Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Our Budget

This is the most Frequently Asked Question, so here it is, straight from the hip:

Our max budget:
325,000=construction costs for 2500 square foot energy efficient SIP home
77,500=3 acre lot cost
25,000=soft costs (home/septic design, structural & septic engineering)
55,000=swimming pool (16 ft x 40 ft)


However, we may swallow the soft costs and pay for that out of our own pocket.

We'll let you know if we go over or under this budget. We will try to reduce the construction costs as much as possible.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


And introducing... the Leyonberg Estate (story to follow)
This 2500 square foot home, utilizes a lot of outdoor spaces to take advantage of fine Austin weather (8 months of the year, at least!). There will also be an open-air, detached garage port not shown on these plans.

These are pretty much finalized, but we have a few tweaks to do:




The name "Leyonberg" is my husband's paternal grandmother's maiden name in Sweden, which is going extinct. There are only approximately a dozen people left in the world with this name. Not only is it relatively unique, but has a strong meaning, which I love... "leyon" is Swedish for "lion" and "berg" means "mountain". Lions are symbols of courage, honor and strength, and we think this house will fit it well, being one of the best green projects, requiring honest/good quality materials.

Elevations (Colored In)

I spent many hours coloring the elevations of our dream house... yes, I know, I'm a bit overzealous when it comes to our future home. I hope this will be an informative blog as well. Here are the 2-D images:

SOUTH (front)

NORTH (back)



Last weekend, we went to the Austin Energy Green by Design Workshop, which was an 8 hour, enlightening experience. According to them, as well as our own wonderful designer, Ted Mengers at Pyranak Design Group, either North or South should be the front elevation and the sides of the house should be oriented East-West. Yippee! We did it right.... and it looks gorgeous too.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Welcome to the Sjodin Dream Home Blog!

We are this daring couple, ready to start our modern design, energy efficient, eco-friendly and healthy dream home. This is where we will detail as much of this process for you who are trying to do the same, or are just curious how this baby will turn out!

This is our first home. And it will be custom designed, and we're considering being our own builders. Sound ambitious? Yes, we are. But, that's us!

Below is a rough color sketch of our future modern house on our 3 acre Austin Hill Country lot! We haven't decided on the colors yet, but just to give you an idea, we picked the purple/yellow cream below. The catwalk will have horizontal cable and steel railings. Keep checking this profile for more updates!!!

Southwest 3-D

Northeast 3-D

Here is more information about it:
Our walls and roof will be made from SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels made of styrofoam sandwiched between OSB wood boards) that will cut energy costs to up to 75%!!! Our roof will appear "flat", but actually be a low slope roof supported by styrofoam blocks and lined with a thin membrane surrounded by parapet walls (walls that are higher than the roofline to hide the slope). To the left is a roof garden where we want to grow organic vegetables/fruits. There will be 2 balconies, a part/open-air garage port, chemical free 16'x40' swimming pool, geothermal heating and cooling, solar panels, rainwater collection, and might be plumbed for graywater use. We will not have a lawn, but keep the natural dry terrain, using a lot of regional plants in our landscaping (called xeriscaping). The exterior will use stucco, stone, and wood panels, hardwood trellises, horizontal cable-steel railings on the front catwalk and north balcony. There is a 2nd floor entrance from the catwalk and a 1st floor entrance by the pool and carport (hidden and to the right). We will use stained concrete with abundant fly ash in it on the bottom floor and very sustainable bamboo flooring at the top floor. All bathrooms only have shower stalls except for master bedroom that will have a custom-made Japanese style soaking tub/shower combination done with stone-slate looking tiles and stair to get into the tub. We are importing Swedish toilets with larger pipes that use less water and NEVER stop up! We will have energy efficient European Electrolux appliances and a Swedish washer/dryer because they are high-quality and worth their extra expense. To save money, we will also use IKEA kitchen components (drawers only, no cabinets to crawl down into) and will either have a custom concrete with recycled materials mixed inor quartz countertop. There is an inner balcony that overlooks the 2-story open living/dining room and kitchen and a spiral stairway that goes down to the 1st level. We tried to avoid walls, halls and also incorporated a lot of sliding doors for the guest bathroom and small bedroom upstairs. I'll post more fun stuff as it develops. Slated to start Summer 2007 and should hopefully be done SOON after!

And in addition, here's what the pool will kind of look like, accept I want the coping (edge around the pool) to be more straight line with no curves.

Anyway, we will be updating this blog even more frequently when the building breaks ground.

Deciding to be an Owner Builder?

Our dream house is just within reach, but to make it a reality, we must consider being our own owner/builder.

After searching for months, it's as hard to find a good man as it is to find a perfect "builder". Either we felt they didn't understand our aesthetic, or they just didn't sound as enthusiastic as we'd hope. Not only that, but they are SLOW as maple syrup to get bids to you. And I am still faster than any of them, trying to get bids on my own!

Anyway, the OBN (Owner Builder Network) guy has been very good with answering our questions, and they basically guarantee that they will provide the following:
1) The design/build stages in a hard copy manual, step-by-step, from scratch to finish including who to call, when to call, and when to inspect.
2) A resource list of tried and referenced subcontractors used by other OBN people and have been put through the interview test.
3) Support and guidance from the OBN representative and other OB people through their forums and blogs.
4) The BIG ONE-They will guarantee your construction loan!

All this so you can save around 15% off your total construction costs! (like $50,000 in our case) because why pay a builder that which I am already doing?

More info can be found here:

It all sounds very promising, so I will update you when we have decided what to do.