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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'm Not Moving Anytime Soon, Part 2

The House I Want:

I have always desired a particular floorplan.  All one level (no basement, no attic), and all interior rooms except bedrooms and bathrooms being divided by 30"/1 meter high walls.  So I could have a sensation of space.  Kitchen cabinets at the floor and above, but with the space between them open.

I want a 2 bay garage; one bay for the car, a second bay for a decent small boat.

I want a workshop about 20'x30' so I don't have to push equipment around on wheeled bases to get at them; with a garage door for easy access.

I want a TV room positioned where I can watch the TV while I prepare food in the kitchen (as I can now), because I spend a lot of time doing both.

I want a fireplace where I can see it burning from anywhere in the house.

I want high ceilings for a feeling of space.

I want geothermal HVAC (Heating And Ventilation Air Conditioning) and solar panels covering a unobstructed south-facing roof.

I emailed many "custom-builders" asking about such a floorplan.  Only one replied, saying the layout needed "rearrangement for utility efficiency".    That's OK, its the basic open structure that matters.

My basic idea is this:

I sent the diagram to a dozen custom builders asking if they could build something like that.  I had no idea what to expect, but I figured that if anyone HAD built custom-designed houses, they might already have something like that.  Only one replied and said the design was flawed for efficient utility design and they couldn't tell the scale, but they could come up with "something more buildable" in a couple days.

I waited 3 days and emailed to ask if they had anything and were still interested.  I even said that I understood my amateur diagram probably had some flaws and looked forward to just a paper sketch suggesting a new arrangement of rooms so that I could imagine "walking around through the house" before we discussed details of actual architectural plans and costs.

Now, keep in mind that there are thousands of free basic floorplans on the internet.  None of those will enable you to build a house.  The real work is in the details and a basic floorplan doesn't provide those!

But the custom home builder apparently wanted (and I didn't realize THAT being new to custom-built houses) payments up front.  OK, I might have considered it in $100's, had he mentioned that.  My conclusion is that this particular builder wants to know how much I CAN spend, and get me for some few $1,000 starting fees  of the process without MY having the slightest idea of the final fees or design.  Well, maybe he is used to building houses for really rich people who have too much money...

So I replied that the overall dimensions were about 30'x80' and it was otherwise to scale.  I took 2 classes in mechanical drawing, and an architect's ruler (a weird triangular ruler) adjusts to all scaling would have told them everything.

I emailed a note of apology for wasting his time...

I don't know why my basic design is so hard for builders around here to consider.  It seems they just don't LIKE the idea.  I had an Uncle and Aunt with that basic house in New England, and it was easy to build.

I still want that house.  I just might have to approach getting it another way.

But then there is the property.  I wanted a lot large enough to guarantee sunny space for gardening and sun on the roof for solar panels regardless of neighbors' trees..  And I wanted geothermal HVAC.   I thought that meant at least 2-3 acres.

So I had a Real Estate Agent looking.  She found several properties close to my fishing locations,  open and level, 2-3 acres.  I visited them.  They certainly were open and level.  I took lots of pictures.

When I got home and loaded the pictures, I realized things I had missed...

The lots were end parts of working farms.  I hadn't considered the smell of commercial fertilizers and the sound of agricultural equipment working from dawn to dusk.  If the entire farm was being sold for residential lots, that would be one thing.  But they were not.  The one soybean field being sold as residential was fine in THAT regard, but the slope of the property from the owners house shows severe erosion.  Not good.

The Real Estate Agent suggested some other properties.  But those were all on well water and septic tank sewage.  I'm not ready for that.  Wells dry out sometimes, and both wells and septic tanks need some routine maintenance.  I'm not that great on routine maintenance.

And they only have satellite TV service.

So she suggested that I consider places closer to me that were on city water and sewage and cable/Fios.  And she mentioned that places with city water and sewage were generally 1/2 acre lots and already built on with standard houses.

Um, I'm there NOW...  So I would be going through the trouble of moving to be in a house and lot about what I have now.


No point in moving, is there?

I'm going to keep looking, I might find just the right space.  But I won't find it today or tomorrow.


Alasandra, The Cats and Dogs said...

I hope one day you find the perfect spot for you and the kitties. I like your basic floor plan.

Megan said...

Mark - knowing what you want is a big step forward. It doesn't SOUND too hard, does it? Why does it (apparently) have to BE so hard? Rats, rats, rats. Perhaps you could explore the feasibility of buying two adjacent 1/2 acre lots or moving further afield - ie to another city - in order to get the size of property but still have city water and sewage. (And, by the way, I agree - these days, it's not too much to expect these basic services, along with high-speed internet too.)

Good luck.

Sydney, Australia

MeezerMews&FrecklesWoofs said...

Have you looked into homes built *into* a hillside, surrounded on three sides by earth, and open to the south? We have a home like that nearby us, it has a earth roof too, grass and blooms grow in it, it is solar heated and all the rooms are mostly on one side of the home if I recall. Apparently they hardly ever need to turn the furnace on, having a heat pump. And it stays quite cool on hot summer days too. When it was built several years ago, it caused quite a stir, because of its uniqueness. Not sure if it was designed by professionals or by the family.

Its called an earth bermed home. Maybe if you google that...its on White Rabbit Road, Pennfield Township, near Battle Creek, Michigan.

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Iza, and Marley) said...

I have indeed. That was what my organic Grampa was researching in his last years and the thought has crossed my mind.

The general idea is that the southern exposure is mostly glass for sun-heating, that there are lightshafts into the house by various reflective or optic fiber technologies and the the bulk of the house is kept at moderate temperatures by earth.

I'm balanced between a need for actual sunlight and a general satisfaction with artificial light. It WOULD be a big step, but one I could consider.

The problem would be living in a hill and trying to get some sort of garden surviving at the same time. It wouls seem a bit weird to water a garden on the top of my house, but if the mechanics of it work, why not?

MeezerMews&FrecklesWoofs said...

I tried to find some pictures/info about that home here, but not successful. Sorry.

There sure are lots of different designs for that type of home. Even one in Minnesota, wow, that is a way northern state and cold in the winters...

The Battle Creek area home does have a garden on their roof. So does our police station, LOL, but its a regular building with a flat roof, modified to accommodate the weight.
And us? We live in an old (1907) frame home, we fondly call it our barn...a story and a half, hard to insulate properly, a so called Michigan cellar (It has a stone foundation and a dirt floor, eeuuwww!) No cupboards except those built into the eaves of the sloped roof...sigh...sometimes the walls even groan and the floors are all uneven, sheesh, what was the man thinking when he bought this place...and me when I got married and allowed myself to start living here, LOL!!
Love huh, it does weird things to a peep!