City House walk-thru detailed description


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Design parameters:

This house was designed for a narrow city lot (33ft wide) with neighbours on both sides. Residents access the property via the back lane and double garage while visitors enter from the street at the front of the house. There are views of the mountains from the north-east facing front of the house while the kitchen and dining areas face south-west into the sun. With limited garden space, the owners wanted a sunny family room with decks and views from the 3rd floor. Privacy from neighbours was an essential consideration.

Main features:

The family room on the 3rd floor opens onto the front and back roof decks making an expansive space in summer, while the gas fire place in the alcove makes for a cosy spot in cold weather. The open floor plan on the 2nd/main floor provides expansive views out both front and back windows. The 12ft ceilings in dining, kitchen, living and study sections with windows set at 8ft provides light but privacy. The opening in the entrance hall ceiling allows one to look up at the ceiling on the 3rd floor. The large window on the upper stairwell throws light onto both sets of stairs and provides interesting views over the adjoining houses.

Walk through description:

The approach to this city house, from front or back, is under the covered walkway which has a roof supported by 8 inch diameter concrete pillars. Both front and back doors open into a common entrance hall. An 6ft coat closet seems free standing because it is surrounded on both sides and top by glass blocks. A 4ft x 6ft opening in the ceiling allows one to look up at the ceiling on the 3rd floor.

Climbing the stairs one arrives on the second floor landing. Looking to the left one looks across the living room out a 10ft wide floor to ceiling window - and turning to the right one looks through a similar 10ft wide window on the dining room side. The half walls on either side of the stair well allow one to look over the stairs making the 46ft distance from front to back window appear spacious. The ceilings in the kitchen, dining, living and study are raised to 12ft and each has three 2ft square windows set at 8ft off the floor - to provide interesting light patterns as well as privacy from the neighbours.

The study is an interesting space since it is 16ft long, 6ft wide, with a 12ft high ceiling. It has a 10ft high by 2ft wide window facing the front, with the three 2ft square windows set high in the side wall. The space could be left open to the living room, or closed behind double glass doors, but the intention was to provide a private office or computer space plus a solid wall in the living room. On the opposite living room wall is a gas fire place under a high ceiling with a similar window arrangement.

From the kitchen a door leads into a laundry room with under counter washer and dryer. The wall backing onto the stairs has floor to ceiling shelves for groceries etc. A second door leads to a toilet which is secluded in this open spaced second floor. The kitchen has a large island with eating bar on the dining side. A low cushioned bench in front of the large window, plus comfortable dining table chairs, makes this the space where family and visitors tend to 'hang-out'. Underneath the second flight of stairs is a broom/vacuum closet.

Climbing the second set of stairs one passes another large window (10ft wide x 6ft high) which throws light onto both sets of stairs and down through the floor opening into the entrance hall. The window also provides views over adjoining houses. From the large family room one looks through windows to the north and south onto private decks. One can also look over the stair rail down to the entrance hall two floors below. The 14ft alcove opposite the stairs has a gas fire place.

Returning to the first floor entrance hall, one enters bed room #1 to the front of the house. A sliding pocket door opens into a walk-in closet, from which a door opens into a bathroom. This bathroom has a soaker tub set behind a 16 inch step with protruding glass block side walls. The whole tub room is tiled - ceiling too - making it into a shower room with two shower nozzles. The bathroom floor is tiled with a floor drain set just below the tub step to remove any splashed water. Under the tiled floor is a heating coil to keep the floor warm throughout the winter months. The second bathroom has a similarly warmed floor. Bedrooms #2 and #3 share the second bathroom. The hot water tank is located in the storage space under the stairs where it's close to the bathrooms and kitchen.

Why is this house affordable?

Though this house has 2699 sq.ft. of interior living space (plus a 480 sq.ft. garage) the construction is simple and repetitive - for example, the four raised ceilings on the 2nd floor are identical. These are supported on 12ft span grider trusses set on point loads. The 3rd floor roof comprises 18ft span flat trusses - 2ft deep to accommodate adequte insulation. Flat roofs are more economical to build than the traditional pitched rooves - this is the 21st century and we do have torch-on sheet materials which are far superior to multi-pieced shingles. The torch-on material is covered by 2 inches of concrete on deck surfaces - and ceramic tiles can be laid on the concrete for a more up-scale finish if required.

Any questions? Don't hesitate to email Plum Design and ask. Suggestions will be welcomed too.