Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Casita Design: Floor Plan

I mentioned earlier that we are building a little casita on our property for my parents who are in their 80's.  I finally decided on a floor plan for the casita.  It has been fired off to the engineer.  At first we looked at getting an architect, but he wanted to know the cost of the project, and would charge 8% of total project cost.  We decided that was too high.  My decision to put in tile rather than linoleum has nothing to do with the work that we are requesting that he do.

This is not a huge home, it is a 750 SF room, and I didn't want to spend $10000 on a plan, when all I need is a simple drawing.  Other people said we should use a drafting service.  We finally decided to go with an engineer who would have to do all the calculations for a drafting service, and he charges by the complexity / square foot.  That actually seems more fair to me.  So our estimates are from under $2/ sf to $2.50.

It has been an interesting process.   I am sharing the plan here.  

The room at the top is a woodworking shop, (and room for the tractor with a door high enough so we don't take out the side of the garage when we forget to fold down the roll bar).

The room at the left is a kitchenette/rec room with a fireplace.  The room to the right, which has the bathroom off of it, could be used as a study or guest room.

Some of the design details that we considered were:

If the building has a bedroom with a closet, it is considered additional living space for a septic system.  No closet, no additional testing.    Technically there could be 12 people living in the big house, but there will only be 4: my husband, myself, and my parents.  So no closet.  Consider the casita a "day room" where my parents can have their own space.

The big house doesn't have a handicapped shower, so we are installing one here.  I don't feel like tearing up a new house.

The "kitchen" isn't really for meals.  They will eat with us.  However, like any pool room or rec room, I'll have a small refrigerator, a bar sink, a drawer dishwasher, and a microwave.  No stove for safety, my mom has dementia.  However I'd like for them to have a cup of tea, toast and a sandwich if they don't want to come to the big house to eat.

I have a space for a stack washer/dryer.  If we put in a pool someday, this will be a perfect pool house.

The left side of the drawing is pretty much dictated by the design of our house.  The casita will be located to the left of a front courtyard, and the architecture (ok, so there's not much), will be dictated by the big house.

The biggest thing I'm doing is putting the design out to share my decision making issues:

The potential "bedroom" is about 15 x 14'9".  I was thinking 12 x 16 was ideal, but I wanted a covered porch, so I gave up some bedroom size for a sitting area outside.

The family/rec room is nice and big.  The kitchenette is on one end.  There's a small pantry next to the fridge.  Not alot of storage space, but it's not really needed.

The bottom wall has a window on each side of the fireplace.  I really agonized over this and went for symmetry.  It would be much easier for "tv viewing" to put the tv in the right corner (if you're coming in from the front door), and the picture window in the middle of the wall, and the tv in the left corner.   I don't know what I am going to do with the tv.  I hate tvs over the fireplace, but this is an insert, and can have a lower mantle.

Some of the fun things we're doing is reclaimed beams over the windows/doors, and rock walls.  Here's the inspiration room.  The room shape will be pretty similar to this.   I don't see a tv here.  My parents like to watch tv.

The other part of the casita is a garage. It is really a woodworking shop for my dad, who likes to make "stuff".  He has a goldmine of reclaimed wood, and makes all sorts of cabinets and benches out of it.   He sells to alot of antique dealers in the bay area and northern california.

Aren't they cute!   Dad is 82, and has a heart condition that saps his strength.  He loves to tinker, and this is a good way for him to stay active.  He's not a couch potato at all.

We put lots of sidewalks around the house so mom can zoom around in her walker. 

 I wanted to do something nice for my parents, and hope they will move here. They're currently on a 22 acre farm surrounded by so much stuff in a huge house, that I don't know if they'll ever move.   So we thought we'd make it a cute cottage for an old german stone mason and his wife.    OK, so the rocks will likely be lick & stick to cut costs.  But even my dad thought the fake ones looked pretty good!  We're going to overmud them so you don't see too much of them anyway.

I sent the plans off to the engineer, I'll let you know how it goes!


  1. Like your inspiration room and agree it is difficult to imagine a television over the fireplace...the one in the photo appears to be built up rather high.
    Perhaps there will not be quite so much furniture in the room and rather than two sofas back to back, a table or chest could replace one with the television on or in it. Another option might be a cabinet on a side wall tv in or on that,
    Sounds like a great project for your dad!

  2. Hi Judith,
    There won't be as much furniture, although the parents do have some nice antique pieces.
    Good idea on the side wall, like where that brown chest is in the inspiration room.

    Thanks, Simone