Friday, August 12, 2016

Design - Final Architectural Drawings

I have deliberately withheld the architectural drawings until now (the 84th post to the blog) because most of the dirt work and concrete work, except for that pertaining to the AGS system*, is pretty generic for any slab-on-grade house and the drawings would not have added much value.  The atypical dirt and concrete work for the AGS system*, although definitely unique, was only loosely influenced by the floor plan. But, now that we are ready to start building vertically with wood, the architectural drawings may perhaps be of interest.  

The drawings lack the finite details that are typical of most construction projects. The design is mine so the drawings were mostly a matter of professionalizing my amateur drawings so the structural engineer would stamp them and the Building Director would accept them.  Not only was the Building Director comfortable with letting me sweat the details, he encouraged me not to pay additional architectural fees for more detailed plans. Because we had already had 5+ years of collaboration on the project, he was also willing to trust me to make changes without checking with him first. 

(For a blow-up view of any drawing, click on it or click on the first drawing to blow it up then scroll down through the rest of the drawings.)

Design Summary
The house is nestled into a 15 degree slope so as to have the right amount of earth contact and it faces south so as to benefit from the sun's energy for passive solar heating and air conditioning via a system called Annualized GeoSolar*.  It would qualify as a two-bedroom, two-bath ranch except it has two second-story rooms -- a third bedroom and an office.  As is typical with passive solar homes, the house is longer east and west than north and south -- by a factor of 2:1. It has earth contact with nearly all of the two-story north wall, half of the west wall and with a slab-on-grade floor. All but three small windows face south but, by virtue of clerestory windows, there are no rooms without dedicated windows. The two-car garage is attached and is heated by the same AGS system as the house but to a lesser degree.  The "back door" into the kitchen leads in from the screened porch in front of the house. Except for the second story, the house exceeds compliance criteria for the American Disability Act.  

Page One
Page 1 contains two drawings showing the front and back of the house.  The top drawing
is useful for visualizing the screened porch and garage relative to the house and the abundance of south-facing windows for passive solar gain. This drawing and the one on page 5 shows a photo-voltaic array for generating electricity as well as serving as the overhang for the second story windows. This early idea was abandoned in favor of a site-built overhang and a free-standing, post-mounted array to the north of the house. Otherwise, we are adhering pretty closely to the drawings.

The second drawing shows the extent of backfill against the tall north concrete wall -- almost 12' above floor level in the center.  It also shows a short stick-built wall on top of the concrete.  The abrupt changes in elevation of the backfill represents the location of retaining walls running north.

Page Two
Page 2 shows the details for the footings, foundation, concrete walls and concrete slab. With regard to the tall north wall, the design shown here is not what the structural engineer accepted but what he designed and stamped was not what we did. With the blessing of the Building Director,  we poured a 10" thick wall, instead of 12", and used three deadmen and two right-angle west and east walls to brace it. We also poured a slab at least 5" thick and reinforced with fiberglass fibers instead of a 4" with steel mesh reinforcement as called for in the drawing.  Otherwise, we stayed with the drawing.

Page Three
Page 3 is the floor plan for the lower story. Here we are taking liberty with the drawing in the living space adjacent to the garage. The drawing shows a workshop north of an airlock. When we were able unexpectedly to buy the property next door to the building site and use it as our our temporary residence, I turned its large free-standing garage into a workshop which I will keep even after we convert the temporary residence to rental property. The workshop area in the plans then morphed into more living room space, a reconfigured airlock and more storage area. The DIY picture of the altered floor plan appears as the last photo below with my pencil drawing of the changes taped over the original drawing.  Otherwise, we are sticking to the plan.

Page Four
Page 4 shows the second story layout.  There is a balcony office over the bathrooms that looks out over the living room towards the east but not over the master bedroom on the west. There is an east-west catwalk cantilevered over the living room and master bedroom. Towards the east it connects a bedroom to the stairs and office and towards the west it extends out over the master bedroom. It serves three functions:  (1) it provides access to the second-story bedroom; (2) it provides access to the clearstory windows for opening and closing, washing and, perhaps someday, managing thermal shades and (3) it adds architectural interest. 

Page Five
Page 5 shows primarily the east and west profiles of the house and screened porch as well as a north-south cross-section at the level of the stairway.  

It brings dimension to the extraordinarily high ceilings in the living room and master bedroom -- 20' from the floor at the clerestory windows and 16' at the partition between living quarters and storage area. The high ceilings will allow light from the clerestories to reach the back of the living room and master bedroom. The drawings clearly show no windows on the west, three small ones on the east, two of which are in the garage, and the rest facing south.

Altered Floor Plan (Last Photo)
The workshop has been eliminated and its space reallocated to the living room and some to the storage area along the north wall.  The long dimension of the airlock was shifted 90 degrees for better utilization of the abandoned workshop space for the living room.

* For information on Annualized GeoSolar, click on the "Featured Post" in the left column above which is the the first of three posts on AGS.

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