At CTA Builds we’re pretty excited about our new “forest retreat” — this new house is situated in a large 2nd growth wooded parcel overlooking Puget Sound. We’ve designed what we hope is a timeless but contemporary lodge-like house, an architecture reminiscent of the early 20th Century National Park lodges, like Timberline at Mount Hood and Paradise at Mount Rainier. As you travel the driveway that purposefully circumvents the site, you get glimpses of a view but then first see the home with it’s masonry base, stained wood shingles, and metal roofing. Arrival reveals how the house and the detached garage/studio creates both an arrival and greeting area; inside you see large fireplaces, a double volume interior space, natural fir trim, steel and wood railing systems, a host of sustainable building materials, and an open and connected floor plan. Through big steel sliding glass doors in the “back”, there are decks with large overhangs so you can stand out and enjoy the view of the Sound and mountains beyond, or grille in any weather. Strategically placed windows capture the sun through the trees, so that even in the forest, you can enjoy a light filled home throughout the day.
“Speed Design” – Efficiency is Key in this Fast Market
It’s a pretty crazy real estate market these days. Many older homes in the metropolitan Seattle area are getting multiple offers with escalation clauses and bidding wars once again. There are not a whole lot of houses available for sale and so when house come on the market, it seems like everyone is interested! Sometimes a house will come on the market on a Wednesday and “offers are accepted” the following Tuesday. This leaves buyers without much time to make decisions, and less time to really understand what they can do with their homes. That’s where we can help — that’s where design-build can really help. As experienced Seattle architects and as skilled contractors, we can look at a potential house and put together a design and a cost pretty quickly — sometimes, right on the spot. Then our client, the buyer, will know whether it’s feasible to improve the property and how much it will cost. Good information for a buyer in a rush!
We’ve done several of the “Speed Design” concept lately
Queen Anne, Wedgwood, and Bellevue have been the most common for the Speed Design”. Potential owners were looking at houses in the $400K-$700K range and needed to know how much opening the plan and creating a new kitchen would cost, or how much a second story would cost, or how much a two story addition would cost. We were able to brainstorm ideas at the property and rough price them. In several of the cases, we sketched out plans and priced them so the owners could see what they were getting and how much it would cost.
The $415K house became a $650 finished house; the $650K house became a large two story 1.1M house, and the $525K house became a much more open, larger and contemporary $850K finished family home. As it turned out, these were better deals than the equivalent priced houses because not only were there additions, but the rest of the house house was upgraded as well.
Architects Without Borders: Before Architecture Can Help
We’re Seattle architects working on a new school project in Haiti, in a particularly underserved community. As part of the Architects Without Borders team, we itch to get started designing, but we realize that we live such a different life here we must know what it’s like living there, to work there, to go to school there. We don’t want to design a school for North America and plop it down in the middle of a different and unaccepting world. So as we learn, we begin to see that we have to back up, way up, to the point where the basics are not what we’re used to, they are survival: we have to understand such things as where the CLEAN water is going to come from, what to do with human wastes, how we can provide electrical power, how and by whom the school would get built, etc. As idealists, we think of municipal services providing water, not digging a well on site, away from contaminants; we think about composting toilets, but we have never cleaned one; we think of photovoltaic electric not realizing how much cheaper a generator and some gasoline is; we think the community will pitch in with their sweat equity, but we’re not working earning $7-12/day and having to decide whether to feed our family or build a school… First things first, and as we solve these problems, we’ll move on to designing a school.
Here is a great article about our experience: Haiti Rebuilding Effort – AWB
This design build remodel of a Kirkland area rambler will be open for touring and we’d love to have you and your friends visit! It shows how the architecture of the 60′s can be made fresh, new, lively, and very much a part of today’s lifestyle. Design builders of Seattle, architects and home owners alike will find this very entertaining and we welcome any and all interested to check out the CTA Builds project!
Stay in touch for more details.
Approaching the lodge house…
there’s a sense, an architecture of timelessness, something that’s been here for a while and something that will be for a while yet, a place to sit by the fire under the structural timbers. The new house is in the woods with a long view capturing Puget Sound, so lots of windows to take in the light and to see out through the trees to the view. There are shed overhangs so you’re protected from the rain, a metal roof to cast off the inevitable tree debris, a mudroom for your boots & shoes, an open loft with a cathedral ceiling so the upper and lower spaces can relate with a touch of drama! There’s also a master suite plus two bedrooms with an unfinished basement. Construction is expected to commence this fall, 2012.
Info on The San Juan Islands
More updates on our Lodge House coming soon
Architects Without Borders and CTA Builds
I’ve recently teamed up with “Architects Without Borders” (http://awb-seattle.org/) as a Project Manager. In this role I’m able to give back a little where my skills are needed in our world, and draw on my experience as an architect, a builder, and a student of sustainability. Currently this means designing a school outside of Port Au Prince, Haiti. It’s an awesome project and an awesome responsibility. We’re designing this school that will not only educate children, but will help build community at a time when it’s most needed. At the same time this project will demonstrate what community and sustainability really mean: a place to learn built by local craftspeople using local materials, a place to gather, to grow food and eat together, to get one’s electricity from the sun, to not pollute but to reuse our wastes (composting toilets), to conserve water and maybe even recharge aquifers, to re-vitalize the soil, the ground… It’s very exciting, and from time to time, I will post our progress on the blog. For this first posting, sitting on the building site are students, parents, and the new principal of the school, mapping out the future. — Buzz T.
Remodelling Older Homes – Size Matters
We often get called into a project where a homeowner’s challenge is that they don’t have the space for some necessary function – like a family room that’s connected to the kitchen, or an additional bedroom, or a master suite. In most cases, our homeowner comes to us with the belief that they’re in need of an addition to their house. After studying the problem, we often find ourselves in the happy position of advising not an expensive addition, but rather a reconfiguration of existing space within the house!
Most older homes consist of separate, contained rooms, and often have rooms that are under-used (like that big old living room or dining room that’s totally disconnected from the rest of the house!). Today’s lifestyle calls for connectedness and openness in our living spaces. So in the quest for extra room we usually tear out walls and rearrange room functions in a new way, and can often create the spaces desired without adding any square footage.
The driving philosophy here: smaller is smarter. In some cases, you don’t really need more space…you just need what you’ve got to work better! It’s a win-win situation: Smart design gets you all you need, without the baggage of a bigger house. Less cost, less maintenance, more sustainable, more yard! There are some tricks to this approach though. Spaces should serve dual functions; since every inch counts, smart storage details are essential; and to make a home feel expansive, connection to the outdoors is critical. There are many more tricks – these are just the basics.
There are some really good websites/publications that speak to this directly. The master of living less large is Sarah Susanka. Her books are fantastic, but check out her website: http://www.notsobighouse.com/ And of course Dwell Magazine always inspires us! www.dwell.com
We’re pleased to be participating in the upcoming Remodeled Homes Tour through the Master Builder’s Association!
Our home is in Bellevue this year (http://www.ctabuilds.com/riverrun.html) and the tour dates are October 16th and 17th from 10am to 5pm each day.
Please stay tuned for more information – and visit the official website - www.remodeltour.com
See you there!
I work with a lot of clients that subscribe to the belief that bigger isn’t necessarily better. As a believer in this myself, it’s been a privilege to be featured in several of the “Not So Big” series of books by Sarah Susanka. I’ve recently had a client who exemplified this concept and I wanted to share their story with you.
Laura and Brian B. found us through the “Not So Big” website (www.sarahsusanka.com). They have a modest little mid-century rambler in what’s become a very exclusive neighbourhood just outside Seattle: Clyde Hill, which happens to be the same small neighbourhood that Bill Gates lives in. Laura and Brian’s house is in an older, more modest section of Clyde Hill; nonetheless, many of these little old homes are being torn down and replaced with McMansions at an alarming rate, much to the chagrin of neighbours who choose to remain (in their original homes).
The city of Clyde Hill has been trying to find ways to dissuade these pumped-up houses from maximizing their footprint and size on these lots, so when we applied for a variance to add a very small addition to this very small existing one-story house, we were met with huge resistance. Laura and I both engaged with the city agents to assure them that our intention was to keep this house small-even espousing the Not-So-Big philosophy; and were able to persuade the city to grant our setback variance to build this 300sf addition, which enabled a remodel that vastly improved the livability of this still-small home.
As a result, Laura & Brian are thrilled with their Not-So-Big home, and the City of Clyde Hill has ear-marked this project as a reference to illustrate the benefits of planning and building modestly but carefully considered!
Thank you, Sarah Susanka, for espousing your philosophies nation-wide! We all benefit in many valuable ways.
Julie Campbell AIA, LEED GA