Building Depression

motherof3sonsFebruary 2, 2012

Where do I begin? Our build was moving along smoothly until the past week. We are under roof, house wrapped, electrical almost complete, fireplace is framed, HVAC is underway and on and on. We are empty nesters and downsized - a lot. I am beginning to regret the simplicity of our house. Overall, it is a ranch with craftsman design elements. It has a very simple roof line, 9' ceilings, and frankly it is boring compared to other houses. When it is complete, it will look good and I know we will be happy. It has been such a rotten week and every day brings another problem.

We realized a major mistake in the layout of the windows/door that enter the screened porch and connects to the dining room. Our primary living area is open - great room, dining and kitchen; basically one large room 46x19. The dining room was to be centered on the windows/door. The windows/door are 3' too close to the kitchen and this will really cramp the kitchen island seating. We visited the house tonight and laid out the kitchen and dining room. We had to shift the DR 3' toward the great room and the light fixture will be centered on a window rather than the door. Not at all what we wanted.

The windows arrived, Yeah!!! We ordered top row casements and our builder was to set them at a specific height. Well, they are about 2-3" lower than the plan. I am 5'6" and the top row is approximately 3" above my sight line. We chose to not do transoms because we have detailed trim and plan to have crown. Each window is approximately 3'x5.5' (four milled together).

Windows again. We increased the size of a window in the kitchen that overlooks the patio and deck. We wanted to be able to see the grandbabies playing in the backyard. Originally it was one 25" casement that we felt was too small and it would take up 25" of deck when opened. We changed the size to 34" and it turns out to be smaller in glass area because it is now two panels rather than one panel of glass. We thought the 34" would be equal to two panes of 17" glass - I know stupid on our part. The window is ridiculously small with only 12" of glass area per panel.

And last, I argued and argued with the architect and builder that I wanted the windows in the kitchen to "rest" on the countertop. They thought I was crazy and I finally gave up. The window that was to be the show piece of the kitchen makes me sad every time I look at it.

It will certainly cost extra $$$ to make some window changes, but I have to live with them the rest of my life. I feel as though we were mislead by not only our builder, but also the window rep. They both knew we wanted large windows. We talked about the view and how we would enjoy looking out the windows from various locations. If we are going to make changes this is the time. Unfortunately, the screen porch location is complete - roof, flooring, walls, etc.

So, my dear GW friends. I am in a funk and for the first time, I am falling out of love with my new house. If my post is incoherent, please forgive me. Sleep has avoided me the past 3 nights.

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I can only imagine how frustrated and stressed you are.

I haven't built before so I don't know if your builder or window person have any liability in this. Perhaps it's buyer beware. I am sure some very knowledgeable people on here will give you great advice on what your options are if there are any. If you do turn out to have options, I would definitely encourage you to pursue them and not give in out of exhaustion. Just as I would tell you not to give up on your windows down to the counters just because they think you are crazy. Show them some pictures and insist. But, if it is too late in the process to reasonably make these changes, try to really step back and think of how important the window is to you vs what else you could do with the money. I am a total view nut so I absolutely understand where you are coming from, btw!!!! I don't know what kind of money we are talking about but if changing the window is a lot of $$$, you could start thinking of other options that might give you joy for less. For example, if it's still a savings, you could consider getting a housekeeper once a month when the grandkids are visiting so you could go out and play with them instead of trying to view them through the window while doing the dishes. You could put some of that savings into decorations so you house looks better from the inside. If it's a window you can see out of all the time, maybe it will be worth the money to you to change it as well. But step back and try to think about how you will feel about it in a year from now. There will always be something that wasn't as great as it could have been in some aspect of any project, so try to figure out if this will be one of those or if you will always have heartache when you look at the window. I know it's hard to think clearly now and I'm not sure I would be able to either.

Regarding the simplicity of your house compared to others.......
I may be living in your opposite universe :) I have an verrrry architecturally interesting house. I was blown away the first time I saw it. I now spend all of my time trying to think of ways to mask the interesting features because I am so incredibly sick of them. I crave a simple calming 'boring' home. So maybe it will make you feel better to think about the positives of being in a more simplistically designed home. There is no trend to regret and there is less to get sick of. It can be a great shell and then you can create your style and mood with the interior. The great part about downsizing is there is less space to decorate which makes it so much more affordable to make what you have beautiful or even make some changes down the line as your tastes change. What I have learned in my observations, the most beautiful and memorable homes I have been in are the ones that are decorated the most beautifully. It's rarely the details of the individual house I remember after a while, it's the great feeling I had when I was in it.

I'm sure you will get a lot of practical advice from the experts on here but in the meantime, I think your feelings are completely normal and I'd feel the same way. I know when we build our next house, I will be wondering which style I should go with until the very end.. and then will wonder if I should have gone with another :)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 1:53AM
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Dare I ask why the architect didn't work these issues out in advance and help you force the contractor to correct any construction mistakes?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 9:31AM
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OMG, I could have written your letter just about a year ago. We, too, are empty nesters, downsized from 6500' to 5200', which still is alot, I guess. Built a simple craftsman home with lots of wood. Not common on this forum for sure.

Same issue with windows during our build, only I was alone in my wish for lots of big window since DH and builder seemed on the same page. And DH made many decisions without my input. Even now I could kick myself for not being more assertive. It just happened that I was gone alot during construction, and when I came back I thought alot of it was too late to change. Oh, how I wish I'd stuck to my guns and had them redo a few things. I could just kick myself. My kitchen windows are too small and too high, and I feel a tad sad everytime I walk into the room. Is it too late to change yours?

DO IT...don't waste another minute.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:00AM
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Fix the windows! You'll never be happy with them, if you don't and if you can afford it...I'd definitely do it.

As for the doors to the porch, is there a peak or vaulted ceiling, directly over the middle of the doors? If there is, probably best to leave it 'as is', but if not...what about three french doors, rather than two? That should recenter your table and you can choose which door(s) you want to open and which to remain more as a window.

Here's what it would like like from the porch, but imagine one more door From Kitchen plans

And here's what the three 'doors' would look like...and you can hopefully still center your table, on the doors. Hope this helps :) From Kitchen plans

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Make the changes. It probably won't cost as much as you think if there isn't a lot of wiring and things to move. Builders and subs have no vision, they just build what they are used to so changes make them nervous. Force them to move the window to counter height. Another thought is to change the sink window to a picture window so the viewing area will be larger and it is significantly less expensive. How often do you really open the window above the sink(I don't open mine much since it feels like I have to climb over the counter to do it but I also have other windows in the kitchen to open)

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:42AM
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The only practical reasons to raise the stool height of the kitchen window is to prevent cleaning of the counter from damaging the finish of the window trim (can be prevented with a stone stool) or to provide a space for a code required electrical receptacle. I usually put the window stool trim directly on the top of a 6" high stone backsplash.

If any of the disappointments are due to errors by the architect or builder they should be offering you written proposals for making corrections at no cost to you.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 11:04AM
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Yes, get what you want. It will make a difference every time you're in the kitchen.

If it helps to show them examples, here are some threads from the Kitchens forum and this forum:

Counter height windows

more on CHW

Framing CHW


    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 2:29PM
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Thank you, thank you, thank you.

MTC1 - You bring forth some excellent points. The bottom line is we want a "home" where everyone will feel welcome, our friends can kick off their shoes and curl up by the fireplace and enjoy a cup of tea.

Renovator8 - We are asking the same question. There are issues with action being taken.

Joyce - I am sorry to read about your window issue. It is a sad feeling. Thank you for sharing.

LavLass - did you take a picture of my house? Just kidding. The 2nd picture - that is exactly the setup we have that is in the "dining room" and the top row windows are the same (ours are set at door height). The trim is identical to what we planned and we will have a large crown.

Jamiecrok - "they just build what they are used to" You are so correct!!! I had this conversation with a friend who' significant other is a builder. They do what the know and in our small town there is not much creativity with the builders.

Chicagoans - Thanks for the photos. I showed the builder and the window rep when we met last October similar photos. They did not understand my vision.

Again, thank you for your posts. Have a great weekend!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:47PM
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