The folks over at 475 High Performance Building Supply wrote a very nice article about the Greenfield house last week. foursevenfive.com provides building materials and expertise to many high performance home builders and architects.This plan will be the next stock plan available in the VSH - Vermont Simple House series. I'm working on bringing it to a high level of detail now.
I am finally getting around to offering stock plans from my own website including Vermont Simple House (VSH) 1, 2 and 3. These have been for sale for a few years now on HousePlans.com and, by contract I can sell them on my own website for an increased price. I have been getting many inquiries about other plans I might have for sale so I’m going to focus for a while on increasing my offerings. My simple traditional aesthetic with clean modern lines and plans seem to have hit a chord with many people and I rarely get to keep things so simple with my custom work. I have been digging through stock plan offerings on the web since 2008 and I have found little competition for this sort of house. These plans all have shells and detailing bumped up to “Pretty Good House” levels which is also unusual in stock plans. These are the plans that are for sale currently:
I am now working on a variation of the Greenfield house which will have a footprint of 22’x 32’ + bump-out and offer two full bathrooms and up to three bedrooms in about 1452 square feet. I will strip out of few of the more custom elements from the Greenfield house such as the very large (and expensive) corner window and the steel staircase – it’s easy enough to add those back in.
My plan is to continually add more plans here including variations on these plans (most of them are quite flexible) Credit card processing is taken care of through Gumroad and you are immediately able to download all associated files. Of course all work is copyrighted and good for the construction of one house, stair, whatever. I will need to figure out how to make discounts available for multiple purchases. I will also develop a resource page for materials, products and useful information. Feed back is most welcome and I hope that people send photos!
By the way, I am about to purge my user roles quite a bit. There are over 8000 registered users and when I ran this list through a spammer check, it showed me that half of this number are spammers. If you want to get regular updates please register via the slide out are on the upper right side of any page in case I accidentally purge you. One would dislike being purged.
What would I like to say to a client who asks: “why should I hire you to design my ______?” Because you will get a better _____ for the same amount of money if you pay me a small percentage of the money to bring your _____ project to a higher level of perfection than you could achieve on your own (or by hiring one of my competitors of course!). This is my short and arrogant answer that I really want to give.
“Define better” the potential client replies.
To start with, we will create a more graceful and elegant floor plan and overall design that works on a functional level in tune with your lifestyle, the site and environment, the cultural and historic context, local vernaculars and building norms. We are going for a level of fit that can be surprising to a client who has spent time working on their own plans for a while or spent time surfing the net in search of the perfect plan.
The cleanest and simplest plans are often the easiest and least expensive to build as well as the nicest to live with. I see many plans that look as if a battle took place to try to achieve the client's goals because the designer couldn't figure out how to incorporate the client's full wish list smoothly. The end result is needlessly complicated. There are a million tips and tricks to simplify and save money. A good start is always to simplify form and detailing. Easier said than done. Once the process of refining a long list of needs, wants and desires into a simple, clear design has been achieved, the design seems obvious. I have sometimes presented the client with a simple scheme that so thoroughly and smoothly addresses their concerns, it gives no hint of the time and effort required to get to that point. (Not so good when you present a bill for the actual hours involved.)
Also, simply knowing how things are going to get built by the contractor – using familiar methods and details - equals cost savings and smoother construction sequencing. When it comes to “green building” and “building science” there is a lot of separating the wheat from the chaff to be done and the field is in constant flux. I don't claim to be a green building expert but knowledge of what questions to ask and where to find the answers (if there are any) is part of the service I offer as an architect. Again, simplification is usually the best route.
There is also the architect's role during construction. Construction contract administration is an important part of the architect's services. Occasionally my role ends with the handing off of the final plans other than a site visit or two and some email communications and phone calls during construction. This can be fine for small and simple projects but for a project of significant size and complexity such as a new house or major addition or renovation this usually proves to be a mistake. The smoothest projects are when I remain involved through construction. I was involved with a project a few years ago where the builder was not shy about calling me and asking lots of questions as well as scheduling site visits. He was more “on top of things” than most builders I have worked with and would often ask the question: “what is the design intent” which I really appreciated as it spurred a very collaborative process where we both came out feeling that we had gained valuable knowledge and insight. It resulted in a very cohesive and beautiful final result as well as a very smooth and fun process to that point. On projects where I am less involved during construction the end result varies more. Sometimes with less than desirable results. Regardless of the level of my involvement during construction, I have learned to always put out the most complete and well vetted plan sets that I am capable of. No “light” versions from me. Plan sets that are incomplete or minimally complete are fraught with potential time consuming and expensive problems. The best builders are aware of these issues and insist on a complete set of construction documents as well as my involvement during construction.
This is what I want to say to every potential client but don't always manage to very well so I'm writing it down here and filing under “working with an architect” as well as “ego”
This represents a typical Construction Drawing set for a simple house minus a site plan. It represents a bit over 100 hours of labor. Thought y'all might be interested. A more complete set would have framing on a separate sheet, Interior elevations at least of the kitchen and bathrooms, a site plan, Materials schedules usually called out on the floor plans, and separate electrical plans.
I have the .pdf file of the plans for the Metal stair completed along with the sketchup model for a nine foot floor to floor configuration. At some point I will modify it for a 10 floor to floor as well. Upon purchase, I will send via email the sketchup model (download a sketchup viewer here) and the .pdf plans which you can have printed at your local print shop. The plans constitute a license to construct one (1) stair. Be aware that I have no legalese stuff on the drawings about safety and local codes.
Recently, I have been examining the stock plan market to see if a hole exists that I should fill. I have won a few design competitions for affordable housing models on the basis of a good plan and great looking architecture with nearly “Habitat” size budgets. I have done this through using proportions and scale to create beautiful simple houses and added my knowledge of “green” and the principles of “passive house” design. Add to this my bag of tricks acquired from years of experience designing and building to a tight budget and learning how to do more for less and I can create houses that can compete successfully in the stock plan market at the $125 - $300 k range where the current offerings seem to look:
- Drab and ranchy with “style” either regarded as unnecessary or as something that can be applied to a poor design to dress it up.
- Very modern (some of which I really love) which aesthetically still turns off a large segment of the market.
- Very “architecty” with cost savings coming primarily from smaller size rather than simplicity of design.
Few of the available offerings also adequately address modern principles of energy efficient design for northern climates such as super-insulation with heat recovery ventilation, passive survivability, passive and active solar opportunities making these potential zero energy homes. Many of them require specific modular or prefab systems. My designs would provide a foolproof set of plans that the average person could hand to their builder, or that a builder can use to build a larger number of houses that he or she can market as green, easily get them certified through LEED or Energy Star, and sell at a profit with minimal effort.
So, in my usual enthusiastic spirit of taking on more work than I can possibly handle, I shall boldly plunge in! [Yes We Can] We (I am assembling a team) have registered www.VermontSimpleHouse.com which will take some time to get up and running. To begin, we will start by bringing one of the award winning houses up to speed with a full plan set to offer for sale over my current website www.swinburnearchitect.com until I can get a pro website up and running at the new Vermont Simple House website. Stay tuned….