Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beautiful home

I fell in love with this house tour featured on apartmenttherapy. It's definitely more traditional than we will probably go but has such a nice, crisp look to it. And I adore all the white walls. I think it captures a refined farmhouse (cottage?) feel...and check out that bathroom!

See the full photo tour here.

Change of plans (literally)

So this is the new information I referenced in my last post. Did you like the tease? And no, mom, I'm not pregnant. Sorry :)

So after a lot of thought and deliberation, Ryan and I have made the radical decision to ditch our original house plans. It was hard because we spent the better part of last year developing them (with the incredibly talented Lori Buxton, a local draftsperson). Lori did a great job and produced exactly what we requested. But we've come to realize that the house is too big and too expensive.

We originally developed the plans when the economy wasn't in the toilet and when we were living large. (Well, not really. We've never lived large. But we certainly had more job security.) In addition, over the past few months, we have spent an unfortunate amount of money on trying to meet the requirments of the DRB including hiring a civil engineer, a hydrogeologist, and an attorney. Let's just say that the process has not been cheap. And the bids we received for materials like siding, roofing, windows, etc. were higher than we could really afford. It became clear that the best thing to do was reduce the size of the house.

The more we thought about the prospect, the more excited we got. We are all about going green and yet we missed the most obvious strategy of all...reduce the building's footprint. In addition to cutting the materials needed for construction and thus saving resources, a smaller house means lower energy usage. It also means disrupting a smaller part of the site.

So we are excited to share our new house plans. We think they retain the farmhouse aesthetic we like but in a smaller package (1568 sq. feet). This represents a 27 percent reduction from our original house plans (2160 sq. feet)and is 40 percent smaller than the average house size in the Northeast (2601 sq. feet). Not bad, eh?

And the plans still meet our primary design objective: open, communal living/dining/kitchen area with smaller private spaces. The addition of the wraparound front porch is lovely. It will be like a second living room in the summer months. As for exterior colors, they will remain the same: white Hardieplank siding with a silver standing seam metal roof.

And the best part about these new plans? By dropping our window count from 30 to 20, we think we will be able to afford the Marvin Integrity fiberglass windows we so desperately wanted.

Let us know what you think...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good news!!!

I feel like I've been waiting my whole life to write this blog post...we were *finally* approved by the Review Board at last night's meeting. WOOHOO! We're so happy. The unfortunate news is that they have asked us to address several more conditions and meet with them one more time. But I don't think this final meeting will be anything like previous meetings; it should be pretty cut and dry. Because of that requirement, though, our timeline has been pushed back. We anticipate breaking ground in mid-July. This is much later than we had hoped because we really want to take advantage of the $8000 new homebuyer tax credit (which requires you to occupy new construction by Dec. 1, 2009). I don't think we'll make it. But we can try. That money was going to help tremendously with our solar hot water. Oh, well! The most important thing is that we're building at all!

And thanks to everyone for their love and support! It felt good to go into last night's meeting knowing that there were at least a handful of people outside our close friends and family who cared about the outcome!

And I will be updating the blog soon with some surprising new information...stay tuned...

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I've been feeling bad about ignoring our blog. On the other hand, I have been doing my best to not think about anything house-related because everything has been thrown into doubt by our last meeting with the Williston Development Review Board. This last month has been like torture for us. We were going 100 mph on house work...picking out wallpaper, soliciting bids from subcontractors, talking snow guards with our roof installer, deliberating natural or painted sashes for the windows, explaining our heating system to plumbers....only to have everything come to a screeching halt on March 24th. It has been very difficult to adjust to this new reality of not knowing whether our project will move forward.

But a lot has happened since March 24th. We have had a professional hydrogeologist conduct an analysis of the well yields in our area and he concluded that we will have no problem getting the water we need without adversely affecting our neighbors. Whew. We also had a local landscape artist develop a landscaping plan for the site, which the town required. And we asked water quality experts at the state to weigh in on the appropriateness (and environmental impact) of our proposed septic system design. (If you can tell, these were the major issues the board raised at the meeting.) We feel confident that, on all fronts, we have addressed the board's concerns. We even wrote an impassioned letter to the board explaining how incredibly conscious we are of the ecological footprint our house...and how hard we've worked from day one to mitigate its impact--both to the land and to our future neighbors. We sincerely hope that this letter coupled with the professional opinions of a slew of experts will convince the board to give us the green light.

So for the first three weeks post-board meeting, I actually did a pretty good job of pretending like we weren't building a house. Driving past Home Depot and not stopping in to price out door handles? No problem. Avoiding the architectural salvage shop even though I know they recently merged with another store and have a deliciously large amount of new inventory? Didn't faze me. Getting repeated calls from subcontractors wondering what the $%jf*@ happened to me? Difficult, but manageable.

What made me fall off the wagon, you say? Hearing about a new store in Utah that sells fabulous MCM-inspired couches that are super eco-friendly. Green furniture...gets me every time.

So we meet with the board again this Tuesday (April 28th) and we're feeling *cautiously* optimistic. To celebrate our (measured) optimism, I've decided to get back into the swing of things and research this new couch find.

If you've been following this blog, you know that we've been searching for the perfect modern, green, affordable couch...for awhile. We first made a purchase from only to have the company return our money several months later because of production problems. D'oh! Then we thought we found it with the Giselle from Boston Interiors....only to learn out that their delivery charges to northern Vermont ran almost as much as the couch itself. Grr. We strongly considered some of the options from Crate and Barrel since many of their sofas are certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council and their cushions use soy-based foam. But few of them (except maybe the "Petrie") really had that mid-century modern look we covet. Then I read about Lofgren's, a furniture store based in Salt Lake City, Utah that makes great looking pieces that are environmentally friendly as well. Delivery charges aren't exorbitant. And their entire upholstery line is green. Here is a run-down of their eco-friendly features:

Certified sustainable kiln-dried hardwood frame
Soy or plant-based foam
Padding materials: 100% recycled polyester fibers
Waterbased finishes and glues
95% recycled metal springs and components

Oh, and they're not terribly expensive...well, they're expensive. But for a green, stylish sofa, I don't think they're that bad. The last one is probably out of our price range but I like it anyway.

Here are the four we like. I have my favorite (which, of course, is not Ryan's favorite) but I'm curious to hear what others think. Which would get your vote? Maybe the blogosphere can help us decide...

Option 1: "The Tate" ($1349)

Option 2: "The Aero" ($1499)

Option 3: "The Dakota" ($1399)

Option 4: "The Copenhagen" ($1999)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Running into a stiff head wind....

Those were the words the chair of our town's Development Review Board uttered at our discretionary permit review meeting last week about the fate of our project. We were shocked. We were under the impression that we had everything in order to be approved to move forward and hoped (planned!) to break ground in May. But our meeting with the DRB last week revealed that there are several unresolved issues that must be addressed before they will grant us a permit. We are working feverishly to resolve those before our next meeting at the end of this month. So I apologize if there are no new posts between now and then. The worry with which we're now consumed about making sure we can build at all has taken all the fun out of deliberating over wallpaper...

I'll keep everyone posted on how things go at the next meeting. Here's hoping...