Sunday, September 2, 2007

More on Design

Kerry made great progress on the designs: the preliminary plans are just about complete. He came over to the house the other night to show us the progress he's made. Our initial meetings focused on the first floor. Later, we discussed the second floor. This time, we also looked at the foundation and exterior elevations. We loved what we saw. Just a few more minor modifications, a few more drawings (electrical, construction sections, etc.), and we'll have enough to send out for bids. When that happens, I'll post a copy of the plans.

Before I show the plans, I want to talk about a few great sources of information that we've used to get this far. There are several books that I think are absolutely necessary for anyone going through the design process. Probably our favorite is Home by Design: Inspiration for Transforming House into Home, by Sarah Susanka. This book is basically a collection of design patterns that you can use when designing your own house. There are probably more than 60 or 70 patterns in the book, and they cover everything from the importance of an entry to varied ceiling heights, and window placement. Home By Design is a follow-up to Susanka's Not So Big House, which became kind of a cult classic.

As good as the Susanka books are, it's worth noting that the idea of a design pattern, and even the basics for most of the patterns in the book, were conceptualized by an architect named Christopher Alexander thirty years earlier in A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Alexander, however, was a bit of a nut, and Susanka does a much better job of describing the patterns and providing great examples of the patterns in use.
There are quite a few books on construction techniques that are worth reading. I'll cover those in a future post.