Back at it!

shiltsyDecember 31, 2013

Earlier this year we were moving forward quickly on a lot purchase and new home build. We've moved quite a few times over the past 15 years, so my wife wasn't thrilled about even a local move and new home build. She ultimately agreed to move forward, but it was clear we weren't on the same page. We put money down on a lot and started the design process... after a week or so, she told me that the timing just wasn't right and we needed to tap the brakes. It was actually a relief because she clearly wasn't ready and we were at odds in every step of the process.

Fast forward 6-7 months and we have both agreed that we'll build in 3-4 years. That will allow us to ferret away more funds, hopefully paying for most/all of the house in cash. It feels great to be on the same page and I think we'll really enjoy taking our time on the architecture/design process.

Couple of questions:

1. Does Houzz or other tools have a shared "clipboard" function? We'd love to be able to share ideas and design inspirations... might even print those ideas and post them in the house on a bulletin board. 3-4 years gives us a lot of time to get it right.

2. How early is too early to engage an architect? Two years out seems reasonable, but 3-4 feels like our needs/wants might change a bit.

3. Thinking about buying land sooner than later if we found the perfect dream location. We're looking in the Afton, MN area and very few 3-5 acre lots are available in close enough proximity. We should be able to buy with cash, but if we found the perfect lot and needed to finance part of it are there decent rates/terms available on land loans?

Final random question... I'm noticing a lot of homes going up in the area with a design that I haven't seen a lot of in the past. Typically exterior cedar shakes and stone with very long sweeping gables that curve out at the bottom. I kind of butchered the explanation, but is this a specific architectural style? I've seen it on small craftsman-ish houses and larger lodge style houses... I'll try to find a picture and post it as an example.

Great to be back and excited to move forward on our journey!

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Annie Deighnaugh

Don't go by us...we were in design phase for 7 years before we started it depends on the patience of your architect...fortunately for us, he was infinitely patient...and of course we kept writing him checks too....

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 11:24AM
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We have found Olioboard very useful. See the link. Below is a jpg of a board we made of our big furniture pieces, radius corners and soft trowel wall, what we like for basic indoor look and how we envision the back yard to be. We are still working on the front look. We lean toward what I believe is modern craftsman for the interior. Have fun with your design and build!\\

Here is a link that might be useful: Olioboard

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 12:21PM
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It's not too soon to at least start looking into architects to make sure you find a good one for you. You could work with an architect now to explore and refine your requirements, or you could just wait. You can pay an architect by the hour to offer insights on feasibility of certain lots for building what you want, before you decide to buy. If you buy the lot early and still have a few years before building, you could start slowly with an architect to work on a concept and test it against your budget. The advantage of doing a little bit at a time is that it gives you a chance to mull things over--you don't have to make all decisions within a short time.

I just advise against developing a specific design before you've bought the land (diagrams, ok--floor plans dimensioned to the inch, not).

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 1:32PM
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Happy new year!

Houzz lets you create "ideabooks" that are basically like collections of bookmarks to photos on their site with your own notes about what you liked in the picture. You can easily share these ideabooks with your design and construction team by email.

Start building your ideabook(s) now. It's never too early to start thinking about design. Since you are a few years out, you have a lot of opportunity with your property. Is natural light important to you? Visit the site at various times of the day. See where the sun comes, what obstacles (trees, etc) there are, where the views are etc. Your home should be designed with the properties of your land in mind.

If you've not bought the site yet be sure to check in the various restrictions on development in the area. In our town you are only allowed to build 6000sqft per acre total, including porches with 3 walls, and only 15000sqft of impervious covered hardscape/house per acre. There are also limits on septic, engineering, etc. Be sure to check out if there are any existing easements. How will this impact/limit your house or landscape plans? You can't build over a utility easement for example. What are the setback rules? Are there height limits? Is there a process by which neighbors can slow/block your development? If they're available, take a look online at your town planning committee minutes to see what obstacles past projects ran into!

A good architect will work with you to help refine and implement your vision for your life on your land. They should listen to you and your desires and bring their experience/wisdom to the table about what works and what doesn't in home design in general and for your specific area. There are too many people around that either don't have local knowledge, don't have enough of an opinion about details, or have too much of an opinion (e.g. they have a "vision" that supercedes yours). Spend the time talking to a few different architects and figure out which one you would be most comfortable working with. For me I was able to find one who shared my love of the type of house we were remodeling, and who was super responsive via email, and so the interaction has gone really well.

In broad strokes, the process for us went something like this - we considered the types of space we wanted, figured out what spaces could be multipurpose, came up with rough dimensions for the spaces etc. then (since we are a remodel) drew the perimeter of the house and arranged them inside the perimeter using colored bubbles in a computer program. From there both the architect and I took several steps at arranging the bubbles into a layout my wife and I liked. You have much more freedom when you are working with 100% new construction, though if you are shooting for a specific historical style you may have more limitations (e.g. a colonial will limit you to a rectangular shape). From there, we proceeded to modeling the space in three dimensions, understanding the elevation, ceiling heights, etc. Plans followed and now we're in early construction and material selections.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 1:04PM
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lazy_gardens allows you to create multiple collections of pictures, uploaded or linked.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 1:15PM
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