Friday, January 11, 2008

Gathering information

Sorry so lax on the posts. Ryan and I have been spending every free moment we have poring over home plans online, in magazines, in plan books, etc. trying to come to some final decisions re: our elevations and floor plan. We'll be meeting with the town development review board in mid-February to find out if we have the go-ahead to begin construction this summer. Our builder, Al Rossetto, has been a dream to work with. He calls frequently to check in and see how we're progressing with our ideas and is always quick and responsive with feedback. We just sent him some plan ideas yesterday that we both really, really love so we're crossing our fingers that he agrees they work with our site, budget and vision!

In addition to plugging away on our plans, Ryan and I are actively searching out any and all information we can find about building green to make sure we integrate every product, building technique, resource we can into our build. We found out recently that we have a fantastic resource in our own backyard. NRG systems, a company based in Hinesburg, Vermont that designs and manufactures components of wind turbines (and has recently begun to construct the turbines themselves through their new business, Earth Turbines), is a LEED gold building and is less than 3 miles from our build site in Williston. They offer free tours of their green office building once a month and we took the tour yesterday. It was chock full of information about their systems, design decisions, products, materials, etc. And they answered tons of our questions. It was really a wonderful experience. Plus, it's nice to connect with other folks in the community committed to building green. It was also heartening that our tour included folks from a company based in NH that is interested in building a new green office building. I only hope others find out about this great resource and learn from the experience of the folks at NRG. They have a great website that includes a virtual tour of the building along with a list of resources.

Also, I wanted to share a great new resource I recently found in my online search for good house plans. I quickly tired of the typical suburban-style homes that seem to dominate the design field...the pointless dormers, the octagonal breakfast nook, the walled-off rooms with specific titles like "formal dining room," "media room," or "dressing room." Who lives like that? I feel like a lot of the space in these plans is used inefficiently. We want a light, open home where spaces flow naturally from one to another and where communal space is prioritized over small, isolated rooms. We don't want a lot of walls. And to find plans <2500 square feet, I had to look for "small house plans." Really? < 2500 square feet is considered small? (Slowly stepping off soap box now.) So I finally Googled "simple home plans" and this great site great site popped up.

They have some plans I really connected with including...

These plans were designed by architects who are "concerned about the impact of our profession on the planet" and who commit to making "increasing efforts towards achieving sustainable, energy efficient housing." They also say "our designs consider alternative materials and methods to produce well-designed, efficient and affordable homes." Design drawings can be purchased online for $225 (Autocad files are $325) and you receive them via a PDF which you can print out yourself. It looks like most plan packages include floor plans drawn to scale with dimensions/notes, multiple exterior elevations, building cross sections and elevations for interior cabinetry, built-ins, etc. They do remark in the FAQ section that their plans "are design drawings and not full working drawings or construction documents" and they "recommend having an Architect or Engineer review the Design Plan Set to ensure compliance with local building authority requirements prior to construction."

Ryan and I are currently trying to blend both the above Loft House and Open Plan designs and see if we can come up with something that fits our needs. We'll keep you posted!