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Building a house

Architect

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#1
So you may know my small story. We sold our house at the peak of the bubble in 2005 and invested the proceeds on the premise that a housing crash would take down the world economy. So now that investment has multiplied many fold and we're now looking for a new house.

In a house I care not about the stuff you see, but the stuff you don't see. I want all the new technology in building. A new foundation, new windows, new engineered siding, new insulation, wiring, plumbing and roofing materials. So that leaves us with the option of tearing an old house down to the sticks and building up again, or building new.

However unfortunately there are too many flippers in the housing market. They take crap houses, fix the veneer and sell for top dollar which foolish people buy. So the economics don't work for remodeling an old house, it's actually cheaper to build, so we've got a contractor friend lined up and am looking at designing a house.

So INTP friends, if you were building a house, what would you want in it? How big? How many rooms? What features? Figure $200/square foot.
 
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#2
So you may know my small story. We sold our house at the peak of the bubble in 2005 and invested the proceeds on the premise that a housing crash would take down the world economy. So now that investment has multiplied many fold and can fund a new house and a 'retirement' (retirement for me means working for myself).
I wish I had such good timing. We bot in 1989 from renting.

In a house I care not about the stuff you see, but the stuff you don't see. I want all the new technology in building. A new foundation, new windows, new engineered siding, new insulation, wiring, plumbing and roofing materials. So that leaves us with the option of tearing an old house down to the sticks and building up again, or building new.
This may be naive, but good advice from your favorite contractor and shopping. We bought a middle aged house 25 years ago. Put in new furnace, water pump, roof, storage shed. Later new kitchen, 2 bathrooms. I put a bay window into a bedroom converted to my office. Great and fun land.

However unfortunately there are too many flippers in the housing market. They take crap houses, fix the veneer and sell for top dollar which foolish people buy. So the economics don't work for remodeling an old house, it's actually cheaper to build, so we've got a contractor friend lined up and am looking at designing a house.
I wouldn't know ... great.

So INTP friends, if you were building a house, what would you want in it? How big? How many rooms? What features? Figure $200/square foot.
How many people? One bedroom per person. Office. Two bathrooms minimum. Prices vary all over the country. Dining room & family room optional. Basement and attic. Our basement is unfinished. So is the attic, but could use more mousetraps.
 
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#3
Where do you plan to live?
City, countryside, seaside, ... ?
 
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#4
I would look for a commercial property in a zone ruled dual-purpose and convert it into a residence. Perhaps the best case scenario would be a stout old building in some rural/small town setting.

The standards for modern construction are really lame, a lot of corners cut to cut costs and increase profits. Buildings a century old or older do not suffer from this 'mass produced housing' stigma and often older buildings were constructed by true craftsmen.

An old bank building or perhaps even a church building could provide one with the media to build an ideal residence, at a fraction of the cost of a 'recently - built' residential building.

It would be exceedingly wise to escape from the inner city while that is still possible and buy property that can allow one to 'get off the grid' if necessary and still maintain a decent standard of living via self-suffiency (re: end of the world scenario)

As far as what is on the inside of the house...Meh
To my mind the quality and utility of the property outside of the house is a more important concern - at least during the stage of choosing location. Again in real estate, location is the prime variable for increasing investment.

EDIT:http://www.google.com/search?q=bank...NqSM-rY2AXwroAw&ved=0CDQQsAQ&biw=1498&bih=940
 

Duxwing

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#5
So you may know my small story. We sold our house at the peak of the bubble in 2005 and invested the proceeds on the premise that a housing crash would take down the world economy. So now that investment has multiplied many fold and we're now looking for a new house.

In a house I care not about the stuff you see, but the stuff you don't see. I want all the new technology in building. A new foundation, new windows, new engineered siding, new insulation, wiring, plumbing and roofing materials. So that leaves us with the option of tearing an old house down to the sticks and building up again, or building new.

However unfortunately there are too many flippers in the housing market. They take crap houses, fix the veneer and sell for top dollar which foolish people buy. So the economics don't work for remodeling an old house, it's actually cheaper to build, so we've got a contractor friend lined up and am looking at designing a house.

So INTP friends, if you were building a house, what would you want in it? How big? How many rooms? What features? Figure $200/square foot.
I can't speak for the building's overall design, but, if you intend to create a home-theater or arcade, then I recommend that you include a small room or large closet for all the back-end electronics necessary. I also recommend looking into sound-proofing any area (workshop, garage, bedroom) where loud noise will be frequent: it's always easier to build than to rebuild. Also, remember that such grand artifices as marble columns, high wrought-iron fencing, or mosaic ceilings are best used in guest-oriented areas , like dining halls or gardens; otherwise, they will distance you from your own house.

In addition, look not for interesting but flowing architecture: The best house is never thought of, only used. Efficiency is of the utmost importance, so eliminate atria, parlors, or porches that only take up space.

-Duxwing
 

Kuu

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#6
If you want a house with the newest technology and efficiency, it is certainly cheaper to build a new one than remodel. Triple pane windows, underfloor heating/cooling with a geothermal pump, an automated external solar shading and lighting control system, an electricity and water consumption tracking system, rainwater capture and solar collector water heating, plumbing circuits for greywater reuse, bunch of PV panels, wireless media center setup, green roof..

When it comes to materials, it depends a lot of where the house is to be built, and what is locally available and code requirements (and personal taste). Siding doesn't even exist where I'm from...

For a low tech, apocalypse-proof route to insulation, can't beat rammed earth walls and a concrete structure (for that supervillain underground lair aesthetic). For a high-tech way there's plenty of new stuff out there, but for resistance per thickness it's hard to beat vacuum-insulated panels (VIPs) (preferably with aerogel), which can go up to R-30 or even R-50 per inch (but price...). This can be used with the traditional american wooden frames, or some recycled aluminum frame or whathaveyou. Some less expensive solutions would be insulating concrete forms (ICFs) (the foam ones are quite cheap), or autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks/panels (panels would be better from my point of view because the flexibility of separating structure from enclosure, plus construction speed).

Personally I'd try to make the house using a column structure with a wide module, so that the walls are just enclosure/partition and there is maximum flexibility for future adaptation. Wiring could be done with exposed metal conduits on the outside, not inside, of the walls, also for maximum flexibility (I don't mind a very industrial look). Rewiring/replumbing is one annoying shit that *will* be necessary at some point.

Heating/cooling can be handled with passive systems, but that's too dependent on specific site and design to be easily discussed here. Active systems would be the 'fore mentioned underfloor system, which is so much better than HVAC units. Ideally with a geothermal heat pump. Additional heat could be produced with a solar water heater or electric boiler with PVs. If it is removing heat that is the issue, maybe a solar powered absorption chiller can be used or mixed in.

Now, you'd talked about having a son, so I suppose that's a couple + kid house. Therefore my minimum room setup would be: master bedroom+master bathroom, son's room+bathroom, kitchen-dining room, laundry, living, study/office/library, garage, workshop, storage room. If it were large enough, I'd have a dedicated TV room with proper seating, lighting, sound system, and acoustic insulation (televisions shouldn't be in living rooms, I firmly believe). It is important that the son's room have its own entry/exit and bathroom, and be somewhat separate from the parent's (Kids, particularly adolescents, need their privacy and freedom). If space allows, even its own little living/study area, to properly entertain friends or work on personal projects without taking over *your* space. This also lets that room become a usable guest room or even rent room once the kid is gone for good. Since you're in California, I'd also make sure to have a terrace for all bedrooms, and at least one for the main living space, which could be green roofs, because who doesn't love breakfast in the outdoors while lording over the land? I wouldn't mind a fireplace/firepit too, to get rid of annoying guests and contemplate the flaming dance of sweet vengeance.

Last, but most important: Hire a decent Architect. Contractors aren't terrible, but if you're making a house from scratch, hire an Architect. A home is more about the spaces between the walls than what stuff is in them, and if you plan on living the rest of your life in that space, it's a wise investment to go to an expert, even if its looks are irrelevant to you, you certainly value its function. A house designed, vs a house simply built, has a vast qualitative and quantitative advantage. [/shameless profession plug]
 
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#7
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Architect

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#8
Where do you plan to live?
City, countryside, seaside, ... ?
Mid size town probably

I would look for a commercial property ...
Interesting ideas, but that doesn't really work in this area

I can't speak for the building's overall design, but, if you intend to create a home-theater or arcade, then I recommend that you include a small room or large closet for all the back-end electronics necessary.
Yes, I'm planning a LAN closet and a wired house. We're not much into movies so no home theater setup, just a small TV we don't use much.

If you want a house with the newest technology and efficiency, it is certainly cheaper to build a new one than remodel. Triple pane windows, underfloor heating/cooling with a geothermal pump, an automated external solar shading and lighting control system, an electricity and water consumption tracking system, rainwater capture and solar collector water heating, plumbing circuits for greywater reuse, bunch of PV panels, wireless media center setup, green roof..
Precisely

When it comes to materials, it depends a lot of where the house is to be built, and what is locally available and code requirements (and personal taste). Siding doesn't even exist where I'm from...
We're in favor of a semi-modernist approach, with galvanized steel exterior.

but for resistance per thickness it's hard to beat vacuum-insulated panels (VIPs) (preferably with aerogel), which can go up to R-30 or even R-50 per inch (but price...).
I'm in favor of a metal roof, and with the local climate we don't need much insulation in the roof panels


Personally I'd try to make the house using a column structure with a wide module, so that the walls are just enclosure/partition and there is maximum flexibility for future adaptation. Wiring could be done with exposed metal conduits on the outside, not inside, of the walls, also for maximum flexibility (I don't mind a very industrial look). Rewiring/replumbing is one annoying shit that *will* be necessary at some point.
Interesting ... yes we like the industrial look & feel


Now, you'd talked about having a son, so I suppose that's a couple + kid house.
Yup

Therefore my minimum room setup would be: master bedroom+master bathroom, son's room+bathroom, kitchen-dining room, laundry, living, study/office/library, garage, workshop, storage room.
All good, except the office needs to be large, and the workshop would be a art studio for my wife.

Last, but most important: Hire a decent Architect. Contractors aren't terrible, but if you're making a house from scratch, hire an Architect. A home is more about the spaces between the walls than what stuff is in them, and if you plan on living the rest of your life in that space, it's a wise investment to go to an expert, even if its looks are irrelevant to you, you certainly value its function. A house designed, vs a house simply built, has a vast qualitative and quantitative advantage. [/shameless profession plug]
Let's talk about this; are you an architect? My wife is hugely in favor of getting one, I'm in favor of making a plan, working it through our contractor and getting it drafted up. Frankly despite the sound of a custom build house, we don't want it particularly custom or special. Just small (< 2000 sq feet), practical, one story and tight. My contractor thought an architect might run $10/sq ft so $20k, but my experience is from my parents who hired one and it cost way more than that. They did have a special house done however.
 

EditorOne

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#9
Seasoned architects can address issues at the design level, and also could serve a very useful purpose as a check on the contractor, if you get one who will be available during construction. I think it's a good idea. While I tend to do things seat-of-the-pants on various projects around the house, even big ones, that's mostly because of relative impoverishment. If I had the money to do a new house, I'd for sure use an architect, I think it could save money in the end. And it would be someone with whom you might discuss ideas and goals. Contractors are great, but often look at ideas and goals with a mind oriented toward doing whatever it is most cost effectively, not looking at whether the ideas and goals themselves could be met some other way or are redundant, or whatever.

Should my own situation ever change so that I could become a recluse, I'm leaning toward caves, specifically a group of interconnected steel shipping containers swathed in high density insulating/waterproofing foam, buried in a hillside. Sounds a bit Doomsday Prep, but really the idea of absolute quiet is the driving force, coupled with the relatively low cost of heating and cooling.

Kuu's ideas are across-the-board on the mark.

 
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#10
Yeah, I agree with everything Kuu said. I love the geothermal thing, but it can be costly. Just drilling a well and installing a septic system is expensive enough(if it's needed?). You'll end up saving money with it, but only after a number of years. Seeing how you're from California, some solar panels may be the way to go. They're becoming more and more effective and can convert to water and/or electricity. I would definitely go with the radiant floor heating. Quality, strategically placed windows can improve the homes efficiency as well. The codes for new houses generally ensure an efficient building. The rest depends on the quality of construction.

Everything else is pretty much preference. I like open kitchen/living space. Guest bed/bath on one side and master bed/bath/office on the other. Office could become a extra child/guest bedroom or you could have another bdrm adjacent to it.

However unfortunately there are too many flippers in the housing market. They take crap houses, fix the veneer and sell for top dollar which foolish people buy. So the economics don't work for remodeling an old house, it's actually cheaper to build, so we've got a contractor friend lined up and am looking at designing a house.
As a carpenter, I've polished many turds in my life. When I finally get to build a new structure it's a huge relief.
 

pjoa09

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#12
I love big basements,garages, and empty streets. I never had them and I always wind up using living quarters to do something stupid.

If I could I would have bought an abandoned airport.


You could buy a cave like Bill Gates did.

Make your house in Minecraft.

Just sayin'
 

Kuu

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#13
Let's talk about this; are you an architect? My wife is hugely in favor of getting one, I'm in favor of making a plan, working it through our contractor and getting it drafted up. Frankly despite the sound of a custom build house, we don't want it particularly custom or special. Just small (< 2000 sq feet), practical, one story and tight. My contractor thought an architect might run $10/sq ft so $20k, but my experience is from my parents who hired one and it cost way more than that. They did have a special house done however.
Indeed I am, so I definitely recommend going through a proper design process. A custom or special house doesn't necessarily have to be expensive, indeed it can be cheaper. One does not hire an architect to simply draft what you already have in mind, one hires an architect to think about your needs and issues and come up with a proper, often non-obvious, integrated solution, and avoid potential pitfalls which can be easily overlooked. It is also wrong for your contractor to try to calculate the price based on area. Area says little about project complexity, and it's complexity that consumes time, therefore money. Some architects do estimate bills based on area, and it is a terrible, terrible practice.

Listen to your wife (can't hurt, eh? ;)), and go scout several design studios in your area. Prices and attitudes can vary wildly...

Seasoned architects can address issues at the design level, and also could serve a very useful purpose as a check on the contractor, if you get one who will be available during construction. I think it's a good idea. While I tend to do things seat-of-the-pants on various projects around the house, even big ones, that's mostly because of relative impoverishment. If I had the money to do a new house, I'd for sure use an architect, I think it could save money in the end. And it would be someone with whom you might discuss ideas and goals. Contractors are great, but often look at ideas and goals with a mind oriented toward doing whatever it is most cost effectively, not looking at whether the ideas and goals themselves could be met some other way or are redundant, or whatever.​
Precisely.

Also, EditorOne, building with shipping containers is actually more pain than it is worth. Properly conditioning them for use can end up being more expensive than having built something from scratch.
 

TheScornedReflex

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#14
You're going to want a lava pit. Everyone can benefit from owning a lava pit.

.....Yeeah. Lava pit. :smoker:
 
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#15
I would want a fully automated house. I am talking about everything from the lights to the home theater. I would route all communication cables to the closet, including the security. I would also make the front door access controlled. with intercoms.
 

EditorOne

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#16
"Also, EditorOne, building with shipping containers is actually more pain than it is worth. Properly conditioning them for use can end up being more expensive than having built something from scratch."

Good to know. :-) If my ship of gold bullion comes in any time soon I'll give you a call about designing my cave. :king-twitter:
 

Mr Write

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#17
Didn't know you posted here. This just made my day; now I've a whole new gold-mine to dig. Go 50 year old me.

Anyways, I would recommend looking into A Pattern Language. I love this book.
 

Double_V

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#18
I have romanticized the notion of building a new residence with a mix of found/repurposed materials and new technology. Streamline, no basement, in floor radiant heat (no dust/blowing) huge southern facing windows. Double doors that both swing open onto the lawn (indoor/outdoor living), standing steam roof.

Rustic, but sleek. A mix of woods and metal.
 
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#20
I used to do home theatre/automation/security whatever installation. My specialty was cutting the hole in the wall where the iPad would go.

I would go totally overboard with the wiring, like 4 Cat 5 or 6 cables going to every room. It's a good way to future-proof, as you can put pretty much any kind of signal that you might want down them. A lot of the home automation stuff is all wireless, so you don't need anything special for that.
 

Architect

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#21
Architect whatever happened to this?
Nothing much. Like every other market in this world it's sucked up. People want way too much for land, a decent plot is around $300k, add $100k for permits and plans, then $200/sq foot and you're looking at $600k-$800k for a modest 1800 sq foot house. Ridiculous, I could afford that if I wanted, but I don't want.

The baby boom generation (I'm looking at YOU @EditorOne) has screwed up the financial system to the Nth degree with their years of wanton partying, leaving it to the X and Y generations to fix the shit up. They have the gall to try and blame it on us too, I saw an article that claimed that the X generation participated most heavily in the bubble and so caused it. Idiot ... but who loaned the money? Who removed the regulations, such as Glass-Steagall? I have a picture of the fat tubs of lards who did it, I know their ages :phear:
 

EditorOne

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#22
In 2001 I lead an investigative team that uncovered the blatant fraud surrounding mortgage fraud in northeast Pennsylvania. It turned out to be a description of what was actually going on nationally, tracing the bad appraisals that started it all and following it right up through the sale of the bad paper to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Quite a feat for a tiny daily newspaper. However, outside of putting one (1) company out of business and getting about $300 million refunded by Chase when they realized that what their middle managers were doing was revealed to the world, and spending nine years in a lawsuit, nothing happened: because nobody cared.
We have always had our share of asshats among baby boomers. I generally regard myself as wearing a white hat rather than a party hat, or an asshat, and really, I haven't had enough money to have a party since 1971. :D

I may state the obvious (I often do) but there is cheaper land available in small towns across the country, and it's available to all the people who believe $600-800 k for basic shelter is the very definition of absurdity, myself included.
 

Double_V

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#23
Galley style kitchen, less cabinets, huge walk in pantry. Possibly walk through so as able to unload from garage into, and the take out of. Possiblity of some soapstone somewhere. I just aquired one of those eight foot long porcelain sinks you could wash ten turkey or a kid on.

I have the possiblity of aquiring my last house back. Designed for a VP of the Chicago trib it was pretty awesome. I'd have to retrofit it to accomodate (our) current needs. One thing I did to it I loved and would definately duplicate in any new home I ever build. The powder room was accessed from the southern side of the house, near the front door, but abutted the northern exterior wall and back yard. One wall of it abbutted a staircase so I opened it and installed a wash machine and dryer and a 48" shower stall (large enough to accomodate a 6 foot males extended arm) under the staircase. Then I added an exterior door with a very small deck with a bench. Anyone working/playing/swimming in the back yard could sit down and take off their shoes, dirty/sandy clothes off outside, or just step directly in to use the bathroom. Carpenter argued with me like hell over it (the exterior door in a bathroom). The door had a window in it which the carpenter didn't like the idea of. I answered a shade or curtain could be used for privacy but I wanted the window for light. I planted impatients outside door and soon found out that hummingbirds loved them, were very sociable, and often when using the toilet it wasn't unusual to experience a hummingbird staring in the window. People who didn't live there would be like "Hey, you've got a outside door in you bathroom, and a hummingbird!". I'd be like "Yeaah".

It was the best. A bathroom accessable by both the front doors. No dirt hauled thru the house. A sandy wet dirty kid could strip, take a shower, and get their clothes into the wash right there. And nobody knew how messy we really were. :D
 
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#24
I'm considering buying, but it would probably have to be one of those small ready-to-go houses. Owning a place is expensive. I just need to find some land off radar that I could get cheap. Which means I basically have to go around and ask all the farmers weather they want to sell it (not to mention it's very difficult to get permission to build even on barren land). Or so. Owning is as expensive as renting, so might as well own.
 

just george

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#25
I'm in the real estate development building game and well positioned to help.

The thing that I don't like about architects is that for a start, they charge you money to make a small house feel big, which begs the question "why not avoid paying an architect and plow the savings into making the house big in the first place?" (which is what I did).

The other thing that I don't like about architects is that they're often out of touch with how much it costs to build what they're designing. One of my competitors paid an architect $200k to design a structure that mixed rendered corefilled concrete blocks with corrugated sheet metal with aluminium waferboard to produce a "modern" look. Unfortunately, mixing materials pumps your build price up by as much as 30%, and with the cost of managing all of those building techniques/trades, he could have simply covered the entire building with a polished granite facade (which is far and away a superior product and would have oozed style)

In the past, architects were necessary because good house designs were hard to find, and plans drawn by hand. Today, you can find endless house designs online, and have them drafted for you very cheaply.

I would advise you to talk to a builder about the costs and benefits of various building styles/layouts at the design stage, because they understand the mechanics and logistics of the build. For example I designed my building to suit standard lengths of blocks, tiles, plywood, and reinforcing steel. That way, I minimize waste, eliminate the labour and cost of cutting material to throw away that I could otherwise incorperate into a larger building, and speed up the build. Why buy big pieces of material only to pay a worker to cut them down to size and build a smaller place, when you can design to put in whole lengths with no waste and no labour to cut, thereby building a bigger structure?

The other thing that I would advise is to allow retrofitting as much as possible. For example, I prefer the inclusion of suspended ceilings, conduits, and service alcoves/ducts, so that if something changes in the build along the way or you decide to add something later, you can simply run the new wires/pipes/whatever within the ceiling cavity or in those service areas. Putting in conduits/extra wiring before you close your wall/ceiling with plasterboard (or whatever) is cheap. Adding the same stuff later is expensive because of demolition, rebuilding etc. Another example is that fixing a leaky pipe in a ceiling cavity is much cheaper than fixing the same pipe embedded in a concrete slab.

Another thing to consider is how contractors and builders work - often, builders will see design flaws at the design stage and say nothing about them. Then, when you've signed a contract, will mention the error and charge you an excessive variation fee to "fix" the problem. Therefore, make sure that your plans are as well thought out and detailed as possible from the outset. It is quite common in my neck of the woods for building costs to rise 20% above contract price because of this issue.

Then there's the issue of finishings. Do not settle for a building contract that says "standard plumbing/electrical fittings to be installed" or anything that resembles that kind of language, because in the building world, "standard" means "cheapest". When you find yourself in that scenario, you either end up with sub standard fittings or have to overpay to put something decent in.

Try to pay attention to the positioning of power outlets, cabling/antenna outlets, telephony, light switches etc, because contractors tend to put them wherever they feel like. A good way to go about it is to decide on these details when you have your final design locked in. Then, sketch in a few different arrangements for furniture/beds/lamps/phones and make sure that the location of your outlets/sockets/switches suits these possible arrangements, and is specified in the contract. Nothing sucks worse than having an exquisitely designed house that looks great when empty, and then having cables/cords running all over the floor when you put in furniture and actually live in it. In that way I agree with one of the previous posters - put in lots of extra cabling before you close the walls and it's cheap to do so.

Lastly (I could go on all day) consider sourcing materials yourself, particularly higher ticket finishing items such as granite bench tops, high end porcelain tiles, tap fittings (well. not so much but still, big savings to be made) - to give an example, my local price for man made caesar stone benchtops is $700/m. To import the same thing directly from china or indonesia, the landed shipped price is $30/m. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but these little savings build up significantly over the life of the build. Just make sure you watch the lead times for acquiring those materials so that theyre available for use when needed. Of course don't leave all your materials on site either, because they may be stolen.

Building a house is a bit like getting ready for a fight, with that old muay thai adage - "train easy, fight hard. train hard, fight easy". Good preparation is key, and avoids lots of heart ache/cost blow outs

btw are you planning to coordinate the contractors yourself, or to engage the services of a builder?

edit: forgot to talk about common features

Walk in wardrobes are some of the most overrated things on the planet. Women love them, but make sure that if you absolutely have to put on in, that you put a door on it. Ive seen houses where walk in robes are part of the hallway into the bed room without a door - which means that you see a giant messy wardrobe and sniff sweaty shoes every time you walk in and out of your bed room.

Ensuites - putting these in doesnt cost much if done at the design stage. Traditionally, only the master bedroom has an ensuite. Personally though, what with children living at home longer plus the growing trend of cohabitation, houses with ensuites to multiple bedrooms are becoming very desirable. If you put them back to back between adjacent bedrooms so as to piggy back supplying services/removing sewerage, you can add ensuites very cost effectively.

Spa baths - even if you dont want one and just want a bathtub, it's usually a good idea to make sure that there is an electrical circuit for a spa bath motor in case you change your mind later. Lots of people dont like baths at all, but women with children tend to really like them, which helps with house values should you want to sell.

Oh and id insist on tiles in wet areas to be floor to ceiling. Its really annoying when builders try to save money by only tiling up 6 feet off the floor - you then have to constantly repaint, you end up with mold problems etc - not fun.

um, Ill shut up now. I get excited about designing dwellings - it's good fun :)
 

Kuu

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#26
Nothing much. Like every other market in this world it's sucked up. People want way too much for land, a decent plot is around $300k, add $100k for permits and plans, then $200/sq foot and you're looking at $600k-$800k for a modest 1800 sq foot house. Ridiculous, I could afford that if I wanted, but I don't want.
True. The building boom in my city has got the land and housing prices to absurd extremes. You'd need to go enough distance from the city to have some cheap land, but then it's impractical due to distance. The only "affordable" plots close to the city are in steep rocky mountainous areas where it is actually illegal to develop, but the construction industry has plenty of cash for bribery. Just some weeks ago I visited a site with some prospective clients, I truly pity them since the structure required to build a house on such a steep site often more than offsets the savings made on the land, which is the caveat developers love to not tell you. Such is the price one has to pay to avoid hours of congested commute.

Editorone's point of small towns is true, but when one is tied to a place due to a job, such simple solution isn't so realistic for most.

The thing that I don't like about architects is that for a start, they charge you money to make a small house feel big, which begs the question "why not avoid paying an architect and plow the savings into making the house big in the first place?" (which is what I did).
To start, that's not "begging the question". Perhaps you meant to say raises the question. Moving on, I cannot begin to explain in how many ways saying that an architect just makes a small house feel big is wrong. Size is not everything. For starters, do people even need that much space? (You probably want it to be large for your money, since you're in the "real estate game" in which bigger means you get to sell it for more). Furthermore, for an owner, a larger house means larger maintenance costs in cleaning and air-conditioning and even lighting, and depending on where you live it might mean higher taxes too. The construction cost of a building is 20% or less the total lifetime operating cost, which can mean that building what seems a cheap big house will turn out to be more expensive on the long term.

The other thing that I don't like about architects is that they're often out of touch with how much it costs to build what they're designing.
Alas, Sturgeon's Law binds us all, not excluding builders of course.

In the past, architects were necessary because good house designs were hard to find, and plans drawn by hand. Today, you can find endless house designs online, and have them drafted for you very cheaply.
Utter bollocks. Architects are not draughtsmen. Any person with a month of training can draw plans by hand, or on the computer.

This is why the US has the kind of urban problems it does. Let's just let anyone build generic stuff, without properly thinking it through if it is appropriate for location or personal needs, and make a goldmine out of selling mediocrity. Buildings last for decades if not centuries... but for a great deal of real estate investors, 5 years is long term. Let's litter the country with cookie cutter big box warehouse-stores in islands of parking lots along highways, future consequences be damned.

Many decades ago the US abandoned Architecture in lieu of merely Building, and is all the worse off for it.

Reading the rest of your post is a bit sad, since you are talking much sense. Designing with standard size to minimize waste, the idea of a flexible construction where building systems are separate from the structure, the importance of identifying flaws in the design stage, laying out service areas together for greater efficiency, planning electrical fittings together with furniture layouts... these are all things (thoughtful) architects do, in fact these are things that were pivotal to modern architecture, and all those concepts and more can be found in the history and theory books, if one has enough intelligence to sidestep the big photo books that are all show and no substance.

The issue is that in many places due to the pressure of the real estate markets Architects have been portrayed as and relegated to the role of draftsmen (as you have provided an example) or superfluous stylizers (aka, not worth paying for), and builders taken over a good chunk of the work, so developers can build more for the same. More is often not better.

um, Ill shut up now. I get excited about designing dwellings - it's good fun :)
You might not have the title, but you have the spirit.
 

Cognisant

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#27
I'd love to live in a place on several acres that incorporates a little river/lake/dam/whatever that cars have to cross and only by riding on a little barge, just a nice looking platform that goes back and forth on underwater rails or something, and the barge goes through an archway as it passes from one side to the other, which can have pretty lights and flowers on it, maybe there's koi in the water, etc.

It's a scanning machine of course.
 

just george

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#28
Before I start, I'd like to say that I posted in order to point various things out and trust that the thread starter is sufficiently intelligent to understand the general themes contained in my post.

To start, that's not "begging the question". Perhaps you meant to say raises the question.
In Australia, the use of that sentence is common vernacular.

Moving on, I cannot begin to explain in how many ways saying that an architect just makes a small house feel big is wrong. Size is not everything. For starters, do people even need that much space?
I expect that the thread starter is sufficiently intelligent to understand my point, which is to communicate that a layman is perfectly capable of designing a meritous structure, particularly if they divert savings from professional services into a more opulent build.

Also, I don't think it anyone's business to ask if people "need" space when they are talking about another person building their own home for their own use. None of us "need" a house, as we could adequately survive sharing a house with many other families or living in a dorm or tent.

I think it very arrogant to ask that question at all, really.

(You probably want it to be large for your money, since you're in the "real estate game" in which bigger means you get to sell it for more).
Your assumption is incorrect. People pay for quality structures that they like, for a variety of reasons. All other things being equal, my larger dwellings sell more easily, rather than for more.

Furthermore, for an owner, a larger house means larger maintenance costs in cleaning and air-conditioning and even lighting, and depending on where you live it might mean higher taxes too.
Your statements are not necessarily true. I leave it up to the thread starter to use their own common sense in optimizing their structure as they customize their design to their particular circumstances.

The construction cost of a building is 20% or less the total lifetime operating cost, which can mean that building what seems a cheap big house will turn out to be more expensive on the long term.
That is a sweeping statement that I do not accept. Further, the thread starter did not mention that they wanted a highly efficient home. Some people are willing to pay higher upkeep fees in order to live better. Some aren't. That is a consideration for the thread starter.

Alas, Sturgeon's Law binds us all, not excluding builders of course.
I really don't understand the hostility in your post, or what motive you had to tone it that way.

Utter bollocks. Architects are not draughtsmen. Any person with a month of training can draw plans by hand, or on the computer.
Utter bollocks yourself. Anyone who knows and works with architects will know that it is common practice for them to present clients with stock floor plans and adjust them slightly to suit the parcel of land.

The point of my statement was to impart the idea that there are only so many ways to build a house, and that there are many, many floor plans freely available online for the thread starter to peruse.

This is why the US has the kind of urban problems it does. Let's just let anyone build generic stuff, without properly thinking it through if it is appropriate for location or personal needs, and make a goldmine out of selling mediocrity. Buildings last for decades if not centuries... but for a great deal of real estate investors, 5 years is long term. Let's litter the country with cookie cutter big box warehouse-stores in islands of parking lots along highways, future consequences be damned.
I find your statement to be pretentious and vain. Who is anyone to say that houses shouldn't be generic? Who is anyone to judge mediocrity? Who is anyone to say that houses must be utterly personalized, particularly since most people only life in a house for a portion of their lives before upgrading or downgrading? Who is anyone to decide who should be "let" to build their own home with their own money on their own land?

Many decades ago the US abandoned Architecture in lieu of merely Building, and is all the worse off for it.
Why is the US worse off for it? I see lots of houses that people seem to like living in. How is that a problem for anyone?

Reading the rest of your post is a bit sad, since you are talking much sense. Designing with standard size to minimize waste, the idea of a flexible construction where building systems are separate from the structure, the importance of identifying flaws in the design stage, laying out service areas together for greater efficiency, planning electrical fittings together with furniture layouts... these are all things (thoughtful) architects do, in fact these are things that were pivotal to modern architecture, and all those concepts and more can be found in the history and theory books, if one has enough intelligence to sidestep the big photo books that are all show and no substance.
Most architects spend 10% of their time on creation, and 90% of their time on legislated building compliance.

The idea that residential architects are michealangelos of design is a myth. They're compliance experts, and middlemen between clients and draftsmen.

The issue is that in many places due to the pressure of the real estate markets Architects have been portrayed as and relegated to the role of draftsmen (as you have provided an example) or superfluous stylizers (aka, not worth paying for), and builders taken over a good chunk of the work, so developers can build more for the same. More is often not better.
so?

You might not have the title, but you have the spirit.
I don't need the title. I have the experience.

Architecture is a profession that I believe will become obsolete within my lifetime. If it isn't already.
 

~~~

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#29
Architecture is a profession that I believe will become obsolete within my lifetime...
I hope not. The world needs more thought. I think there are different markets. Different people want different things. The NT market is probably different from the mass market but perhaps part of the difference is a timing difference.
 

just george

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#30
I hope not. The world needs more thought. I think there are different markets. Different people want different things. The NT market is probably different from the mass market but perhaps part of the difference is a timing difference.
The way structures are designed and built is changing. In the past, the players were the architect (who could design whatever he liked), the engineer (who would make the architects plan stand up) and the builder (who would follow the engineers specifications).

Fast forward to today, and you have building legislation governing what the architect can and cant do, which has to be checked over by a certifier in concept, before going to many different engineers (structural, mechanical, fire, electrical, hydraulic), then being checked again by the certifier, then going to the energy assessment guys, then going to the builder who finally builds it.

Recently they've come up with a new field called "design engineering" which means being half engineer, half architect, because the legislation is crippling the ability of the architect to work without having to amend the plans multiple times to get non compliances figured out.

As a developer, I would choose the services of a design engineer over an architect anyday in this legislative environment - so the writing is definitely on the wall.
 

EditorOne

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#31
I believe one design engineering team has just come up with a 300-square-foot apartment for urban living. Looked better than fixing up a chicken coop. Actually it looked like the took the folks who design yachts and submarines and gave them 300 square feet. They came up with some interesting stuff, the equivalent of the old Murphy beds that disappear during the day, tables that gold down for meals, etc. Looked like the inside of a smartly done tug boat.


So they have small apartments, they are economical, now all that have to do is get the borough to drop its limit of 350 square feet as the smallest dwelling for which they'll issue a permit. It may take longer to change the law than it did to design and build the experimental units;
 

just george

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#32
I believe one design engineering team has just come up with a 300-square-foot apartment for urban living. Looked better than fixing up a chicken coop. Actually it looked like the took the folks who design yachts and submarines and gave them 300 square feet. They came up with some interesting stuff, the equivalent of the old Murphy beds that disappear during the day, tables that gold down for meals, etc. Looked like the inside of a smartly done tug boat.


So they have small apartments, they are economical, now all that have to do is get the borough to drop its limit of 350 square feet as the smallest dwelling for which they'll issue a permit. It may take longer to change the law than it did to design and build the experimental units;
sounds like the apartment of bruce willis' character in The 5th Element :D

I personally detest that kind of dogbox style living. I've invented a type of concrete formwork system (one of my several "ill get round to raising the venture capital eventually" projects) that allows for ultra rapid ultra cheap construction. Using that system, we could build apartments twice the size in a vertical tower for a lower cost than these 300 square foot jobbies you're talking about.

How much are they selling these shoeboxes for, by the way? Were the designers inspired by Harry Potter living under the stairs or something?
 

~~~

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#34
Sounds like the property you have when you don't have property.
 

Double_V

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#35
If I were to build I would definately be incorparating Universal Design. I believe it would increase the ease of living plus the resale value, or at a minimum the salability.

I'd also like faucets thet have motion censors in them. Easy to use, and clean.
 

crippli

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#36
Cargo container house?

Sucky idea? Or not?

I saw these for sale cheap.
I was thinking to build cheap cabins in the mountains out of them. Two containers with room inbetween, maybe a tree in the center. Cut out for large windows and isolate the whole thing.

If a simple stylish way to do this could be found. Then ideally I could make 10 such mountain cabins in the first run. Later 10 more. A problem would be to get approval from government, as these will be anything but traditional.

Any thoughts on problems, costs, not a good idea etc?

Isolation would be needed. Maybe a living green roof to blend the dwelling into the environment.

I'm thinking something along these ideas.



I think this idea is really smart. Two containers on each side gives a lot of "free" open space in the center. But way too excessive as a money machine.
/

If they become nice and attractive each should provide 4-5k$ pr year. Ten of these would be 50 k$. Other then building them, and some job with renting out now and then. That would be free money into the pocket. And each one should be worth at least 200k, maybe 300k+$ if one put enough effort into it so they look traditional. So a wooden facade and perhaps "wild panel" on the inside would be needed.
 
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