Saturday, August 20, 2011

Floor Plans & Facades - Take One

After many hours online, at display homes and looking through some uninspiring brochures we decided to take matters into our own hands and design our home from scratch. Lucky for me my Husband spent 5 years studying Architecture at Uni before deciding to completely change career paths and while he's a little rusty at his drafting skills it didn't take long for him to get back up to speed and start planning. 

We knew the basics of what we wanted:
1. 3 Bedrooms and a Study
2. Double Garage
3. Loft
4. Two Bathrooms
5. Open Living Design
6. Lots of Natural Light
7. Alfresco Entertaining Area
8. Eco-Friendly Design

All of this seemed pretty standard really ... but we wanted to jazz things up a little and it didn't take long to realise that having an 11m frontage was not considered normal as many of the designs for a narrow lot where 8m or 9m wide. So we had a little extra room to play with on the sides but not enough to allow for a double garage with a traditional style home.

We may only have 11m of width to play with but we have 40m of depth and that is what we decided to play on. After looking around our street-to-be we took note that many of the new homes had 3m, instead of the traditional 5m, between the side walk and the house and most of them had the garage built to boundary but still had both sides of the house with the minimum 90cm gap between house and fence.  Obviously this will still need to be checked with Council but it gave us something with work with at least.

Then we came across this design:

Which was made for a 8m frontage and is approximately 38m deep, so while the measurements didn't suit us exactly it is defiantly something we could work from.  We especially like idea of having a open carport style garage in front of the house rather than next to the house, this solved our problem of how to fit a double garage on our narrow block, plus by setting the house back from the street it also allowed for additional privacy.  The only problem with it was that the side entrance meant that there was a lot of wasted space at the front of the house, space that we would rather have as a backyard.  We like the side courtyard as it lets light into the house and opens up what would otherwise be a long dark hallway, plus we figure we can put the clothes line there so it doesn't take up room in the backyard. 

We also like the design of the front elevation:

As it's modern, open and a little bit different.

We had a few other designs that we liked idea's from, such as the loft from this design:

And we like the open living, study, lounge and dining of this design:

Both of those designs are far to wide with the minimum frontage of 11.6m, but there where defiantly aspects of the designs that we like and tried to fit them all into a floor plan that suited us.

So with some ideas of what we like we set about coming up with a design that incorporated the best of each design and made it to fit our block.  This is what we have come up with:

Ideally, if money was no issue, we would have the front entrance as an atrium that is partially open to the upstairs retreat (which we have already dubbed as the PS3 Theater Room) so that you can look down into the entrance from the retreat and as you walk in it will give you a nice open feeling.

  We'd love to have some sort of feature staircase just to finish the entrance off with a large window running along side it.

 The bathroom and the ensuite both have double showers and we put them together to have all the wet areas with the plumbing and pipe work together and the laundry on the other side of the hall way which opens out into a side courtyard where we will also have our clothesline. On the other side of the courtyard we have the open study/gym room, we wanted to keep this open but will probably have some nice sliding doors so that we can block it off when we have guests and its a bit of a mess as studies sometimes are.  We also want to have a sliding door so that we can close off the front and back of the house, for one thing we want to be able to stop noise travelling down the house but we also have a cat who is a strictly inside cat (although he does wish otherwise) and if we have an open alfresco area we want to be able to use it without having to worry about the cat running away.

For me it was a must to have a walk in pantry and a good size kitchen, we set the kitchen in slightly so that we can have a long window between the bench and the wall cupboards with a nice feature garden to look out onto instead of just a fence.

The dining and living areas a pretty straight forward and we would love to have sliding doors so that the whole back corner of the house can open up onto the alfresco area.

Then for the alfresco we would love to have a gas heater built in.

So that is our optimal plan ... fingers crossed it's within our budget! And the council approves it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Display Home Dizziness!

While I love walking through the pristine display homes that St Clair and Blackwood Park have to offer, it's a very daunting and overwhelming process! And in some cases a little disappointing.

We where mainly looking at front elevations/facades and floor plans to start with, mainly because we want to focus on two things:
1. What we can fit on our block.
2. What type of style we want.
We don't want to get to far ahead of ourselves and into the nitty gritty things, like colours, carpets and cornices, just yet.

Looking at the display homes did help us to decide that we want a completely custom build - none of the floor plans that we saw, both on display and in the booklets provided, suited what we wanted and many of the front elevations have been done before.  We want something that is unique, well as unique as you can get, or at the very least something that wont be mirrored by many of the new homes being built in the surrounding neighbourhood.

We where also a little disappointed in some of the sales people that we spoke with, as soon as we mentioned "11m Frontage" they started using words like "limited" or "just".  These are not words that show any kind of innovation what so ever, most people are too stuck inside their box to think outside of it.  We want someone who can think outside the box and create a home that doesn't just look nice but also functions to the lifestyle that we want.  We wanted someone to tell us that just because we have an 11m frontage doesn't mean we are limited to a single garage or that we have to build two storey ... but sadly this didn't happen.

We did see a lot of different features that appealed to us and while these are things that we will  think of adding in the design phase, it wasn't our main focus for this outing.  We wanted to get started on a floor plan ... so if it isnt' important for the floor plan then it isn't important at this stage ... otherwise we would have completely lost our focus!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Search for Soil

After looking around at the houses that where available on the market and what you get for your money, it didn't take us long to decide that we would go on a land hunt instead.  Land in Adelaide isn't entirely easy to come across, especially as we wanted to be within a 15minute radius of the city and preferably on the beach side.

Our Land Hunt Take 1 Radius

So we started looking in areas that where previously industrial, Woodville, West Croydon and anywhere along Port Road.  We also started looking at areas that have an older population with large blocks of land who might be looking at subdividing, Findon, Fullham Gardens and Richmond.

We had a look at all the new developments coming up at St Clair, Lightsview, Blackwood Park and Westwood Park. While we liked the idea of the whole urban development plan I missed the character that older streets have when each house is completely different and you have a mixture of old and new homes.  We also weren't keen on the many number of restrictions that the building developments had, for example the next release in St Clair will have a restriction on the roof pitch that wouldn't allow for a loft which is an idea that we love. Plus we found that you where paying premium price in a buyers market for small blocks of land, you'd be lucky to fit a garden shed and a clothes line in the backyard.

We finally came across a new land release in Findon off of Crittenden Road, the whole street was up for sale and only 3 clocks of land were left, each block with at least an 11.5m frontage and over 500m2 and it was for a good price. It all seemed to be perfect ... the land was for sale from Housing SA and some of the vacant blocks marked "Future Development" where to remain under Housing SA and they where to build 5 2 bedroom courtyard homes on the two area's, which wasn't a problem as we had our eyes on a block that was half a street away from where they would be. What we didn't realise was that the vacant block of land, which wasn't marked in any of the plans for the subdivision, right next to the block the we wanted was also set to be housing trust, which made a total of 15 housing trust homes and 16 new homes. Unfortunately there is a stigma that goes with housing trust homes and it's a stigma that we are well aware of after living 3 years in Port Augusta.  It is that stigma that would significantly reduce the value of the property if we ever came to sell.  Luckily we found this out during the cooling off period even though we had specifically asked the agent was what being built next door. So we "Cooled Off" told the agent "Thank you but no thank you" and started the whole process again.

Land Hunt Take Two left us wondering if we had made the right decision. We spent weeks researching online and our first day off together we set out to look at every property between Campbelltown and Seacliff Park ... it was a long day.

Land Hunt Take 2 Had a Significantly Larger Search Perimeter!

By the end of the day we where exhausted and no closer to finding our block of land. We had one more block to go and luckily it was on the way home as we where both ready to throw in the towel! As soon as we pulled up to the curb we knew that it was The One. It had an 11m frontage, so a little narrower than what we originally wanted, but it was 40m deep and with that we saw some great possibilities!  Plus it was on the market for a realistic price, was right between the city and the beach, on a quiet street with a mixture of new, old and renovated homes and best of all it was just what we where looking for.

That night we had contacted the agent and within two days we had the contract signed!  There will be a long settlement as its only a new subdivision and while it's been approved they are just waiting on the last of the paperwork to pass through council, but the long settlement is perfect of us as it gives us more time to save and plan.

And just this week, much to my excitement, the "Under Contract" Sticker went up.