More of the We’ve been through this already
We’ve already sat down and drawn up plans. Several times. Before I attended the first LHBA class in February 2016, my wife and I were so excited, we decided to draw up some plans. They were rectangular houses. Everyone from the organization said to wait until class, but we couldn’t. Then I took the class. Not much changed- except we now are working from a set of square plans. We had to completely re-draw our plans. It wasn’t too bad- my wife had to give up a really good layout. The mathematician in me had to give up on having the satisfying “golden rectangle” design. But, here we are again, looking at stock plans and thinking (because we are rebellious like that), “this won’t work for our situation.” We have lots of kids, and it looks like they will be living with us for a while. We have elderly parents who could potentially live with us for a while. I have two kids out of state that could come live with me at some point- and that could be out of the blue.
But, as the heading says, we’ve been through this already. Our issues mainly rest on how tall I can make this thing. If we get what we want, then the stairs can go where they are supposed to without getting squished by the lack of headroom from a shorter roof. But there are other things we haven’t figured out- like the actual floor plan for the second level. We know we want two bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom, but there is extra room, so do we want closets and a loft? or another bedroom? A den? A place for house plants?
Then there’s the utilities: where do we put the HVAC in a log home? You can’t just hide them in the walls- the walls are log, so you have to be a little more creative. We decided to put some of the chases in the closets. We changed some of the layout so that closets were above each other- making it easier to put a chase through them. But then that changes where the plumbing can go. And then the electrical. And on. And on.
And this doesn’t even include getting the window placement. Or the doors. These are special considerations when working with logs. And did I mention getting the permit?
The nervous permit process- two possible outcomes
The problem in a big city is big regulations. They don’t give a hoot about your dreams- only whether it will look nice for whatever zone you fall under. Start talking about a custom log home? That’ll be the beginning of your troubles.
The problem in a small city is small minded people who don’t like change. I’ll bet $100 that any private citizen builder goes down to the permit office with plans for a stick house that looks like all the other stick houses in the neighborhood will get his permit, no problem. Go in with plans for a log home and, “you wanna build a what?” And yes, everyone in the South has asked, “you gotta sawmill to mill them logs? How you gonna build a square house outta round logs?” Er, no, that’s not the type of log home I’m talking about. Suspicion level = 4. I’m going to do it myself. Suspicion level = 6. With these plans I drew myself. Suspicion level = 10. Ok, they were drawn and approved by an engineer. These plans have been used in all 50 states, with no problems. I just modified the inside walls a little. Suspicion level = 8. So there’s that.
Re-drawing the stock plans
With all the above stated, I’m pretty nervous about modifying my stock plans:
- What if the city wants an engineer’s wet stamp, and I can’t get an engineer to approve them?
- What if I can get a wet stamp, but it costs a thousand dollars?
- What if the city wants to nitpick and inspect everything according to the plans I submitted?
- What if I can’t follow the plans I drew?
I’m using LibreCAD, because it’s free, open source, and works on Linux (I despise companies like Microsoft and Apple that give their source keys to the NSA). There’s like 35 layers on this drawing- electrical, floor joists, roof layout, plumbing- everything, so it’s a big project. I made a copy of the originals and used some weird online conversion program to change them into a format LiberCAD could understand (.dxf), and I’m modifying them slowly, one block at a time.
The roof overhangs are only 3′ 6″, but this is the South, so with all the rain, I may need bigger overhangs. But not too big because I’m doing a wrap around porch. One of our members, Paul Kahle, getting the ridge pole installed on a pier foundation (ours will be similar):
I don’t like the main floor layout on the stock plans, so my wife and I hashed out one that we do like. Everything hinges on the stairs for some reason- we want to avoid knee walls upstairs (where the roof meets the wall: sometimes, in a log home, the second floor is more of a loft than a second floor, and the roof often meets up with the wall at about four feet tall). But if we want to avoid knee walls, then we need the walls to be full height on the second floor. Nobody wants to bump their head at the top of the stairs because the roof wasn’t tall enough. But we don’t want the stair anywhere else in the house (ruins our layout), so we have to push the roof up. We want ten foot ceilings downstairs. We hope for a similar height upstairs, but shorter – like eight feet- would still be acceptable.
The outcome and plan
My genius wife scared me the other night after we had finalized the second floor plan and I had started modifying the plans with: “I want to re-draw the second floor again.” Inside, I’m like, “Noooooooo!!!!!!!!” But I said, “Ok”. She went to work. A few hours later, I came home from practicing for the Christmas concert, and she met me with, “come look!”. It was great! It addressed the issues of where do we put extra people, gives me a study area/den, and gives her a loft/hang out area/ plant area. Everyone is happy. I guess the drawings will take me a month to finish updating. I’m doing it in between working on the property, working on my truck, working at my job, getting the kids to school, playing with my daughter, my church assignments, oh, and sleeping.
And, sorry, but for privacy reasons, I don’t think I’ll post the floor plan here (we’ll welcome most folks that seem nice enough for a tour when it’s finished). But I can describe the layout:
The house will be built on a pier foundation with a wrap around porch. From the front door, you enter the home and look left- and see the living room with piano area and stairs. Look right, and see the kitchen. Straight ahead is the master bedroom and a second bedroom and bathroom, along with a laundry area and pantry. Upstairs, there are a couple of bedrooms, another bathroom, and a loft/study area. All living can be done on the main floor. The wrap around porch is divided in the back by a screened in porch looking out at the backyard.