My brain is full. And obsessed. The other night I had a dream about windows and landscaping, that is how extreme it is. Right now much of our spare time is being taken up revising building plans, interviewing prospective suppliers and researching our little botties off regarding the various benefits of this window or that door.
We have a budget, we have a plan, we even have someone who’s agreed to build it all for us. There are many, many more steps between us and our new home but right now I find it hard to think about anything else. I’m sure my friends and family are already getting a bit bored of Stephen and I yammering on (and on) about our plans but it’s only going to get worse. Fair warning.
It is dawning on us both that this amorphous dream that has bounced back and forth between us for around a decade, slowly building to a sure desire and then a concrete plan, is actually going to happen. There are more steps before we can break ground, we need to get some permits, hire people with big diggers and order lots and lots of wood, glass, steel and a million other things but it is happening. We are actually going to build our own house.
Stephen did the designing himself and then we hired an architectural technologist to draw up the plans and make sure the design is up to code. We have a builder who specialises in modern, eco-friendly design and he has worked with us on the revisions to make sure we can actually build this thing. But the bulk of the design and the vision is Stephen’s. Many long nights of sitting up way into the night creating 3-D designs on Google Sketchup have led us to our final design, one that accommodates not only our dreams of our future but our very real day to day lives.
The house we have designed (I say ‘we’ but my contribution has mainly been along the lines of making a massive list of requirements and saying “That isn’t going to work” and “Where will the shoes go?” to my frazzled beloved. To his credit he didn’t try to kill me but just went back to the drawing board time and time again) is one that will, hopefully, meet our needs as a family both now and in 10 years time and hopefully beyond. It also takes into account our desire to work, as much as we can, in harmony with the land around us and to use it’s resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Although we are hoping to create a small farm on our land our home will not be the typical farm house. This is a modern home for the era we live in now. Though it took some time for me to let go of the vision I’ve had of a heritage house filled with vintage goodies it made no sense to build a new house in an old style, if we are going to do new we felt that we should do modern. So modern it is. The spec on the house is unusual for North America, though becoming more familiar in Europe, and will hopefully help us run an energy efficient home that will allow us to deal with rising fuel prices and a changing energy economy.
The house will face South South West which will allow it to take advantage of the sunshine from dawn to dusk. The south wall of the house will be predominantly glass and is taking up a big chunk of the budget but will allow us to have a partially passive house which will certainly help energy costs in the long, cold Canadian winters. Stephen has designed a 3ft overhang over each floor to shade when the summer sun is high but it will allow the lower winter sun in to warm our toes and hopefully keep our energy costs lower. The roof is a mono pitch and will have a steel roof as will the garage roof behind, unfortunately we couldn’t have a grass roof (my ideal ) but we hope to include that on later outbuildings. The main source of heating will be radiant floor heating with a wood stove as back up.
The downstairs is a large, open plan area with the kitchen in the centre, arranged literally at the heart of the home. All of the bedrooms are arranged along the south side too, so each room will look out over the land. It pleases me enormously to think that this will be our first view in the morning and our last view at night. We will watch the sun travel across the sky each day to sink down over the forest, our windows will turn pink and gold as the sun drops down for his night time sleep. I imagine our house, warmed by the sun’s heat in the day and bathed in his colours as the day ends. I think that this will be a good view for our house, watching us form the landscape around us, growing as much of our food as we can and growing ourselves in the process.
We have such a long way to go, so much to do and so many stresses ahead. Yet I walk on willingly knowing that what we are creating, this exceptional place that is being created just for us, because of us, by us will be worth it. It will be our home.