Sunday, September 12, 2010

The House

This drawing was a rather rough sketch that isn't really to scale, I didn't use a straight edge, and the perspective isn't terribly correct (it was drawn in the car on the way to visit family). Regardless, it does give an idea of, roughly, what I expect the house to look like. Until all the permit mess is worked out, this is all subject to change, but I fell in love with the craftsman style homes and little bungalows that populated some of the less tourist frequented areas of Savannah. I loved the attention to detail and developed a particular love for decorative, exposed rafter tails and the idea that a house didn't have to be massive to be a dream home.

I tried to be very realistic about what we did and did not need when formulating this plan. There have certainly been times in my life where I have dreamed of living in some massive mansion with a room for every whim, but the majority of my thoughts center on the idea that more space is more to clean and maintain without any truly notable benefit.

Not to say the plan is without indulgences. I did want a kitchen with lots of counter space, a living room AND a family room, wide hallways to be lined with built in bookshelves, and a dedicated work space. Cal wanted a space to paint and an outdoor kitchen. The other side of that is knowing where we're willing to make sacrifices. I've learned that I am completely satisfied with a bedroom that is only large enough for a bed, space to move around said bed, and storage for clothing and personal items. I've also learned that, while I want a dedicated place to work, a desk in a closet is plenty of space for my computer and I generally prefer to draw outside or at the table. For that matter, I've also realized that a separate dining room is not something we generally use if there is space for us to sit and eat as a family in the kitchen. The current design is approximately 1600 sq. ft. I'm sure we could manage with much less (Cal and I have mostly comfortably shared an apartment of roughly 700 sq. ft. that featured a side room we didn't really use until Mellie was conceived and it got pegged as the baby room), but I believe this will be a good size for our needs and desires.

One of the central ideas behind this project is to spend as little as possible while maintaining the integrity of the structure and the design. We plan to build this out of pocket, skipping the 30 years of debt that seems to have become an American tradition. So far we've purchased a sizable chunk of our materials for just over $1000 by shopping around and keeping an eye out for a good deal. This includes all the doors and windows, a good portion of the wiring, pipes, outlets, and fixtures needed,  roof trusses, one load of rock for the exterior, and (hopefully) all the cement block we need.

Another concept at the heart of this plan is to be as self sufficient as possible. While we will likely be hooked up to the grid, the design is intended to be functional off of it through use of solar panels, a rainwater reclamation system, a grey water system, possible use of well water, and design features to provide some natural heating and cooling. Covered porches on the south and west faces of the house will offer some insulation to the most exposed sides of the structure from the sun during summer, while an outdoor kitchen gives a place to cook a hot meal without heating the house. A parallel set of doors on each side of the house should offer air circulation on a warm, but breezy day. A centrally placed indoor kitchen can heat the house while a meal is cooked during the winter.

My dream is fairly simple: a home for my family, gained without a mortgage, that gives us what we need without going overboard.

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