Posts under ‘1. Planning and Design’

Why Most Houses in Park City Look The Same

January 22nd, 2010 by KTU | 6 Comments | Filed in 1. Planning and Design

Many of the custom homes in Park City look kind of the same to me. One reason for this is the highly restrictive covenants that most homeowners’ associations have adopted. Almost all new construction in Park City (and in the West generally) is in a subdivision, which usually has a homeowners’ association. In Park City, during the boom period of 2000-2010, subdivisions sprang up like weeds. Each developer basically copied-and-pasted the CC&Rs of some other subdivision (CC&R = codes, covenants, and restrictions). These CC&Rs are really detailed and often highly restrictive. For example, they specify exactly what roofing materials may be used, the range of roof pitches that are allowed, and explicitly outlaw certain design elements. Combine these CC&Rs with fairly homogeneous suburban tastes, and a few stylistic trends, and you end up with houses that could be cousins if not siblings. Here’s an example.

Archetypal custom home in a Park City subdivision

More specifically, the archetypal Park City house has these elements:

  • 4′ high stone veneer at the base (certain amount of stone required in CC&Rs),
  • staggered facade with gables over each protrusion (CC&Rs do not allow uninterrupted walls),
  • complex roofs, with fairly shallow pitch, and lots of valleys (maximum height restrictions, and maximum uninterrupted ridge lengths),
  • some combination of stucco, board-and-batten, or shingle siding above the stone base (CC&Rs),
  • three garages (the American way),
  • single-level living (but usually with a big lower level as a bonus…why climb stairs?),
  • arch-topped windows (current style trend),
  • timber or log columns (current style trend).

(more…)

Finding a Western Modern Architect

January 22nd, 2010 by KTU | No Comments | Filed in 1. Planning and Design

Wyoming Guest House

I searched far and wide for architects who both shared my aesthetic values and who did interesting, highly site specific, modern western architecture. I looked at the work of maybe 50 residential architects throughout the Rocky Mountain West. I especially liked the work of Carney Logan Burke Architects out of Jackson, WY. Even better, I really liked the houses the architects at CLB had designed and built for themselves. The two architects at Carney who have really spearheaded my project are Eric Logan and Andy Ankeny, outstanding guys, with a lot of talent. Even more unusual is that they are good with schedules and did not shy away from the highly aggressive budgetary goals for my project.

(more…)

The Architectural Stylo-Meter

January 22nd, 2010 by KTU | No Comments | Filed in 1. Planning and Design

In my first meeting with architects Eric and Andy (Carney Logan Burke Architects), they asked about my stylistic preferences, invoking the idea of a stylometer for gauging client style. Since I had picked them in part because I liked the houses they had designed for themselves, I was pretty confident the stylometer would give similar readings for us. Here is what I can articulate about my own stylistic preferences, to which I’ll add a few points which Eric and Andy brought to the table and to which I’ve come to subscribe.

New Fork Social Club Residence. Two simple forms connected. Thin roof edge. Bump out. South glass.

(more…)

Photo Sketching a House Design

February 11th, 2010 by KTU | 1 Comment | Filed in 1. Planning and Design, Notes on Approaches

In order to give one of the design review committees a better sense of what the house would look like on the site, I made a quick sketch in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Here it is. (As with most photos on Baubilt, click to see a larger version.)

Photo illustration of my house made with Photoshop and Illustrator.


(more…)

Energy Efficient House Design

February 16th, 2010 by KTU | 1 Comment | Filed in 1. Planning and Design, Notes on Approaches

In this post I explain the analysis I did to understand energy efficiency design issues in my new house.

There are two basic contributors to the energy efficiency of a new house:

1. basic form, and
2. energy efficiency features.

By basic form, I mean what shape does the house have, how many stories is it, and how much window area is there. Those factors matter quite a lot. The most thermally efficient shape (ignoring solar factors) has very little surface area relative to its volume, basically a cube (if you assume the surfaces will be flat not curved). In the analysis I did, I assumed for a base case, a 3200 sq-ft 2-story house, with 8′ ceilings, on a 40′ x 40′ footprint. That’s a pretty boxy shape, but quite efficient thermally.

Windows are wonderful, except that they have just terrible thermal performance, even the really fancy ones. So, you basically have to decide how much glass you want and trade that off against how much energy you are willing to lose. About 12.5% of the wall area on an average new home in the U.S. is windows. I assumed that value in my base case.
(more…)

Bid Negotiation in a Recession

March 15th, 2010 by KTU | 1 Comment | Filed in Cost and Budgets, Notes on Approaches

I just spent a week in Park City negotiation bids on the Mountain Modern house. I’m building the house with the help of Steve, the broker who sold me the land. Steve lives a couple of miles from the site and has built a series of homes in Park City and elsewhere, so has a lot of local expertise. So, while technically this is an “owner build,” I’ve hired a “consultant” to arrange the subcontractors and to keep me informed about construction on a daily basis.

New home construction in Summit County is very slow right now. Just two building permits have been issued in the first 2.5 months of the year. As a result, almost no one in the building trades has any work right now.

Our strategy has been to select 3-5 subcontractors for each task based on the quality of their work, and then to make a final selection based on price. We have let these subcontractors know this is how we are proceeding.

(more…)

The Reality of Multiple Bids

April 12th, 2010 by KTU | No Comments | Filed in Cost and Budgets, Park City Mountain Modern

My strategy with bid negotiation was to only solicit bids from subcontractors who were highly recommended by trusted sources. That way, I could hopefully focus on price without worrying I was getting bids from guys who do shoddy work. In most cases, I adhered to this strategy, although occasionally I got a bid from someone brought in by a related subcontractor (e.g., a heating guy who got a bid from a plumber friend).

In most cases I got at least three bids. I plotted the results of this bid process for the major subcontractors involved in the first phase of my project. These are the costs to do the work, including materials (except for framing, which is labor only). My house is about 3,700 sq-ft of living space with a 600 sq-ft garage. The flatwork quote includes all the concrete floors in the house, a concrete driveway, tinting the concrete, and applying acrylic sealer.

(more…)

Tags: , , , , ,

Getting a Building Permit

April 20th, 2010 by KTU | 2 Comments | Filed in 1. Planning and Design, Park City Mountain Modern

Getting a building permit for a new house is a project in and of itself. We filed for a permit on February 23. Today (April 20) we got the permit. That’s basically two months. The most significant technical milestone is getting the approval of the plans inspector (shown here stamping the plans).

Bill stamping our plans.

(more…)

GC’ing the Job

September 28th, 2010 by KTU | No Comments | Filed in Cost and Budgets, Notes on Approaches, Park City Mountain Modern

I set up a fairly unusual arrangement for the Park City Modern project. Recall that this is a second home for me, and the distance between home and the job site is 2400 miles, about 7 hours door-to-door via Delta and a rental car. Thus, being on site every day was not feasible.

I visited a construction site with the architects last summer and talked to a contractor they had worked with before. This was a monstrous house , which had been under construction for over 2-1/2 years. It was 15,000 square feet and had a budget of $600/sq-ft. (That’s $9mm in construction cost for those who have a hard time with decimal places.) The GC boasted that the owner had only been on site twice. (Whoa.) I knew precisely then that this guy was not for me. His truck was too nice and his homeowner kiss-up skills were too polished. Those guys serve a very important need…getting a great house built for very rich and very clueless owners.

This is a typical punch list for a 24-hour visit to the job site. If you don't like making lists like this and plowing through them, you won't like being your own general contractor.

(more…)

Tags: , , ,

Finishing the House

December 4th, 2010 by KTU | 2 Comments | Filed in 1. Planning and Design, 6. Interior Materials and Finishes, Park City Mountain Modern

Whoa. It’s crunch time. We’re trying to finish this house in the next 10 days. There are about a dozen guys scrambling all over the place. The great room is still a wood shop, but the painters are trying to work around everything.

I suspect if you have a 12-18 month construction schedule you can avoid this. But, we’ll finish this house 7-1/2 months after breaking ground. That requires some overlapping of tasks.

Of course everyone wants to “go last.” More precisely, the painter, electrician, and plumber all declared that they should be the last people on the job. I suspect that if I had wood floors, the floor guys would also want to go last. The reality is that everyone ends up iterating a bit at the end to work around each other.

The painters dodging the finish carpenters.

(more…)

Tags: , ,

Construction Costs – Park City Modern House

January 12th, 2011 by KTU | 10 Comments | Filed in 1. Planning and Design, Cost and Budgets, Park City Mountain Modern

I finally had a few minutes to sort my actual construction expenses and put them in some reasonable categories. This is a brief summary of the construction costs.

First, the basic parameters of the house:

  • 4348 sq-ft of space, including the garage
  • 3-level “walk-out” design
  • 2092 sq-ft footprint
  • 4 bedrooms
  • Cathedral ceilings in upper levels
  • 5 bathrooms
  • Enclosed deck on upper level
  • Front and rear paver terraces

The total construction costs were $619,000. This is every dime I spent from the time we applied for a permit to the time we received the certificate of occupancy. It does not include the design fees (architect + structural engineer), which were about $60,000. It also does not include the cost of about 15 trips from Philadelphia to Utah, which cost about $10,000.

The cost comes out to $142/sq-ft of enclosed space. The square footage includes the garage but does not include the enclosed deck off the master bedroom, nor the covered terrace. I believe the calculation should include the garage, because the garage basically has the identical finishes as the rest of the house (same concrete, framing, drywall, paint, windows, casing, electrical, etc.).

(more…)

Tags: , , ,

Finished House

January 12th, 2011 by KTU | 7 Comments | Filed in 1. Planning and Design, Park City Mountain Modern

The punch list persists for months. But, we have our C.O. (certificate of occupancy). We’ve had house guests. We’ve spent a few weeks in the house. I’m declaring it done.

Here are some exterior shots on a nice winter day, along with a few interior shots. (Furnishing is not quite done…)

(more…)

Tags: