Thursday, May 20, 2010

The new house design

Well, here it is - the new house to be built by Uniform. It's called a Brantwood and it is an Arts & Crafts inspired house. Some of the details include:

First floor
  • Large two-story home has four bedrooms and a generous front proch. A home with an open family dining and kitchen area overlooking the rear yard
  • the two-car garage has direct access to the muc room and powder room with an opening window
  • the standard plan features a private quite space retreat off the front entry alonw with a home offic/den (in reality, we will probably use the front "quiet space" room as an office and the middle room as a TV/toy room.)
  • an oversized great room includes a fireplace and is open to the second floor

Second Floor:

  • A large master retreat occupies one end of the secon floor. It features a vaulted ceiling, two large his/hers closets and a five-piece master bath with double sinks
  • An oversized laundry facility comes complete with a large linen closet
  • Three generous bedrooms have easy access to a common bathroom

What are we missing in this design that we would have had in the house designed by Linda Chapman?

  • No mudroom off the front door so I can already imagine how messy it will be
  • no walk-out basement
  • less interesting architecturally
  • the vision of the whole land and how the house integrates into it is not as strong as with Linda's house.

Otherwise, though, this house has all of the features we wanted and with a decent landscaping budget we can integrate the back garden into the home more effectively.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Dream is dead! Long live the Dream!

Well, it has been a while since I last posted any information on the house renovation project. That’s because we have been going through a lot of machinations trying to come up with a design that we will both enjoy and afford for many years to come.

Earlier this week we told our architect and our builder that we are abandoning the project with them. The reason was simple. Cost.

We loved the design that Linda Chapman, our architect had come up with. It had everything we were looking for in terms of form and function, and it really took advantage of the slope of the land with the walk-out basement. Unfortunately, as we worked through the process, we found more and more things to fix in the existing house that would eat into our budget. First, we found that the floors were sagging or uneven in parts of the house, then we found major cracks in the foundation, then we found a section of foundation that was bulging inwards and needed to be replaced, then we found that the house had settled shortly after being built and had a 5 inch drop from one corner to the other. All of these things could be fixed, but the price was getting to high. I just couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on a renovation and still have seven foot ceilings in the basement, slightly tilted floors on the main floor and nagging doubts about the foundation. So we looked at building new instead.

When we calculated how much it would cost to tear down the existing house and build the house that Linda had designed from scratch, it came out at about just slightly more than the reno including landscaping. But, add to that taxes, permits and architect fees and total cost to build the house new came to about $233.00 per square foot. From what I can tell, this is still a pretty fair price for the house. Generally speaking, new build construction runs about $200 per square foot. But, bungalows are more expensive than two-storey houses, and houses with more bump-outs and wings are more expensive than simple square houses. Add to that the quality of construction, such as better quality windows, real wood siding, plywood instead of OSB for the roof and floors, and the price starts to go up. So all in all, I think that Rex Engel’s quote was a fair quote, for the house we had designed, but it was still too expensive for us.

So, since we were now convinced that we needed to build new, we went and asked Uniform Developments if they could build a house for us. Uniform has a good reputation in Ottawa as a builder, we like their designs, and they are one of the few developers that are also willing to do infill projects (we also checked with Tamarack, as we like their designs as well, but they only build on their developments). As it turns out, Uniform offered to build us a 2800 sq ft house for $161 per square foot plus tax. That includes demolition of the existing house, all permits and basic landscaping. We will add on about $10,000 of energy efficiency upgrades to bring the house up to an ESR rating of 80 and will budget about $20,000 for landscaping to make the sloping back garden more usable. All told, the Uniform house should cost about $200 per square foot including tax. That’s gives us some wiggle room to add in some kitchen upgrades that we could not have afforded with the house that our architect designed.

Now, it’s not like the Uniform house does not come with some compromises. They use cheaper white vinyl windows, CanExel hardboard siding and it’s a basic square structure without any bump outs. Still, it is an attractive design, and it is hard to argue with the savings.

So, that is where we are at with the house renovations. I’ll try to post some pictures of the new house design in the near future.