Feeling really stuck, please help with plan

pay_it_forwardFebruary 8, 2012

We have been at this for over three years. Please see the link below. A little more background...

After purchasing our land three and a half years ago, we sought the services of a local designer who specializes in green building. Over the course of our time working with him, it became apparent that he was steadfast in building a highly energy efficient home and was very set in his ideas of the best way to do so. Of course energy efficiency is very important to us, but equally important is occupant and environmental health. This designer did not want to veer from his way of doing things unless we were willing to pay even more. We opted to look for a new designer. Fortunately, we found someone that shares our vision. Unfortunately, he had one of the worst possible years in 2011 with many family illnesses and such. This has made it very difficult to receive the input from him that he would normally offer.

At this point, I am feeling frustrated and unsure how to proceed. After feeling blessed to have discovered this forum, I recently posted our preferences and a plan that I have been tinkering with (one of many). From the few that responded, it seems I need a lot of help. I think that I have been at this so long that I am losing my ability to see things clearly.

I appreciate so much any help or ideas for a new plan that you may offer.


Here is a link that might be useful: Floor plan enthusiasts please...

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Did you try it without the computer? You will get nowhere until you do that. Make a freehand sketch and show all of the important family & guest movements and the relationships with the outdoors with arrows. Use different colors; turn the drawing upside down from time to time; have a stiff drink; kick the ideas around with your family. This is not a construction drawing; the window sizes should not be noted. The design process is Preliminary Design, then Design Development, then Construction Documents. You are in the Preliminary Design stage and the drawings should look loose and preliminary.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 10:36AM
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....have a stiff drink....LOL!!!

Renovator8 -Can you talk to me about the **turn the drawing upside down from time to time** suggestion. I know that's a 'trick' used in art classes - gets you to focus on shape & shadow and break the project into smaller tasks. What is the purpose with a house design? I'm not in the building process - maybe that would be obvious to me if I was? We will soon be in the renovate/remodel/addition process so I wonder if it has broader application than an all new build.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 3:00PM
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Rotating the plan allows you to see the relationship of the spaces from different viewpoints as you will in the finished house. A plan is not like artwork; it has no purpose other than to assist in the design of the actual house. I had a professor in design school who would flip through an architectural magazine upside down when he was struggling with a design problem. He was odd I admit.

Unfortunately, computers force a designer to take several steps in order to rotate the plan or be able to walk around it. Computers should not be thought of as design tools; they are production tools and should be put aside as often as possible in the design phase and a homeowner should not see a computer drawing (other than a perspective) until the preliminary design is completed.

I find that inexperienced designers invariably start at the end of the design process and work backward which is why the process is so painful for them and for anyone who is following their progress or trying to help them. The OP is a good example of how difficult it is to breathe life into a completed computer drawn plan.

A renovation design is like a new construction design but it has more givens/restrictions which can be difficult but tough problems often result in great designs which is why I enjoy it more.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Thanks for the good advice, Renovator8. Sadly, my drawing abilities are limited and that, along with my spatial reasoning difficulties (yes, even with graph paper!), led me to teach myself how to use the wizard tool in Chief Architect. Basically, this allows me to move room bubbles around and around to try things out (and things are in scale!).

Turning the house around and upside down are helpful strategies and have allowed me to "see" things I may not have otherwise.

I certainly do not claim to have design ability akin to trained professionals (I am an elementary teacher by trade!), but after draining our design budget on the two designers mentioned above, I am left to figure things out the best I can. My biggest fear is designing something that does not reach its full potential due to my lack of training/expertise!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 1:05PM
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I would put the bedrooms upstairs so you could implement your ambitious design approach. Right now you haven't made even a start in that direction.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 9:20AM
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Pay- What if you put the kids' rooms upstairs? Could you have a basement, with the laundry, family room and maybe another bedroom and bath? I know you're trying to limit square footage, but the basement could be 'finished' at a later date.

Here's an eplan that I posted on smaller homes forum...it's really a pretty home and look at all that light! And a screened porch :) From French Country Cottage From French Country Cottage From French Country Cottage

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:50PM
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If you want a close connection with nature it is best to avoid walkout basements and decks on tall posts, otherwise I agree with the 1 1/2 story house idea.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Renovator8 and Lavender Lass ~ Thanks for your ideas! Interestingly, when we started this process over three years ago, our first plan was three stacked (almost) squares. Hours and hours of thought about how we really prefer to live have led us to the single level. Our prospective builder has communicated that we could have a larger home if we went back to the stack approach, but we are comfortable with the reduced square footage.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2012 at 3:09PM
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