Project Dream Home | Choosing an Architect

Today is Black Friday and while I’m usually spending it doing my second favorite thing besides baking, shopping isn’t really in my plan today, sadly. I’m resisting because we’ve been saving like crazy for our Project Dream Home. And, today is no different - well with the exception a few plates at Anthropologie. I need them for photos, so it’s work shopping. Instead I’m shopping for engineers, which definitely isn’t as much fun and way more expensive than my usual splurges.

So that brings me to the next step I’m sharing with you, which is about finding an Architect. So you bought land, you got it surveyed, and now you need to choose an architect. This is the fun part, or some may say the expensive part. Architect’s are considered an out of pocket expense. Having your plans drawn is something you need to complete before you can get a construction loan.

You may think you know exactly what you want - hence why you are building a house and not buying an existing one. And, that’s exactly how we feel and why we’re doing this project. Luckily, Delaney is a graphic designer and so he was able to get us started on plans to give our architect an idea of what we were envisioning. Delaney and I met with two local architects in town. The first architect we met with, and showed Delaney’s drawings to, wanted to change things right away. He seemed more interested in designing things himself than wanting to help us get exactly what we want. I didn’t feel like we’d work well together, even though he was really nice. So, we moved on. The second one we talked to understood our plans and was great. The issue was that he was so backed up that he wouldn’t have even been able to look at our project for months ahead. This left us in a tough spot as we didn’t want to go with someone we didn’t feel was the right fit. And, we didn’t want our project to get pushed out because Mammoth has a pretty strict timeline on starting builds because of weather. And, we want to be ready come Spring to break ground so we have all of Spring, Summer and Fall to complete our project.

Then, Kimmy mentioned to me that one of our friends is an architect. Never mind that she lives in Australia - who cares! Stephanie is a good friend of Chris and Kimmy, and has become a friend of mine and Delaney’s as well as she visits Mammoth a few times a year. We’ve known her for years and I just didn’t think about it because she isn’t local. But, you do NOT have to have a local architect draw your plans. It’s more important to go with someone you feel comfortable with, and especially someone you feel you can voice your opinions to as it’s your house! Also, in California you don’t even have to have a licensed architect draw your plans either. Stephanie works for an architectural firm in Australia, but just isn’t licensed. She was kind enough to want to help out with our project, saying she’d look up local codes and things in California. This could be a way to save extra money as a licensed architect will, and of course can, charge you more than someone who isn’t licensed. But, if they do this kind of work for their day job (like Stephanie) I believe a license is just a piece of paper similar to a degree. I didn’t go to culinary school, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing in the kitchen. I like to think of people like this as underdogs, and I fully support that.

So, we showed Stephanie our idea and she ended up being the best fit for our project. Because she’s someone we already know, I felt that we would feel comfortable telling her if we didn’t like something, calling her out if she forgot to change something or also trusting her opinion if she recommended we move or change something for good reason. Sometimes architects will think of things you never even would have thought of until it was too late. For example, we are doing a walk through master closet. It will be in-between the master bedroom and bathroom. We originally had the closet split down the middle, half for me and half for Delaney on each side. Stephanie pointed out that if we did this, when we were in our bedroom we’d look directly through the hallway at the toilet - not the best view. So, we moved our hallway to one side so it had a view of the vanity instead. This made one side of the closet really small and one really large. As much as I want to take that large side for myself, we figured we’d divide the close the other way so we each have half of the large and half of the small side. It’s things like this where an architect can point out something you may not see originally. Stephanie also had ideas that we shot down, and a few others that we actually went with one of them being our front door placement.

I wanted a farmhouse and Delaney wanted a modern house. So, we compromised on a modern farmhouse design. Because this is a two part project, we had to keep in mind the second portion. I wanted roof lines that come to a point and go equally down on each side, which is called a gable roof line that you see on pretty much all farmhouses. Delaney wanted a shed style roof, where it slopes to just one side. He wanted this mostly for snow shed, because we get a ton of snow up here and then we’d only be dealing with snow on one side, which would be our side yard and not our driveway. So, we compromised. Right now on the smaller first phase of the build, we’re doing a shed style. But when we build the larger addition to the house, I will get my gable roof. It will also be easier to tie in the gable roof line to a shed style. We also put a gable roof line on the front stoop, so it will match the larger portion once it’s complete as well. We both easily agreed on colors and materials for the house. White wood siding with black windows, garage doors, dark vintage wood and light colored rock will make this more modern silhouette seem more like a farmhouse. So, I’m sharing some photos of our exterior as well as our floor plan of the interior. Now that we have decided what we want, and it’s all drawn out the next step is to send these plans off to an engineer… which is what I’m shopping for now. So that will be my next post as soon as we choose one and go through the process, I will share the details here.