Monday, January 13, 2014

Tweaking the Design

We always start a project with a clear plan……but it starts to evolve pretty quickly!  There are two reasons:  1) this is not new construction.  As you tie the new house elements with the old house elements, they don't always come together the way you anticipate.  So you end up making lots of decisions on the fly.  2)  as the house starts to come together, you start to discover better ideas.  What seemed brilliant during on the drawing board, might not be quite as clever in the real space!

Can you tell this is a diagram of a soffit detail???
So…..when the crew shows up to get started on the project, I can hand them a set of blueprints - but also a set of magazine clippings, red-lined drawings and some notes about 'wait until we see what the final configuration looks like'.  I'm sure I drive them crazy, as I drag out yet another picture for them to look at!!!   And we probably spend way too much time drawing pictures of what we want to do on any spare surface on the job site.  But ultimately, the house is better for it, as we figure out what works best for the space.

So what have we 'tweaked' thus far?  Quite a bit actually:


Starting Design

'Tweaked' Design

Master Bedroom Window Installation
Master Bedroom - The windows over the bed in the master bedroom were so low,  the headboard would have blocked them.  So, we changed the double hung windows for a triplet of awning windows.  They will provide lots of light and ventilation, but privacy as well.

Dining Room windows - the corner placement of the front window in the dining room seemed a bit odd.  Particularly from the street.  So we'll be adding two new windows in the center of the front wall, over the garage.

Living Room 'Picture' Window - we're going to replace the 50's style picture window with double hung windows that match the rest of the house.

Roofline - We decided to extend the front roofline over the garage.  It adds a little more dimensionality (?? is that a word??) to the front facade and gives us a great place to install lights over the garage and driveway.

Ceiling Height - The blueprints called for a 7' 6" ceiling height on the 2nd floor.  But, with the stick built construction we used for the rafters, we suddenly realized that we could have vaulted ceilings, providing lots of light and space!  And we are still able to meet the insulation standards required in Maine (R-49).  They're most dramatic in the master bedroom and bathrooms, but the other rooms will have higher ceilings as well.  The downside:  my drywall guy came out today and just shook his head - 'do you have any idea how much cost you've added?'  I'm not sure I want to see his new estimate….
Master Bedroom - Lots of ceiling height in here!!

2nd Floor Laundry - We figured out how to add a stackable washer/dryer on the 2nd floor.  We were able to include a laundry closet in the master bathroom.  We'll still keep the washer/dryer connection in the basement, but it's nice to have the option of doing the laundry wherever it's most convenient.

Built Ins - There was a built in chest of drawers in the old house that we want to reuse.  We've figured out how to build it into the gable end of one of the bedrooms.  On the same wall, we will also add a window seat under one of the big windows - a great place to curl up with a book as the sunlight streams in through the south facing window!

I'm sure that's not the last of the 'tweaks'.  And unfortunately, tweaks tend to be expensive, since they almost always drive additional costs.  But as we make these changes, we really like how they make the house look and function!  And we think they will be appreciated by the new homeowners.

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  1. Hi there! I just stumbled on your blog yesterday and I can say I'm already hooked! I've been reading through your archived entries. My husband and I are a young couple learning to renovate our first home, and I really appreciate the time you take to show insight into your process. It is really helpful since we are trying to build our knowledge base from scratch. Thanks again, I look forward to following along with you guys in the future!

    1. Hi Rachael - thanks so much for reading the blog!! When Richard and I bought our first house, we started tackling lots of little projects…..and started getting braver as we gained more experience. You two will be experts in no time!!!

      Best Laurel


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