Friday, September 7, 2007

Fast Forward

Things happen for a reason. I was rather disappointed after the Central Project went away and decided to start exploring other options. We looked at a some lots and some other houses. After having our mind set for such a long time on building and totally customize everything in our house, it's difficult to find any existing that suits our needs, and in an ideal location, that is within our budget. Then we found this mid-century modern home, built by the original owner, who was an architect. We knew as we walked in that it has our names written all over it.
Fast forward to today: I sold my home bought this house, and had moved into it for 3 weeks already. Now when I looked back, it just went by so quickly that it's all a blur, but within it was a ton of stress selling and closing on my house, working on loans and buying the house, and packing and moving and unpacking...all in 60 days! So, here the destination that we ended up which we don't even know it existed when we started the journey of building our dream home. Even though this house was not built by us, it's certainly a dream come true because it reflects our design sensibility. The best of it, at this moment, we're already living in it and enjoying it!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Dream is a dream is a dream

There's a reason that I have not been posting any progress for a month. Basically, the bank came back with bad news -- the appraiser thinks I will be over-building in that neighborhood. It came as a surprised to all of us because we've been speculating ourselves regarding the progress in that area and thought it is up and coming and that there is potential for the neighborhood to turn around. Apparently the risk is still too high for me. I asked for a second opinion and the other appraiser also said the same thing. Then I consulted a realtor and he seems to think this investment is only for those who are more aggressive.
The message is loud and clear, that before I go in too deep and can't get myself out of the hole, I have to accept the fact that this dream project will not become a reality. At least not on this lot.
When I started documenting this project, I envisioned it from start till the end, and certainly, this is not the end that I had in my mind. I terminated my contract on the lot, and told Paul to save the so finely tuned floor plan for the future, whenever and wherever it may be.
I am very disappointed because we have come so far into the project. It is hard for me to stop dreaming about it all of a sudden. I still haven't put away the piles of reference materials and the rolls of drawings and paper in my study. However, I enjoyed every moment of the design process. I love sitting by Paul, watching him sketch, and brainstorming with him, dreaming about it. It was a great learning process for me. An expensive one nevertheless.
I guess after all a dream doesn't have to always come true. A dream can be just a dream. If you're a dreamer as I am, there will always be another dream.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Show Me the Money

I went to the bank today to meet with the load officers and basically ask them to load me money so I can start making the plan into reality. It can be a little daunting not knowing what to expect. Luckily the ladies were very nice and friendly. Of course, they have to further evaluate the project and make sure that the project is a sensible one that it's going to be a house that I can afford to live in after I built it. I'll have to fill out applications and let the bank process the application, and simultaneously we'll need to get the drawing finalized so the contractor can start working on the numbers for the bank.
After comparing the plan of the lot that the previous architect prepared with the survey plan, I realized that they're not the same. The measurement on the south side of the lot is off by about 7 feet. Of course, the survey plan came up a little smaller, therefore the house sticks out a little. The previous owner of the lot asked to to call the architect who prepared the plan directly to find out which measurement we should go with. I hope they're cooperate with us.

Monday, April 9, 2007

"Oh Sh*t!" - Paul

Today was our first official meeting with the contractor - John Noblit of Noblit Didier Development. He's a very nice guy. He's enthusiastic about the design, and Paul seems to like him. I sort of let them talk tech and quietly observed the process. One little glitch that came up today was that the very northeast corner of the house sticks out pass the build-able area by inches! Paul asked me to quote him what he said when he found out about it, hence the title of this post. Hopefully the modification is not going to throw off the rest of the design that we like so much. I guess Paul's going back to his drawing board to figure that out while I go to the bank to ask for money. As far as a rough timeline for construction, the contractor told me if we start on June 1, we're looking at the completion date of January 1, 2008. This is the first deadline of this project. I'm sure things will change along the way. We'll see how far off the actual deadline is going to be in the end.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Perfecting the Design

After voicing several minor concerns about the previous plans, Paul came back with this modification and I am very thrilled by the changes.
The big change is the master bath, in which the walk-in closet and laundry room can be accessed while someone is using the bathroom. The shower is widen so there's added elbow room. The staircase is rotated, which allows a little more room to the dining room, and we now have more cabinet space for the kitchen. Also, there's added storage at the lounge upstairs.
The studio is much bigger with an easier access to the storage under the stairs.
The size of the living room is slightly reduced, which I think it's better. The interesting thing is that this floor plan is right at 1,700 sq. ft., not counting the lower level.
The master bedroom is also reduced and now, it is slightly smaller than the guest bedroom. However, if the sliding doors are open, the room doubles in size, which I think we'll do most of the time unless we have guests.
I think this design is very very close. Anything from now on will be fine tuning it, like positioning of windows, or sliding doors vs. regular doors.
I'll be meeting with the contractor on Monday, and the bank on Tuesday. It's going to be interesting see if we can actually afford to make what's on paper into reality.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A Different Option

After several sketches and discussions, Paul presented me another set of plans. Most rooms are becoming more squarish, and the spaces are more compact, which maximizes the uses of every area. Even the stairs are more compact by adding one more step on every landing. This looks like a very well designed space. There are more cabinets in the kitchen, and the closets in both bedrooms are much larger. My concern is the location of the laundry room being in the master bathroom. It seems very luxurious by have our very own washer and dryer right inside the closet but will it be an inconvenience if we have house guests who wants to make their own laundry? But then again, how many times in a year do we have guests who would make their laundry at the house? The next concern is the powder room being located very close to the front door. Aside from being a little more private locating the WC closer to the back of the house, I don't have any major issue of its location.
As for the Studio in the lower level, between the closet and the studio itself, looks like it is large enough. There's more storage underneath the stairs which can be access at the bottom landing of the stairs.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Design Process

Paul and I met up on Saturday to start on a more intensive brainstorm so he could start working on the plan. So far, the initial drawings from the other architect firm were for a duplex and since we're now going with a single unit, we're pretty much starting from scratch.

Originally there were two options of buildable area approved by the city, depending on where we choose the front, side and back yard to be. For the duplex, Option 1 was used because the squarish shape of 2 units combined. However, the building was placed about 28 feet away from the neighbor, and therefore also sit a little lower relatively to the street. Paul suggested using Option 2, which brings the building closer to the neighbor (avoiding a big gap compared to the houses on the block,) and it will be built a few feet higher on the ground. Another reason is that we'll have a much smaller yard on the south-side between 2 buildings, which is part of my requirement. The area between the neighbor and this house will be fenced for the dog to go out and do it's business. The view is on the North towards downtown, and most big windows will face that direction and most south facing windows will be frosted.

After crunching the numbers closely, we've decided to keep the house right around 1,500 square feet. With a set limitation, suddenly, the design has be more creative/challenging in order to fit the program of the space into the floor plan. I'm all for a modest size home from the get go because it suits our lifestyle and it is the right thing to do for the environment. I think with the open floor plan, 9-foot ceiling and a few big windows, the space will appear to be larger than what we would imagine.

After about 3 hours of sketches and brainstorming, Paul immediately came back with the plan the following day and I'm very impressed by how he managed to fit everything in and make it an interesting space.

Due to the drastic change of elevation (about 15 feet) between the front an back, in order to build the garage entrance on the back of the house, even though it is on basement level, it still needs a pretty steep driveway. Moreover, there's more digging which will cost more. By moving the driveway to front, and the entrance of the garage to the north side of the house, it's almost street level. Now the deck on the primary living level will also double as a porch in front of the garage.

One main feature we modified is the staircase. Since the width of the house has been reduced to 20 feet, we have to reposition the stairs I think Paul came up with an igneous solution which maintain its appeal.

As for the upper level, I requested for a closet for washer/dryer, but Paul gave me a whole laundry room with a sink in it! I love it! As for the space upstairs, the concept is to have sliding panels that separate the bedroom from the library/lounge area, but when open (when there's no guests), the whole upper level turns into a master suite loft. I think a dynamic use of space not only maximizing the usage for a smaller home, it makes the space more interactive and exciting.

As for the lower level, thanks to Paul for taking into consideration of my request of having a storm shelter. He even pointed out that the southwest corner of the house is the safest hiding place should there be a tornado. If there's anything I would change, the Studio is the only area that seems to be a little too small. This is a key thing for this house as it is going to be Eric's space and we need to definitely address it to add more square footage to it.

I think the design is very close. We're about 90% there. I very excited about the progress.