Posted to ICF-in-Ann-Arbor by Brian in Dexter, MI
We moved to Michigan about 6 months ago, and the housing market here is totally upside down. Instead of buying, we felt we could contract our own house and end up with equity, even in a bad market.
Our first decision was the land, because that really dictates what type and style of house you should build. After a significant amount of research and looking around, we decided on a hilltop lot in subdivision.
While buying the land, we had an engineering company come out and do the soil borings. They found good soil between 8-14 feet down, so we will need to build a 10-14' basement or take other corrective measures. We wanted a taller basement anyways, so I am all good with that.
After the soil boring, we had the well installed and closed. The land does have gas, electric, and DSL (thank goodness) hookups, but will be well and septic.
Once the land was ours, our next step was to finalize the house plans. We looked through literally hundreds of plans, and just couldn't find one that was right for us. Here's what we ended up designing:
- Plenty of square footage (7,000), but with a more modest cosmetic appearance and more complex roof massing that breaks up the dimensions and makes it look smaller than it actually is
- main level approx 2,600 sq ft, basement approx 2,600 sq ft finished, and second floor approx 1,800 sq ft.
- two living spaces on the main floor
- bedrooms and living spaces at the back of the house because of the view
- a office/library/nursery next to the master bedroom
- large kitchen area, and large walk-in pantry, formal dining room, and breakfast nook
- open floor plan
- 1,000 SQ/FT side-entry garage that is assessed as a 3 car garage but with enough space to actually park 4-5 cars inside and in-floor radiant heat.
three bedrooms on the main floor, each with walk-in closets, their own full bathroom, and vaulted ceilings. We do not want any of the bonus area upstairs to extend above the bedrooms.
each bedroom's dedicated bathroom should not share a wall with another bedroom. This was important to us so one person could not take an early or late shower and wake up the other.
- two of the bedrooms to be on the opposite side of the house from the master (split plan)
- double-sized walk in closet in the master bedroom
- two bedrooms upstairs in bonus area, each with their own bathroom and walk-in closet.
Upstairs bonus area of around 1,800 sq ft that can be finished later. We wanted the stairs to the bonus area to be near the garage so we could make an optional exit to the garage in case we ever want to turn the bonus area into an "in-law" apartment.
We bought Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer (the $69 version) and got started. Within two months and about 200 hours, we had a plan that was exactly what we wanted. It ended up being 100 sq ft larger than I expected, but we do not want to make the bedrooms or living space too small. Now we are going to give our plans to an architect using Chief Architect and have him clean up our design, make suggestions, give us a better exterior design using brick/stone/siding, and get us to a stage where we can get bids from the trades. We have the functional part of the floor plan done, now he just needs to make it elegant.
That's it for now. Over the next six months we will get all of the bids, line up construction financing, and get ready to break ground. I am going to some classes to get my builders license. I don't need it, but I figured it would help me get better discounts.