Looking for suggestions to improve this floor plan

Discussion in 'Renovation & Home Improvement' started by Whiz, 13th Dec, 2019.

Join Australia's most dynamic and respected property investment community
  1. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    My partner has a highset Queensland worker's cottage (PPOR) and the layout is not practical.
    We are looking for ways to reconfigure the layout to make better use of space, maybe by changing some walls around and adding windows.

    The front steps lead up to a vestibule, and then into a room in the centre of the house that has no windows, and four rooms leading off it. It is currently only used as a thoroughfare.

    I created a floor plan, but it is only roughly to scale.
    Street is to the south (top of image) Back yard to the north (bottom of image)

    House floor plan - not to scale.jpg

    The brightest area of the house is in the north west corner (bottom right), has louvres all around, and is used as a living area, but is very hot in the summer.
    Kitchen is in the bottom left.
     
  2. Angel

    Angel Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    19th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,477
    Location:
    Paradise, Brisbane
    Can you draw another floor plan (vs 2) that includes the verandah, plumbing (kitchen,laundry, bathroom) and windows. Can you turn it around so that north is at the top. My understanding of queenslanders is that they are either square or long and skinny. Do you have any old verandahs that have been enclosed and are used as rooms?
     
  3. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    Thanks for your response.
    I am not skilled with the drawing software I attempted to use and realise that the current floor plan is limited and lacking in detail.
    I'll go back to the drawing board, literally, and put together a hand drawn version which should make it easier to understand.

    The front room with the louvres might once have been a verandah, as the roof is lower than the main part of the house.
     
    wylie likes this.
  4. Angel

    Angel Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    19th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,477
    Location:
    Paradise, Brisbane
    maybe take some photos and upload them.
     
  5. Marg4000

    Marg4000 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,448
    Location:
    Qld
    As an old Queenslander, the front room would have been an open verandah. In the middle would have been the front door to the house, with steps leading up to the verandah. The front door would most probably have opened into a hallway, now incorporated into the bigger bedroom.

    The room now entered by the front door would have been either the dining room or the lounge. At the back would have been the kitchen and the dining or living room.

    You will have to decide whether you want to restore the original integrity of the design, or go for something completely different. Take advice on what is more attractive for resale, probably depending on the location.
     
    Angel likes this.
  6. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    7,570
    Location:
    Brisbane
    This is the layout for a small Queenslander we've just lifted. I agree with @Marg4000 about the layout. The front verandah would have had stairs and I'm guessing the side entry was added when the front stairs were removed which provided a private verandah, now enclosed?

    That bathroom is the biggest problem. I'd move it to one of the outside walls, but without windows shown, or without knowing what is outside those windows, whether a deck will be added to the back, or the height of the house (though looks like a number of steps), future deck adding potential, you don't want to move it and then regret the new position.

    You could reinstate the hallway and make the largest bedroom smaller, take one side of the front enclosed verandah as a bathroom, but cottages that are too changed from original can lose value. Some small cottages with this (now altered from original) configuration can look amazing if they are given a very modern update, but this will put off many buyers who want the old cottage feel.

    It also depends on where it is. Our cottage had the front verandah enclosed with ugly sliding windows and was truly the worst house in the street. I drove streets in Paddington and New Farm taking snaps of modern enclosed front verandahs, lots of glass and dark colours. In the end, the street it is in really called for us taking it back to its 1930 style, so we opened the verandah back up.

    Had we been in a more "cutting edge" street, we would likely have gone with a modern style.
     
    Marg4000 likes this.
  7. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    Thanks for that input. I haven't got the hand drawn floor plan together yet, but have taken measurements so once it is done it will reflect the sizing a little better, as well as the basic plumbing and window positions. The position of the road and the neighbours should also be evident once I get the drawing up, and that influences what is a good layout.

    I agree that the front room was likely a verandah, and that a hall way would have run down the middle.

    Moving the bathroom would be a great change as it takes up valuable 'light' and cool space on the eastern side of the building, as does the vestibule that is at the top of the stairs.

    Resale isn't on the agenda for a very long time, though one never knows.
    So reconfiguring to a more practical, cooler (breezier) and lighter layout would be the main objective, hopefully without spending a fortune on it.

    Adding a back deck leading off the kitchen is something that I think would make a huge difference if budget constraints allow it.

    Hope to be back to the thread with better information to assist all the brilliant building designers on here. :)
     
  8. Angel

    Angel Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    19th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,477
    Location:
    Paradise, Brisbane
    The current staircase is down the side - I wonder if this dwelling has been slid forward to allow other buildings in the backyard. Removing the original staircase would possibly allow the building to be moved closer to the street. Will you or your partner want to extend out the back?
     
  9. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    7,570
    Location:
    Brisbane
    I'm fairly sure the setback doesn't include stairs. We've just moved two houses closer to the street and the front walls of the houses are at the setback, and the stairs sit in front of that. I reckon that verandah has been enclosed to give a "living room".
     
    Angel likes this.
  10. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    Finally.... the floor plan.... !

    I believe the front of the house is the setback, and the house stands in its original position.
    There is the possibility of adding a deck at the back off the kitchen.

    House is highset but not legal height. No plans to lift the house.
    Basic footprint of the house is about 8.5metres x 13.5metres.
    House sits almost on the property line of the neighbour to the west.
    On the eastern side it overlooks the neighbour's backyard.

    House lot is approx 405 square metres.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    7,570
    Location:
    Brisbane
    If you don't really use the front verandah, I'd reinstate the hallway into Bedroom 1 and create an ensuite to whichever bedroom has the better airflow, light and views. I'd add the main family bathroom on the other side of the verandah.

    You'd need to decide whether to keep the look of the house "cottage" or make it modern and that will depend on the feel and look of the neighbouring houses. But the front windows were never there, so it is tricky to add windows and make them work with the style of the cottage. We had to deal with this recently as this is the style of house we've just renovated.

    Then remove the bathroom that sits in the middle of the kitchen and living area. You may have to add a new floor over the top, depending on how the floor is when you remove the tiles in that bathroom. You may be able to replace some boards, but more likely you'd need a new floor through that living area as it will likely have discoloured and look patchy anyway.

    You may need a hanging beam when you remove the bathroom, or might be able to keep a small nib wall at each side and make a feature of the opening.

    I'm assuming the front enclosed verandah isn't really used by anyone? Add a deck off the back with doors from the living area.

    You could do things differently if you wanted to move the side entrance but costs will quickly add up, the more things you change.
     
    Whiz and Westminster like this.
  12. Archaon

    Archaon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20th Mar, 2017
    Posts:
    1,257
    Location:
    Newcastle
    Have a look at Sweethome3d.com

    I've found it easier to use than Roomsketcher.
     
  13. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    Thanks for the tip. I'll give it a look though may be redundant now.

    Ages ago I finally got my head around using Floorplanner and knocked up a nice little floor plan for my IP.
    This time though I realised that they only permit one 'freebie' before it needs a paid subscription, so I tried to muddle through with Roomsketcher but it was a long learning curve. Hopefully Sweethome3d will be easier as you suggest.
    For the moment though, pencil and paper have been more successful! :p

    Will add the plan again as a thumbnail below so hopefully it can be viewed without downloading.


    Floor plan - photo.jpg
     
  14. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Correct, the front 'verandah' is not used much.
    If adding an ensuite, relative to bedroom 1 or 2, where would you suggest?

    It's a confused mixture at the moment, so not too concerned with keeping a cottage feel, though it is in a character residential zone, so limitations on changing the exterior too much.

    The wall between the central room next to the front steps, and the bathroom, and the wall between the living room and the bathroom, are both supporting walls, so you are right about needing a hanging beam or nib wall.

    In the ideal world if the front steps were to be moved, where do you reckon would be the best place for them? Out the front again? Driveway and underhouse parking are just below Bedroom 1.

    Regarding the deck, because the house sits almost on top of the neighbour's property on the left, a deck off the living room may be too close to the boundary and the neighbour's house. However, a deck could work off the back of the kitchen if the northern wall were removed.
     
  15. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    The laundry is downstairs under the kitchen, with the kitchen sink to east side of the house as is the plumbing for the bathroom. The latest floor plan makes that a little clearer.
     
  16. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    7,570
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Cottage.png fullsizeoutput_15c0.jpeg I like the idea of the whole back wall leading to a full width deck, assuming you have room in the back yard.

    This is the plan we went with. Because we don't have room at the back for an upstairs deck, and because next buyer likely will build down into the lower level, we had two sets of plans drawn up - this one and one with the kitchen downstairs flowing out to a covered area on the ground level, carport outside rather than under.

    Next buyer may not do anything and keep this house "as is", but it is a small house.

    The front verandah was closed in with ugly sliders, ugly steel stairs. The rest of the house had original features, but obviously the living and dining used to be divided by VJ walls and the hallway would have run through the whole house.

    We opened up half the front verandah to give tenants somewhere to sit outside, new front stairs (lifted the house) and put in a hanging beam to allow the opening up of the kitchen, living and dining rooms.

    So the kitchen is in the enclosed side of the verandah which gave us leeway to make Bed 3 where the old kitchen used to be. The house is small, but feels spacious and someone down the track could build down, add kitchen and living downstairs, and the verandah could be full width once again. They could add a decent sized main bedroom with ensuite and WIR upstairs and carport out front to allow bottom level to be huge open plan living.

    Or leave it as it is. Everything we planned had compromises so we tried to future proof it whilst making it livable long term as it is now. Opening up the ugly closed in verandah means the original features can now be seen, and it is a small but valuable outdoor living area, big enough for a table and chairs.
     
    Last edited: 18th Dec, 2019
    Whiz, Sackie and Marg4000 like this.
  17. Angel

    Angel Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    19th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,477
    Location:
    Paradise, Brisbane
    Great floorplan, @Whiz.

    I'm going to modernise the house and turn the front verandah into an ensuite, a study and WIR. I want to put a wide - high window in the front of the ensuite, for privacy from the street but allowing for some light and ventilation if it opens. The WIR/dressing room will require a fixed window with some frosting to allow privacy, and the study window off the (now) 2nd bedroom can be fixed or opening. I suspect this will cost a lot but make the space more useful.

    I will keep the side stairs in place and make the back eastern side more open to the sun and breezes. The kitchen can go along the western wall and (new) bathroom wall and move the current bathroom to the west wall between the bedroom and new kitchen. The laundry can be incorporated near the kitchen/bathroom.

    I have completely changed the positions of the old bathroom and kitchen. Allowing for ease of plumbing and wiring under the house, this wont cost too much more than simply replacing them in the same location as before. Think of it as a lifestyle price - all the living and dining room on the north-eastern side of the house with a large opening to the (potential) back deck where the old stove used to be.

    It doesn't matter if your new deck goes close to the western neighbour's fence. A solid screen on the end will block the westerly wind, sun and any potential privacy issue. Just so you know, my home is positioned to take advantage of the path of the sun in Winter and has large windows along the eastern and northern sides, with nothing much on the southern wall. We almost never use a heater.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: 18th Dec, 2019
    craigc likes this.
  18. Whiz

    Whiz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3rd Jul, 2015
    Posts:
    93
    Location:
    SE QLD
    Thanks very much @wylie and @Angel.
    Some great suggestions.

    I had never considered how the front room could be changed to be so much more useful.
    Nor had the thought of moving the kitchen ever seemed like an option.

    The bathroom has always been the stumbling block.
    The idea of moving both the kitchen and the bathroom to the west wall addresses so many problems with the existing layout.
    • living area would now get the best breezes and light
    • the hot afternoon sun wouldn't be hitting the living room any more
    • the kitchen outlook would be over the green back yard, and not peering into the privacy of the neighbour's back yard.
    • Kitchen and bathroom both need a major reno, and relocating them means a completely fresh design, rather than trying to work around what is there already.
    • Having a design that allows ease of plumbing and wiring also helps 'sell it' to the person who would likely be paying for most of it......:p
    Great to get ideas from both sets of plans that have been posted, and special thanks Angel for adjusting the existing one and reposting it. It is a huge help.

    I have some further thoughts about the suggested changes to the front room, but will leave that to my next post on this thread.
     
  19. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    18th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    7,570
    Location:
    Brisbane
    I forgot to add that because the front verandah had a different level floor, slightly sloping with gaps between the boards (as you find on verandahs), when we bought the cottage, it had vinyl over the top (I think).

    To flow the flooring through from the living room into the kitchen, that old verandah floor had to be slightly packed up to make it level, and my hubby harvested boards from the bedrooms so they match the rest of the house.

    That meant we had to either add new boards to the bedrooms and they wouldn't have matched too well, or carpet the two bedrooms that he took boards from, which we did. We did buy new boards for one house, but in the other we just used yellow tongue and added carpet.

    You could do the same. Take boards from bedrooms to patch the floors where you will be removing walls and then carpet the bedrooms.
     
  20. Angel

    Angel Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    19th Jun, 2015
    Posts:
    4,477
    Location:
    Paradise, Brisbane
    What she said. *bedrooms can be carpeted or use floorboards.

    Or take floorboards from where the new bathroom will go, as the bathroom floor will have to be waterproofed and probably tiled.