To architect or not to architect?

NashvilleBuild42February 26, 2014

We are all set for a property walk through with the architect Friday. We would actually sign contracts etc at that time. However last night I was searching for open concept living and dining images when I came across this stock plan from Marianne cusato.

It's a little bigger than we we're thinking but we love the flow. We also would just build a detached cottage for the MIL apt. In te situation probably the Bartlett cottage or Betty cottage by Ross chapin. The nice thing is if the MIL would need greater supervision etc we could move her into our home given the 4th flex room on 1st floor. It seems to meet our needs.

But I have concerns. The architect estimates that excluding land this home would cost only 150k to build. I am assuming that means the house is 2x4 framing. We were discussing SIP or ICF an ha decided the bare minimum we'd do is a basement (tornado protection) with 2x6 advance framing with blown in cellulose and foam insulations with the highest quality energy efficient windows. Now we could easily upgrade windows or doors or insulation. But how hard is it for the builder to switch to 2x6? Will we have to have the plans redrawn by an engineer? If so would that still be substantially cheaper than the 15-20k we anticipate our architect costing?

Any thoughts on the homeplan? We understand our finish choices will drive this price way up. Budget isn't our concern. I mean it is to a point but we could double this to a cost of 210 sq ft and still be within our budget. We're more concerned with flow and the feasibility of using this plan if we wanted to use different framing techniques.

I welcome critical comments! You all helped me so much in the past realiZe other stock plans were not for us.

This post was edited by NashvilleBuild42 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 9:14

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Forgot to add we would also put this on basement and move HVAC to basement. And tankless water heaters...

So the basement would require engineer or someone at builders office to draw and get approved... So I guess it would be basement and the 4x6 framing. Does this still make more sense than using an architect or should we still do the architect?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:17AM
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And the in law house plan:

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:25AM
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Even if you don't have the architect draw up your plans, they can give you a lot of advice as to how to lay out the plan on your site. I like these plans, especially the one for your mil. Did you notice that the one built isn't quite like the drawn plan?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:27PM
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If it were me, I'd still consult with the architect. Use the plans as a starting place, but customize to your site and your other criteria. If you pay hourly and they don't have to do a lot, it doesn't cost that much. If it turns out you do want more customization, you have someone who should be able to grasp your particular needs.

I know you've thought a lot about it, and maybe those changes are all you want. (I don't know on what planet that house costs 150K to build, though!)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:14PM
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Hello. Thank you all for the replies!

Marti- hah I hadn't noticed. I think it's the same house but with a garage attached. Ross chapin has like 6 different versions of that home.

Lori- the price doesn't include land and is priced off builder grade kraft maid cabinetry cheap electric appliances etc. however I was shocked to find out it is using advanced framing. The windows are cheap Andersen double hung. But the windows and doors and kitchen are easy enough to upgrade.

The home has been and continues to be built in developmens in NY, SC, and Toronto. Between the three developers the price per sq ft has averaged 95 dollars. They are also using fiber board siding. So we probably wouldn't have to upgrade every option. Now the homes are selling between 285-505 depending on market. Anyway I think we'd probably be able to build less than 150/ sqft

They even have a stock modification that shows a basement.
The more I read the more I think this is actually a good plan???

This post was edited by NashvilleBuild42 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 15:17

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:40PM
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I would ask to see the basement option first. Who knows what they may have cut out to put in the basement stairs.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 8:22PM
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I've hired a draftsman (woman) twice and found they were able to adapt existing plans fantastically!
Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 6:59PM
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We decided to spend some time with the stock plan. And then hire a local draftsman to make any changes. We will hire a green building consultant to help us orient the house etc. I think it ultimately makes the most sense for us.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 2:02PM
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Nashville- I believe you made a very good case for hiring an architect before building a Harmon's thread, on the Building a Home forum. Maybe reviewing that would be helpful :)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 4:03PM
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Lavender, I understand. We went back and forth. But as I said there if the plan requires 15 changes to make it function start over or hire an architect. Initially when we looked nothing met our needs, every stock plan needed multiple changes. We were set on hiring an architect and did the interviews and search. However we stumbled across this plan and realized we wouldn't be making numerous changes. I can't really think of any we would make except a full bath in-between the rec room and tv room in the basement. All things a builder did in NY and plans are available. The stock plans show a potential half bath there. So once again our changes are minimal. Sure we will tweak the kitchen a bit (no seating at a penisula instead it will double as display or china hutch and a 36" induction range). We love the plans modification for creating a family room upstairs in-between the master and kids room. This would be a perfect spot for a library/reading/computer nook. We also now understand that the home calls for the advanced framing with insulation we wanted. Again it is in the stock plan. We will be upgrading doors windows or finishings but the envelope and room placement will stay the same. The only other thing I can think of is a fireplace in basement and built ins.

A green building consultant in conjunction with landscape architect will ensure we get the house placement right as well as other greening features and help us decide trees to keep or transplant to provide natural sun shade and a beautiful lawn. So I thought the draftsman plus the landscape architect and gbc would get us to a finished house we will love for years to come.

If someone had suggested major shortcomings or made us see that we would want to increase size of rooms or move walls then I would revert back to hiring the out of state architect. Please point out all the shortcomings. Perhaps I'll realize our folly and hire the architect.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:35PM
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We have close to the same living room dinning room kitchen lay out except flipped and flopped. It is a nice space to live in. Your area is bigger by a few feet which would be even better than we have. Even so we are happy with this space since it is the main living space for us that is.

Love the picture of your house and the back porch off the bedroom. Wonder what they did to make the driveway look like it does. Just curious.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Shades- thanks! It's reassuring to read :)

I'm not sure but I'm guessing it's concrete pavers and grassPave2 or something similar to turfstone?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:34AM
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NashvilleBuild, did you end up choosing this floorplan? If so, I'd love to see photos or hear how your build is going. We are slowly leaning away from a large home toward the New Economy plan ourselves.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2014 at 5:42PM
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