Sunday, January 28, 2007

House Images

We just went to our local Home show to look around and get a feel of what else might be out there in the building world. We met a couple of contractors who build in the area. I wanted to talk to some of the contractors that work with the ICF's (Insulating Concrete Forms - styrofoam legos). You can use the ICF pieces for footings and or the entire structure shell. Essentially they are styrofoam blocks with some type of netting in between that concrete gets poured into. They are supposed to be very efficient but they do cost more (kept hearing 5% more - but I'm sure it is more than that) I'll do more research on it and do another posting on it later, it may be overkill for our design.

Okay, so I played around with AutoCad and I got some images. This is our design that we are working with. Zach is still finishing the structural calculations and some other details, but this is what we are working of of now. The first picture is a floorplan of the 1st floor (1554 sq.ft.).

Next, is a floorplan of the 2nd Story with an outline of the 1st floor underneath (we both try to shrink this master bedroom down - its hard!). The last picture is a 3 D image.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Survey is Complete

We received the final survey plat today from our surveyor (private surveyor). Next, I need to get some final documents together (tax records, title report, well logs, etc.) to submit to our planning department as a final partition application. Once approved (usually 1-3 months), we can officially submit the survey and get going.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fancy Shmancy or Durable Classic Wood Stove

Woodstoves come in all shapes and sizes. We have been looking at few types. Basically there is the standard black stove (that heats very well) and it runs for $800-$1400 and will go with everything and be in style for a long time. Or there is the cast iron type available in a few colors (brown, black, blue, red i guess-this is the first red one i've seen-, mahogany, and white). It looks a little smaller than the standard black models, but it looks pretty cool. It runs $2600-$3200. The cast iron one has a front, side, and top loading door. I just don't know how efficient they are. The extra large cast iron model can heat up to 2400 square feet. The equivalent black woodstove made by a company like Quadra Fire can heat up to 2800 square feet. I keep changing my mind. Zach votes for the black classic model. I like that type too, but I also like the look of the cast iron one....Hmmm. Any ideas, or comments?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Style for the House

One problem I keep facing (see below for a great example...) is the melding of styles that I love in the design of the home. Fortunately, Zach and I agree on the overall style of the house. We both like simple, open, modern interiors, with lots of storage, good functionality, and for it to be as efficient as possible. We both like the Frank Lloyd Wright style with strong lines and the low pitch roofs. Lots of character without being too complex. Tomek Residence (Riverside, IL) - 1904

... Next... We also like the design and colors of IKEA kitchens. Here is an example of what we were thinking, cabinet wise (not layout) RED is now on our minds. The kitchen planner is a great tool that they have. You can lay the room out (dimensions, windows, door placement, etc.), fill it with the right cabinets, and get a price on everything. You can also view it in 3D (I tried to cut and paste my kitchen design and couldn't do it, so I'll work on that later). Just to keep everyone filled in...IKEA Portland is coming to us this summer. The official ground breaking took place July 2006.

Finally (not really, but for the sake of space)....Here is a picture from my recent trip to Mexico. We both love the foyer type entrances, use of color, and the open layouts of the spanish style homes. Still working on convincing Zach we need an atrium with an indoor fountain...
From what I've said so far I know it is hard to believe that we actually have a design in mind that we both like and can work with but I think we have something good. The interior will be a little harder. I had trouble getting AutoCad examples posted (earlier blog is missing the links) I will keep working on getting AutoCad layers posted.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Water On

Ahh...The water is back on. Actually it was an easy fix. Apparently the switch shut off. It needed to be reset I think. It came on after a few tries. We'll watch it, but hopefully it is not a big deal. This photo is from my recent trip to Mexico (plaza at the Museum of Modern Art - Mexico City) and not a picture of our water pipes thank god.

Today's meeting with the loan officer went well. We essentially got approved to have the higher loan amount. There is nothing solid or in writing but good news that she said there should be no problem for the loan. I'll compare the fees (Good Faith Estimate) from each lender and see what the better deal is.

Most construction loans offer a "one time close" in which you switch to a standard mortgage loan immediately after construction without more closing fees. Construction loans have a higher interest rate than the standard mortgage loan (around 8.25%) but hopefully that only lasts 6-12 months.

For now, we need to keep working on the plans and get it as complete as we can to get it to a builder soon (1-2 months) for a good estimate. Also, the sooner the builder can commit to this project the better. Once it gets close to the summer months we may be waiting for contractors to get to our project.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Buildings Schmildings

So the surveyor calls today and says the boundary line (line that allows us to split the two propertites based on split zoning for each lot) between the two lots runs right through a building. We were not quite sure where that line would fall we know. So after talking to a few different people at the planning department at the county we are pretty sure that we can jog the line around the building and another barn leaving a 10' setback from each structure. It is a small enough change that hopefully does not require another permit application. The surveyor will have to come back out and do these additional measurements and set more monuments, and redraw the plat map...(more money, but hopefully this will fix it).

Tonight, after work and my hip hop dance class (Fun class) I come home and take a shower. The water shuts off just as I'm finished. I thought, perfect did it know I was done? Then I paused, realized what happened...the water is no longer running. The power is on, the water can't be shutting off? Is the well Dry? Are we all out of water? Did the pipes freeze and burst? We were talking about drilling the well deeper months ago. Hmmm... Zach just went outside to check the pumphouse, 11:30 pm, 30 degrees outside, and the pumphouse is about 500 feet away from here.

Always something going on. Tomorrow after work I visit with another mortgage loan officer for an estimate on construction loans. I have done business with her before and I like her. We will see how much their fees are and if we can borrow more than we originally wanted to. The more the better. I went to Selco Credit Union and Wells Fargo about two months ago and have read that I should try a mortgage broker instead of a bank. I'll post more on construction loans tomorrow...and give an update on the water situation.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Design Time

After many many months of looking at house design books and websites we decided to start drawing our own ideas. Our building site sits on top of a slope that is a little narrow due to the fact that we think we are going to keep the current septic tank in its current location. The slope would allow for a basement. We wanted to do a garage / basement so as to not have a large garage as the first thing you see when you get to the house. Here is a picture of the view standing at the approximate level of the top of the basement.

Zach has AutoCad 2006 software that he used for some of his engineering classes and currently at his job. So almost every day we are making additions and changes to our plans. We both want a second story (master bedroom). After many alterations we have come up with a plan that we consistently like; however, on the links below I still need to arrange the interior of the bathrooms (both of them). It is amazing how much you have to think about (cabinets, windows, floor height, etc). I often think to go to a designer to draw up our plans, but Zach thinks he can do the work, and so far he has done great. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Here is the 1st Level floorplan with a blue line outlining where the second story would go. 2nd story floorplan. The basement will be approximately 600 square fee. The 1st floor around 1600 square feet, and the 2nd floor at 625. Our idea is to have an open floor plan (kitchen, dining, living area) with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. A basement for a two car garage with extra storage space.

I'll work on finding a way to get better AutoCad drawings on this site. We have 3D versions of the house on AutoCad that would be cool to let you see...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Snow, Surveying, and Shopping

Snow has come and stayed. We aren't getting much done outside so we have been checking in with the surveryor. He will be done in a week or two. The survey is being done to officially split one big lot into two. The two lots have been taxed separately for years, they each have a house, and they are zoned differently; however, they have never been officially 2 legal lots. One is farm zoned one is rural residential. Because of the split zoning, we were able to officially split the one big legal lot into two legal lots. This will also allow for a smoother construction loan transaction.

I applied for a preliminary partition to get the split going back in June of 2005. It was approved through the county in September of 2005. A final partition is now needed and part of that will be to get a survey done and recorded. After some researching and recommendations, we hired a land surveyor, Donn Rowe in November of 2006. He has been out putting up pink flagging all over the property. It is pretty interesting what he does. I think we are getting more property (from an adjacent neighbor) according to the flagging.

Anyways, once the Surveying is complete (one or two weeks) I will do the paperwork and get a final partition going. Then we are on our way to apply for building permits....

Oh, Shopping. We have been going to our local home improvement store, Jerry's Home Improvement Center, to get pricing for everything (faucets, door knobs, tubs, EVERYTHING). I think they (the sales associates) are beginning to think we go there for a social kind of thing. We go there for hours on end, drink coffee, walk around and ...okay so maybe it is our only type of social function...whatever, not what I was trying to get at. Anyways, for a good bid from a builder you need to have a good description (construction specifications) of everything. To stay within our budget we need to price almost every item and pick and choose wisely.

To Build or Not to Build

We have been thinking about building for about 2 years now. We both love the place we currently live (building site) although it is adorned with a late 70's vintage single-wide right now. Although I love the single-wide living; I yearn for something with warmth, insullation, thick walls, nice decor, and with nature close by (not in the walls).

Zach and I have been talking about the next step for years... Buy a house, move, stay... buy, move, (that sounded fun) and we were off. When I get an idea I just have to go with it. I bought the book, Building Your Own Home for Dummies which is an amazing resource and have been collecting ideas ever since.

I'll update this site with photos and postings as often as I can. So join us in our journey. Here goes....! (You know this house thing really has to happen when you've created your own site).