Saturday, December 02, 2006

Day Dreams Landing on Paper

Before he retired my father was a building contractor and architect who drew most of his own architectural building plans. That is a talent and resource of experience that is a major bonus to be able to use as I envision a new place for myself in this world.

He has been more than happy to start work on the plans. This is our second rendition of a house design from the crappy drawing of mine that I photographed and e-mailed to him. How can I get too mad at computers for acting weird when using them has helped make a process like this possible from a distance of 6000 miles over less than 30 days.

He pivoted the whole house 90 degrees on the narrow ridge where it will sit so the main living area will look out over what may be a view if enough trees are removed. I may have had enough of "The View" for one lifetime and might prefer to look into the canopy of trees.

Two single car garages were placed underneath each bedroom side of the house, working with the natural slope of the land on a narrow ridge line.

There are two small changes in this new main floor plan that I want. One is to remove the wall/door opening between the kitchen and the living room. I want one big open space. The second is to move the fireplace a bit closer to the front of the house and incorporate a window bench with storage under the bench for the fireplace in the right front corner of the living room.

There is a second floor mirror image bedroom/bath/sitting room on the left side of the house for guests that the stairs lead to. It's big enough that they may linger? The back deck is roofed so I can sit outside in the rain and the snow and the cool mountain air. There is a small portico roof over the entry portion of the front deck.

It may be several years before this Day Dreaming turns into cement, metal, stone and glass. There is plenty of time for all the details. In the meantime I will need a place to park my camping trailer in a holler in the woods and a septic system to run a line from the trailer to. No honey dipping for me. A road and septic system need to go in first and it needs to be done right the first time. So I plan.

To ease my fears of trailer life a separate open air living room and future gazebo for the mountaintop nursery and garden to be may be on the priority list too.


christin m p in massachusetts said...

I like the ideas for changes you want to make -- having one big open space for the kitchen and living room gives a home a more sociable feel. And I LOVE window benches.

For some reason, I can't spot the fireplace in the drawing -- whereabout is it?

That feels good to know that there's someone else out there who likes to look at the rain and snow too. Sometimes I felt like my friend James and I were the only ones who appreciate that kind of weather. I love cool mountain air too -- as long as it doesn't go below 25 degrees or so. I don't like the painfully cold temperatures we get here sometimes (in the teens, single digits, zero, below zero...)

christin m p in massachusetts said...

I should have added that I only appreciate the beauty of the snow when I don't have to drive in it.

But it's hard for me to see the beauty in something when I have to clean it off the car and shovel it out of the driveway, and cling to the steering wheel white-knuckled all the way to work on the slippery roads it creates...

Annie in Austin said...

Please read this email as if it were a chatty note from your Aunt Annie or something like that - as suggestions from a woman who has lived in a bunch of houses.

The rotations of the house to the side looks pretty interesting - you and your dad are really reaping the benefits of scanning and sending email! When it comes to the wall removal [assuming it's nonbearing] we've had both open plans and walled separations in our various houses, and whether it works always seemed to depend on the personalities of the people who will be there. It's pretty hard for a very tidy person to chat and relax after dinner if the debris and evidence of cooking is vsible. Someone like that just has to clean it up instead of socialize. We've noticed some newer houses here use stepped counters, so that the high part shields the view from the dining/living area, and the low, functional counter is only visible from the interior of the work area.

I have one major problem with your design, and this might be more of a girl-thing, and may not even bother you one bit, Christopher! In the past, several families that I've known had eating areas with a door to a powder room or bathroom opening into the cooking or eating space. Once the family lived there for awhile, they absolutely HATED it, and many visitors [myself included] felt extremely uncomfortable with the setup.

Years later, I started reading books on feng shui, and found that much of the feng shui advice is just the common sense of generations. Every single feng shui book I've read considers a bathroom door in a food preparation or dining area as a major problem.

The mountaintop gazebo and open air living room sound wonderful, and building them first is a cany way to enjoy the beauties of the site while putting up with construction on the main house.


Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Christina the fireplace is the object on the right side living room wall with the square tile pattern surrounding the larger open rectangular shape with the interior line running in it.

I hear what you are saying about the half bath Annie and I agree with you. Space wise it works and fits there. I think the problem could be solved by having the door open into the short hallway living room side of the house instead of the kitchen. What do you think? Will that shui the feng?

The County Clerk said...

This looks good. This is NOT a small house.

Annie is quite right of course (I once had an old house (100 or so) that poorly remodled (about 50 years ago) placing a powder room in the eat in kitchen (fortunately we had a dining room too). It WAS a problem.

Where is your greenhouse? (You won't be in Hawaii.) I always wanted a walk-in greenhouse straight from the house (share the heating ducts) and... I'm building one come spring.

You are a gardener no? You need a greenhouse.

That's my two cents.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Hank this is going to be on two acres of land, maybe a bit more and most likely will end up with a small nursery to supplement my non-existant savings, no-retirement, maybe there might be some social security checks in 22 years income for my dottering old age.

I don't plan to try and recreate the tropics at 4000 foot elevation in the Smokey Mountains. I think the native and temperate flora will keep me very busy and entertained. I look forward to having a gardening off season, a season to plan and dream. A large walk-in cold frame maybe to capture some extra days of growth for selling plants, but a full on greenhouse I am not sure about. If that need should arise I would expect it to be out in the garden not near the house.

Part of what keeps my parents young and kept my grandparents alive into their 80's, 90's and 103 was daily walking tours of their large gardens and that was on flat ground in Florida.

The house got big fast when my "wife" said we had to have a separate quest bedroom and bath and an "art" room. I know my friends and I think she is right.

My original retirement villa concept for the single and childless was a fourplex. It would have added another room suite on the second floor right side and the space between the two was going to be a roofed open air living room dining space. That idea was for Hawaii before the price of half an acre of lava rock hit $750,000.

christin m p in massachusetts said...

When I retire, I want to live in the mountains too. I always said that I wouldn't mind living to be 115 years old, as long as I can still hike up a mountain. But most elderly people I've said that to, have told me that when I get old, the last place I'll want to be is on a mountain. They tell me that it's challenging enough for most of them to maneuver on level ground. They also said that when you get really old, your skin gets thin and makes you feel cold all the time, so that must be why most people retire to the warmer climates. I don't think they're talking about the younger ones in their 60's and 70's, though -- I think they mean very elderly.

deb said...

Hi Christopher, of course everyone has their own likes and dislikes, but here are my 2 cents worth: If the second floor is the same as the first the house is going to be very large. Since there are 2 single car garages below then a comfy bed, bath and art room could be under the LR/kit area with a walk out basement and no second floor. Trusses could be set on the main floor for the roof saving quit a bit of materials and labor, heating, cooling, etc.

With 3 levels it saves space and makes sense to have the stairs going down under the stairs going up.

The trailer: One suggestion would be to install the basement foundation complete with a bath and tiny kitchen, put trusses and roof on it and then when you build the main floor jack up the roof and build the middle. It might cost more than a mobile home, but the investment would be already in the house.

Is the house about 1600 sq. feet for the main floor? Houses are costing about $150. a sq ft here with materials being about half of that cost. This price would not include the garage and walk out basement which would cost about 30K. My choice for a foundation is a styrofoam block (Polysteel) filled with cement. They are quiet, dry and warm. Second choice is poured cement, gets a bit colder and damper and lastly stacked cinder block, which leads to mold problems, the thing is that the prices are similar for all three.

Good luck with it all and let me know if I can help in any way.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Thank you for your thoughts Deb. I figured my Dad would be off in sq ft costs. He so 80's. It is good and bad to hear the current rates.

I like the idea of moving the guest bed/bath and artroom under the main floor between the garages or some other arrangement. This would elevate the whole house on the site creating longer stairs to the main floor, require more flattening of the narrow ridge where it will sit or involve retaining walls on the front.The current setup uses the natural grade dropping about 8 feet on both sides of this narrow ridge line. Worth thinking about.

The trailer is a camper that you can pull behind a car not a mobile home. The idea there is very low cost as in used, no rent and as temporary as possible.

The construction method mentioned so far was concrete block foundations with a light weight cement floor, steel framing and I want a metal roof. I am very interested in the styrofoam block with poured cement foundation. I saw a house here built that way.

Rest assured I will be consulting with you about this project. I will want you to name names. Could you also train some framers in steel construction?

deb said...

Don't know about the steel construction, but it would be possible to bring the Polysteel up 2 floors. Beams or something like "silent floor" trusses could be incorporated into the Polysteel for the 2nd floor. Put trusses on for the roof and the metal roof, set the windows and doors and the house is dried in. From there framing the interior and finishing out the house could be done yourself or subbed out. There are many ways to cut costs. One is searching for materials at a reduced rate. There is a huge builders salvage in Asheville. And of course doing as much as you can yourself.

The Polysteel has thin steel strips in the foam on both sides to attach siding or sheet rock to. When (and if) I build my small cottage (I'm a bit burned out on house building at this moment) it will be a Polysteel with stone on the exterior. It will be a story and a half on a slab. I believe that I can get the cost down for that cottage to closer to $100. a sq. foot and still be able to get a huge master bath and granite in the kitchen. The lot we are planning to put it on is level (for this area...not nearly as level as FL) which will save quite a bit. On the log house I am currently building the well cost 8K and septic was about 7 K, 2 costs that we hadn't really anticipated being so high. But the last houses I built were in S. Al. flat land and on sand...well and septic 5K for the pair. The other cost that we hadn't anticipated was the grading and subwall just to get to level which cost us about 20K.

Your Dad and my estimates might be apples and oranges as there are ways to build a house on a low end budget...15 year shingles cost less that a standard metal roof which costs less than a standing seam metal roof. Particle board cabinets cost less than plywood which cost less than solid wood.

I frequently see ingenious ways to save on building. A friend of mine built a house on a slab, painted the cement floor to look like marble and had the floor scored, it was beautiful. Special care must be taken so that the cement has no cracks.

Anyway, did you make your plans as to when you might be coming? I look forward to having you for a neighbor but be forwarned that my botanical knowledge is limited to knowing the difference between an evergreen and deciduous tree.

Oh, and I swear I have no stock in Polysteel, just researched and like the product so far. Actually, Richard enlightened me as to some of the problems with many of the styrofoam block products and inspired me to research it further until I found this one.

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

In addition to the well, septic, foundation grading and foundation subwalls that will include the garage I will need to put in a road to the house site and remove about a dozen trees.

Some of the trees may be valuable enough to sell for the wood and I will be able to tap into my parents well line temporarily for the camping trailer.

I will be looking for ways to cut costs mostly in the labor end by doing what I can. I don't want to skimp by buying cheap quality materials. I also have the advantage of a building contractor next door.

My "wife" Ani who will be retiring here with me will be sharing the cost of this construction too. We will have to sit down and do some legal agreement for this arrangement. As the cost realities kept creeping up I remembered my friend Greg who I have long talked to about such an old folks home and maybe have him invest in the third quest suite. I know he will end up with a house in Lady Lake Florida that at some point we may all need to winter over in.

On grumpy days when I am sick of being stabbed, poked and scratched by jungle taming I think I may arrive in April of 2007. On days of planning ahead it is wise to wait until November 2007. I could stay in my parents house for the winter while thay are gone and get the road, grading and septic in while I shop for a blue light special hurricane trailer.

If you ever want to go for a Sunday drive to Waynesville or the National Park Deb I could describe where it is and you could walk out on the ridge to the point where the house will sit. The land is the county line between Haywood and Madison.

deb said...

I'll send an e if I am headed down 209 and get directions. I'd love to stop and see where the house will be. BTW, it went to 10 degrees here Fri. morn and is 29 as I type. Colder than average winter for this area.