Author Topic: ideas for making a small house work for a big family  (Read 1831 times)

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Offline UUmom2many

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ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« on: April 20, 2009, 01:44:15 PM »
we have 5 kids and homeschool and have a 1200 sq ft 3/1.5 house that is very overcrowded! Right now they're all pretty small (7 to 4 months) but they're going to get bigger! Hubby and I also have some hobbies that we'd like space for. we want something we can build ourselves over the course of at least a year. We were initially looking at the small house plans but we're having trouble fitting in the things we desire. I don't want to scrap building the house ourselves, any ideas how we can make this manafest with our brood?

Crystal

Offline HomeschoolMom

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2009, 02:07:31 PM »
Maybe built in beds, so you could do bunk beds with like 3 bunks a piece?  You could make a girls room and a boys room.  Built the custom beds to have special places for each kid like their own private area.  You could have built in bookshelves, etc.  This would probably at least work for older kids.
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Offline UUmom2many

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2009, 02:17:53 PM »
Thanks for the advice Michelle!

We've definately decided to do as many built ins as we can to maximize spaces and elminiate the need for furniture. My goal is to do this as efficiently and cost effectively (read: cheap and debt free) as possible. We tried to work out the 20x34' plan but extending it to 20x40 and adding a 20x12 lean to on one short end. part of the problem is working with the 20' width, it's difficult to get the elements in it to fit right.

Offline John Raabe

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2009, 02:26:16 PM »
You might look at the 24' wide Solar Farmhouse plan to get you started with two of the bedrooms for kiddy rooms which they would share. The main floor spaces would work, I think, for your larger family.

Then later build an addition or linked building with additional space for growing kids or perhaps the adult suite and you give up the old master bedroom.

We did a teenager cottage which was used off and on by both of my boys at different times. When they are older they can do much of the building.

However 5 kids is more than I had to plan for.  :D
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Offline NM_Shooter

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2009, 04:19:05 PM »
Ditto what John said..

Put them in bunk beds for now.  Consider an addition or even free standing bunkhouse for later.  Don't try to build it all now.

What part of the country are you in?  Are you moving or will you still be using the house that you are in?
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Offline Ernest T. Bass

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2009, 04:29:34 PM »
I have 8 sibs and we live in a 1300 sf home. ;) Just think simple and pitch all the space-hogging stuff that never gets used... I'll admit that we are a little tight, but not terribly so, and in hindsight we could have designed the house a little more efficiently. We will probably be adding a small 8x8 extension to the kitchen soon. G/L w/ your project!

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Offline UUmom2many

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2009, 08:53:53 PM »
thanks everyone.

Ernest thanks a lot! you have helped remind me what we originally set out for and got caught up in with this "need" for space and things. We have all the kids in bunks that can currently safely be in them. which is 3 out of 5. by the time we build i'm sure at least 1 more can go into bunks. We did plan for a boys and a girls "dorm"

I think i'm going to stop looking at the magazines and go back to the "back to basics" book i have. it's easy to get caught up in all the fancy stuff

We're in florida and bought land here but it's a few hrs drive from where we are so we'd end up moving up that way before building.

Offline SansPlans

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2009, 04:37:07 PM »
1200 sf? That is plenty of space!

To fix the problem, try this:

1. Buy a small shed.
2. Move into the shed.
3. Realize you had plenty of space before you moved into shed.
4. Move back into the large house.

Remember the old story where someone asked a wise old person what to do about their house being too small. I think he told them to fill it with all kinds of animals, goats, chickens, pigs, to where he could hardly stand to live there. Every time he returned for advice the wise person told him to put more stuff in his house. Then he finally got told to get rid of the stuff, and voila, his house was large enough.

And problem solved!

I have three kids and currently have usable living space of 400 sf and we are happily working towards having more space but could live like this forever if necessary. 

However if you are able to expand there's nothing wrong with that!  I remember my parents planning to convert their garage to make more space, but we were all grown up by the time it happened!  Now the house seems HUGE....would have been nice to have all that space back then!

Good luck, and uber kudos on homeschooling your kids.

Offline Ernest T. Bass

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2009, 06:57:11 PM »
1200 sf? That is plenty of space!

To fix the problem, try this:

1. Buy a small shed.
2. Move into the shed.
3. Realize you had plenty of space before you moved into shed.
4. Move back into the large house.

That's basically what happened to us! We lived in an 30-year-old 800 s.f. trailer for two years while we built our house. Most people that saw our work in progress actually said things to the effect of "Well, it looks like it would be easy to add an addition!" ..???... When we finally moved in it felt huge..

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Offline phalynx

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Re: ideas for making a small house work for a big family
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2009, 08:15:13 AM »
Having lived in an RV for a while, I can tell you maximize what you NEED and pitch what you want.  Built-ins are the way to go.  Furniture is a waste most of the time.  You buy a piece to fill an empty spot in your house....  Why not just build out the empty spots.  Incorporate them into the plan and then you'll end up with a very clean house with everything hidden.  We built 1300 sq ft floorspace, just over 1000 as the county calls it and I can easily do without the extra bonus room we built.  We have 2 kids that we homeschool.  We had much bigger homes before and its amazing what you can live without and still be extremely happy.  We took shelves and shelves of DVD's, over 1000+ and got rid of the packaging and put them in cd binders.  It's amazing how little space 1000's of dvd's take now.  It's the little things that make a difference.  Now several bookcases that would have had to be built or purchased changed to about 1/2 of 1 shelf.....