From ideas to plans: Meeting with the architect

I take it as a good sign that the architect/project manager is a) busy, and b) focused on finishing his current projects. That means that when it’s our turn, our project won’t get lost in the shuffle. But I admit that I was getting frustrated with the waiting.

The architect’s team measured the house back in October. They began working on the drawings of our house in January.

I know what all you DIYers out there are thinking. In three months I could have done the work myself. Um….have you read my blog? A typical weekend project takes me at least a month. And that’s only if there are no surprises. This house, as you know by now, has been full of surprises and no doubt there will be more. Half of our house is going to be a construction zone so the structural problems can be repaired. It makes sense for us to have an experienced construction crew working from architectural drawings with the architect overseeing the project.

Brainstorming ideas

The architect came to our house February 6 and took a look at the structural issues before sitting down with us to bounce around a couple of ideas. The end result of the visit is that I am feeling excited about the house for the first time in years.

The structure is bad, but not difficult to fix

The fact that we have gutted or are planning to gut the areas that need fixing works in our favor. Fixing the structural problems won’t add much to the cost of the renovation.

Visualization is key

The architect came equipped with a copy of our existing floor plan.   After seeing it on paper, I realized just how poorly laid out our house actually is.

With a single swipe of a pencil the architect opened our eyes to an idea that we never would have considered otherwise.   By removing the front hall closet, and eliminating the hallway to the bedroom and bathroom we can expand the new rooms by a couple of feet.  That may not sound like much but it will make a significant difference.

He also suggested access to the laundry room from the back door landing by building another staircase (three steps). I was a little skeptical but my wife really liked that idea.

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We have drawings!

On Tuesday February 10, my wife came home from work with the architect’s first drawings. Over the last few years, I have sketched that part of the house many times trying to fit in what I thought were the crucial elements but I was never able to fit everything into the space. I figured that we would have to compromise on something. I expected the architect’s role would be to help us determine what compromises to make in order for the space to work.  But that is not the case.

Expectations exceeded

The scale drawing showed our bedroom with a walk-in closet (something I had never considered), a bathroom with the massage tub and a 7 foot double vanity and a laundry room with a laundry tub and closet space.

The bedroom has a small dressing area where we could fit a dresser. From the dressing area, we have access to the walk in closet and a secondary entrance to the bathroom. There is even another door at the back of the closet (turning it into more of a closet hallway) leading into the laundry room– the ultimate in convenience. The laundry is also accessed from a new doorway and steps to the back landing.

Remember Powell Motors?

All this reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons — virtually everything reminds me of something on The Simpsons– when Homer designed a car for his long lost half-brother’s car company.

It had every possible feature that Homer could dream up but the final price tag was so high that no one would buy it, causing Powell Motors to go bankrupt.

Powell Motors Homer
The Powell Motors “Homer.” Graphic created by Carlos R. Bisquertt. (permission pending).

That is our current dilemma. Everything looks good on paper, but at what cost?    With the current state of the economy, we want to be sure we have some money left in the bank without tying all of it up in this renovation.

Added August 30, 2013: Bonus link for all you Simpson Geeks: The real-life Homer built by Porcubimmer Motors.

The plans need some tweaking

I had spent so much time studying the layout presented by the architect that I missed a minor omission.  The plans did not include a linen closet to replace the one in the hallway that we will be losing.  We need that storage.

I did a little doodling and sent him an email with a couple of my ideas to see if they would work. One of his underlings drew up some alternative plans.  (I’m using “underling” facetiously, since she reads this blog…)

While her plans are good in their own way, they are further removed from what we need.  We have some work to do.

So here we are, still in the planning stage, and with no numbers attached to the project yet.  We certainly don’t want to rush the plans and end up with something that doesn’t work, but we are also facing a deadline.  Since Christmas, the in-laws have been planning an extended stay with us from May to September. We would like all construction completed by Victoria Day weekend. Had we started a month ago, this deadline would have been realistic. But with each passing day, I’m beginning to doubt we will be finished in time.

This post contains content consolidated from five posts originally published between January 7 and February 20, 2009. Revised 2018.

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