Many have never had the opportunity to go through the process of designing and building a new home. It's an exciting adventure, and one that is unique to each circumstance.
I am going to document the entire process, start to finish, of a new project I have begun: designing an Accessory Dwelling in North Carolina. As a little extra flavor, we just so happen to be building in a Historic District too!
Since many have never been through this process, I thought it would be good to start with an overview of the information-gathering steps that happen at the very beginning of the home-building process. These are necessary steps but are often over-looked.
When building a new home you must identify what it is you want to build (Programming), what your budget is, how much it will realistically cost to build what you want, what the restrictions and regulations are for building where and what you want (zoning), and identifying the best way to mesh all of this together to turn your dream into reality.
I provide specific Pre-Design Services that cover all of this, and here is what we have to work with on this project...
The desire is to build a one or two bedroom Accessory Dwelling with a private master bathroom and a separate guest bathroom. An open living and kitchen space is important, but there is no need for a formal dining space; we will use an eat-in island. The living space will open to a screened-in porch, making for an indoor-outdoor lifestyle when the weather permits. Dedicated laundry space, with room for a litter box, is also a necessity.
While we have certain requirements for the exterior design (see below), the interior style and finishes is mostly unknown at this time. There are aspects of the primary dwelling the owners like, and aspects they don't like. During the Design Development phase we will explore different options and begin to identify our interior styling.
Behind our site, to the southeast, is a 5-story apartment building and beyond that is one of the primary Interstate highways running through the city. The apartments add some shading during the morning hours, with additional shading coming from some trees on the south neighbor's property right up at the property line.
We have identified a couple of potential building sites and orientations in the backyard, and will determine the exact location during Design Development in conjunction with potential solar opportunities (see below).
Historic District Guidelines
We will need to get a Certificate of Appropriateness from the HDC, which it looks like we should be able to obtain through a staff-level review without having to appear before the full Commission.
As the Designer I will be maintaining regular communication and dialogue with the HDC staff throughout Design Development to make sure we are not wasting time designing something that won't be approved. The intent is to get preliminary approval prior to developing the full Construction Documents package and nailing down our construction pricing, that way if any changes need to be made based on building cost, we can roll those in prior to submitting for official approval from the HDC.
Final approval by the HDC will be required prior to submitting for building permits. We will need to meet as a Design-Build team with the HDC prior to construction, and the HDC will complete a final walkthrough inspection once construction is complete.
Our maximum building coverage is 35% of the site. This applies to all structures on the site, meaning the existing home and our planned Accessory Dwelling, as well as the existing storage shed. The lot itself is a little over 10,000 square feet which means we have a maximum building coverage area of around 3,500 square feet.
In conjunction with this requirement the Accessory Dwelling cannot have a floor area greater than 50% of the primary structure, it cannot cover more than 30% of the rear yard and in no circumstance can it exceed 800 square feet of heated floor space. Since 800 square feet is less than 50% of the main house and less than 30% of the rear yard, 800 square feet will be our max. And the term "heated floor space" is important, because that means we can build the screened-in porch and not have it count towards the square footage.
Initially there were no Sustainability aspects or discussions for this project. However the clients are open to the idea of installing a solar system if we can take advantage of the Solar Rebate program being offered by Duke Energy and if we can get essentially a no-cost install.
Regardless of whether or not we can incorporate solar, we are going to make every effort to align the ADU on the site to take advantage of passive solar opportunities. And with the way I design and detail drawings, we will create a dwelling that is more efficient and effective than what is typically built in the mainstream and make responsible use of our materials by producing less waste.
The use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) will be a great advantage on this project. BIM will assist us in both the design and construction process to increase project visualization, coordination, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
We have a lot of program, budget, site and zoning considerations on this project. Rather than looking at any of it as an obstacle or hindrance, I look at it as an opportunity to create a unique home and a fun experience for the homeowners especially, but also the entire construction team.
This is going to be an exciting project to complete! As I blog throughout this process I hope you find information in here that is helpful and insightful to any project you may be considering.