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.

16 Responses to project addition: week one

  1. Very exciting! I can’t wait to watch the progress on the blog.

  2. Love the house model. Were you the first on the block to rehab or was it an established street?

    • When we bought our house in 2000, the rehab wave was taking off. In fact, we looked at some other houses in nearby neighborhoods – Soulard and Lafayette Square – that needed a full gut rehab (what we were looking for) – and we were already priced out of those neighborhoods. At that time it didn’t take much to price us out though – we were fresh out of graduate school and didn’t have a whole lot of $$ between the two of us!

      Over the last 15 years we’ve seen a lot of change in our neighborhood, although most of that occurred prior to 2008. Things really slowed down then, and prices returned to a more normal level. There are still a lot of houses on our street that have the same owners from 20/30/40 years ago, and the area hasn’t completely gentrified, which is a good thing in my book. There’s a huge variety of housing types in the neighborhood – large single family homes, more modest two- and three-family homes and apartments and lofts, so we have a diverse housing stock and appeal to lots of different people.

      There’s always a fair bit of luck involved with buying a house – price, location, style… and we feel like we got pretty lucky to buy when we did.

  3. Project Bitchin’ Kitchen
    Brooke recently posted…The Depth of Her SadnessMy Profile

  4. Excellent! Excited to be a spectator in this process instead of eyeball deep. And just so ya know, with proper planning and materials selection, your new kitchen can be both fancy AND working. 😉
    Project BK gets my vote.

  5. Project Back Pocket
    Project Junk in the Trunk
    Project Sir-Mix-A-Lot
    Project Baby Got Back
    Project Anaconda

    Sorry, I could go on for a while…:)
    Pam Hipp recently posted…ADOPT Quilt No. 04My Profile

    • Too funny. I actually really like Project Back Pocket, it sort of sounds kind of sly, like you might look at our house from the front and assume one thing, but there’s a party going on in the back. It also reminds me of Pocket Parks that you see in urban areas, tiny little getaways between big buildings. I studied in Genoa, Italy and our studio was mostly focused on urban design. We studied and visited lots of these little gardens around Europe, and then I studied some of the same in New York during graduate school.

  6. We have a very different style of house (Queen Anne), but similar in “design opportunities” and need for renovation. It’s currently functional, but rough around the edges. We sit down and draw and brainstorm and redraw and plan, but we’re complete novices. This is going to be an amazing opportunity for me to see pro’s actually sit down, draw, brainstorm, plan, and then actually execute. Very cool. And that model. Wow.
    Adah recently posted…Book Look // Paddle to the SeaMy Profile

    • That model is so ancient. And dusty. I built it years ago, in the first years that we had the house, and it’s not finished on the back. I used to work for a small residential firm and we modeled every single project we designed. I think I’ll model this one (physical model, not just computer model) too. I think the girls will get a kick out of the process, and I’ll probably let them help out.

      I haven’t purchased chip board in years! I think chip board and x-acto blades might have been my largest monthly expense for several years of my life in the late nineties.

      • I’d love to see the process of building a model (although I will probably also look it up online,too, so no pressure). My stepfather’s family is full of architects and I have a distinct and lovely memory of a hat that his sister made in architecture school (for a party, I think) with a model of one of the campus buildings on top. It was magnificent. I also like the moniker Project Back Pocket!
        Adah recently posted…Book Look // Paddle to the SeaMy Profile

  7. I’m glad you like the idea of Project Back Pocket! Booty jokes aside, the concept of the private courtyard / pocket park / subterranean lair does seem to fit that name. Especially if you are still leaning toward a modern exterior finish for the addition. It will be beautiful with the old brick. Can’t wait to see the meeting minutes going forward!
    Pam Hipp recently posted…ADOPT Quilt No. 04My Profile

  8. This is exciting. Look forward to seeing the progress. I’m currently failing on Project Laundry.
    Caroline recently posted…Cheesy Church PicturesMy Profile

  9. Project personal—

    A project that’s actually for you all! I wish I had a tiny but of your talent and know how.
    Courtney recently posted…so sorry for the confusionMy Profile

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