We’ve seen a lot over the years. Here’s what we want everyone to know about accessory-dwelling design.
Through study and experience, New Avenue has worked out the best design practices for small homes. We know what to do and, just as important, what not to do. If you’re planning an accessory dwelling, you can benefit from our expertise and avoid these common design mistakes.
1. Not enough sound separation
Sounds are amplified in small living spaces. A common mistake is to provide insufficient sound separation between rooms, creating a noisy home. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the noisiest spaces, and bedrooms the quietest. It’s a good idea to separate these rooms with a sound-proofed wall. If you have a sleeping loft that is open to the space below, you can minimize noise by placing the loudest spaces underneath the loft rather than directly across from it.
2. Too few windows
Many homeowners try to lower their project’s cost by reducing the number of windows. But a house with too few windows is not only a gloomy place to live, it can actually increase your energy bill if you find yourself using electric lights in daylight hours. As a rule of thumb, you should install at least 10 square feet of windows for every 300 cubic feet of space.
3. Poor window placement
Window placement is also an important design consideration. It’s a mistake to only place windows on one side of a room. This makes a room stuffier and harder to cool because it prevents cross breezes. Especially in living rooms, try to place windows on more than one wall, ideally on walls directly across from each other.
4. Improper kitchen measurements
Kitchens are tricky to design in small homes because refrigerators, ovens, and other appliances take up so much space. Make sure you have enough space in your kitchen to accommodate the specific appliances you want. In fact, it may be best to pick out your appliances before building any counters and cabinetry.
5. Not enough wall blocking
If you’re going to live in a small home, you will need to maximize your use of vertical space: wall shelving, bike hooks, and cabinets are all great ways to squeeze as much space as possible out of your house. Without enough wall blocking, however, many of these design choices are impossible. Wall blocking is the pieces of wood that run between wall studs and provide attachment sites for cabinets and shelving. In a small home, it’s always better to err on the side of too much blocking than too little.
Want to know more about ADU design? We’d love to share our budgets, plans, and planning tools. You can sign up and use the New Avenue system for free here: Get Started