PM »
The tornado thing has been covered enough that I'll just say that I agree with the advice given on it.

As for the layout- you (and only you) have to start laying out priorities as far as rooms go. For us it was KITCHEN, and then everything else. My wife specifically wants two things. One- the kitchen sink must have a window that faces the view, and Two- she wants a separate powder room or bathroom. A few things about houses these days puzzle me. Why is the master bedroom so big? What the heck are you doing in a room that size? At my age, all I do is sleep in there (if I'm lucky). Even when I was a younger man, everything I did in the bedroom occurred in the bed, if you catch my drift. Formal dining rooms are silly, IMHO. Home offices can be handy if you really have the need, but with wireless networks and laptops, any spot can be your office. OTOH, we want a big kitchen, since we both cook, and like to have our guests with us while we prepare a meal, not sitting off in some other room. Depending upon the size of the family, an extra bedroom can be handy for guests, or if one of you is so sick that the other one isn't getting any sleep. It's rare, but have gone off to another room to die rather than shake the bed with sneezing and coughing.

Start figuring out what rooms you need, followed by the ones you want. Add them all up to see the minimum space you will need. The fun part is then trying to actually make it work. Nobody said it was easy! The smaller the house, the harder it is to get it all to work. Over the last 5 years, I've done hundreds, if not thousands of drawings. I'm still tweaking it, and the hole is already being dug!
Jay

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Offline redbird

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 08:33:04 AM »
Thanks everyone for the helpful input!

After reading MountainDon's post about slab that really makes me excited.  I have done a lot of research about these steel things you buy and bolt to the floor, even outside your house, and building a safe room in an existing room,  for example, a bathroom or laundry.  If a slab makes sense for a house in Kansas that is on a hill and probably not going to have water issues, I'd love to go for that.  I'd much rather be out of the house than underground in a basement in a tornado.  At the same time, when May and June are full of tornado watches and warnings I'd much rather do laundry in the basement next to the safe room and not hide outside in a cramped claustrophobic safe steel room outside when its hailing!  :(   It's also much easier to get pets into a basement I'm sure!  Ha ha, back and forth.

Can anyone tell me if its nuts to think that a portion of the house could be on a basement and the rest on a slab?  I'll post some pictures of why I'm thinking this might work for us later today in the Volk's cottage plan. 

We have both lived very modestly our entire lives so we don't have any grand ideas whatsoever. 



“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
― Woody Guthrie

Offline redbird

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 09:32:29 AM »
“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
― Woody Guthrie

Offline redbird

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 09:38:07 AM »
So my big plan would be to either have a stair going down to a basement that is only the size of the bedroom cutout part.  That would be the laundry, saferoom, etc.

ORRRR, build all on a slab and turn the stair into the laundry, and make the bathroom the safe room.

It's not a ton of space, but living wise, it's just about perfect.  We plan on having a barn and guest house that we will do ourselves someday.....  but this would be basic needs.  I do half way think that the laundry on the 1st floor would be nice just in case we live there into our 80s :)  We are in our early 30s.  Hows that for some planning?
“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2012, 07:01:26 PM »
I don't see any problem with part slab and part basement, other than stairs take up a large amount of smaller spaces. That and a hole in the ground (basement) costs more to dig than a perimeter trench for a foundation.  But I personally find a hole in the ground somehow more secure to me (mentally) than a container fastened to the ground.  But I haven't done any looking; just a gut feeling.


I never knew about steel ready-made shelters, but then I've never been in a place (other than driving through) where preparation for tornadoes was a part of life.

Will one with stand something like an F-250 being hurled at it by an F-5?

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline Erin

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2012, 05:19:08 PM »
Quote
Will one withstand something like an F-250 being hurled at it by an F-5?
To be fair Don, it would take an underground bunker to withstand a direct hit from an F250 hurled by an F5.   ;) 
Fortunately very little tornado damage is a result of that kind of impact.  It's usually updraft and "smaller" debris.
The wise woman builds her own house... Proverbs 14:1

Offline MountainDon

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2012, 06:38:39 PM »
... underground bunker....

Like in a basement?    ;)
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline Erin

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2012, 06:28:34 AM »
No.
Were an F250 hurling through the air at F5 speeds...No, I would not feel safe in a mere basement. 
In fact, I might feel even LESS safe because even if I were to survive it, it would create enough debris it might be impossible to get OUT again.
The wise woman builds her own house... Proverbs 14:1

Offline Rob_O

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2012, 02:02:08 PM »
I've seen the destruction caused by a large tornado more than once in my lifetime. Not so sure I'd want to ride one out in an above ground shelter no matter how securely it was bolted to the ground.
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Offline Alan Gage

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2012, 04:29:08 PM »
To me it looks like the stove is a bit too far from the sink and that the table would be in the way. Doesn't seem very efficient to work in, lots of walking back and forth. Do you need an actual table in the kitchen? What a about a large island with eat-in counter space that wraps around 2 or 3 sides. The stove could be in the island on the side that faces the sink.

Alan

Offline Carla_M

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2012, 07:34:15 AM »
I'm not an expert on this, but I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the things I want in a home. Not to much the total space but what features I want.

In this kitchen, I agree that for me it is too spread out. The range way over there is too far from the other counter space, sink and fridge. How about doing away with the section where the range is ans plutting the table there. Then run a leg of counter base from the wall on the right where the existing one stops. Run that from the right wall to wards the left. Leave space for a good size walk through to the left. You could have some suspended cabinets over the counter or leave the upper area open for more of an open feeling.  ???

Does the bathroom vanity have to be so wide for a sink basin? If iot was shorter then extra closet space could be used. Make bathroom a little shorter.

For me the master bedroom has too much walk around space. The room I have is smaller, has a king size bed and works for me.


I just moved into another shared house. :)  The couple are from Kansas someplace. They have friends still back there. They were telling me that these friends built a new home a year ago with a safe room. The room was from a commercial builder of safe rooms and shelters. They showed me pictures, the walls are white and you can't tell the materials though. They were pretty sure their friends safe room was made from 1/4 steel. A steel box, walls, floor and ceiling. The door is like a vault door. It is on a concrete slab, but oh what a slab. The concrete is 20 inches deep under the room and the room was set into the wet concrete. The concrete also spreads out, that thick, an extra couple of feet from the safe room walls. The concrete alone weighed over 20 tons. There goes the budget!  :(   Engineered for over 300 mph winds. It was built first and then the house all around it. Apparently nothing from the rest of the house is connected to the safe room. Materials touch it but are free to blow away and leave the safe room standing. They use it as a vault as well as their safe room.

All the best on your design and your safe room.
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Offline redbird

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2012, 11:51:54 AM »
Thanks.  That's great advice on the kitchen.  I guess I'm never going to get away from the basement.  half slab and basement might be a good cost saving idea, depending on the size of the house.

The funny thing is that, tons of housing in Kansas don't have safe rooms.  Me, parents, grandparents, and great grandparents have never seen a tornado.  As a kid we had a room in the basement without windows (that was the safe room).  You're right it is totally a part of life here.  They also have these awesome storm shelters that you bury outside, which could be a great thing too.  In fact possibly safer, as long as you can get out there in time.   You know kind of Wizard of Oz style.

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”
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Offline MountainDon

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Re: Driving myself nuts!
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2012, 12:33:12 PM »
When I was reading up on them, someplace I noted that somebody said that one good thing about a safe room inside the main (slab) floor of the house was that if the weather forecast was for possible tornadoes some people sleep in the safe room that night.

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?