It's been awhile since I posted an update on the Accessory Dwelling project in Charlotte. We've come a long ways and overcome some potential obstacles that arose. Here are some highlights...
As I mentioned in my last post about this project, the clients ultimately chose to go with a one bedroom floor plan and we made some adjustments to the original one bedroom concept.
We shifted the entry to being more centrally located and worked to find the right balance of space to fit the master bath, powder room and laundry room while keeping as much space as possible for the master bedroom and an open Living & Kitchen concept with the screened porch.
Both the kitchen and the master bath have undergone a few different revisions before we ultimately landed where we have... The kitchen will function and feel large even in such a small space, with ample counter space, a full height pantry, a large window for natural daylight and an eat-in island. The island will have shallower-than-normal cabinets in order to accommodate seating on both sides... In the master bath we have a walk-in shower and a built-in wardrobe, as well as a full height cabinet for towels and other storage.
There are a couple of niches, one in the bedroom for the couple's existing dresser, and a built-in niche in the living room that will host their media devices and provide some additional storage via cabinets and open shelving.
Right now we are in the process of identifying specific materials and finishes for the interior design package. The exterior is mostly settled and dictated by the design of the main house, especially being located in a historic district.
There are a couple of challenges/obstacles we've had to navigate, mostly they were matters of clarification and project scope to satisfy the historic district...
One was the lone tree in the backyard. The trunk itself straddles the edge of our proposed building envelope. Even if we adjusted our floor plan to keep the tree, we would need to prune/trim so much of it that it would look butchered. Ideally on all my projects I like to disturb the site as little as possible, but in this case because we need to build our maximum floor space - plus a screened porch - in such a relatively small back yard that we need to take the tree down. I met with a Certified Arborist who advised that it is a decorative species (dogwood), which means we can get historic district approval. As an offset, even though we aren't required to do this, we are going to plant several smaller trees as a decorative privacy screen between the main house and the ADU.
Another challenge we've had to overcome doesn't pertain to the ADU at all, rather to the main house. As it turns out, the contractor/house-flipper who renovated this house prior to the current homeowners purchasing it did several things without approval from the historic district. For some reason we don't know, they submitted design drawings to add a small porch on the side of the house into the laundry room and then withdrew or abandoned those plans, at least as far as the historic district is concerned. However, that work was done anyways. They also added a deck off the back of the house and the master bedroom, as well as french doors. All of this was done without approval from the historic district. They could have gotten that approval rather easy, but for whatever reason chose not to... Unfortunately this now falls on us to get a kind of retro-active approval for what was done. At the end of the day it isn't a major obstacle. We need to reduce the size of the side porch anyways to allow for the driveway extension, and the current homeowners don't like the doors off the master bedroom and we need to remove that deck anyways to make room for the parking pad for the ADU. All of this means we are going to roll this all in with the main project: the design and construction of the accessory dwelling.
More to come...
Once we determined a Design Program and discovered the various regulations that will govern this project as it pertains to the Historic District, local Zoning, etc it was time to create a couple of Schematic Design options.
At the client's request I developed an option for a one bedroom floor plan and an option for a two bedroom floor plan, both of which included the list of rooms we determined in the Program.
Our intent during this phase is to begin exploring ideas that we can develop further once it has been determined whether we are building a one or two bedroom Accessory Dwelling. Everything presented at this early of a stage is simply conceptual and is kept rather generic, as we don't have any type of finishes selected and the floor plan will likely change quite a bit in the coming weeks.
One Bedroom Option
The option for a one bedroom floor plan came in at just over 700 square feet of conditioned living space, plus the screened-in porch.
Two Bedroom Option
The two bedroom option pushed right up to our maximum building space allowed, coming in just under 800 square feet plus the screened-in porch.
Choosing An Option
After looking over both floor plans, the clients chose to move forward with developing the one bedroom concept. They liked the larger spaces and more open feel, requesting that we go ahead and increase the overall building size to as close to the maximum as possible.
Among the revisions we identified were:
Now the bulk of the design work really gets underway as we enter Design Development. Taking the one bedroom floor plan, I will incorporate the revisions the clients requested and conversations I have had with them to begin developing this design concept. Once we have the floor plan right we will begin to look at the interior design and develop ideas for style and finishes. This will also allow us to refine our pricing and begin to gather a more exact price point.
Also, I will be continuing to communicate with the Historic District Commission to ensure we are all on the same page and compliant with their guidelines. There has already been a bit of a wrinkle develop along that front. I will address that in a later post.
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.
I am excited that JDS Design Studio was hired recently to design a new Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in Charlotte, NC.
Our client is getting started in real estate investing by building the ADU on their own property to generate rental income. One of the things that makes this a unique and exciting project is its location in an Historic District near Uptown Charlotte.
Building Information Modeling will allow us to develop a custom design that meets the requirements of the Historic District Commission, local zoning regulations for ADU's and keeps the construction costs within our client's budget.
In the coming months I will be sharing project updates and documenting the entire process from design through construction. I also encourage you to follow the JDS Design Studio YouTube Channel, JDS Design Studio on Facebook and JDS Design Studio on Twitter as I will be posting some additional project content there as well as other helpful information in design and construction.