Projecting Cost

While we’re waiting for the estimate (due at the end of the month), we might as well talk about cost. I’ve diligently avoided naming our budget so far, and it’s because budget is relative to income and cost is relative to location. A 1,500 square foot home could cost $120k in Fort Wayne, $180k in Indianapolis, and $800k in San Jose. I want to keep this discussion relevant in all cases.

Most people expect architects to have an expert grasp on construction costs, but there’s also a reputation for blowing budgets with all of our chic finery. Continue reading


Schematic Design

After a LOT of deliberation, we decided that we really liked the common living spaces of her plan, with the kitchen tucked to the side but still open to the dining and the loft space above.  But the narrow footprint of my plan and ‘walk out’ condition with the garage made more sense with our sloping site and existing trees.  I had to promise to carry groceries up (although there is space for a dumb waiter in the thick masonry dividing wall) and our plans were merging together after all!

We did some massaging (for instance, the discussion of resale added a walk in closet in the master suite), and we kept both a library and a separate loft space.  The overall finished area totaled about 12.5% more than the 2,400 s.f. we had programmed for.

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Dueling concepts.

Since the two of us liked different massing concepts, we developed both to see if they could merge at some point down the pipeline.  We started referring to these as mine and yours, but for the sake of clarity here, we’ll say hers and his:


Both designs feature a masonry wall on both the inside and out that divides the common public spaces from the living spaces.

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Random Sketches (process)

While designers revel in polishing our ideas before showing them off, it’s always cool to see the messy process that leads up to it.  Consider this “behind the scenes” footage on the bonus features of our blog.  People pay extra to see that stuff.  But for you, my friend…  I’ll start with the tiny elevation sketches that I tend to do.

I’ve been teased before for these itty bitty sketches and had them sardonically called ‘jewels’ because they’re just enticing enough without solving big problems.  But they help to establish a general look before having to delving into details. Continue reading

On Green Design

I’m a tree hugger, but I’m leery of the green trend.

For instance, a few years back a green publication named a hybrid SUV the Green Car of the Year.  It gets 20/23 mpg.  While it’s an improvement for the vehicle class and an introduction to great new technology, 20/23 mpg is pretty pathetic to hail as the best new thing in earth-friendly resource conservation.  I hate to think that owners of this vehicle might pat themselves on the back, believing they’re saving the planet.

Similarly, building an 8,000 square foot home for a family of two with bamboo floors and energy star appliances just doesn’t cut it.  (Conversely, I’ve picked up books featuring small green homes only to find most of them have 1 bedroom.  Yes, there is a market, but let’s be practical.)

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