Category Archives: Architecture

Going to Estimates

Final to Estimate

It's been a while, but I have to say, nothing big has been happening. Rick went on vacation then we went on vacation and next thing you know, 3 weeks have blasted by.

The good news is that after our last meeting on Monday, where we modified the roofline pretty dramatically and finalized all of the windows, we are ready to go to estimates.

My feeling is that it is going to be about 20% more than our budget will allow and we will have to make some significant changes. On the other hand, we've been going into this thinking of a pretty big number so that we will be plesantly surprised. Even still, we are set to find out the damage.

We were trying to keep the roof on the left hand side of the house, but it looked really dumb so we bit the bullet and have no decided to rebuild that too. We are essentially now building an entirely new house. At least we will get what we want, providing we can afford it.

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The Man Is Keeping Us Down

House

Click to enlarge

We met with Rick the other night and he delivered some semi-bad news to us. The City of San Jose has decided that attached garages are negatively affecting the integrity of the neighborhood of Willow Glen. Ouch, says us.

Our options are to A.) Spend a few hundred dollars and several weeks fighting the city. Not a bad option, but Rick felt that we had less then a 50 / 50 chance of success with this one. Or B.) Take the path of least resistance and leave our detached garage behind the house and modify some walls. We begrudgingly chose plan B.

The upside to this plan is that retrofitting and keeping our existing garage will hopefully be a lot less expensive than tearing it all down and moving it up on the property.

There are a lot of downsides to the new plan. The first is that when you live in the Bay Area, lots are insanely expensive. If our current house burned down today, we would get less than 10% of the total value of the property. So if you have an expensive lot of property and a detached garage way in the back corner of said lot, you now have a really expensive slab of concrete. Also, in order to accommodate two cars, the garage and the house must overlap each other by a few feet. This is beat because the closest corner of the house must be 6 feet from the closest corner of the garage and the drive way needs to be ‘S’ shaped starting 20 feet from the garage in order to negotiate your car into the garage. Long story longer, our house plan just shrunk by about 100 square feet, we lost ½ a bathroom and backyard is so small that we are going to start charging the neighborhood kids rent to keep the play house back there.

The good news is that we have a great architect that was able to find a way to keep the continuity of the house alive and actually give us a bit more of what we want. We now have a true mud room off the side of the house. Our front porch is larger by 5 square feet and wider to support a really nice porch swing. He dropped in a really cool little study in the front room. I suspect that this might be where we keep all of the audio / visual stuff as well as desks for Holly & the kids to do homework on.

Rick was also wise enough to design the new house to keep a lot more of the existing foundation which will save us a few bucks. We juggled a few things and got a bigger master closet and a coat closet, too.

All in all, the project is chugging along. This is a minor setback, but if it is the worst thing to happen to us, then we are in good shape.

We don’t meet with Rick again for another week and a half, however, between now and then, I am sure that we will be tearing through magazines and stopping at home stores whenever we can.

House in 3d

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Filed under Architecture, The City

Awesome 3rd Meeting

We had a great meeting the other night. Rick had some good ideas and felt that we were getting really close. At this point, we need to finalize where were are going to have the walls.

Floor Plan

Probably best if this is opened in another window, but you can see that we are adding the bedroom in the back, extending the front and making all types of other changes to the existing floor plan. The existing floor plan is in the double lined. We are keeping the wall down the left hand side of the house in this image. Everything else is new.

This is the rendered view of what the house will look like. I would say that we are 90% of the way there. I think that the only thing that we might add is a small bathroom in the place of the laundry room. The next step is to finalize the walls and have Rick begin the engineering.

I was at my friend Eric's house the other night and I love their kitchen. They had great distressed white cabinets with dark wide plank flooring. It looked phenomenal.

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First and Second Architect Meetings

We had our first and second architect meetings recently.  It was great.  It was like being in grade school again.  We simply took our existing floor plan and a Sharpie marker and drew all over it on velum.  We made 3 different versions and ended up with one that we really liked. 

Holly and I took it home, looked at it a lot, made some minor changes to it and then we were off and running.  We told Rick that we loved the plans and asked that he put them into the computer. 

When we met with Rick the second time, he had loaded everything up.  It was cool.  We were able to see what the house would look like from the floor plan and a 3D view.  We made a few more quick changes which we could see in real time.  Some of them were:

            10 foot ceilings vs. 9 foot vs. 8 foot

            Adding windows, doors, more light

            Moving furniture around

            Changing the bathroom

            Moving walls

It was all kind of surreal and fun. 

The next meeting is tomorrow.

One recommendation that we have is to tape the plans to a common area in the house so that you can write down your thoughts on the plans in real time.  We put a piece of note paper with it too so that we can take all notes.  It makes life easier in that you don’t have to unroll the plans every time you want to look at them.

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First Check

Well, I suppose with the writing of the first check the project is officially underway. All of the contractors that we spoke with recommended several architects, but one name came up with all of them and that was Rick Hartman of HOMETEC Architecture. We were really glad to see this as, obviously, this means that Rick has worked with all three of our final picks, plus, during the interview process, Rick gave us a list of addresses of houses that he has done and we both liked more then a handful of them. I am sure that he won't be happy about this, but Rick was also the 'mystery architect' on the two Sunset homes in Los Gatos. I think that we are in good hands for our tiny little project.

Rick is funny, personable and very efficient. He brings a ton of great ideas to the table and, like he says, his job is easy, he just draws, we are the ones that need to decide how big to make our closet if it means giving up bathroom space. He also likes to semi-kid that he is very good at spending our money.


For the first appointment, Rick came out and measured everything you can possible think of and them some more things. Apparently all of the set backs in San Jose are pretty tough to get around. As I am learning, like all things, the devil is in the details.

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