Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Accessing Your Nether Regions

If you build on a crawl space type of foundation then you're going to be required to provide access to that space for future maintenance and dead opposum removal.  Most crawl spaces are required to have a minimum clearance of 18" from grade to the bottom of the framing members.  This is not exactly a pleasant distance to crawl around in but it is at least workable.

What's in your crawl space?  Well not much.  But there is access to plumbing, mechanical (if you don't care about energy efficiency), and some electrical.  There's also dirt, dust, spiders and possibly dead animals.  Maybe there's a drain down there.  It's possible to go years and years without ever having to go down there.  But at some point a visit may be required.

Let's say your waste drain springs a leak.  The waste drain doesn't exactly have crystal clear water in it.  This will require a technician to crawl down into the space with tools and equipment to fix the problem and remove any extras that shouldn't be under your house.  They likely will be up and down several times.  So where is the most likely spot for the crawl access to be?

Believe it or not we often see other designers and architects place this crucial portal in the master bedroom closet.

Really?  Can you see the disgust on our faces?

Not only that but apparently this practice is so ingrained in some designers (and builders even) that they will place the access here regardless of convenience.  If the carpeted master closet is in the far corner of the house this means that dirty nasty crawl space detritus will be making it's way through most of the house starting with your wife's blouses.

We at Istockhouseplans believe that there is a better option.  Our first choice is to place the access in a hall closet preferably where the floor is hardwood.  However an even better choice would be to place the access outside of the house completely.  In some parts of the country this is more common than others.  Placing the crawl access on the outside of the foundation has several advantages:
  • Dirty crawl space objects will never enter your house
  • The repairman won't have to worry about your wife's clean white laundry
  • Most important, the crawl space hatch can't leak warm air out of your house
Of course energy efficiency is important to us.  Based on common practice we often place the crawl space access inside the house in the most convenient spot.  However we thoroughly recommend that it be placed on an outside foundation wall.  If you would like some assistance with details or placement, please feel free to contact us or sound off in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

From Paper to Sticks

We were recently invited to an open house for a custom design we did.  Actually, we didn't design so much as we did draft.  The homeowners were very gracious but also very particular about what they wanted in a home.  The result was a 2200sf plus beautiful one story home.  Neighbors in the development quipped that they wished they had seen this plan in the builder's catalog.  Even the builder himself was impressed with the final product.  The development consists primarily of mid-priced builder specials with the customary 2 car garage, 2 story, 3 bed plus bonus, 2.5 bath.  Our home was a little more subtle.  We went for 3 car garage (partial tandem), 1 story (with nice steep roof for aesthetics), 3 bed plus office, and 2 bath.

While this is not a home that we would normally put in our catalog we were pleased with the results.  So were the homeowners.  Throughout the process we kept telling them that this will be THEIR home.  The builder or subs will not be living in it for the next 10-50 years.  THEY will.  So don't get pushed around and be sure to get what you want.  The homeowners kept a set of final plans, a 3-ring binder, and the builder on speed dial for the whole time.  Every day they were on site checking progress.  This was more out of excitement and available time than anything but scrutiny was also prevalent.  When something was not done per plans a query was put out and it was quickly made right.  Though our client probably did not read this previous post beforehand, they took it to heart.

The bad news of the whole deal?  The washer and dryer were moved on-site and now partially obscure a passage.  The good news?  The homeowners were in by Christmas and the builder's crew got the week off.