simple, inexpensive to build, contemporary/ modern home.
Conscious Construction Inc.
February 10, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I am a contractor and am planning a venture into my first spec home.

The concept:

-Design a 1-story, 1300sf or smaller, 3/2 house less than 39' wide with a single car garage.

-I want to go slightly modern/NW Modern. (Think shed roof(s), concrete floors and countertops, strategic interior wood accents, hardipanel or breckenridge and batton siding with some exposed wood)

-Simple footprint and very economical to build is very important.

The goal is to provide an alternative to the faux craftsmans that dominate the less expensive new construction In my area, I think there is a market for a well built, small home that has a little modern flair but can still fit into the existing neighborhoods.

I would love any advice, insight into my idea, or direction to facades/floorplans that could work. We have done most of our own design work (primarily remodels) up until now and would like to design (or tweak something existing) this one as well.

Thanks so much!
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Norm Walters Construction Inc.
1300 sq feet is a bit small for a 3/2, I would be at 1500-1600 to make it a better seller.
February 10, 2013 at 10:06AM     
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Conscious Construction Inc.
You are probably right. I am being a bit stubborn in feeling like we can design a place that doesn't feel cramped in the 1300sf range. I realize however, that many buyers are pretty caught up in the bottom line sf number.
February 10, 2013 at 10:10AM     
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Norm Walters Construction Inc.
And those same buyers complain that everything is "builder grade" cabinets, countertops, flooring, etc. A race to the bottom benefits no one.
February 10, 2013 at 10:22AM     
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Our contractor is building our new home--an 1800 sq.ft. 2 bedroom, 2 bath with large open craft/treadmill area adjacent to an open living/great room. It is fully accessible on one level. There is definitely a market for smaller homes in our area of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. With this size we are able to put the money into a quality built home. This is replacing a 1500 sq.ft. home which did not feel cramped. We had eliminated one of three bedrooms and remodeled the kitchen into an open farm style kitchen. Think about the market you want to attract. If it's the senior market or a starter home, maybe the 2 bedroom custom built would sell. Good luck with your venture.
February 10, 2013 at 10:42AM     
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Cancork Floor Inc.
Concrete floors...yikes! Very hard on everything, loud, can have cracking issues. Concrete is a very "now" concept. Are you building in Oregon? Are you looking to put down in-floor heating? If you don't look at some sort of insulation in the floors, you are going to run the risk of having "frost bite" flooring.

I know. I'm spoiled because a live/eat/breathe/work on cork flooring! I've had many clients come in, about 2 years after they chose concrete flooring, asking for "something warmer and softer". Even with the radiant heat, they wanted "softer".

This is what I've heard for the past 2 years. From Florida, to California; from Washington to New York. Concrete is beautiful, but COLD (can be mitigated) and HARD (can NOT be mitigated).

There are many ways to get the look of concrete flooring without having concrete flooring.
February 10, 2013 at 10:46AM   
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I would take a look at the Sarah Susanka 'Not So Big House" website. She's done a number of books and it looks like she has house plans available for sale. I love a lot of her ideas.

Even if you didn't purchase house plans there, there will undoubtedly be great design ideas!
February 10, 2013 at 10:53AM   
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I live in a 3/2 1100 square foot house in the NW. It feels cramped and short on storage space. One thing it has going for it is vaulted ceilings and a wide hallway. It is a shame to use space on a hallway, but since it is there, I am glad it is wider than normal to give me a feeling of spaciousness. Also, bring the outdoors in with large windows and access to outdoor spaces, plus lots of windows/ light for our gray winters. There was an article in the July 19 or 20 Homes and Gardens section of the Oregonian that featured a house like you are describing.
February 10, 2013 at 10:55AM   
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Forgot to mention - I applaud your plan to do this. I would certainly buy such a house if it was efficient and well constructed.

Our house is currently 1600SF and more than enough space. It started at about 1300SF but much of the use of space was AWFUL. In order to make some rooms function the way we wanted them to, we had to add on to the master bedroom/bath. Had the space been better used in the original layout we probably would have simply updated things.
February 10, 2013 at 11:03AM   
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PRO Dallas
Please share with us your geographic location, and maybe a photo of the neighborhood street. I think that would help you get more targeted advice...certainly on exterior aesthetics. My 2c as a consultant and home-buyer would be, keep it fairly classic inside so it doesn't date rapidly. While an open feel is nice, be sure to include some wall "stops" or even narrow, separate wall structures, so the buyer can easily change wall colors or insert an accent color if they want. On your materials, stay away from anything pinky beige; it's hardest to decorate around. And on the floor plan, I'd incline towards a 2-bedroom, rather than a 3-bedroom where the rooms are cramped. Good luck with your venture and it's nice to see someone trying to do something innovative.
February 10, 2013 at 11:09AM   
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Here's a coupla examples to show what you're considering is possible. These are east coast cottage style, whatever that is, but a different style can easily be handled by someone who's creative.

The schematic was done just last fall and the units are coming out of the ground now. I've blocked out the floor plans as they took considerable effort but they're all 3/2's with the smallest being1144SF going to 1326. So what you're think of can be done.

The base unit design for all three units has no basement so all the HVAC, HW and laundry is in that base SF. We've set up all the garages as optional although they'll probably get built 95% of the time but it gives us a nice base price. Even with the garages, the only unit over 39' is unit C.

The photos are of 1200SF units I designed back when interest rates where 16% (1981) when no one could afford more then 1200 SF. They sold "like hotcakes" when nothing else was. Great street presence and something different when all the other builders where building split levels. These photos were taken in 2011 so they've aged nicely.

And the best of luck with your project.
February 10, 2013 at 12:11PM     
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Conscious Construction Inc.
Thanks for the input. I would rather go with a 2 bedroom. (plus a small alcove somewhere for an "office". My concern is that it seems like everyone wants a 3 bed but perhaps thats just because they want an office. (Which certainly doesn't need to be 12x12 or whatever).
February 10, 2013 at 12:47PM   
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Market three bona-fide bedrooms. It's not rocket science on the part of a buyer to figure out one bedroom can be used as a study. The "runt" of the three bedrooms can be something like 8X9 and you're still there for all the folks actually needing THREE bedrooms. While the third BR is maybe larger than an "alcove", the cost of the extra SF isn't much relative to the project because you're already buying a kitchen, bathrooms, heating systems, plumbing systems, sewer and water hookups, etc. All those costs are still the same even if you build just one bedroom.

Regarding the alcove, what we've done in the past is set one up off of the upstairs hall. Works best if it can be marketed also as a window seat but could be a built in desk for a "bill paying area". That kind of stuff makes for great "memory points" too when a prospective buyer is sitting at their dining table pawing through the 8 brochures he/she has collected that day.
February 10, 2013 at 2:28PM   
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Dee Gould
Great idea...affordable hsing is needed and not everyone wants or needs a large home...lots of windows, bright and open...always lovely...good luck
February 10, 2013 at 2:50PM     
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Conscious Construction Inc. house would be located in southern oregon (ashland) The styling I'd like to do is seen all over Portland and Bend but is almost nonexistent down here.

The neighborhood is older but decent. About 8 lots in a row have recently been developed and the new homes vary from builder grade cheapo ($260-280,000) to faux craftsman that are midrange quality and price ($290-330,000).

At least all the homes around it are new!
February 10, 2013 at 4:34PM   
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Conscious Construction Inc.
Thanks for your efforts on my behalf. Those houses look good and I'm sure fit in your neck of the woods. You're certainly right that a good floor plan can be adapted to many styles. Good layout is good layout!

Also like your opinion on adding a tiny 3rd bedroom. Takes care of all those folks that search the MLS for 3beds only, despite only wanting it for an office.
February 10, 2013 at 4:39PM   
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