Thursday, April 6, 2017

Building a Semi-Custom Home with Lexar Homes

I promise, my blog will NOT only be about building our house.. but that's kind of the only thing we're doing right now. We don't get out much.

Before I get to go on about the joys about customizing our desired floor plan, I forgot to mention exactly how I did a feasibility study in my first blog. I said I gathered information, but I had to go through proper channels. Every county will have information about the land and lots within their boundaries. Pierce County has an interactive map that allows you to get the parcel number, tax info, etc. The website was helpful, because it tells you if your lot is within certain areas, such as a landslide risk, wetland boundaries, aquifer recharge area (not quite sure about that one, but it has something to do with groundwater supply), etc. This is important because if your land has wetlands, has a landslide risk, or is in a groundwater supply area, it can increase your cost to build or change the area in which you can build. Also, each assessment can cost upwards of $500+ (landslide risk assessment is like $700-1200). I was researching a lot that had some wetlands at the back of the property, which REALLY limited where you could put a house on the lot because the county required fencing 50-100 feet away from the wetland area. Word to the wise: do this research through your county prior to putting in an offer on the land so you don't get too excited if the lot has too many restrictions on it.

Now that that's done.. Let me tell you about the fun part: customizing our floor plan. Since we decided to build with Lexar of Tacoma, we (and I do mean I) narrowed it down between 3-5 various floor plans we liked. I compared the square footage, the base price of the home, and the pros/cons to every floor plan. We could have every thing we wanted in a floor plan, IF we wanted to spend $500K on a house and have a house over 3000 square feet. Yeah, not in our budget, and we definitely don't need a house that big. Lexar does allow you to customize your floor plan, but you do obviously have to get the changes approved by a structural engineer. So, I decided between 2 plans: the 2573 (to state the obvious, the house name is the square footage) with a slight modification to add a 3rd-car garage and slightly increase the size of the home behind the garage, or the 2057 with a custom plan of eliminating the shop in the garage, adding the 3rd car garage, and expanding the house behind the garage.

This is the 2573 (photos posted from Lexar's profile on Houzz.com):




This is the 2057:




Like I said, both homes required some tweaking, and we ultimately decided on the 2057 plan to fully make it our own. I really like the general layout, the large kitchen (and you can't see dirty dishes in the sink when you open the front door!), the curved hallway to the back, and the covered porch in the backyard. Plus, when we added in the extra square feet, it was slightly less than the base price for the 2573. I also really liked the curb appeal and exterior of the 2057 plan the best.

So, I started doing drawings of what we wanted to modify on the 2057 plan. Mind you, I'm not an architect or even artistic. I simply drew a scaled drawing of the house and what I wanted it to look like. I got rid of the garage shop, added a 3rd car garage, and expanded the entire house behind it. I wanted to add a couple of things: playroom, exercise room, cut-out in the dining room for a desk and cookbook shelves, and a large closet in the playroom. I changed the layout of the master bedroom, master bath, and closet, so I had no idea how to configure the bathroom, the windows, etc.. so the drawing was pretty basic. So, we handed in my sketches and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, due to my lack of expertise, and a lack of communication on their part, their floor plans and engineering calculations from my shoddy drawings went to engineering and drafting without us approving the final product. So, when we got the plans almost two months later, we were excited, but disappointed that the plans weren't complete from our perspective.

--They forgot the dining room cut-out for my shelves and desk.
--There were no additional windows in the huge master bedroom or one single window in the master bathroom.
--They forgot the man-door out the garage.
--The pantry was small.
--The workout room was ginormous and just as big as the master bedroom.

We also wanted a couple more changes:
--More lights in bigger bedrooms.
--Expand the dining room out to be flush with the master bedroom.
--Add the cut-out in the dining room for a future built-in desk and cookbook shelves.
--Get rid of the wall to the hallway so we can see into the playroom and hallway and open up the space.
--Add sliding door to back porch.

So, this is what the layout ended up looking like (not sharing the original plans from Lexar for potential copyright issues):

As you can see, I even have furniture picked out for my home.  :)

Anyways, our plans are currently in their second round of drafting, and should be approved soon through Engineering. Once those are through, we will contact our septic and site plan designer to get things moving so we can start the permitting process!

Next installment on the blog: picking design features for our home.

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