Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Designing an Affordable Custom Home

A custom home for under $200,000? Impossible, you might say. A San Juan Island couple is making it happen.

Here are some steps that each of us are taking early in the design process:
  • Keep it small and maximize outdoor programmed space (this home is 1,250 square feet, with a 158 balcony and 134 square foot crows nest)
  • Design using standard dimensions to minimize waste
  • Use a square footprint, the most efficient shape, with clean modern lines to keep labor and material costs low (one plane shed roof)
  • Use prescriptive structural design. This house is designed to use standard shear wall design with wood (no steel structural frame needed, which is often the case in those modern homes you see with walls of windows) and dimensional lumber for all beams (no large manufactured beams needed). Our goal is to show how a creative, modern design can be accomplished while employing affordable prescriptive structural design.
  • Hunt for salvaged materials. As we design, the client is searching the websites of such stores as Second Use, which sells salvaged building materials. Built-ins can be key to making a small space work, and if you start looking for salvaged items early in the design process, we can tailor the design to the pieces you find, instead of the other way around. (Our San Juan Channel House, an award winning custom home built for under $190 a square foot, employed many salvaged materials).
  • Prioritize your needs. We have an extensive client survey that we hand out at the beginning of any project. It asks about a typical day, dining habits, and storage needs. This allows us and the clients to focus on how they spend their time and what is most important to them. In this home, ample space is provided for cooking, canning, and drying of food. 

We are excited about this home and are really enjoying the design process of making all of the client's requirements work in the space.

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