Daily Archives: January 13, 2015

project addition: week one

2015-01-14_1421207898I feel like I need a catchy name for our new house project, but I’m drawing a bit of a blank. I think I’ll stick with Project Addition, because Project new story(ies) was my second choice and that is super corny. I need to know when to stop with the story(ies) and the (parentheses). M named it Project Home Sweet Home on the calendar item for our first work session, and that’s kind of sweet too. We’ll see. For now, it’s Project Addition. (I’m open to clever suggestions though.)

So… calendar items. Yes, we started scheduling in weekly project meetings at home which is both incredibly dorky and also super effective. I thought it might be fun to “record” the meeting minutes here in a weekly post on the blog so that we could keep track of our own work, but also so that you could follow along with the process if it seems interesting to you. This weekend I’m going to do a little reorganizing on the blog and I’ll keep all the meeting minutes, sketches, photographs, design documents in one place in the sidebar. (You might want to switch from Mobile Version to Desktop Version if you read the blog on your phone – you can toggle between the two if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page.)

In April of last year I began outlining some goals for our house (that will likely take the form of one addition and one freestanding building). Here’s what those were:

Big Picture Goals:

  • Connect this big old brick house to the outdoors in a more modern, open manner.
  • Bring light into the center of the house.
  • Upgrade the kitchen into a serious cooking / baking kitchen – not a fancy kitchen, a hardworking kitchen.
  • Carve out a mudroom space to control clutter.
  • Provide an indoor connection to the basement / storm shelter.
  • Create an urban courtyard and a more private outdoor away space.
  • The table is a big part of our family life – create a dining space that celebrates that and also allows us to entertain larger groups of family and friends.
  • Build an alley garage with a future attic space for guests or studio space.
After our meeting on Saturday, I think we could add a few more things to that list:
  • Create an informal hang out space in the new basement room – a spill over space from the main level for the kids when the adults are lingering around the table.
  • Bring light into the basement room in a clever way from the outdoor garden. (M suggested portholes into the side of a pool built along the foundation wall!)
For our first meeting, we kept things pretty simple. We talked about the big picture, sketched out a couple of ways to deal with the new foundation as it relates to the old foundation, and talked about how an interior stair might work (or not work) within the addition. Then we gave ourselves a few assignments for this week:
1.  We need to get a new survey of our site. We had a boundary survey done when we purchased the house in 2000, but we need to get a topographic survey and locate some spot elevations in the existing house. A topographic survey will show the grading of the site – our backyard slopes towards the alley, and then drops several feet to the alley where there is an ancient railroad tie retaining wall. These elevations are critical for the design of the addition and the garage. We identified three different surveying companies we’ve worked with in the past, and divided them up to call. We’ll select one this week and get on their schedule. These can typically be scheduled in under two weeks, so it won’t be too long before we have this information back.
2.  We need to locate all the materials we’ve been making notes on and get them into one location that we can access from various computers. I have a half dozen Sketchup models I’ve played around with, and tons of images and sketches and notes tucked into all sorts of places.
3.  Last year I contacted the building department and asked a bunch of questions about property setbacks and variances. I need to locate the printouts regarding fence requirements, garage requirements, variance procedures, etc. and get them into the same central file. This will require tackling more piles – a common theme this month.
That concludes last week’s meeting minutes. Stay tuned for our next report which will focus on the many constraints ahem, design opportunites, that our little piece of urban paradise offers.
Meeting adjourned.