How to Bed and Breakfast: A Sample Bed and Breakfast


This article details some of the design elements of the writer's bed and breakfast project.


My wife and I moved from close to the city to a wilderness area on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario Canada. We decided to build a bed and breakfast adjacent to the main house structure. Here is the evolution of our B&B.

The Shape of Things to Come

The c-shape of the overall layout provides a natural, sheltered courtyard for guest parking.  The snow tends to pile up in there in the winter, though. The diagram below is what I submitted to my township for zoning approval. Our first impression was the large amount of space that was available to work with. It allowed us to build oversize bedrooms. I wanted to maintain the existing shop, but shops are noisy. So I added an extra wall where it adjoins the guest area, and insulated well. This worked wonders, as I can often run power tools in the shop and nobody can hear me.  The basic structure of the entire space was that of an unfinished garage; a perimeter foundation with a 4" concrete slab on grade for a floor. This provided a good building surface, but I had to create a raised subfloor to accommodate the plumbing of the new use.

January Blues

We endured a four month wait before being granted a zoning code permission to construct. We built throughout the winter; it seemed more efficient this way, so as to be ready for tourist season. I did not have to work outside, as the existing shell was complete. In the next diagram I have isolated the area where most of the work took place. The main floor is raised about 14” and only the foyer is resting on the slab. On each side of the foyer there are steps going up to the level of the subfloor. If you raise a subfloor, but keep parts of the original in use, it helps to have the subfloor height as a multiple of 7", so your stair risers are a nice comfortable height..

The next diagram shows how I serviced the waterworks for the B&B. We tried to make all supply and waste lines of minimum length. Not only does this save money, but in the case of waste pipes, it saves ceiling height. The central waste pipe must be sloped to conform to building code; the shorter it is the less you have to raise the floor to accommodate it. In this view the waste pipe drains toward the top.

 The next diagram shows how we designed the electrical service of the B&B. I chose to install a sub-panel close to the three bedrooms, because we planned to heat them electrically. This kept the branch circuits for the baseboard heaters to a minimum length.  The conduit supply cable runs through the attic up above; there was more room to work with up there. Just keep in mind, if you put conductors in an attic, that your inspector may specify a larger gauge wire to compensate for the higher ambient temperatures.

Testing the Plan

I have plotted some travel path arrows for guests and host on my plans as shown. Purple indicates where my wife and I mostly tread; yellow shows the paths of our beloved guests. Many of our guests choose to have breakfast in the sunroom; if they want a more formal hotel style experience this works great for them. Naturally, many of our visitors walk through the joining hallway and take their breakfast in our kitchen.

We feel that a reasonable design has been struck here, and that the needs of the host and the guest have been mostly balanced. I regret not having a proper utility area for storage and access to cleaning supplies, etc. But maybe that's another project...