Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A method to the madness

Warning: This is not a picture heavy post but if you want to know why we designed things in the new casa the way we did then you will enjoy my "list of must haves".  If your gonna build it you have to think this way right?

Most of us have done it....If your one of the relatively few people on this earth that are lucky enough to own a home you make it work just like it is but probably often wish it was different.  A little bit bigger here, a little less wasted space there, or an extra bedroom when baby #3 surprises you with their pending arrival.  You know what I think is cool about thinking that way?  It typically makes you get creative!  Yes we should probably just be content with the abundant blessings of having a home period.    I am and yet at the same time get some kind of thrill out of making a space work better for our family(which is what we usually do).  If you have been to this little corner of the blogosphere before then you might think that I'm on a big thrill ride at the moment then with all the building and such.  You might be correct!

I thought I might take you on a tour of our thoughts about the space we are trying to accomplish.  I mentioned in a previous post that we can't build anything under 2400 square feet in our neighborhood.  That restriction in itself helped us iron out some thing but little did we know we would end up going to 2800 square feet just to fit in all the spaces we were looking for.

So here is the master list if you will:

4 bedrooms...we have 3 kids, the girls will share a room and we will have a guest room for family visits

Office..we have the intention to do some fun "working for ourselves" stuff and intend to be organized

Good size laundry room..Every mom's dream right?  We have fit in a 10 x 10 spot just for me;)

Windows in the Laundry room...Sigh...

Playroom..or what my husband like to call the "family room" because he doesn't like the thought of it being a room devoted to the kids.

His and Hers closets in the master..Didn't get those but did find a way to separate our closet for the same "feel"

Double sink for the master bath

Windows above the sinks in master bath..love me some natural light(not the beer;)

Frameless shower..

Separate Tub and Shower in master..No jetted tub please don't want to clean it.

Double sink and Jack N Jill bath for the kids.  Is it natural to want 3 sinks so no one is arguing about who spits first while brushing?

Large long island..was originally 8 x 4 and changed to 8 x 5.

Dining area instead of dining room..We knew we wouldn't use a dining room.

Dining area long enough for my score of a 10' table...Crazy?  Maybe

Dining area surrounded by windows that could maybe even be a sunroomish area one day?  We shall see.

Back door that doesn't open near the kitchen table..drives me bonkers.  The door hitting the chairs and the table or for that matter the people sitting at the table.

Symmetry..front door lines up with back door, island lines up with fireplace, two doors on either side of back wall of the kitchen...You feelin me?  Or are you seeing my weird side show through?

Good size pantry..but not too crazy. (would you believe I snuck a window in there too)  Might as well be a cheerful place!

Double oven

Gas range (this means we have to add a propane tank since we will be country folk and don't have gas lines)

Double stainless Apron/Farmhouse sink

No hallways...Why weirdo you might ask?  To me they are a waste of precious space and $$.  We are talking price per sq foot here and it adds up quick.

Pocket doors to save space.  If I could put one somewhere I did.  I think we only ended up with two though. One into the pantry and one into the playroom.

Powder bath.  Don't want visitors to have to see how gross the kids bath is now do we?

10 Foot ceilings in the main areas..We started with vaulted in the great room area and 10 everywhere else and ended up with 10 in the great room and 9 everywhere else.  Can't have it all.

8 foot doors!  This was a big one for me.  8 foot doors bring a whole other feel to a space.

Solid core doors..we have kids, they are loud.  Sometimes I love that sometimes I don't. And they feel nice too;)

Tall baseboards and substantial trim.  The substancial trim will have to be added by us later.

Not too grand master bedroom.  We felt like it was wasted space for us.

Not too grand kids rooms.  I may think I was wacko for thinking this way someday but we don't want the kids to "live" in their bedrooms.  We are taking the approach of "you sleep in there" we all play in here.

"Mudish" space.  We couldn't do a full on mud room but there is a space to drop our junk right inside the garage door.

Oh that reminds me..We did not want to have to walk through the laundry to get to the garage and vise versa.  It's always annoying to try to get through a tiny laundry room with bag of groceries or arms full of screaming kids from the garage.

Workspace in the garage for the hubs..Couldn't do a 3 car garage but added a nook for his tools and hobbies.

Ok that's enough..I'm sure there are more things that we considered but at this point I'm beginning to sound like a lunatic to myself so I'll just let you follow along and pick up on my quirks as we go.

It's a bit intimidating to think you may build it and not like the space planning.  I am just hoping we didn't cram to much in there!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some pretties and some progress

Oh guys!  I found a new (to me) place to love!  
We have a newish startup company in Austin called Treehouse.
While it has probably been open for at least a year now(probably more) I haven't had a need to venture in since we are in the rent house and all.

Well hubs stopped in the other day and found something he wanted to show me.

It wasn't these awesomely colorful fun tiles!

It wasn't these warm and textured perfect for our master bath tiles either.

It wasn't the gray stacked oh so perfectly tiles right in the middle of this horrible phone picture below either.  Which by the way are identical to the ones I've been trying to source online for our master.

I don't think he spotted these beautiful and colorful Fireclay Tiles either.

These are Austin based designer Kelly LaPlante‘s new Runway Collection for Fireclay Tile. Fireclay tiles are handcrafted, artisan made in San Jose, California out of recycled glass and ceramic from old glass bottles and old porcelain bathtubs.  

Well o.k I'll take about 250 sq feet of those blue ones above please!

This tangerine, musterd, and teal is awesome but I know I change my mind way too often for that kind of commitment.  But oh so cool it is!

Oh and I did drool a little bit when I saw these recycled glass tiles that would be so yummy on our kitchen backsplash!  But you know what? Our tile budget is $1 a sq foot and actually we don't even have a kitchen backsplash in our budget so anything extra is well....EXTRA.  Anywho I already bought our backsplash tiles.  Whoops  I haven't shared those yet..  Let's just look at these for now.

 I even spotted a whole pretty kitchen whose tile of course called my name.

One of the most drool worthy finds would have to be these reclaimed floors.  Come to momma!

What store would be complete without a little area for budding architects and designers?
Can you say free childcare?  I kid!

Now we didn't go to Treehouse for any of those things now did we?
We went looking for this!

Yep a big old hunk of weathered oak!  The one right there in the middle.  I'm sure we could have found something special like this on craigslist, at an old barn sale or on the side of the road for that matter if we had time to hunt for fun things like that.  But instead Treehouse did it for us and this big ol' dude will be our mantle!  That's what we have planned for him anyway.  As for the rest of the fireplace, I'm still just "pinning" away onto my fireplace board looking for ideas.  I like everything!  No seriously look at my board, I'm all over the place.  That detail is going to be hard to nail it down.

Now I have to show you a progress picture of the site right?
It's a big one.  Hold on to your horses!

Ta Da! 

Yes it looks very similar to the way it has looked for the last two weeks!  But...there is some progress I promise.  If you follow on along of the facebook page you've already seen this pic.  We finally had that big ol pile of trees from the last post chipped into mulch in order to open up the driveway!  Baby Steps people.

I was not paid or perked in any way to mention these great products at Treehouse.  They were just drool worthy to me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We're on a fast movin train and I like it!

Well hello there.   A lot has happened around here in a week or so!
Let me show you around the construction site!

Our lot is really hard to get a picture of.  This is my sad attempt.
I think our driveway runs right through that open area but who the heck would know.  It all starts looking the same.

Actually here is a better pic from the street.  The drive is going to the right of that lovely cedar there.

I was at work the day all the fun started and the hubs texted me this pic..Gah!
It's really pretty alarming to see this part.

I would have to say we have already driven out to the site 224 times since that occurred;)  I kid!  But man it's hard to stay away.  When you have waited this long for something to come to fruition you don't want to miss a thing.

So that day after work I made my poor hubs and the crew go to the site again so I could see it with my own eyes.
This pic doesn't even do this pile of trees justice.  Did I mention it's our job to get rid of that mess?  Apparently it's pretty expensive to pay someone to haul a pile like this away and we are always looking for a way to save some money but I think we got in over our heads on this one.  

Look at those faces!  It looks like they just opened the oven and got scorched (I don't have any experience with that)
It was hotter than hades here that day!

Below is a peek at the one we lovingly call Boogers coming back up the drive after it was cleared.

Let the exploring begin!  This lot was so thick with brush and trees that we haven't been able to get a good feel for it until now and the kids are loving it already.

We can't wait to see how much fun they will have out here!

This is a view looking back down the driveway towards the street.

 Are you curious about the next step?
Well here ya have it!

Yup that's the way it all began.   A little prehistoric foundation marker.

Can you spot the other corner marked here?  Tee Hee...these make me laugh.

There are perfect little spots to make trails to for the kids to play and ride bikes and probably hide from me!

We haven't been able to see if we have a view or not in the past due to the thick brush but if you stand in just the right spot in front of where the house will sit then you can see there is one!

Unfortunately I doubt we will see this once we move in.  We are sticking to our one story ranch (ish) plans.  Maybe we will have to build a lookout tower/deck someday..  Oh...that sounds fun! 

 This pic was taken from the street so you can see how far back the house sits.  In a we got lots o extra $ to burn situation we would have loved to set the house further back on the lot.  The further back from the street you go the further the builder has to run concrete, water lines, and electricity.  That = more $$.
 We managed to get it 150 feet back.  I think it provides just enough of that private feeling we are going for.  Can you spot our little monkey wearing pink?  I think she is standing near the front door.

Can you picture the casa siting right back there in that cleared spot beyond those trees? 

Now can you?

So exciting!  I still can't picture it.  Everything always looks and feels different from what I imagined.  That is a scary thought when you plan a whole house from scratch!

This picture has both the back and front of the house in black and white.
 It will be a little different than this as we had to shrink the front and back porches a little to help us get closer to our budget but you still get the feel for it.

Anywho, the day after the lot was cleared the framing for the foundation started going up!

Now it's getting real.  That's my dirty ol hubs trying to show me where the kids room is.  It's hard to make since of it all even at this stage.

Oh and he will love this!  Here is is pretending to sit at his desk in his office.  Hey dude...you did it!  I just made the command and took the picture;)

Your looking at the back door now.  Isn't it lovely?

This next picture was a shocker to me.  We knew our lot sloped a little and we knew it added to the foundation costs but dude!  That is one of the back corners of the house.  The concrete will go up to that plum line(do you see it?).  I didn't picture having that much foundation on the back but it is what it is and we can disguise it in some way I just know it;)

As I frolicked(it's been a long time since I've frolicked) around and imagined the outcome,  my poor dad slaved away at that massive pile of cedar trees.  (That's why the hubs was so dirty)  They spent several hours pulling and sawing and barely made a dent.

You know what is cute?  Both the hubs and my dad said they enjoyed it!  It made them feel all manly and stuff.  My guy loves to work with his hands and get dirty and although we have enjoyed being renters and not having projects I think he misses it just a little.  Yay for me!

 So do you wanna see what happens after they frame for the foundation?

The sewer lines are run.  

And they put them where they need to go by using rebar.  Who knew?

So here we are.  Foundation formed, sewer lines run, and we wait....
We have to get that pile of trees chipped up before the next step.  Here's hoping we get it done this week!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Here we GO!

It finally happened!  One would think I might have mentioned it here a little sooner than now but here she is..

We finally closed on our construction loan last week!!!!!

If you want to see more up to date progress pics then head over and like the Hill Country Homebody facebook page because if I know myself I know I will find it hard to be all official and write up a post as often as I would like to.

I never would have thought the closing process would have been so long and drawn out.  It is just a sign of the times I guess.  

So before I start posting about the progress and process for building a home I want to share a few things just in case anyone out there is considering going the route of picking a lot and building.

Often times people are picking a lot in a subdivision that provides a specific builder (say...a DR Horton neighborhood) which we have actually done before and then decided we were getting in over our heads and backed out(another lesson learned).  In those cases (at least in our case 5 years ago) the process is a bit more streamlined.  They have specific lots that specific floor plans will fit on and and of course you pay more for the better lots.  One of the perks to going this route is financing.  It is just more simple.  The builder usually offers financing and you have more down payment options.

If you are going out and searching for a lot to build on there are MANY things to consider.  
The obvious one is location.
The things to consider about location are pretty obvious but just to be thorough...
Proximity to STUFF(aka grocery stores, work, schools).  Are you cool with time in the car commuting or is it worth it to spend a little more $$ for convenience?  You more than likely will have to pay for the convenience but it is a big deal to many.  It was important to us for sure.  We could have bought more acreage further out of course but we didn't want to dread the drive to work, church, or feel disconnected from our friends.  Because of that we will be the "small house" (believe it or not) in the neighborhood.  For us that is the way we like it.  I'm no real estate expert for sure but personally I think it is good to be the more affordable home in the fancy neighborhood if you end up in an official neighborhood.  Which brings up another location issue.  Do you want to be in a neighborhood with people nearby or are you trying to avoid having neighbors all together?  We wanted a mix of both.  It will feel alot like we are out in the country but neighbors are close enough by to borrow an egg from or help watch over our casa while we are away;)

*Now if you know you are not going the big builder in a big neighborhood route you may want to stop here and make sure you can get pre-approved for a construction loan.  It's a booger but can be done.  As far as I know you have to have some cash.  Many banks won't loan for construction without 20% down and there are a few that will do 10%  but it seems the days of anything less than that may be over.  (more on that in another post)

Another thing we had to consider was utilities.  Lack of access to basic services = lots of extra expenses.  Electric service, gas lines, waste water and water in general have to be considered.  If you are in a more rural area do you have access to water lines or will you have to drill a well?  One of the main reasons we chose our lot was because we would have access to a water line at the street and not have to drill a well which is expensive and you aren't necessarily guaranteed to always have water:(  Actually that is a huge problem around here these days.  Many people are having to spend big $$ to drill deeper searching for water since we have been in a drought for soo long.  We unfortunately don't have access to to gas lines in our hood so there will be a propane tank installed (more $$) so that we can have a gas range and more efficient appliances.   In our area we have to have a septic system to deal with sewage and that will add about $12 to $15,000 to your final total.   As for electric, it's not an issue since we are in an established neighborhood(but of course it does cost to tie into those existing lines) and I don't have a clue what you do if that is not the case. Oh and there is the whole underground vs. overhead electric line issue as well.  We essentially will be sitting on solid rock so anytime you have to dig the cost goes up.  If your in an area that actually has soil...that may not be as big of an issue.

Once you narrow down where you want to be, and have decided you have access to the resources you need then you can get picky about the lot (that is if there is an option to be picky).  For us the lot we purchased was the only one available at the time and it was the next to last to sell in the neighborhood.  There are good and bad ways to look at that.  One is...well this is our only option here.  And the other is: this is an established neighborhood and if we ever need to sell our competition won't be 10 other brand new homes on our street. (We have dealt with that too:(  One of the biggest things to consider is "is this lot buildable?"
If it is hard to access, is too narrow for the type of home you want, or has difficult topography(slopes or    cliffs and whatnot) then you will be spending lots more dough on materials(in our case we slope a bit and one corner of our slab will have to be 5 feet tall)  and I would imagine in many cases labor goes up too.  It is just way easier to build on a flat surface!  You also have to consider if there are any major water or sewer lines or ancient trees that can't be touched per your city.  Again these are things that we've either come across ourselves or heard others mention but I am no expert and I am sure all of these things vary depending upon your area.

Now I'm not gonna lie.  I started to get to the point where I didn't want to do this anymore.  I was thinking why oh why after all the planning and attempting to have our ducks in a row is EVERYTHING taking so long.  We bought the lot three years ago and after sitting on it for a while figured out what we eventually wanted to do with it. We then started the design process about 10 months ago.  After an initial design and cost guestimate  we made it a little bigger in some spots and then ended up in the end having to shrink things like rooms and porches and take away a metal roof and just all kinds of odds and ends to get it into our budget.  I don't know if I have any advice on that part.  There are just so many things to consider.  We didn't feel like we could even design the house before we had a clue what it costs to build so I would talk to as many builders as possible to get some idea before you pay to design something you can't afford.  Our architect did everything we needed and asked him to do.  It was more confusion about cost to build in general that made us have to change things which takes time.  I would say as far as a time sucker goes though it would again have to be the mortgage process.
Are you overwhelmed yet?  I totally am..but I'm hopeful that in the end it will be worth it.  Please oh please be worth it!

So after all that waiting.....
we closed and the next day this happened! 

And so it began