Friday, February 26, 2010

Planning for Perfect Enough

At long last (OK, after three weeks), version two of our possible house plan arrived from the draftsman. It's closer to what we want but still got covered with pencil scratchings. Finding the right plan is proving harder than I ever thought possible.

Oh, I expected to spend some time on the process. And I know that I am one to analyze and dream and research, so I was prepared to do all of those and enjoy them very much. But I had no idea that I would obsessively search every internet plan seller on nine Googled pages without finding a single plan that was basically right enough to just tweak and use.

Objectively speaking, any number of plans could work in some fashion, but I'd like to do better than that. The site seems to me to require certain things, like making the sweeping back view available to all the main living areas and locating the very necessary mud entrance on what will be the garden side of the house. Those requirements dictate a general placement of spaces that wasn't all that common in the stock plans I viewed. Nor did I find a single workable plan with the type of gables we'd like, a version that's currently uncommon for new construction but so right for our desired salute to the history of our area. And, with an average building cost of $100.00 per square foot around here, it has to be as economical as possible to construct, with enough space but no wasted space.

Luckily we're blessed with our talented preacher-man who started out to be an architect before God called otherwise and who does house plans for his church members as a hobby. Without this gift, we simply could not afford the architectural fees to design our own home. We would have to be OK with making do or finding a talented builder who could possibly make suitable changes. With this gift of a friend, we have the luxury of custom design.

The custom option is wonderful in that it allows us to craft a house to suit the site and the way we live, and daunting in that we have to decide everything, from the exterior style and roofing to windows and basement (or not). And there are so many options, in stair placement and form alone. Then there's the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the kitchen layout, the porch detailing... I'm trying to stay with the creative thrill of designing our own home and the challenge of making our dreams fit our budget, but there are moments when I think it would be easier to just move into an existing structure and adapt ourselves to it. But that's wimpy thinking. Yes, it m
ight be easier, but not more satisfying.

I remind myself that this is the messy back and forth part of project planning, which I remember from designing custom built-ins in the cottage we sold.

The vision seemed fuzzy at first, but gained clarity with each pass. All the discussion, thought, and imaginary versions meant that there were only minor details that I would possibly have changed on that project. I hope for equal success with our dream house.

I have even more confidence that we can do this thing since finding this blog. It contains lots of useful information and pictures of their completed house which has just the look we're going for--both old and new at the same time.
In fact, they used the same siding, roofing, window style, and porch construction that we are considering. Seeing a real example of what we have previously only imagined makes me certain that it can work.

With all that said, I have to remind myself occasionally that there is no way to get it all right on the first house one has ever designed. My mother-in-law, who helped plan the house in which we are currently living, has already advised us that there will be things we'll wish we'd done differently after it's completed. I'm willing to make peace with the fact that it won't be perfect, but I'm determined to exercise the necessary patience with this exciting but agonizing stage to make it, as my friend Melinda says, perfect enough.

1 comment:

Samantha Roberson said...

I cannot imagine how exciting and simultaneously overwhelming this project is for you! It sounds like a dream to design your own home, but I definitely understand how the multitude of decisions could weigh you down. If I could offer one suggestion, it would be to ask someone outside of the project whose opinion you trust to just sit and look over things with you and listen to your vision of how the house will look. They may be able to make suggestions or help you see pros or cons that you don't see because you are so submerged in details. I have helped a couple of different friends with home projects (much smaller scale obviously) and they seemed to gain confidence and sometimes come up with new ideas just by having someone to talk to and look at things with fresh eyes.

I have to say I am very jealous- I know it is going to be amazing!