Preliminary external elevations.

We met with the architects just before we left for Hawaii.  They have created updated internal floor plans and have created preliminary external elevation drawings.  I will share them below with some brief comment on changes.

Main Floor

snip - main floor


Only minor changes to the main floor.  Orientation of the garage has swung 90 degrees.  Entrance has been protruded to provide a grander entrance area wrapped in stone.  The orientation of the powder room and coat closet at front have changed.  Deck has been added.  Small changed to size of guest room.  Bay window added to the Den.

Upper Floor

snip - second floor


Reading room made a bit bigger and up higher.  Closet rearranged.

Lower Floor

snip - lower floor


Exercise room enclosed.   Au Pair room closet moved out.

North Facing Elevation – Facing the road

snip - north elevation

This is facing the house from the driveway, towards the main entrance.  You can now see the side of the garage from this perspective and not the front.  The small tower looking room is the reading room off of the Master Bedroom.

West Facing Elevation – Facing the pond and field

snip - west elevation


Looking back at the house from the pond and field.  On the main floor you are looking into the great room, dining room and kitchen.  On the lower floor you are looking into the rec room.  On the top floor you are looking into the Master Bedroom and Reading Room.

East Facing Elevation – Facing the garage from the back of the lot

snip - east elevation

This is the looking from the back of the property through the garage, as if it was invisible, but don’t worry the garage won’t be invisible.  Looking into the bay window in the Den and Ainsley’s Bedroom on the second floor.

South Facing Elevation – facing the house from the side road, near the lamas.

snip - south elevation

Looking at the garage, stairwell and Zoe’s Bedroom on the second floor.

Christina wasn’t very happy with the exterior as she was hoping for more of a tradition look and this is much more modern than I think she would have preferred.

Let us know what you think.



Preliminary Floor Plans.

We spent a few hours at the architects reviewing preliminary floor plans today.  Here is what we have so far.

Main Floor


The side of the house with the family room, dining room and kitchen will be facing the pond and field.  That whole area is open and will have a cascading ceiling.   The dining room higher than the kitchen, and the family room higher than the dining room.  Outside of the dining room will be a cover patio, where you can see the BBQ sketched in.

Upper Floor


The upper floor has the bedrooms.  With a nice reading nook off of the master bedroom that is a few stairs up and separated from the main bedroom.

Lower Floor


The lower floor will be a daylight basement, with a entrance to a small covered patio off of the rec room.

We have made a few modification to these plans at the architects today, but nothing major. Next step is to start working on the exterior and elevations.

Programming Process

Ok this is not programming in the way the computer geeks out there will think.  We are in the programming phase of our home building.  This entails sitting for hours and hours with the Architect and going over in detail what we want in every room and where we want it located in relation to the other rooms.  It took over an hour and a half to talk about the entry from the garage.  What I would call the mudroom but the Architect calls the postern.

I lost my fight for the separate dining room for our big dining table and butlers pantry.  In the end I was convinced for the amount of time we would use the room it was not worth allocating the space.  So it will be open plan with kitchen/dining/great room.  Our big table will be out in the open.  We were going to have an eating nook built into the kitchen but with some seating at the island and the huge dining table I thought it was a bit redundant.

Our master bedroom ended up being smaller than we were thinking.  We are taking the tv out of it and going to have a separate sitting area for reading and watching tv.  I think this will make our room less cluttered and more cozy and restful.  Our bathroom was interesting too.  Steve wants a walk through shower.  He doesn’t want to feel like he is on display when he is in the shower.  Right now the kids like to hang out in the bathroom and one of Ainsley’s favourite things is to watch you in the shower.  She always says “I want to watch you” lol.  I am hoping when we move they spend less time in our area and we will have a lock on our bathroom door.  I don’t want to feel like I am showering in a dark cave.  He said there could be frosted windows to the outside in the shower but I also don’t want to put a show on for anyone.  Although it is very private.

Well this is a long post so I will post more as we go along.  I will also try to get some pictures up of the current buildings on the property.  I have not seen inside the house because we are not able to get in it is locked and dead bolted.  We can unlock it but not get the deadbolt open.  I did peek in some windows.

So far I have discovered that what I went in thinking I wanted is not really what I wanted.  The David (the Architect) keeps asking us questions and showing us pictures of other homes they have done that cause us to change our minds.  One house they did nicknamed the Hobbit House because of the round door is amazing.  I loved the kitchen but it was made for the lady of the house who is an avid cook and does dinner parties with plated meals.  It is way more kitchen then I would ever need.  I do hope to cook more once we move in and I have an amazing kitchen.

The kitchen was something I had not thought of except you see the pictures of the huge kitchens with the island and all the bells and whistles and think wow.  Well David chatted with us about function and asked how I cooked. When Steve finally stopped laughing about my cooking.  I told him that my cooking was very chaotic and I was not an organized cook.  He then told us about how the kitchen should be arranged.  The prep area with a sink likely on the island, the clean up area with a sink and where the dishwasher is located also where the dishes are stored, and the hot area where the cooking is done.  These areas are all separate and can have people using them at the same time even without having a huge kitchen.  Maybe the dishes get stored in a floor to ceiling cupboard so those of us that can not reach past the second shelf in our upper cupboards have an easier time and the kids are also able to then help with clean up.  I am planning on getting two ovens in there.  One of which will be under the cook top which in our home now is a storage area for garbage bags and other such things.  David has given us lots of ideas for storage of appliances and has convinced me to get the thing that your mixer sits on and pops up to counter level so you don’t have to lift it.  So perhaps I will use my kitchen aide mixer more.  Or as I have offered to one friend perhaps my friends that can cook will come teach me in exchange for a night or two in my craft cabin.  I also had someone ask if they could come cook in my kitchen and I said anytime as long as I got to eat the food.

We also are now going to have a three level house with a walk out basement.  Which was not really something I was looking for.  Again David suggested that maybe the playroom be downstairs because as the kids got older they would have a place to hang out that was out of the way.  In the end we agreed and it worked out because we may put the media room, exercise room (maybe we will use it 🙂 ) and au pair room downstairs.  This means our au pair would have the playroom area as a tv room/hang out space when she was not working when the kids are in bed and would be able to come and go from the house through the basement.

Our laundry room was a bit up in the air.  Upper level by bedrooms which I have now.  I find I do the laundry put in the the basket back in the room and then it sits there until it is worn then it starts again.  When my laundry was on the lower level I folded the laundry while watching tv took it up and put it away.  In the end we decided to put the laundry in the postern/mudroom on the main floor.  This will also mean the au pair will go up one level to the laundry room and it will be extra exercise for me to take my stuff up and down the stairs.  I may be sorry about this decision but oh well.

Design process begins

We spent the day from 9:30-5 with the Architect talking about how we wanted to use our new house and what function we wanted.  We spent 2 hours discussing entryways.  We also discussed great room, dining, and kitchen spaces.

This part I think is easier for Steve because he can visualize the space and size of rooms.  I need to be in the space to be able to tell how big it is.  We now have to figure out how many feet of storage we want in our mudroom area.  While I can see in my mind what I want I cannot figure out how much space it requires.  This will be Steves job.

We go back on Friday to talk more this time for 4 hours.  There will likely be a couple more full days of talks before they have a rough sketch of a floor plan.

Steve and I have been able to agree on most things and compromise.  He did not really say much about the kitchen and let me run with it and I will leave the den/library to him.  I do think the den/library should be close to our room so that it will be a quiet space for him to escape to and work in.  We did disagree about a bathroom that would be accessed from outside and not connected to the inside of the house.  Steve was for it so the girls wouldn’t have to come in and take their shoes off to use bathroom I was against because there are other things I would much rather have.

After all of this part the hard part is going to be the reality phase where we figure out if the house we have now created is in our budget.  We had discussed the budget with the architect so they are aware of what our ball park is.

I am sure Steve will be sharing his thoughts.  So far this process while a bit long does have merit.  It is helpful to have someone give suggestions and say why they think that may or may not work for you.  Ultimately we do decide but we would be foolish not to listen to people who have experience and at least consider what they say.

Signing on the dotted line

Well we are signing the closing papers tomorrow so it looks like we will be spending the next year and then some building a house.  The feasibility issues have been resolved and we will be able to fit the house where we want it.

I went and walked with the builder and the wetland specialist to get an idea of where the wetland borders were and the buffers that would be needed.  It is all very low grade wetland so the buffers are small and the areas are not places we wanted to build.  We will be able to use our large field for playing which is what we were concerned about.  Also the area is smaller than we originally thought and does not extend to where the current house is.  Oddly enough the pond is not wetlands because it is clearly man made.  We are very glad about that.  Now we have to get an official report and submit it to the county for them to review and approve or edit the boundaries.  A process we have been told can take up to 6 months.  During that time we will be working on the design of the home and hopefully come up with something we both like so we are able to submit paperwork for permit approval as soon as wetland boundaries have been established and recorded.

Steve sent a picture of a Frank Lloyd Wright house for sale in the area as our dream home.  While I do love the home it is not what I envision with kids.  We have a huge file of pictures of things we like.  I am thinking about going through and taking out the ones I don’t like LOL.  Steve may not even notice.

I want to confirm with Steve and make sure he sticks to my craft cabin being built the same time as the house or it may never get done.  As that is my real dream area of this whole thing.  Plus I will have somewhere to go if the stress of this whole process causes tension once we move in.

Look for more posts soon about how the design process is going for us and if we are able to compromise on what we want and merge it into one home.

Feasability ongoing

We walked the property with our architect on Friday so he could show us approximately where he thinks the buffer would be in relation to our building area.  While we were there we discovered a lot of water running down the hill to the pond that we have not seen previously.  We are hoping this drys up before Monday when the lady doing the wetlands study comes out to asses and mark the buffers officially on the property.

Our architect has told us that he gets the sense that she really wants to work with us as there is no critical area and no plant or animals are in the areas.  It is mostly due to soil type and a kind of weed thing that grows in wetland areas that it is classified as that.  I will hopefully be going out on Monday to walk the property with them when they go.

We have to give the go ahead by Wednesday.  Of course Steve is out of town for work so I am going to be doing this myself this week.  At that point we are saying we are satisfied or not with the feasibility.  If it is a go then we move to closing.  After that getting the wetlands study accepted by the county which can take up to 6 months.  The lady our architects have recommended is one the county deals with regular y and has a very good reputation with them so they may just accept her findings and not worry about sending their own person out to confirm her findings.  That would be best case.

During that time we will start designing the actual house based on the report we have submitted to the county.  Then if they approve it as is we will be ready to go to submit building permits.  That could be another 3 months or so for approval.  Which means it is likely that the earliest we would start building is 9 months from now then probably another 12 months for construction.  So maybe by Christmas 2014 we will be done.

I am hoping we have at least a informal design done on the house before we go to Hawaii.

On-going feasibility challenges

We had to get an extension on the feasibility period on our land offer.  We now have until February 6th to decide if we are going to move forward with purchasing the property.  Christina and I met with the architect firm that is doing the feasibility this morning.  We had a consultant from an environmental firm out last week to look at the property and unfortunately learnt that much of the property will be considered wetlands.  Fortunately this doesn’t necessarily put our building plans at risk, as the part that is considered a wetland critical area is the big field, which is not where we were planning building.   The problem is that there will be a buffer around the wetland area that may encroach on the area we wanted to build.

Our architect and the environmental consultant will visit the county planning department on Thursday to get a preliminary feel for how flexible they will be and then we will need to make a decision.  Unfortunately we can’t get a definitive answer on where we can build until we officially apply for a ruling and that will likely take six months, so we eventually will have to take some risk, but we want as much information as we get before we make that decision.

Good news & bad news

We have been making good progress on the feasibility phase on our land offer contingencies.  Unfortunately this has turned up a few problems.  The first is the current well, which is clean (approved by the health board) and high volume (~40 gallons per minute) is likely out of code.  Too close to the pond and maybe the property boundary.  So we will likely need to drill a new well.  We are going back to the owner with a price adjustment to cover the costs of the new well.

On the good news side the Geotech company said they saw no problems and advised against any further analysis on this front until we are ready to build the foundation.  So that is that out of the way.  The company that was reviewing for septic systems also indicated there were a couple of decent spots for septic systems that will cover the size of house we are planning to build.  This also conflicts with the current well, so we may have had to move it anyways.

If we can get the well issue resolve the only other challenge ahead on the feasibility front is getting the county out to review the site for critical areas.  We will likely have a consultant come out first to see if they see any potential issues.  Holding off on that until we get the well issue resolved with the seller.