How Should I Design My Custom Home?

By
Home Builder with Regal Classic Homes CRC018212
http://actvra.in/4Jzr

www.regalclassichomes.com

 

Part 1- Designing Your Custom Home, A Builders Perspective

 

As a Builder with  www.regalclassichomes.com  30+ years of experience constructing custom and production homes, I've see all kinds of home designs. In this multi-part series, I will look at each part of a home design and offer my perspective on what works and not. My opinion is based upon building speculation (offered for sale) and Custom Homes that I've ( constructed for Homeowners). I'll be looking at design functionality as well as the homes potential for maximum resale value.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 2- Designing Your Custom Home, A Builders Perspective- Front Elevation

 

This elevation has lot's of great detail! Round turret for interior stairway, Porte Coacher, wrought iron doors, columns, round top windows, precast details and curved balustrade. You want a front elevation that reaches out and grabs ya and this one does!

 

I'm not a big fan of front side, entry garages but with the trend toward smaller lot's perhaps, it's unavoidable. I prefer a true side entry garage, the mess is away from the more formal areas and positioning the garage on the side of the home allows for more landscaping, which softens the front elevation.

 

Homes with motor courts and front side entry garages have too much hardscape for my taste. All those pavers just takes something away from the street appeal.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below or paste in your browser.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 3- Designing Your Custom Home, A Builders Perspective- Front Entry

 

The front entry is one of the most important parts of your home as it sets the expectation for what your guests will experience once inside. After all, once you press the doorbell when you visit your friends, you have nothing to do but look around waiting for somebody to answer. That's when you have a golden opportunity to evaluate the quality of their home and finishes.

 

In this home, there is a beautiful barrel ceiling that extends from the front door all the way to the front of the Porte Coacher. Finishing this out with stained wood, tongue and groove would look awesome!

 

The homeowners smartly chose decorative wrought iron front doors and the Porte Coacher nicely protects the doors form the weather.

 

The matching columns are a great touch and they compliment the other columns on the front elevation.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below or paste into your browser.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 4- Designing Your Custom Home, A Builders Perspective- Foyer

 

This is the type of excitement you want in your Custom Home if you can afford it.

 

After crossing the threshold you are immediately presented with a dazzling spectacle. A 2 story ceiling in the living room and gallery. You eyes are drawn through the curved glass, past the verandah to the pool and beyond.

 

The living room has a breath taking, precast stone fireplace with a recessed ceiling and convenient wet bar for entertaining guests.

 

Viewing a custom Home is like unwrapping presents at a holiday celebration. It's not just one big present, it's one exciting present after the next! The sight lines to the left and right of the foyer allow a glimpse of what treasures lie beyond. The guests cannot wait to see the rest of the home! You've given them a taste of desert but they have to wait until they see the rest of the home for more!

 

One of the plan features, Sater Design included in this home is something not immediately noticeable, a 2 story verandah. Why is this important? This design feature provides a fabulous source of natural light for the living room. Something that is difficult to provide unless your Architect includes this feature. Most living rooms with similar floor plans, end up being dark because the 1 story verandah cuts off the natural lighting from outdoors.

 

This plan provide a fabulous first impression!

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 5- Designing Your Custom Home, A Builders Perspective

 

Plan Overview:

 

I guess I should have started with an overview as it's probably the most important observation, sorry. Ok, so now I'll provide an overview of the plan.

 

The Padova is what is called a 2 story, split plan. The master suite is on the one side with the other bedrooms on the opposite side of the house. This layout provides maximum privacy for the owners of the home as the children's rooms are away from the master retreat.

 

The center of the home has the more formal areas. Guests can be entertained in the living room, study and dining room without being exposed to the less formal areas such as bedrooms, kitchen and family room. Additionally, this area is the most dramatic part of the design with tall ceilings, precast fireplace, wet bar and views to the pool. A powder room is also available for formal guests and doubles as a pool bath.

 

The master suite is fit for a king and queen with a large master bedroom and pool view, his-her closets and vanities, tub as well as walk through shower, toilet/bidet, linen closet and a fabulous outside garden.

 

It's often said in our industry, the kitchen, leisure room and breakfast nook is the "guts" of the home. If this area doesn't work, the plan design fails. After all, this is where the family spends most of their gathering time. The leisure room has huge 90 degree sliding glass doors, a nook with store front glass and a kitchen with a pantry, bar top  and island. I especially like that the main walkway goes past the center or the kitchen instead of through it.

 

The guest bedrooms both have ensuite baths and bedroom 2 has access to the verandah while bedroom 3 has a private verandah. Both guest suites have something special to offer. I will say, the closets are small for most children bedrooms but perhaps, not for occasional guests.

 

I prefer a dining room that is open on one end as it provides extra space for large family gatherings. This one has that feature as well as space for a built-in or serving furniture.

 

The 3 car garage is adequate and the utility room is set off by itself and not used as a walkway from the house to the garage. The outdoor kitchen is a bit small but there's plenty of verandah seating.

 

Upstairs:

Ascending the grand 2 story staircase is an experience all to itself with windows positioned for exterior views. Definitely impressive!

 

There are 2 additional guest bedrooms, media room, loft and outside deck. The overlook to the area below is designed to impress.

 

I'm not a real fan of uncovered, outside, decks as they tend to leak but they are definitely an eye catcher.

 

Over all, the Padova is a dazzling plan with lot's of architectural sizzle. I can't imaging a homeowner being dissatisfied with this Sater Design.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below or paste in your browser.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 6- Designing Your Custom Home, A Builders Perspective- The Master Suite

 

Could you ask for a more important part of a plan design? After all, this is where the Owners sleep, the ones that are paying for this palace. Privacy, comfort and convenience are all important here. The Master Bedroom has access to the veranda as well as a fabulous view of the pool.

 

The sleeping area is separated from the bathroom by the walk in closets and a vestibule. Sliding pocket doors provide additional noise reduction. One occupant can get up, bathe, dress and even get coffee without disturbing their mate. Nice!

 

The outside air condensers are position against the exterior closet wall to eliminate sound transmission to the sleeping quarters.

 

The Master Suite has 2 walk in closets and a good size linen. I wonder which clothes closet is designed for the man? Perhaps, he can have the linen? Lol.

 

I particularly like the garden area outside the bath as it allows for lots of natural lighting through the windows, without compromising privacy. Beautiful landscaping in the garden is a must!

 

The bathroom has a large tub surrounded by columns for bathing with a walk through shower that even has a seat. This shower may be a bit breezy for my taste so a heated floor in the shower may be a necessity. 

 

For more tips on designing the master suite. http://actvra.in/4Hj2

 

Last but not least, the plan has a toilet and separate bidet as well as his and her vanity areas. I could definitely be comfortable in this master suite!

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 7- Designing Your Custom Home, A Builders Perspective- Formal Areas

 

A luxury home is all about impact! Homebuyers that want this type of home are looking for more than a large, box shaped plan, that is less expensive to build. This buyer is looking for pizzaz!

 

The Luxury home buyer wants their guests to enter the front door and be " blown away" with a dramatic presentation. This plan does just that with the barrel vault ceiling in the foyer, 2 story gallery and living room, precast stone fireplace, wet bar, columns and curved mitered glass window. Guests will stop and gaze with wonder.

 

The areas such as the living room, foyer, dining room, gallery and powder room are designed for more formal gatherings. These guests are secluded from the more casual areas of the home such as the kitchen, leisure room, utility and children's bedroom.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 8- Designing A Custom Home A Builders Perspective- Children's Bedrooms

 

Fortunately or unfortunately, kids today are quite different from yesteryears. They have a lot more stuff than we ever had a kids, growing up. Sometimes, I think my daughter Melanie would outgrow even our master suite! She had all kinds of stuff!

 

Between, clothes, computer, electronics, makeup and multiple other items, Melanie could fill up an entire suite, just by herself. It's my understanding that our daughter is not much different from the norm. If that's the case, Architects are drawing bedrooms for the under 21 crowd, way too small! It's time for a reality check.

 

Kid's bedrooms require a desk for studies, large walk in closets and a ensuite bathroom.

 

Bedroom 3 has access to the pool area as well as a door for night time rendezvous. That could be good news or not? The breakfast bar is a nice feature and could be a good thing when your daughter becomes a teenager? She might only come out to visit when she runs out of food! Lol.

 

The bathroom is adequate but a nearby linen is a must as well as a much larger closet! As I mentioned in a previous post, I think the bedroom closets on this plan are entirely too small to be practical. Additionally, I would suggest serious sound proofing on a bedroom located this close to the Leisure Room.

 

Bedroom 2 is adequate but has similar issues as bedroom 3 but the outside private Verandah is a great touch. Further, I would suggest sound insulation on the common wall with the utility room.

 

I'm going to address Guest Suite 4 & 5 in another post, assuming they are actually for guests and not children. On the other hand, Guest Suite 4 might be a fabulous space for an older child. They would have their own suite as well as the Loft and a Media Room close by. The Loft could be converted into a game room or a multipurpose space.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 9- Designing A Custom Home A Builders Perspective- The Kitchen

 

One of the most important aspects of a home is the kitchen. Too small and the kitchen is cramped. Too large and you'll walk your legs off cooking the family meal.

 

The truth is, kitchens are not designed by the Architect or Plan Designer but by the cabinet company's designer. Sure, when Architects draw up the plans a kitchen is always included but it more that he is allocating space for the kitchen rather than actually designing it. The layout and design of the kitchen is left to the cabinet company.

 

I suggest having the Architect draw up the preliminary house plans and then send a copy to the cabinet company so they can design it the way you want it. Then have the Architect include their design in the building plans. This way, you get a well designed kitchen by an expert that designs kitchens every day.

 

Contrast this approach to completing the plans only to have the cabinet company tell you the plans are designed in such a way where you can't have the dream kitchen you always wanted. I've seen it happen and it's not going to make momma happy!

 

A good kitchen designer will take into account how you live. The designer will discuss, "the work triangle", what appliances (cooktop, trash compactor, 1 or 2 dishwashers, refrigerator etc.) you want, recycle centers, walk in pantry, what side of the sink you want the dishwasher etc.

 

In regards to the Padova Plan, below are my observations:

a.  The kitchen is on the same side as the garage so unloading groceries is easier.

b.  The main walkway from the foyer to the leisure room passes next to the kitchen instead of directing traffic through the kitchen. That can be disruptive as well  as dangerous.

c. The kitchen has a bar top for casual eating as well as a place for guests to sit and chat.

d. The center island is nice but it interrupts the work triangle between the main sink, cooktop and the refrigerator.

 

As I mentioned previously, have the kitchen company design your kitchen not the Architect.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 10- Designing A Custom Home, A Builders Perspective- Utility & Garage

 

The utility is position as a separate room so the walkway between the kitchen and the garage is not through the utility room. This feature sure beats tripping over laundry on the way to the garage.

 

The room has a countertop area, washer, dryer, drip area and utility sink. It also has natural light through a good size window. The Utility could be more elaborate but it's adequate for a Custom Home of this size.

 

The garage is 3 car and the way it's designed eliminates the straight wall look on the front elevation. The single car garage is setback from the 3 car garage overhead door wall.

 

The distance between the kitchen and the garage is adequate and delivering groceries from the garage should not be difficult.

 

The garage also contains the hot water heater for the home. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I prefer an 80 gallon gas (propane or natural gas) hot water heater with a recirculating pump so hot water is available at every sink. The water heater is positioned so the exhaust can be vented to the exterior.

 

The condensers for the two air conditioning systems for the garage side of the home are located on the exterior wall of the garage, noise is not transmitted to the living area.  One is for the downstairs area and the other is for the 2nd floor. The plan does not show but I will assume, the air handlers for the above systems are located inside the garage. It's more energy efficient to have them inside the living area but costly as they would be using valuable living space. I support the decision to place them in the garage.

 

The plan also makes use of the space under the stairs as a storage closet.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 11- Designing A Custom Home, A Builders Perspective- Nook & Leisure Room

 

The Nook and Leisure Rooms both have trey ceilings for added impact.

 

The Leisure room is where the family gathers to watch TV or just enjoy casual conversation. The size is adequate and I like how it's positioned to enjoy the view of the TV and also the view to the pool through the sliding glass doors.

 

There's a lot of magic going on here that may not be apparent at first look. The glass doors come together without a corner post. This enables the owners to slide both doors back out of the way for a panoramic view of the pool and beyond. The Verandah feels like an extension of the Leisure Room as both spaces flow together. Installing the same flooring materials in both spaces enhances that feeling. It's a really cool feature and very impressive!

 

The technical issue, how do you provide for two glass doors coming together without a supporting post when there is a 2nd story and roof load above? Frankly, it's not an easy issue to overcome and it had to be done correctly. Usually it requires two steel beams that weigh 150lbs/LF. The beams have to span the entire glass door opening in two different direction. The beams rest on the load bearing columns on the Verandah and on the exterior walls. The spans involved are around 30'. The magic isn't inexpensive but certainly worth it in a Luxury Custom Home.

 

I'll make one additional point here that's really important. The Builder needs a backup plan in case the glass door opening deflects or sags, over time. We use threaded steel rods that are accessible from the attic space above so an adjustment can be made without a lot of difficulty. This avoids an issue where the homeowner complains they are having difficulty operating their sliding doors.

 

Make sure the Builder uses high quality sliding glass doors and/or motorized operators as that is quite a bit of glass door to slide by hand.

 

The Nook size is adequate and also has mitered or store front glass for a great view when eating breakfast.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 12- Designing A Custom Home, A Builder's Perspective- Loft & Media Room

 

This loft is located on the 2nd floor, overlooking the Living room, Dining Room with access to the rear deck. It's a great casual space for a game room! Space for a pool and card table or other gaming.

 

The space is more than adequate but being on the second floor away from the Leisure Room and Kitchen is a bit inconvenient. The Loft has a Wet Bar and an additional built in area that could be used for a TV space and gaming accessories.

 

The Media Room is drawn with stadium seating and enough space to really trick out the room with a big screen for movies. As with the Loft, my only comment, if the lot size allowed, a media room would be more convenient on the 1st floor closer to the Kitchen and Leisure Room. That said, most homeowner's would be delighted to have this set up in their home.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

 

Part 13- Designing A Custom Home, A Builder's Perspective- Rear Elevation

 

The first thing you notice on the rear elevation is the two story roof above the Verandah that allows indirect light to enter the Living Room. As I mentioned in Part 4, this is a vital aspect of this plan as it lights up a room that otherwise would be quite dark with a roof line of 12-14' high. The two story glass opens the Living Room to the fabulous view to the pool.

 

As you view the rear elevation photo below, notice the pool does not have a screen enclosure. It's quite the trend to eliminate a screen enclosure these days. This movement if fueled by the cost of an enclosure ($30,000) as well as the use of motorized, retractable, screens. Additionally, your pool water will be warmer by 5-10 degree without an enclosure.

 

Bedroom 3, Leisure Room, Living Room, Master Bedroom and the Pool Bath all have access to the pool area. Frankly, that's all part of the Florida lifestyle.

 

The 2nd floor observation deck is a great touch and increases the intimacy of the outdoor kitchen area. The kitchen could be more elaborate for a plan of this caliber but it certainly is adequate. It has a sink, grill, counter top, refrigerator and bar top.

 

Adding an outdoor shower would be a nice touch as well as additional storage for pool toys and seat cushions.

 

Below is a plan designed by The Sater Group. This is just one example of the excellent work this company does. Please visit their web site for additional plans www.saterdesigns.com.

 

To view the study plan for this discussion, click on the link below.

 

http://saterdesign.com/product/padova/

 

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Michael McGuffie

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