An online journal documenting the planning and building process of our modern home from start to finish. It is intended to share our experiences throughout this project with all those interested in modern design.

lots of brush to clear

Went to Merrillan for the Labor Day Lions Club festival. While we were there we spent 4 days clearing brush and trimming trees from around the property. Anne's Dad and brother helped us remove what was probably 10-12 overly full truckloads of trimmings. While it was lots of fun (and hard work), we managed to get stung by a few ground bees which were well embedded in the tall grass . We really got everything cleared out and now you can see the old mill building clearly whereas before you might not even know it was there. Right at the base of the big tree near the water, there is a really cool rock with moss growing on it. It would be really neat to be able to expose the rock some more (after construction) for decorative purposes. You can see the entire set of pictures here.

We also tried to shore up the roof which has started to sag in partly due to the foundation starting to collapse partially due to a vertical crack. If this winter brings a heavy enough snow, the South side of the building might just collapse.

Met a great architect

We met with Jim at GMK Architecture inc. today. Without question this is the person we want to design our home! We sat in the conference room which was mostly filled by a big glass table and the rest filled with different material samples leaned up against all other available wall and shelf space.

After Jim showed us some of his previous work and told us about the firm, we showed him the topo of the site layout. His first reaction was "Are you sure that you will be able to fit a house here within the set backs from the road and water?" (Remember, the site is oddly shaped and there isn't much buildable space outside the footprint of the existing building.) Then we showed him pictures of the site. He almost started drooling immediately - "We have got to build a house here! What an unbelievable location!" he said. "We can make it work, we've gotta make it work." "I don't mean to presume that your going to choose me to do the design, but wow what a great site!"

He was very excited and started showing us ideas of what what he generally thought would work and asking us what materials we liked. It was great, because this is the exact reaction we wanted to see from the architect we would choose. We were looking for someone who would instantly see what a special location this was and not just do the design because we were paying, but rather to really feel passionate about it.

After a couple hours of discussing ideas Jim asked us if we wanted to go to a nearby project that he just completed. It was lunch time so he offered us some brats that they were barbecuing out back. He came back in the conference room with three brats on a paper plate, a bag of buns, and a couple bags of chips. I think that this sealed the deal for Anne! We ate, and then went to the site that he had just completed.

The home was beautiful - situated on a hill, sloping down to a lake with a great view of the state capital. The design was very similar to what we were looking for, eye pleasing rectangular shape (no curved walls), very open floor plan and no formal dining room. It was a mix of concrete, stucco, corrugated metal, and lots of windows.

Overall, we were very pleased with our experience. What more could you ask for, someone who was relatively close to the site, designed in the style we liked, and was super excited about the project.

The long beginning...

Here is where we stand in the project so far. Anne and I surveyed the property last November in order to produce a detailed topographic map of the site. We'll use the information for determining the drainage pattern as well as to get the actual property lines on record. As it is, the only official survey records on file down at the county are very inaccurate and very much incorrect. The nearly 100 year old hand drawn records show the existing street going into what is the lake and waterway. Thus one of our first tasks is to get the correct property boundaries recorded down at the county. Meanwhile, we are also looking for an architect who we feel is capable of producing a design that we like.

More to come!