Thursday, October 18, 2007

Updated floorplans and elevations!

These actually have measurements on them! And by request of my architect, I toned down the colors a bit :-), so it will be more of this dark slate colored concrete (believe it or not, it looks beautiful in reality with the wood and stone accents). Actually, we will not treat or paint the stucco so the concrete will be its natural color.

I've included a description of our plans to give you the background of why we designed it the way it is. A lot of it is for practical reasons!

Here's the site plan of our 3 acre, Hill Country lot, 8 miles W past Bee Cave on 71W. We're practically Willie Nelson's neighbor :-).

Downstairs features a guest bedroom almost completely separate from the rest of the house. We did this on purpose, as this would be convenient for my elderly parents (no climbing of stairs). Whenever guests stay over, they have a more private area and a beautiful patio area where they can sunbathe nude if they want to :-D (there are big bushy trees surrounding the guest patio). The living room is open to above and has an open layout, combining the living, dining, breakfast nook and kitchen. We wanted to avoid walls, as I don't like having a very compartmentalized house. Also, we used a spiral stair to conserve space for a stairwell. The kitchen will be made of IKEA cabinets and have a hidden large pantry to hide ugly appliances. We will have only drawers there, as cabinets are impractical (ever try to get something at the back of a cabinet?). One amazing experience, as Ted calls it, is that when you look down the countertop, it goes from inside to out in one continuous countertop material (probably concrete). There is an exit to this floor in the mudroom that leads to the separate garage port. Our utility room is very large to accomodate for the geothermal system and a laundry room with Jan's little private "dirty" work area and my work storage. Our chem-free, Eco-Smarte swimming pool is made out of fiberglass for low maintenance and will be 16' wide by 40' long. I intend to use it a lot for exercise and cooling myself off in this heat! Notice that the green area is how the 2nd story is placed above the first story.

One of our wishes was to open the door to an indoor balcony, and this moderately sloping lot calls for a catwalk to lead into the 2nd story of our house. When you open the door you are lead to the indoor balcony that overlooks our open living room. When you look to your left, you will be greeted by our roof garden where we'll grow lots of organic vegetables and herbs. Our masterbedroom is modest sized, but has a parting divider to our master bath (the wall doesn't go all the way up to the ceiling, and is only 90% up). We plan to have all showers in the guest bathrooms (who uses those rinky dink tubs that get so filthy anyway?) and in our master bath, we want to do a "slate" tiled shower/japanese style soaking tub. There will be sliding doors to the 2nd bedroom for when a little one comes and we can opt to remove the door and make it into a separate room. The exercise (or bedroom 3) and office (or common area) are separated by a chic sliding door wall divider. The remarkable part of this 2nd story are the two balconies, both north and south that are nice when you want to get some fresh air.

The catwalk leads to the 2nd story of our house (see purple door) and you see a view of the master bedroom's balcony.

Here you see the side of the house where the roof garden is located and a large trellis where the guest suite's private patio is. Feels like a B&B. :-)

Here's the back side of the house where you see the 2nd story overhang the pool lounge area. The balcony shown on the 2nd floor here belongs to the common area/office.
Here's the other side of the house which shows the side where the swimming pool and pool lounge are under the 2nd story overhang of the house.

The exterior uses stucco, wood siding and gabion walls (wire baskets that contain stone). This style is called a Hill Country Contemporary home, which is beautiful against the landscape of the surrounding area. Here's a pic of a gabion wall with bench. I like this idea a lot:


heather said...

not sure if you want random opinions, but your house looks more like a commercial building, and not like the 'green' and 'low-impact' type home you seem to want.

you talk of wanting a house that is made of natural materials and is breathing, living and kind to the planet- but the design and the materials look quite invasive.

do you really need this large status-statement home? the costs seem to be getting out of your reach, and you should wonder... does it have to be like this? what if everyone tried to build a home like this... i mean, everyone. could you call it a low-impact and sustainable design?

there are alot of spurious 'eco-friendly' companies popping up to capitalize on people's well-intentioned search for a sustainable way of life. they aren't all they are cracked up to be.

anyway, you probably know about this kind of thing, but just including the links, just in case.

there are other options.. and no, they can't be rolled out and packaged and capitalized on.

best of luck on building your home.

Jan & Myleen said...

Heather, thanks for your comment. Yes, modern looks more commercial because of the flat roof, since 95% of commercial buildings use flat roofs. But just because it "looks" commercial, doesn't make it any less green or lower impact. Low impact doesn't only encompass natural building materials and making it "look natural" (which is just a facade anyway). Low impact also encompasses energy efficiency (our's is super efficient at 950 sf per ton HVAC, compared to 350-400sf per ton HVAC!), as well as sustainability (our SIP home will use a lot less dimensional lumber than normal stick built and will save about 70% energy).

I think you are only giving one side of a very multi-faceted green building picture. Just because you think it "looks" invasive, doesn't mean it is. That's just a facade anyway. Besides, I like a modern look, which is a matter of personal taste, not a factor of how green or sustainable it is. I can make mine look like an Earthship or green pasture if I wanted to, but what I am showing is that you can make a "green built home" look anyway you wish.

Kimberly said...

I think what you guys are doing is AWESOME. You took the time to research and you made a choice to have an impact on not only your lives to be green, but to make the world a better place to live for others later on.

Heather, the more people who make this type of "status statement", the more it will catch on..... the statement "What if everyone...I mean everyone"....Not in our lifetime, our society in general is too lazy to do the most minute thing to have an impact on their enviroment. Quite frankly probably more that 90% of people just don't care, and won't do anything until they are forced to. Jan & Myleen, kudo's for the statement and for making the world a better place to be.

Jan & Myleen said...

Thanks Kimberly, for understanding what it is we are trying to accomplish.

Regarding making a "large status-statement", that is definitely not our goal. If you even read through our blog, we have been as open as a book so that people will truly see what it takes to build this way and hopefully change things for the better and make it more economical for everyone! We strive to be as affordable as possible given that green building is a lot more expensive. Besides, the more people that hop on board, the more affordable it becomes, and unfortunately, we are only at a point where we are paving the way.

Unfortunately, it is NOT cheap, but we realize that the extra expense will either pay itself in a relatively short period of time or is the most economical way of being green given the current prices.

Heather, if you think it's not to anyone's advantage to see how much we are paying for what, then I believe you don't really want to know. However, I think it's better to know more than not know enough. Just don't pass judgement on me without knowing me. I am a helpful person, not trying to flaunt my stuff.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought of using Concrete+Styro walls? The trouble w/ Concrete I had heard in Texas (where it is very humid) is that it is bad when you have high moisture.
Some knowledgeable people said "stone or stucco" outers + a 6" drainable gap + inner wood frame might be the best in that climate.

E.g. in downtown San Antonio , a very expensive hotel was made of pure concrete and supposedly it needs to be aired out periodically to make sure there is no mold problems.
It seems the moisture can sweat thru the Concrete.
Now Concrete is fantastic in "hot" and dry climates like AZ. I am interested in Concrete technology but also researching if it is the best approach for humid areas. They claim that it is very
Energy efficient. E.g. it is like a medieval castle , you have 12" walls of Concrete+insulation to keep the heat out or in...
And it takes next to nothing to keep it cool.

But in Texas and humid areas, Concrete might be a problem with moisture. Readers might ask just how humid is Texas?
(To give you an example you might have a day where everything "sweats" because it is humid = I have seen my car in big company parking garage with big Air holes in the walls of the garage so it has free flowing air be covered in sweat on very humid days where I left it parked for a week -and- it was inside the middle of the parking Garage.)

I have lived in the West Coast and North East Coast, and TX is about the most humid place I have seen.

A wood frame inner with a outer stone or other stucco barrier and your "Rainscreen technology " under stucco/stone with a ability to drain the moisture has been claimed as a good choice for humid climates (to keep your "inners" nice and dry.)

Anonymous said...

The house looks great, and am truly impressed on your research, organization and being a great educational resource for all of us building a house! My parnter and I are both architects and building a "green" home on the east coast, (PA). I have to admit our greatest challenge is (other than keeping w/in budget) is compromising on decisions (did I mention we're both architects!!) Just wanted to hear some comments on how everyone's getting along and if you have any advice for your audience addressing one very important aspect when building a house - getting along, patience and compromising. It's come down to almost-wrestling matches over decisions like choosing soft grey or medium grey for countertops! AHHHHHHHH!
Thanks, keep up the great work!

Jan & Myleen said...

Thanks for your great comments! Laura, it is nice to get compliments from fellow architects :-). I am trying to help more people build this way, but it isn't easy. Also, your comment about compromising on taste and choice is a very realistic one. My husband and I, luckily have very similar taste in design, as he is a true Scandinavian and likes clean and modern. But the important thing, as you probably already know, is that it is a culmination of both your personal styles, as that's what makes it unique and cozy for you and your family to live in. I think of it this way... it's like a haircut, you can cut it to a certain style, and it will always grow out and you can change it at a later date! So don't fret on getting exactly what you want this time around. I have had to compromise on a few things, but it has been a very fun experience choosing. We wouldn't have it any other way!

Regarding concrete walls, yes, we have considered it (ICFs, Insulated Concrete Forms), but decided against it because of cost and labor intensity. SIPs are just about as good insulation-wise, but easier to erect, so we decided to go with these. And yes, it's damn hot in Texas! Sweaty as an armpit a lot of the time :-).

Anonymous said...

Looking for a SIP builder in Austin. ? Any thoughts on land and construction cost?


Jan & Myleen said...

John, yes, I know a SIP builder or two around town, as I've talked to them all. Contact me via e-mail and we can exchange info. We bought our 3 acre lot in South Lake Travis off 71W in August '06 for 78K, but values have grown a lot since! Take a look at my budget in Excel to see what construction costs are looking like. Remember, I am building very green, so the cost per A/C square foot is around $240/sf. Good luck with your project and let me know if you have any more questions!

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