Thursday, July 23, 2015

I really love the floor plan I came up with and the house that came out of that floor plan.  However, as my wife pointed out, it was WAY bigger than I said I was going to build.  Also, the structure though gorgeous, was very complex.  When I met with and structural engineer the first week of July the vibe I got from him was the house I had designed was going to take more money and effort than I thought, a LOT more.  He also corrected my misunderstanding that I could use glu-lam wood beams to support the concrete roof- by code they will have to be steel or concrete which is considerably more expensive.

They say great architecture comes from constraints, so back to the drawing board I went. I had two goals: make the building smaller and make the building cheaper.   Last week we were vacationing in the Outer Banks and so together Melissa and I modified the floor plan.  It is smaller, and with only two steel beams is should be less expensive.  The Great Hall joining the public and private spaces and the Bonus room next to the garage are both gone (well the Great Hall is still there: now it is just the Lesser Hall with access to the patio preserved).  The hallway leading to the east exterior door is gone (and that door).  The master bedroom is now merely large, not immense and the exterior door is gone.  The pantry is slightly smaller.  However, the covered patio is now slightly larger and the fireplace has shifted slightly south since I no longer need to preserve the sight lines from east to west across the length of the house.  That gives me enough room for a pool table in the family room (in addition to the seating area.)  Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Master Bathroom Layout Options

Here are three possible bathroom layouts.  The circle is a Japanese soaking tub that will be sunken or semi-sunken. Feel free to tell us what you think.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Kitchen Layout- Two Options

We are working on kitchen lay out.  Here are two options.  Let us know what you think.

Option 1

Option 2

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Another Perspective and A Beam Isometric

Full Renderings

Here are some full renderings.  I'm happy with the end result.  

 The rending below is from the southeast, the back of the house.  I think it's the best view of the house.  The roof line steps both fore to back and side to side giving the building a dynamic activity. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Initial 3D Render

Here are the initial Sketchup 3D renderings.  We have gotten a bit farther than this as of Wednesday but this will give a taste of things to come.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Catching Up

Since my last post in November these are highlights of what has happened:
  • In April I attended rammed earth workshop by Quentin Branch, owner of Rammed Earth Solar Homes in Oracle, Arizona.  The site of the workshop is Quentin's house which has been built by a succession of workshop participants.  Much of the technical heavy lifting for rammed earth construction has been done by Quentin over the past four decades.  What started out as a quixotic endeavor in the 1960's has grown into a very respectable body of knowledge which the rammed earth community draws on for projects around the world.
  • Two weeks ago I hired a draftsman.  I was going to hand draw my plans but my first attempt in March convinced me that I just can't draw quickly enough.  Hand drawing also doesn't allow for quick and easy alterations to the design, something this project needs.  The person I hired, Paul Martinez, has almost 30 years experience and it shows.  He's quick, insightful, and knows what I mean even when I can't quite find the right words.
  • We began the process of obtaining financing with Johnson Bank.
  • I took initial topographical readings of my lot.  It was obvious that it had a slight drop from east to west.  Now I know that slope is 6 inches across the width of the lot, much of it in the western 50 feet.  For my purposes the lot is essentially level and I won't have to step my footings.  I will however need to level it for irrigation purposes.
  • I've begun searching for a mechanical engineer.   I had asked around using my industry contacts but hadn't found an engineer to hire.  So I wrote to an ASU professor, Dr. Patrick Phelan who put me in touch with a few people who have said they are interested in helping me.  Last week I had lunch with Marcus Myers and he had so many great ideas its going to take me another week to look up the words he used!
  • I'm going to meet with a subcontractor who specializes in systems integration.  I know there are great things going on in building automation, energy management, access, communications, entertainment, etc.  Hopefully, even if I can't afford the whole package immediately I can install the proper infrastructure to add it later.
  • I've met with Steve Rafalski at Jones Concrete who is going to give me a good dose of reality by telling me what my pipe dream of rammed earth and insulated concrete panels will cost.  We also discussed the idea of creating the overhangs using wood trusses to save money.  The insulated concrete would end in the middle of the exterior wall and wood trusses would project out, creating the overhang.
Here is the floor plan so far.