Many changes, but little progress

Since it has been a few weeks since we declared victory on the wetlands designation I thought it would be useful to provide a brief update. In general there has been a decent amount of activity, but unfortunately no real progress. We need to complete engineering drawings so that they can be submitted to the county and we can wait approximately three months for permits. However, since we received the wetland designation a number of changes have been proposed (mostly by me, much to Chris’ feelings of consternation) and that has ground most of the engineering progress to a halt.

First the good news. We have multiple quotes on both septic system designs and drilling of a new well. As you may remember the original well, which is awesome in all ways (high water pressure, clean, etc.) doesn’t meet code and so needs to be decommissioned. We are hoping that we can use it to either feed the sprinkler system for the buildings or feed irrigation systems, or hopefully both. In any case we need to drill a new well and that seems like it won’t be a problem. Finding water on this property is not one of our challenges. The soil samples and changes to house location (more on that in a minute) have likely simplified and reduced the cost of the septic system.

In addition to making good progress on the septic and well systems we have selected a builder.  We interviewed a number of builders, all came as recommendations from our architect.  In the end the choice was fairly easy.  The builder we chose has a ton of experience building custom homes in the area, has worked with our architect in the past and we absolutely fell in love with one of their builds.  Here is information on the builder if you are in the market, can’t comment on anything first hand but they seem top rate:

Bender Construction Company
150 Lake Street South, Suite 224
Kirkland, WA 98033

Since the wetlands designation came back with no protected areas it caused us (me) to re-imagine the whole lot and this has created quite a few potential changes. The original placement of the house was up on a small hill in the middle of the property. This location was mostly selected because it was the only viable location given our understanding of likely wetland designation and setback restrictions. With those out of the way we started playing with alternative locations.

The first iteration of this was to move the house down the hill and onto the edge of the pond, looking north towards the main road. We would then refurbish the existing workshop into a new office/workshop for me. However, after further thought and some preliminary sketches putting the house there created a lot of new problems. It cleaves the yard into two large sections, which greatly diminishes the utility of the yard and having two large structured built on the pond would I think not look very good, given the relatively small size of the pond. So we then thought that we should move the house to the other side of the pond, bring all of the buildings together on that end of the lot. Greatly reduce the amount of driveway and pavement on the property and situate all of the buildings around the pond/garden area. This would leave a majority of the yard to the south open and more natural.
snip - layout
Of course this change in position requires some fairly radical changes to the floor plan of the main house. The original design was three floors with a daylight basement containing theater, rec room, au pair bedroom, bathroom and exercise room. The new location doesn’t allow for a daylight basement and we don’t want three stories, so we have eliminated the third floor and moved most of the rooms from that floor over the garage. Below is a fairly rough sketch showing placement on the lot and general design changes to the house. We are waiting for the architect to complete full designs of the new house layout and will review those when I get back from a business trip next week.

snip - new layout

I really like both the new location and the new house design. I was never a huge fan of the basement and the new design will allow the main entrance to look right through the house out the back windows and have a full view of the pond and a majority of the lot. Chris is somewhat ambivalent at best about the new design and fairly unhappy about the delays and constant changes. I hopeful that when she sees the finished project it will all be worthwhile. As always would love to hear comments on the changes.