What’s Not Going On

March
4
2016

 

We were hoping that by this time our “addition” would be well on its way.  It’s not.  As a matter of fact, it’s so far not that it hasn’t even started.  In a previous post I wrote about how naive we were about the process of drawing up our own plans, and about how expensive it would be to build! (Read about it here.)  We knew, once we got back to our planning, everything would move a little slower than we wanted.  But not this slow!

Katrina Cottage

Katrina Cottage

As I wrote in that previous post, we abandoned our house plans that were years (and years)  in the making, and we decided (and believe me, I really had to come to grips with this) to ADD on to our little Katrina cottage.  (a/k/a the Crab Shack.) Most of the email I get is about the Katrina cottage.  People just seem to love it, and we do too.  However, as I’ve told everyone who has written with questions about it,  it is a little small for living in full-time.  For us, it was going to be a guest cottage, but now, since our big, beautiful stand alone house was too expensive, we decided to use the Crab Shack and weave it into our plans.  (yes, I know…..you’re aghast.)  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Things had to be done before we could even think about building anything anywhere.  First, of course, we had to get new plans drawn up.  We weren’t ready back in May to start all over talking “plans” again, so we waited a month or so.  But then, as you could imagine, we had to wait till the house “designer” was available, and that took a month and a half.  Then the process of creating this completely new structure and adding it to the Crab Shack, well, all that took another month or two.  We actually thought we’d be able to start the project in maybe November or December – the weather here in Maryland is still okay, but no.   There was still stuff to do.

We had the old house to knock down. It looked pretty nice from the outside, but the inside was completely gutted.  It was ruined by a storm and burst pipes by the previous owner and was left to rot.  We knew we’d have to take it down when we bought the property, and we waited all these years until we were ready to build because down here, if you build – where you are “taking away” land you must plant native plants to replace that land.  So if we kept the house, we would only have to make up the difference between the square footage of the old house and the new house with plantings.  In this case, it was equal, which worked out for us! (Yay, something worked out!)

 

 

The front of the old house

The front of the old house

 

The back

The back

 

Waiting for Kyle to be able to knock down the house took quite awhile.  It rained so much in the fall, and then Kyle went on vacation.  The weather was a factor, and believe it or not, so were the tides!

Knocking down the house

Knocking down the house

Little Choptank 2016 A January 099

What it used to look like driving in - way back when

What it used to look like driving in – way back when before the entrance fence and gate

And now, without the house

And now, without the house

 

Then the Bocce court had to be moved.  That’s not something you hear everyday.  But we had built a Bocce court to the side of the Crab Shack, and now, the new house was going to be added on over there.

Moving the bocce court

Moving the Bocce court

 

Little Choptank 2016 A January 096

Okay, on to the next thing.  See that green box near the Bocce area?  That’s our electric.  We have all our electric underground (which is really, really nice!) but that box is also now in the way.  So when we first bought the place, we paid to have it moved there out of our way.  And now we had to pay to have it moved again!  But then the tides came!

The electric box is surrounded

The electric box is surrounded

 

We'd never seen it this high!

We’d never seen it this high!

 

So we had to wait.  Till the electric company could come to move the box, and our electricians could come to help coordinate with the electricity from the house, and for the HVAC system to be moved from one side of the Crab Shack to the other.  Wait, wait, wait.

 

Preparing the new area for all the electric

Preparing the new area for all the electric

 

Moving the electric box

Moving the electric box

 

The area is now all clear!

The area is now all clear!

So everything is ready for the next step, the actual START of the project.  The mason has to come to stake out the building, which then has to be inspected. After that begins the excavation!  But first the ground was too wet, then it was too cold, and then too windy.  It’s always something.  Next week will begin the 4th week with nothing going on.

Hopefully next time I’ll have some progress to report.  For now, I’m researching appliances and flooring.  Get your suggestions ready.  I’ll need advice!

Adding onto the Katrina Cottage

Adding onto the Katrina Cottage

 

Architect or Residential Designer?

June
28
2013

When we moved our search for our retirement property to Maryland, there were a few terms we weren’t familiar with, for instance rip-rap.  These turned out to be big rocks placed along the shoreline to preserve the land from wearing away.

Rip Rap

Then, when we started to design the garage and crab shack, we came across another term, residential designer.

We’ve all heard of an architect.  We weren’t as familiar with a draftsperson or residential designer.  These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but usually a true draftsperson’s specialty is technical drawings, while a residential designer specializes in homes.  Although many times they can each do both.

An article in Coastal Home magazine a few years ago contends the similarities between the residential designer and the architect ends once the plans are drawn. There are, of course, pros and cons to both of them.

our_house_plans

An architect will see you through the entire building process, from blueprints to site management.  They can also interact with an interior designer – if you’ve hired one – to make the most out of the interior flow and beauty of the house.  However, the price for this service is somewhat expensive.  A general rule of thumb is that an architect’s fee is roughly 10% of the total project.  There are some that will charge an hourly fee to do just the blueprints.  But many do not.

An architect must be licensed and registered, and must meet three of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ requirements; education, experience and examination.  Many also register with the AIA, which has a strict code of ethics and professional conduct.  However, there are some – as the stories go – that wind up producing drawing after drawing of what they have in mind, not what you have in mind.  Here, a little research, or a recommendation goes a long way.

The residential designer does not have to be licensed, and some may never have had any formal training. However, many do register with the American Institute of Building Design, which mandates five years of educational and design experience, and while it specifies standards and ethics, it doesn’t require standardized exams.  Again, if you do your research, or have a recommendation, you will find he or she is very qualified to draw up plans for about half the cost of an architect.  If you have some idea of the design you are interested in, or if you have put together an entire binder – like I have – with floor plans you love, you will be able to give the residential designer this input and make the job go even smoother.   I would also say, if you have a good contractor or builder, this would alleviate any issues you might have with site management, or flow of the rooms, etc.

It all comes down to a couple of things, and sometimes the first is cost.  The second is your own preference. If you have at least some ideas of what you’d like, are not “afraid” of the building  process, and have a little sense of design and some common sense, you can do your due diligence and find either a residential designer or architect you will be happy and comfortable with.  You may need to interview three or four, but finding someone you have a good rapport with is key.

With either person, if you come equipped with pictures – floorplans, rooms, designs, exteriors, and interiors, and even pictures of things you absolutely do not like, you will save yourself some money because you are prepared, you will get a better finished product, and will have a house you truly love.

If you have any advice or stories regarding your experiences with an architect or residential designer, I’d love to hear them!

Little Choptank 2013  G June 20 to 24th 056wtmk