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rjinga

New Build...Deer in Headlights

rjinga
2 years ago

I have waited my whole life to do build my "dream house" and it's feeling like the beginning of a nightmare lol... I'm frozen with fear and indecision..I don't know where to even start, it feels like I don't know what I want.. I guess I have always had in my head a vision of what I imagined I'd want everything to look like, but to put it together, to choose things that go together, to make a decision..I'm frozen..I have searched and looked at many many pictures, and nothing I see is what I imagined I wanted.. How can I get a grip on this and move forward? The kitchen is just the beginning, we have literally got to decide on the entire house inside and out and what materials to use, and colors to choose...to put it together so it's how we want it to look..I never imagined that this process would be so intimidating. ANY seasoned advice and direction on how to make this happen, would be welcomed.

Comments (58)

  • One Devoted Dame
    2 years ago

    I have searched and looked at many many pictures, and nothing I see is what I imagined I wanted.

    Yep. This is me.

    Even after I settled on a climate-appropriate architectural style (Spanish Colonial), I *still* cannot find any single house I like. I can point to individual features and say, "THAT is awesome," but I've never seen a house and said, "OhmyGOSH, that. is. IT. Love everything about it, that's exactly what I'm talkin' about!"

    For me, the solution has been 2 pronged.

    One, I'm gonna trust my architect to do his thing. He wants pictures, so I'm gonna do my best to collect them, and clearly articulate what I like or what I don't. And if I can't find a picture of what I like, well then, I guess I might have to just draw it out, lol.

    Two, I've accepted that it's just a house (which is easier for me, I think, being a military brat, and never having a house as an anchor in my life, anyway). It doesn't have to be perfect. It can be functional and beautiful *and* have flaws. There will be things I'll have to compromise on (or that I totally forgot or didn't know about), and I'm already preparing myself for those now. For example, I want budget-busting in-swing casement windows. I'm at peace with making most of those windows fixed/inoperable, if necessary. At least the hole will already be there, for upgrading to operable replacement windows, later.

    Number 1 is how I plan to get over the design hump of, "Where do I start?" with pretty much everything. Architect, builder, interior designer, kitchen designer, landscape architect, etc. Number 2 is how I plan to minimize disappointment at the end of the project. I'm trying to set my expectations on the lower side, so that either I'm "just" content, or I'm pleasantly surprised later. :-D

    "It's a blessing to be doing this at all!" <-- Mental note, to be resurrected as often as necessary, lol.

    rjinga thanked One Devoted Dame
  • chispa
    2 years ago

    The important, but invisible things, should be your priority. How the house lives for your needs, insulation, waterproofing, best windows you can afford, newer technology & higher efficiency HVAC (not what your builder has been doing for the last 20 years ... newer/better stuff is out there) and many other systems that aren't glamorous or will get you Instagram followers!


    The wrong tile choice can always be replaced later, but poor windows and a badly designed HVAC will stay with you for a very long time.

    rjinga thanked chispa
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  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 years ago

    Seek out a local residential architect that you think you may be able to work with and take them out to lunch. They will be just as blown away with someone taking them out to lunch as you are building a home. You will both be at the same level.

    Pick their brain during lunch about the things you want to know about building a house to alleviate your fears, and have a good time. Good luck.


    rjinga thanked Mark Bischak, Architect
  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    2 years ago

    rjinga, are you building custom, "semi-custom", or production? If you are working an architect, a good one will talk to you and your partner about how you live, what you like and don't lie, etc. When this "teasing out" process is done by a good architect, it can be magic.

    Also, the "Sweeby Test", which is part of the Kitchen forum's "New to Kitchens? Read Me First!" thread,

    (fyi, because the thread has more than 500 posts, most of them bumping the thread up because sadly it's not a stickie or official FAQ, the first few comments/posts (the most important posts as they are the "meat" of the thread) are hidden. To show them, keep clicking on the "See xx more comments" link)

    sounds as if it could be very helpful for you, both for the kitchen in particular and the entire house in general.

    Here's the Sweeby Test (named for an old GardenWeb member),

    The situation is this — You’re trying to decide between several different options (backsplash, flooring, island size or configuration, countertop material — whatever), and all of the options being considered look good. Functional and financial considerations are certainly important, but among the thousands of highly functional good choices — There are so many options to choose from! Which to choose and how to decide?

    My suggestion was to try to figure out what you needed the element in question to contribute to your kitchen. To start by focusing on your kitchen as a whole, from a far-off hazy distance — to wander off into your favorite kitchen fantasy and think about what it feels like, not what it looks like. (Your real kitchen please, not the one where Brad Pitt feeds you no-cal chocolates while George Clooney polishes the brass knobs on your Lacanche.) Then using mood words, describe what your dream kitchen feels like:

    warm or cool, tranquil and soothing or energetic and vibrant? calm, happy, dramatic?

    cozy or spacious? light and bright or dark and rich?

    subtle tone-on-tone, boldly colorful, textured?, woody or painted?

    modern, traditional, vintage, rustic, artsy, retro, Old World, Arts & Crafts, Tuscan?

    elegant, casual? sleekly simple, elaborately detailed, or somewhere in between?

    pristine or weathered, professional or homey?

    whimsical, sophisticated, accessible, romantic? masculine or feminine?

    How much zing? and where?

    The list goes on and on…

    Once you’ve identified the way you want your space to feel, then write it down as best you can. Try to freeze that feeling in words so you can refer back to it if you find yourself losing your vision or going off track.

    Then look at where you are so far with the elements you have, and ask yourself if you’re on the right course to create your dream? Odds are, at any given point in time, you’ll be part way there, but that you’ll need to go a little more this way, or a little more that way to move closer to your dream. Try to figure out what direction you need to go, what the missing element is that you need to add, (or just as important, if neutral background is what’s needed) and write a ‘Mission Statement’ for your ideal backsplash / flooring / countertop:

    “The perfect backsplash for my kitchen will add an element of romance and whimsy, while not disrupting the calm and soothing tone-on-tone color scheme or diverting attention from my beautiful granite.” or “My ideal countertops will provide the ‘zing’ my kitchen is missing right now, adding an element that is modern, rich, sophisticated and dramatic.”

    Then evaluate your potential choices against this Mission Statement. Odds are, one of your options will further your dreams while most of the others, though beautiful, take your kitchen down another path.

    rjinga thanked beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
  • Cheryl Hannebauer
    2 years ago

    following

  • K R
    2 years ago

    Look at tons of model homes and open houses. Interview builders. Don’t rush into anything!

    rjinga thanked K R
  • THOR, Son of ODIN
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Besides Alexander et al's Pattern Language, browse through Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design (Jacobson, Silverstein, Winslow) with photo examples of the important patterns; and Sarah Susanka's Not So BIg House and other books she has authored.

    Best wishes on this exciting project!

    rjinga thanked THOR, Son of ODIN
  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Wow-thank you all ... I'm at work but will thoughtfully read each comment above this evening!

  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    to answer your questions and provide more info (sorry about that)...Where is your architect? Kitchen Designer? Interior Designer? Who is your team in your corner? lot info etc.


    We have interviewed one builder so far, and have a few others that have been recommended that we plan to meet as well... We are also about to start to work with a draftsman who one of the builders uses and recommended, we will go over all the things mentioned as he gleans info on how we will want the house to function for us.. we have a semi custom plan that we will adapt..It's a long story and a long drawn out process, but this is how DH has wanted this to go, so that's what we are doing. Before meeting with him, we really wanted to have a good idea of what we wanted so that we could express it and not be unprepared. So at this point there is "no team" helping not even sure how/where to gather a team....for the moment, it's just me gathering info/pics/inspiration etc. together.


    we will be working with a local builder, we have a lot we purchased 3 years ago, we met with one builder at the lot..he referred us to someone he works with for getting a floor plan created/finalized.. the builder does have places he works with for getting all the various materials we will need to pick out..but we have not gone to any of them yet, once the floorplan is done, we will get a building quote from the builder(s) and then a budget for everything. Our lot is almost 3 acres, pretty wide and deep, and lakefront with a panoramic view of the lake, homes on each side of us..our front elevation will be facing East (and slightly south), right side and (attached) garage facing north, house will be situated in about the middle of the lot angled towards the best view of the lake or slightly north-west. the lot slightly slopes towards the lake, we will have a pool close to the house.


    it is just DH and myself and pets.

    Becky, great stuff, I tried to read the "read this first" post, but must have missed a lot of that! Will also definitely read some of the materials suggested. let me know if you have any other thoughts..



  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 years ago

    "we have a semi custom plan that we will adapt"

    Have you ever heard of the guy that bought a Chevrolet in hopes to have a Porsche?

  • roccouple
    2 years ago

    Your site sounds so beautiful. You are lucky to have so much land and a lake! i might let the site get you started. What house would look great there? You obviously want to maximize views. Maybe visit some lakefront properties to see what works. Then as was said above the style of the house will guide the interior

    rjinga thanked roccouple
  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Hire a real architect, no draftsman, no builder leading the design, just a bona fide residential architect.

    You will save money and maximize results when using an architect who knows what she is doing. The architect will design a house that will be cheaper to build and maintain than what a draftsman is going to cobble together from stock plans. Do not listen to the builder. She thinks she knows everything about houses. She doesn't. She knows how to build houses she makes money on.

    rjinga thanked Zalco/bring back Sophie!
  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    rjinga, I understand that this --

    We are also about to start to work with a draftsman who one of the builders uses and recommended, we will go over all the things mentioned as he gleans info on how we will want the house to function for us.. we have a semi custom plan that we will adapt..It's a long story and a long drawn out process, but this is how DH has wanted this to go, so that's what we are doing. Before meeting with him, we really wanted to have a good idea of what we wanted so that we could express it and not be unprepared. So at this point there is "no team" helping not even sure how/where to gather a team....for the moment, it's just me gathering info/pics/inspiration etc. together.

    -- is how your husband wants to deal with this project. But this way does little (actually, nothing, to be frank) to address your feelings of being intimidated and frozen with indecision and fear. It might seem cheaper right now to go with a draftsman and adapting a semi-custom plan, but in my experience -- and I say this as the wife of a builder -- in the long run, through the entire project, a good architect would more than pay for his services in terms of assistance, oversight and hand-holding; with the bonus of a truly custom build. That concept of "penny wise and pound foolish" is a good one to keep in mind while building a house : ) .

    rjinga thanked beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Yes Mark, I've heard all the comments before...we are not unhappy with out choice and feel confident it will work great for us. The changes are simple and what we want to make the space work for our needs. ie: plan is 3300 sq ft house, 5 bedroom house, we have merged 2 of the rooms at the back of the house to create a large gameroom/gym, keeping one of the bathrooms, the other bedroom will be a guest room that shares the bathroom for the game room, and the bath/closet area of that particular bedroom will basically create a pet room with outside access.. coincidentally, we toured some new builds in our area and realized that it was similar to the plan that we liked so we are ok with that, we will make it how we want it. My post was about how to figure out how to help sort out the best methods for coming up with ideas to help me put finishes into play..and that I felt overwhelmed by the choices and not really knowing exactly how i wanted it to look. after going over the post Becky suggested, The kitchen layout in the plan we have is really about perfect, everything is in the place it should be..so now i just need to decide if I want raised panel cabinets or .....and what color ....and what material for my island...and backsplash and floors. and what color of paint...The kitchen in my mind is the space that sets the tempo for the rest of the house and it has the most details to decide on.

  • roccouple
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    You are further in the process than i assumed. If you have a plan you have elevations and a house style (Colonial, Craftsman, Modern etc). I’d use the exterior to guide the kitchen design and start with matching styles. I don’t personally like it when you go into a house and are surprised because the interior is nothing like the outside.

    another thought is that if you aren’t super excited about anything don’t spend too much money. cut your budget in half and that will limit your choices. Save the rest for something you are excited about Or uodate later when you’re inspired. In a way I think our smaller budget was a blessing because we didnt have so many options.

    and you’ll get through it. Once you make a choice or two others will flow. Or if you are too stuck delegate to your husband! You may also be a candidate for an interior designer to assist. There is a reason designers are in demand!

    rjinga thanked roccouple
  • Ali Elyse
    2 years ago

    @rjinga yes husband and I are also I. The exact same boat. Working with a small custom builder and a draftsman. we have gone to many builders and open houses and i finally found my ‘style’ you will too. what area are you building?

    rjinga thanked Ali Elyse
  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Ali, we are building in Perry, GA. I could be wrong....but I honestly think that this is for the most part the industry standard here..everyone I have ever talked to that builds houses (and even before this timeframe for us, we have met through friends/family other builders and NOT ONE ever mentioned that they send their customers to an architect....I'm looking into all my options..

  • live_wire_oak
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Question #1 to ask the drafter is how he plans to alter the prefab design against the hot glaring western sun direction that your lot demands for your most used public rooms orientation? Having an East facing orientation, with the most used rooms to the west, creates a whole host of challenges with shielding from that hot glare off of the water. To have that direction be the THE view, creates even more challenges with light and HVAC control.

    Traditionally, western exposure has the fewest windows, and a bulky structure, like a garage, is used to shield against the heat absorption. How will he take a stock plan that isn’t designed for that extreme challenge, and create a home that the populated family spaces can be used in August at 6:00 pm, when it’s 98 outside? Will the cooler north side be the site for the outdoor gathering space? Will you add an extra HVAC system and recirculating fans just for the family room? Will you buy 80K of triple glazed coated windows for the room? Will you use induction cooking to minimize any more extra heat load into the room during the summer dinner preparation. How does the high CFM hood and MUA demanded by today’s large kitchens reconcile with that conflict? If you foresee grilling out for your supper a lot, how does that path from the kitchen occur, and not add even more issues to the heat load? Will you do air locks? With plates full of marinated chicken to navigate them? Or the outdoor kitchen on the north side, in the shade, away from the view?

    These aren’t generally questions asked by a drafter. These aren’t generally problems solved by a drafter.

    How will your drafter reconcile the site orientation negatives to the desired usage demands? Perhaps you should post the original plans to see what other challenges it will face conforming to the lot’s demands.

  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    being situated in the middle of the lot (not 100% sure exact dimensions, but for arguments sake let's say we have at least 3/4 an acre behind the house before reaching the lake and the west facing areas will have vaulted /covered patios across most of the back. we plan to have a lot of windows on the back areas of the house, obviously to maximize the views, I have been in a number of other homes in this community that are all situated in the same manner with the same orientation as we will be and I don't believe there are issues like you describe. but I'll definitely ask and be sure :) also these homes almost always have 2 or more HVAC systems.

    outside entertaining areas (pool, patios etc) are situated on the north/west side. garage is on the south/east side of the house. this is the house that is to our left as you are facing the lake.



  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    this is a front elevation very much like what we have been looking at..not exact materials we plan to use, (or at least have talked about using) but close. (minus the dormer)


  • Akila McConnell
    2 years ago

    @rjinga, here's why everyone recommends using an architect (I live in Atlanta, by the way, so not far from you!). He came to look at the lot with us, we walked through the neighborhood, then he sat down at our kitchen table, and said, "Okay, what do you like in a house?" He started with a blank sheet of paper and as we were sitting and talking for almost 2 hours, he sketched out exactly what we envisioned. He then took it back and brought us back a plan that was so close to our dreams that we couldn't even believe it. It was unbelievable. We paid him $7500 which was a steal compared to everything else that we have purchased. It was (and continues to be) the single best decision we made in this house build because once the architect designed exactly what we dreamed, it was super easy for us to figure out the finishes --- we already knew that the house itself would meet our needs.


    Personally, in my opinion, there's no point in thinking about finishes at the stage you're in. First, figure out whether the house plans works for you. Print the house plan out and "put" all of your furniture in it and think about how you will live in the house. For example, one small but important change that we made is that we have a designated place to store brooms/vacuum on every level of the house because we have 2 small kids and a dog so we are constantly using our brooms --- might not be necessary to someone else but is to us.


    My parents are building a semi-custom house and I had them do this exact same task --- at first they grumbled, but by the time they were done, they saw how useful it was because they were able to really think through exactly how they would use the house.


    So, I would say: Step 1: sit down with your plan and just think through how you will use every room, where you will put your furniture, and how you'll live in the house itself.

    rjinga thanked Akila McConnell
  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    2 years ago

    live wire oak is correct about the advantages of passive solar principles. I live in Alberta, where it's very cold in the winter and getting warmer (and more humid) every summer -- though not Georgia-hot or -humid -- and a house with the kitchen, living and dining rooms facing west is a misery, both for the additional heat in summer and glare year round. With passive solar you get nature's considerable assistance with cooling in the summer and heating in the winter, which can help with utility bills.

    Another benefit to an architect is working with them to design an energy-efficient house that also works with the lot and maximizes views, etc.

    rjinga thanked beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
  • THOR, Son of ODIN
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    An HVAC/Energy Consultant on your team will pay for herself with increased comfort and energy efficiency. [ETA: architects can also be suited for this].
    **********

    More from Sarah Susanka:

    What makes a house Not So Big?

    Not So Big doesn’t necessarily mean small. It means not as big as you
    thought you needed. The ideal size for your Not So Big House depends on
    your financial situation, the size of your family, and your personal
    preferences.

    As a rule of thumb, a Not So Big House is approximately a third
    smaller than your original goal but about the same price as your
    original budget. The magic is that although the house is smaller in
    square footage, it actually feels much bigger. It’s not about living in a
    small house and getting used to feeling cramped. A Not So Big House
    feels more spacious than many of its oversized neighbors because it is
    space with substance, all of it in use every day.


    https://susanka.com/not-so-big-house/

  • jlynn
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    rjinga- We build our first house last year after living in our previous home for 31 years. I too, had no idea where to start. This was a customer design and build so I had no builder showroom to pick out flooring, tile, lighting, etc. I spent hours a day looking at pictures on Houzz which I develop idea books for the exterior and each interior room. This helped me find my style and color preferences. I also read all the questions and answers on Houzz, which was a huge education for me. I learned about busy and quiet countertops and backsplashes, that granite/quartz island overhang countertops needed support, about good vs bad tiling jobs, about our contract with the builder, this list goes on and on.

    The best thing we did was to pick out everything before the build so we had a solid budget; we picked out our appliances, lighting, flooring, countertops, exterior lights, cabinets, HVAC, plumbing fixtures, exterior finishes, etc. We did change our mind on some things but we pretty much swapped out one item for a similar priced item. This made the planning so much easier for us and the builder. And, best of all, the house came in under budget!

    Our kitchen designer and countertop designers (separate businesses) worked together with us to pick cabinets and countertops that went together. The tile designer helped coordinate the tiles with the cabinets and countertops. She also spent a couple an hours with me picking out paint colors for the entire house which was extremely helpful as that was the area that I feared the most.

    If we ever needed to build again I would do so in a heartbeat. It was fun and stress free, and the house is beautiful and well coordinated.

    rjinga thanked jlynn
  • roccouple
    2 years ago

    i am not great at architectural styles but. That house has some Craftsman influences. You might call some kitchen designers or interior designers and say you are building a craftsman house. Here’s one cabinet style I think might match



    Cherry Craftsman Bungalow · More Info


  • Architectrunnerguy
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Just off the top of my head, from looking at the two photos you posted above, when it comes to site planning, try to avoid driving up to the "side" of the house where the garage doors actually then become the "front" as in your first photo with a walkway going around to what then is the "side".

    Our perception of a house is strongly influenced by how we arrive at it. It should always be an important consideration.

    Here's an illustration of what that can mean:

    Waterfront lot, all access coming from the left, dead end road to the right. Guest parking at the "front" near the front door, garage to the far end on the "side", a porch wrapping around the prominent corner.....

    The owners, for reasons too long to go into here, sold the property so that house was never built.

    Here's what WAS built...... garage on the left with guests looking at garage doors upon arriving, parking and then walking around to the "front" of the house.

    Your first photo, while the house looks to be better detailed than my example, has this going on. I know you might think "Well, everyone here does that!". They may but that doesn't mean there aren't other directions to evaluate. Just think beyond the exterior walls when thinking about your house. I always scratch my head when looking at the monthly build thread for example, at the photos folks take of their "drive up to the side of the house garage" house and the photo is taken from a spot no one will likely ever occupy...unless they're throwing the Frisbee with the dog.

    But good luck with your build. Exciting times ahead!

    rjinga thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 years ago

    "Here's what WAS built . . . "

    My heart breaks.

  • One Devoted Dame
    2 years ago

    Our perception of a house is strongly influenced by how we arrive at it. It should always be an important consideration.

    Absolutely.

    There have been countless houses that I have passed on, because while they look promising from pictures on realtors' websites, when I actually drive by, I am overcome by how completely underwhelmed I am. I don't even make it to the front door. No sense in spending a ton of money on something that makes me go, "Uh, well, um...." Definitely a priority for a custom build, that's for sure.

    rjinga thanked One Devoted Dame
  • Denita
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    ^Yep! I can tell you from a Realtor's POV that there are many lovely homes on the inside that we can't show because when we arrive at the house the buyer says "I don't even want to go inside".


    There are many first time home builders that don't know there is a better way because the production/mass builders have set the expectations of the buyers to benefit the builder and not the buyer or the site. Then the nooby home buyer/builder comes here and what they hear is so different that quite a few reject the thought that there is a different and better way because 'everybody else in our area does it this way'. This is not the fault of the first time home builder/buyer. It is a direct result of extensive marketing by production builders to expect the snout house or the kitchen that looks nice but functions poorly and/or the exterior with multi-materials, etc.

    rjinga thanked Denita
  • THOR, Son of ODIN
    2 years ago

    I blame HGTV for shiplap overuse and repetitive whine "I want the open caahncept!"

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  • Architectrunnerguy
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    And while I'm wasting time here on the forum waiting for the Sun to come up to go out for a morning run (and for it to get a little warmer....lol), let me point out in the example above the value of thinking of the whole site as the design palette, not just the area inside the exterior walls as is so often the case.

    Sure, there's the obvious like "We're orienting toward the views", etc. but there's also the less obvious. See how the pier lines up on an axis with the front door? That's no accident. The axis reinforces that connection. See how a possible gazebo is set closer to the approach route? That no accident. While long views are important, shorter, more intimate views to points of interest are valuable also, especially when balanced against the longer views beyond. The sailboat at the pier and the gazebo serve that purpose.

    And the subtle aspect of those kind of things are what that makes a house a stand out in the neighborhood. No one will tell the owner "Wow! I loved the interaction between the short view of interest your gazebo provides and the long view of the lake." But it leaves a strong positive image of your house in their minds....and yours too for that matter!

    And there's hundreds of those kinds of things in most site planning exercises. And I like site plans to serve as a sorta master plan. A gazebo may be built later and I'm certainly not designing the pool but it's set up for the pool guy to do his thing within the framework of the entire design of the site.

    Just think like that. You're building a house. You owe it to yourself. After all, it's just concepts drawn on paper now.

    Ok, Sun's coming up. Let me try to head out the door now!

    rjinga thanked Architectrunnerguy
  • Isaac
    2 years ago

    3300 square feet is a lot for two people to keep clean and maintain, not to mention to heat and cool. Our house is 1600 square feet for 4 of us but because it is well laid out it is plenty of space.

    Money not spent in quantity is available for spending on quality - materials, finishes, etc.

  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    The covenants require 3000 sq ft minimum. If we want to build on this lot in this community that's what we will have to build. The architectural review committee will not approve plans less than that. But again we are ok with that. I would do less if it were an option.

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    2 years ago

    ARG makes a VERY good point. The opposite of plopping a repaired preconceived plan on a site.

  • live_wire_oak
    2 years ago

    What do they call “living space”? Would a 1500 home with a walkout basement qualify? A 2000 home with stairs up to he 1/2 story above that isn’t fully finished, but could be for another buyer? There are creative ways to satisfy minimum sf requirements, and still only build a smaller, easier to maintain, aging in place home.


    This is yet another issue with “plopped” plans that don’t really fit the site or the restrictions. It forces you to build more and spend more than you really need to spend. Plus, they very rarely come predesigned with everything that you need to consider for aging in place. And usually need to be completely redesigned to get those features.

    rjinga thanked live_wire_oak
  • cpartist
    2 years ago

    We are also about to start to work with a draftsman who one of the builders uses and recommended, we will go over all the things mentioned as he gleans info on how we will want the house to function for us..

    If you can read a floor plan and have a sense of spatial relationships and some design background, then a draftsman can work. However if you can't do any of the above, I would seriously consider working instead with a licensed architect.

    Why? Because a draftsman will give you exactly what you tell him to, whether it's good design or not. An architect will give you what you didn't even know you wanted and if it's a good architect will flow and have good design that is a pleasure to live in.

    Your lot creates some unique issues including orientation. You want to maximize the views yet not wind up with the house facing west and not being able to enjoy those views in the afternoon. You really need an expert (architect) to help you maximize your lot and your needs.

    Hire a real architect, no draftsman, no builder leading the design, just a bona fide residential architect.

    Yes, a builder will work to make it easiest on himself but not necessarily what's best for you.

    rjinga thanked cpartist
  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    2 years ago

    I can't like cpartist's post enough. Esp this part,

    Because a draftsman will give you exactly what you tell him to, whether it's good design or not. An architect will give you what you didn't even know you wanted and if it's a good architect will flow and have good design that is a pleasure to live in.

    It's not enough for a draftsman to "gleans info on how we will want the house to function for us", because that's a pretty hit-or-miss proposition depending on his innate gleaning ability, which just isn't part of his professional work.

    rjinga thanked beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    a few updates, I searched for architects when searching houzz and a few came up.. I have spoken to 2 of them, one isn't doing work on her own anymore (not sure what that means exactly, didn't ask), unsolicited, she referred me to a draftsman who she raved about. The other I have spoken to on the phone twice and discussed some things about a plan and will possibly meet with her. I'm curious what advise would be offered for how to determine if an architect is a "good architect" and how you would go about interviewing or verifying if they are a good fit, qualified, skilled etc.

    Good points live wire..I'm not really sure what they actually are looking for, so I'll look into that as well. hadn't really considered that could be an option.

  • cpartist
    2 years ago

    being situated in the middle of the lot (not 100% sure exact dimensions, but for arguments sake let's say we have at least 3/4 an acre behind the house before reaching the lake and the west facing areas will have vaulted /covered patios across most of the back. we plan to have a lot of windows on the back areas of the house, obviously to maximize the views, I have been in a number of other homes in this community that are all situated in the same manner with the same orientation as we will be and I don't believe there are issues like you describe.

    Have you been in those houses in August at 5 PM when the sun is at its peak for that orientation? We have friends who's house faces west for the water, with 12' deep porches that are unusable during sunset for all the reasons mentioned by Live Wire.

    We have other friends who created a house where the views are to the west yet they were able to orient the house so they could enjoy the views without being blinded by the sun or baked by the heat. GA gets hot in summer.

    but I'll definitely ask and be sure :) also these homes almost always have 2 or more HVAC systems.

    So you're ok with spending extra money for HVAC? If the house is oriented correctly, you can actually lower HVAC bills, not increase them. This again is where an expert comes in. (And no, a draftsman is no expert.)

    .but I honestly think that this is for the most part the industry standard here..everyone I have ever talked to that builds houses (and even before this timeframe for us, we have met through friends/family other builders and NOT ONE ever mentioned that they send their customers to an architect..

    Ah yes, the everyone else is doing it argument. I think my Mother used to have a retort to that. Something about if everyone else is jumping off a bridge...

    outside entertaining areas (pool, patios etc) are situated on the north/west side.

    So the only time during the day they will get any sunlight is late afternoon.

    garage is on the south/east side of the house.

    South is the best orientation for light and passive solar heating/cooling and you're putting the garage there?

    The best thing I did with my house in SW Florida is site it correctly so it makes use of passive solar heating and cooling. In summer the house stays cooler because it's oriented with the majority of the house facing north/south. On a beautiful day like today, I can open the sliders on my south facing living room as well as my windows on the north of my living room for wonderful cross breezes.

    My garage is on my east side but in my kitchen I managed to have windows on the east and north side so late afternoon/evening when I'm cooking, the kitchen is still quite comfortable.

    Our bedroom is on the west, south, east side of the house. (It's a U shaped house) The south has high windows above the bed with stained glass so the stained glass keeps the majority of the light out. The east has a door to the yard and a window with light blocking shades and the west has no windows so we don't wind up with extra heat.

    Our outdoor rear faces due south so our pool and yard is warmed all day. In summer because the sun is higher in the sky and because we have 32" wide eaves, and a 9' deep lanai, the sun doesn't penetrate into the house and in the winter, when the sun is lower, it penetrates just enough into the house to warm it even on the coolest days.

    This is what we mean by thinking through how the house is oriented.


    rjinga thanked cpartist
  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    2 years ago

    I searched for architects when searching houzz and a few came up

    I would contact Akila McConnell who posted above and wrote, "I live in Atlanta, by the way, so not far from you!"

    I'm curious what advise would be offered for how to determine if an architect is a "good architect" and how you would go about interviewing or verifying if they are a good fit, qualified, skilled etc.

    rjinga, what you want is what Akila wrote about the architect they used:

    He came to look at the lot with us, we walked through the neighborhood, then he sat down at our kitchen table, and said, "Okay, what do you like in a house?" He started with a blank sheet of paper and as we were sitting and talking for almost 2 hours, he sketched out exactly what we envisioned. He then took it back and brought us back a plan that was so close to our dreams that we couldn't even believe it. It was unbelievable.

    rjinga thanked beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    i'd be happy to talk to Akila...Atlanta is about 130 miles from where we will be building, not probably close enough..there are places closer, like Macon, GA. where there are architects who would cover this area.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    2 years ago

    Atlanta is about 130 miles from where we will be building, not probably close enough..there are places closer, like Macon, GA. where there are architects who would cover this area.

    If it were me, I'd talk to Akila and her architect. It's a strong recommendation from someone here on Houzz. At the very least it would be useful homework.

    Having recently gone through the home building adventure myself (and my husband is a builder who built our house), I would take a strong architect recommendation but a bit of distance over cold calling but closer, but that's just me.

  • rjinga
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Becky, I would have no problem using her recommendation, I would just have guessed they wouldn't take the job because of the distance. I suppose that it would be possible to do it all remotely and/or electronically (email etc.)

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
    2 years ago

    Becky, I would have no problem using her recommendation, I would just have guessed they wouldn't take the job because of the distance. I suppose that it would be possible to do it all remotely and/or electronically (email etc.)

    You don't know until you ask : ) . And Akila's architect might be able to recommend someone nearer to you with his standards. But again, you won't know until you ask, which is why I'd be so hesitant to strike that idea from the start.

    And yes, some architects -- like our own ArchitectRunnerGuy (aka ARG) -- do some of their best work remotely!

  • cpartist
    2 years ago

    The magic is that although the house is smaller in
    square footage, it actually feels much bigger. It’s not about living in a
    small house and getting used to feeling cramped. A Not So Big House
    feels more spacious than many of its oversized neighbors because it is
    space with substance, all of it in use every day.

    The home design is the large unalterable variable in any build. A good one will stretch space, maximize views, and allow for less expensive construction and operating expenses. It just fits, like a custom pair of shoes fits your high instep and knobby big toe.

    This is so true! Our neighbor around the corner built a house that is about 500 square feet larger than ours, yet it feels like it's 1/2 the size. They cram several people into the public spaces yet their private spaces are larger than their public spaces but are usable only for them.

    Our house is not small by any means (2870 square feet), but we used lots of Sarah Susanka's ideas for our build and were quite aware of things like site lines.


  • Isaac
    2 years ago

    Other than minimum building size, what restrictions do the covenants covenants impose on you, for building, landscaping, use, noise, etc.?

  • Shola Akins
    2 years ago

    I have also sent you the name of my Atlanta architect whose work is very impressive and reasonably priced. It’s worth calling him to see if he’s willing to work with you. It really takes one site visit and the rest can be done remotely.

    rjinga thanked Shola Akins
  • One Devoted Dame
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I'm curious what advise would be offered for how to determine if an architect is a "good architect" and how you would go about interviewing or verifying if they are a good fit, qualified, skilled etc.

    I started a thread about my experience, here:

    Contacted 5 Architects

    Before I contacted anyone, though, I made sure they were licensed in my state. It was pretty easy to search the database.

    Just sitting down and chatting with them about your project is a great way to see what they're like. Learn from my misstep, lol, and specifically ask for a small portfolio of work *prior* to the interview. ;-)


    I could judge skill/talent based on their (very limited) portfolios on their websites, mostly because I've been hanging out on GardenWeb far too much over the past couple of years, so I kinda had an idea of what to look for.

    rjinga thanked One Devoted Dame
  • PRO
    Re:modern Design + Architecture
    last year

    So many people under-estimate how complicated the process is to build a home. You're definitely not alone in feeling intimidated, paralyzed, or overwhelmed -- especially when the 'honeymoon' phase of starting a project is over!


    Reach out to your build team (architect, contractor, etc). This is how qualified, trained professionals add value.


    And if you're not quite there yet with a good team, or have piecemeal questions here and there, check out Kickstart House, which is a homeowner support community.


    www.KickstartHouse.com


    You can grab free resources or sign up for consults with a House Coach. It's specifically meant to help you get unstuck at moments like these. You can do it!