Design Time: The first stage of a Home Addition

Yesterday was so much fun! I had the opportunity to act as designer with our Architects and design our new floor plan!  With the renovation at our old house, all of the work was cosmetic: floors, paint, adding some cabinets here and there, but no walls to be added or removed, so an Architect was never needed.  With our new home, we have a general plan of what we want to do to the house, but it requires the work of an Architect as we are doing an addition to the front of the house and modifying our roof line.  These are designs I can see in my head and do my best to describe but I’m pretty sure our contractor can’t see the designs I see in my head, so we need someone to put them to paper. . .enter the Architects.  Meeting with the Architects felt like the first real step towards our Renovation project.  It was also the first time I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with an Architect and was such an educational (and fun!) experience.  We worked for two hours at our new house taking our current floor plan and modifying it to be what will hopefully be our new floor plan (I’m sure there will be some tweaking along the way).

The first 15 minutes of our meeting went something like this:  introductions (as we had never met except over the phone), walking around the house inside and out, me showing them a few picture ideas of what we like and then describing what we’d like to do and then they started with their Architect magic.  One of them started taking measurements of each of the rooms with his laser measuring tool while the other one entered the measurements into his design program on his laptop, immediately creating a rough birds-eye floor plan of our house.  It was really cool.

(when I texted my husband this picture he said it resembled “Centipede” more than our house design, lol.  Silly husband, that’s why I’m doing the designing 😉  )

Ignore the top thing in this picture but this is our current floor plan (though very rough) for the middle section of our house that we will be focusing on renovating.  The section to the left of the screen is where our bedrooms, master and guest bath and laundry room are.  Those are not being modified at this time.  The section to the right of the screen is the garage.  The big middle lower rectangle in the screen is our current living and kitchen area (and a guest bath behind the kitchen).  The square to the top left of that is our current Family Room, the rectangle to the right of that is our Entry, the next section is our Dining Room and the small rectangle is my favorite room in the house right now. . .my giant pantry.

Once all of this information was entered into the design program the real magic began.  With one click here and one swipe there the Architects started taking down walls and moving rooms around.  I wish it was that easy and fast in real life LOL.  All of the walls between the family room, dining room and living room are coming down. BIG OPEN FLOOR PLAN.  They added our current kitchen format to the drawing so we can see it, but we’ll be completely remodeling the kitchen as well.  Next we started adding walls for the addition.  At first we thought we would just extend the current family room, close a portion of it off and make that an office. We also planned to extend the Entry Way and add a sitting room area in front of the Dining Room.  After we got it all on paper though, we realized that designed that way it really didn’t optimize the space, and made the front of the house very flat on the exterior which is not a look we wanted.

After walking around the outside of the front of the house a few more times and some creative thinking, we decided to shuffle the rooms of our addition around.  So what was going to be the office is now going to be a window seat area of the Great Room and what was going to be the sitting room by the Dining room is now going to be a much larger much more functional Office!  Plus there will be an Entry with a raised ceiling and a covered front patio area with roof lines that will be creatively tied into our existing roof.  It was truly amazing how much creativity, thinking, rethinking and designing it took to add around 300 square feet and a proper entry to our house while also making the front of the house look amazing, and not like it’s an addition.  The most challenging part in my opinion was making the addition not look like an addition on the exterior of the house.  We are purposefully setting part of the addition back from the front so the house is not flat, and recessing the entry a bit so that it adds even more dimension.  The large covered patio is going to be biggest change to the front of the house I think and I can’t wait to see a drawing of the proposed front in detail!

All in all yesterday was VERY educational and fun.  I love getting to be creative and the  opportunity to have a hand in designing my house made me want to get my Architectural degree a bit, except for the part about having to go to school to learn how to be an Architect.  So I think I’ll just play designer on my house and let the Architects and contractors do their jobs LOL.

Something else I learned yesterday that is NOT so fun is the realistic timelines that come with home renovation.  We won’t get an actual finished drawing from our Architect to submit to the County (our house is on County property, not City) until around the first week of October and it takes the County around 6 weeks to approve the plans. Add at least another month to that time frame just for approvals and then add your construction time on top of that.  And for us, that construction time will now be happening during Fall and Winter, and that means most likely add some weather delays to that as well.  So all of you who love to watch design shows on TV like me, now you know that a six week time frame from design to finish is NOT realistic.  TV contractors and designers have already submitted their plans and had them approved before the shows even begin.  Also, in a hot Real Estate market like we’re in right now, expect even more delays.  More people are renovating and building which means longer time frames for finding Architects and Contractors who are available to do the work and getting approvals from County or City can take longer as well. I called several Architects before connecting with ours. Two of them were not taking new clients and two of them were over a month out before they could even meet me for a consulting appointment.  So if you’re planning on renovating let me give you a tip; take your estimated time frame that you’ve created in your brain and multiply it by 3 or 4 times that length.  Then you might be closer to the actual time it will take for your renovation.

All in all I’m glad we ended up with the Architects we are working with, even if they weren’t our first call.  Not all Architects would take 2 hours out of their day to let me play designer with them.  It was an amazing experience and I look forward to watching the digital drawing become the addition to our home!

CalBRE# 01984572

I’m a full time wife, mom and Real Estate Agent and I blog about the real dirty honest stuff about renovation; like what living through a house being torn apart is actually like, the real costs of upgrading, DIY vs hiring it out, etc.  If you like what you’ve read, follow this blog to receive an email with each new post!

 

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