We had a few goals in mind:
a beautiful and functional house suited to our family
orientated to take advantage of southern exposure
classic architecture - still appealing over time, elegant
energy efficient - well insulated
adaptable to future technology - i.e. solar power
healthy indoor air - long term
I have looked at this list over and over, both to remind myself and to check if the design is meeting the goals.
Our deeply loved home in Atlanta was a starting point for the design. A small front facade, defined, but open living spaces, classic design. From there we thought about how to fix all the not-so-functional parts of that house, got a guest room, moved the family bedrooms upstairs and added a family room off the back of the house (remember our screened porch in Atlanta?). This design is everything I had hoped and more, with the minor exception of it being more square footage than I expected.
The design has met all our goals so far. I think it will fit our family's full life at home (work at-home dad, homechooling kids, crafty mom, woodworking dad), until the kids leave, then it might feel a little big. It is classic but has modern elements, namely the extra large windows.
We worked with both our architect, Erica, and the builder throughout the design process, thinking that it would help keep the house within budget. It took a while to research wall systems for a super insulated house in Anchorage (no one has done it here), windows and to start getting real numbers. By the time our selected builder had a solid estimate, it was June 2012, almost too late to start here in Anchorage. The numbers were also about 50% higher than we expected. Besides, being too expensive, the builder was still in the middle of another big project, so we wouldn't be able to start soon anyway. We decided to stop the whole process and had to come up with a new plan.
Another builder (one of our top choices) happened to call us shortly after we put a stop to everything. He offered to give us another set of numbers. I think he was eager to get started, but we weren't sure we wanted to spend the money to build the house we designed. Thankfully he came back with significantly better numbers. He was also willing to work with us on pricing the details and his subcontractors had much, much better numbers. We realized we should have selected him in the first place and began moving forward with a plan to build in May/June 2012.
We actually took a nice long break from thinking about the house over the winter, but we recently met with both our builder and our architect to get back into it all. We need to finalize a few details and then go through the local permitting process.
Take a look at the following images. We will be rearranging the kitchen, so don't worry about the details there and changing a few minor details such as closet door swings, and the crawl space access location. The bottom of the floorplans is the South wall. All those living spaces will get lovely southern sunlight throughout the day. The sun will start on the Eastside in the Family Room and Kitchen window and upstairs in the Master bedroom, then work its way around the to long wall of windows in the Kitchen, Dining and Living areas, finally setting on the West end through the windows in Living Room.