Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Architectural Nods

You may notice that this post is a day late. All apologies. We were at a supplier convention on our normal Tuesday blogging day. Don't ever tell us that there's no such thing as a free lunch because we sure found it!

In the meantime the website was fixed. Now you can enjoy trouble-free browsing of We know we promised also to have the Edgewood available, but the Portland courtyard housing project has kept us busy. We will get our masterpiece of an entry turned in today, and then all efforts will be back to the stock plans. (Okay, masterpiece may be an overstatement. Actually, it looks like a first year college student stayed up until 3am putting the presentation together. Our saving grace is that while presentation is important, the judges are reviewing every single entry. If this was for a client who based their decision to look at a project based on neatness, we would have stayed up until 4am). We will be putting pieces of our entry on the website in the next week or so including the LEGO renderings.

"Would you get to the architectural nods already", you ask? Fine, fine. Rather than our usual diatribe on how much we despise something, we will try to stay more composed this time. Architectural nods are about a 10% (usually less) effort to copy a traditional design style. For instance in an architectural nodding craftsman home you would find gridded windows, dormers, some stone veneer and some nice door and window trim. Sound good? Sure, but what's missing? Brick fireplace, 24" overhangs, gable end brackets, 2x12 barge boards, exposed rafter tails, different siding in the gable ends, deep covered porch, built up columns, 7-piece 1x4 window trim, non-vinyl windows, crown moulding, chair rail, wainscoting, 1x8 stained wood floor trim, and four steps from grade to floor. And don't forget paneled doors, exposed beam ceilings (real or not) and traditional colors.

"That sounds like a lot of extra money! Besides, my setbacks don't allow for 24" overhangs."

Then use thinbrick veneer on the fireplace, standard 1x pine for the moulding (found at rebuilding centers everywhere), and for goodness sake, stop maxing out your building footprint and use some of your side yard for beauty instead of dropping barkdust all over it. And since labor is so expensive do some of it (heck, all of it) yourself. It may take extra time, but you will have a superior product to Joe Builder down the street. Do you want folks to look at your house and say, "Yeah it fits into the neighborhood alright." or do you want them to say, "Wow, nice extensive remodel on that beautiful old established home!" Our experience tells us that the latter would fetch an extra 10-20% or more in price.

Architecturally, I can see you nodding right now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Brick by Brick

Happy October.  This is your general istockhouseplans update.  Portland's Courtyard Housing competition ends in 2 weeks.  We have finished design for our entry and are now compiling the data in to required submittal formats.  We are attempting a medium that has never been attempted before above the 6th grade.  Our perspective drawings and layouts were created with MLCAD, also known as Mike's LEGO CAD.  Since 3-D elements are not allowed in the competition, we created our courtyard out of LEGO bricks in CAD and then saved out the pictures.  Images will be available after the competition is over.
As we mentioned before, this competition generated three new house plans for us (really just three variations of the same plan).  It was all inspired by the original design which was stuck on some drawing board underneath other concepts.  We will be releasing the Creston series of plans soon.  The Edgewood series is almost complete and will be up about the same time.  We are also finishing up another yet unnamed plan.
However, we first need to finish clearing up the bugs in the website before we get any further on adding to it.  We are hoping to have that done by the next update.  As if we didn't have too many irons in the fire already, we are also going back through our established plans and adding slab and basement foundations where appropriate.  Being stuck in the great Northwest, those foundations don't often get built here but we understand they are the majority in other places.  If there are other variations that you would like to have plans done in (stick frame roofs, 2x4 walls, etc.), let us know and we will try to accomodate.  We do mostly 2x6 walls for the Energy Path 1 requirements and trussed roofs for cost and efficiency.
Talk to you in two weeks.  Or visit us sooner.