Archinect
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TL DR - An adjuster's thoughts on home design.

ryanyoung

I'm not claiming that this is or isn't architecture, but this is the most iconic example of what I believe is too often overlooked in construction. Personally I think this house is ugly, but none the less I can't think of a structure more sensibly built. The bottom panels wash away in a flood, the pilings go something like 30' deep, the roof is simple without valleys or dormers. Everything about this home is designed for the hurricanes this area has and will experience. 

I'm not trying to equate my design with this by any means. The other thread got way off track from what I thought I was bringing to show, some solutions to common failure points that I've seen inspecting something like 2000 residential and commercial properties. Given most of these had no architect involvement I'm not critiquing anyone here, I'm saying there are building habits in the US I wouldn't want in my building.

Ultimately, everything fails eventually. When something fails a major factor in the extent of resulting damages is how soon the failure is discovered, this lead me down the path of accessibility. Exposed plumbing, detachable interior wall panels, and electrical brought out of the walls so it can be replaced without causing additional damages when its time comes. The electrical conduit is basically there as an aesthetic choice as well, AZ is the copper state, but it also should afford some minor protection.

All of this leads to what could easily end up as an overly cluttered living area with steam-pukey pipes detracting from the simplistic beauty of a rammed earth structure. I built a model in Sketch-Up and did the layout because it was the only way to gauge how these exposures would affect the space. The results were not satisfying, but I posted them here and didn't explain this clearly enough so I ended up getting a lot of attention to the shape and layout of the structure rather than what I was hoping to get feedback on: the little details. It’s easy to say that these details can be included in any layout but I would differ on that because the shape has to work with these constraints if it is going to produce a satisfying product.

Below are some of the features that I’m hoping can be included in the design and I’m wondering what limitations or downstream affect they may have on the layout and/or aesthetic.


  • Keeping the plumbing out of the walls is hard, keeping it out of the slab is harder.

Keeping the plumbing out of the walls proved fairly easy without cluttering, I think a lot can be done simply by choosing which side of the wall it goes on to balance the pipe-clutter between two rooms. However keeping the plumbing out of the slab has proved challenging. Wall mount toilets are an easy fix, but bathtub and shower drains are more difficult. My idea was to use French drains to add some gap for the P-trap. I didn’t get the height I needed (even with the gap already inherent to a freestanding tub) so I figured on a pad the tub rests on for the extra 1-6/8” I needed. These pipes also run through (never along) some of the steel walls so I’ll need to insulate them from one another with sleeves.



  • Centralizing all penetrations of the walls and roof, then protecting them.

Centralizing the plumbing around that access hallway grants some major benefits in reducing the risk of water leaks from inside, plus it lets me centralize the roof and exterior wall penetrations. I’d like to add an additional layer of protection by covering roof and wall penetrations again. In the images shown below I have a small shed with venting doors but I’m not sure how this would affect the air intakes by being enclosed.



  • Exposing the electrical and HVAC tactfully is difficult.

Some of the areas in my layout were very satisfying for me to look at, others came out looking disordinate. The lighter touch is definitely preferred and so I made concessions on running the electrical inside the steel walls in many places, but I was wondering if anyone had any examples or tips on how this can be done more effectively. Here are some examples of what I liked, mind you we’re looking at how the conduit looks more than the room as a whole (as extricably as we can of course, I understand they are in many ways dependent).


 
Aug 10, 20 5:53 pm
ryanyoung

Some tips I've already gleaned from the forum to spare yall the retyping:

  • Hire an architect, leave yall alone
  • Run PVC conduit inside the copper (no I won't paint it)
  • Raise the ceilings to show off the rammed earth more
  • Insulate the rammed earth walls
  • Beware the corrosion of copper and steel (isolation)
  • Hire an architect
  • Don't spell architecture with a capital A unless you have a meerschaum pipe and smoking jacket


Aug 10, 20 6:04 pm  · 
1  · 
SneakyPete

Tips you've received: Many.

Things you've learned: 0.

8  · 
ryanyoung

That may be true but are you really the best person to express that when your comments on my posts have been: 

  • Your dedication to putting what you call "letters" in a specific order to form "words" to explain yourself is extremely limiting, dude. Now quit hogging the spliff. 
  • please don't 
  •  You don't have to post them you know... 
  •  Why not simply save money and put them in the walls? 
  •  Routine maintenance of...pipes and conduit?
 · 
SneakyPete

Ad hominems don't make you any less clueless.

1  · 
joseffischer

You did not include that you've gleaned anything about what a forum full of architects think architecture is. You reiterate your concern for longevity. Go to trade forums and get their opinions, as that's the type of advice you're looking for. I often go to Terry Love's plumbing forum for sage advice from old hats, new hats, the tried-n-true method and work-arounds/new techniques. If you come with your hat in hand and let them know you're not a plumber, they accept you... but don't ask about electrical or architectural questions there. It'll waste their time. Same for here, makes sense?

 · 
ryanyoung

This is actually a big help, thanks for the tip. I came here with a lot of questions about how to do the exposed systems because of their affect on the appearance but more important is that they function well. Any recommendations for a HVAC or electrician specific
forum?

 · 
Non Sequitur

it has all the charm of that classic windowless doctor’s office building inner corridor charm. 

Aug 10, 20 7:03 pm  · 
2  · 
randomised

Digging the idea of using rammed earth!

Aug 10, 20 7:22 pm  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

With ram earth wall, small windows, and low ceiling, it will feel like a bunker. If you browse any of the modern luxurious house, you would know large glass storefront and daylight is standard in luxurious house. You also want to have nice views in the rooms to your beautiful desert. I know it is Arizona and hot, so you need integrated strategic overhangs and low SHGC glass with tight seal construction. 

I don't think the design right now is worth the construction cost of this house. But its just my preference.

You have to understand your role, you want to participate in the design scheme, not the construction details. Leave the strucuture, HVAC, piping, code compliance, flashing, etc technical details to the professional to resolve for you. You just need to resolve the grand design of the building. The architect you hired to do CD sets may not care about design at all, he may just want to do finish the set ASAP and get paid.

While detailed sketch up model is fun. Present your design with simple 2D plans,sections, diagrams and elevations is more critical.Most people say architecture school is useless, but the graphic and presentation skill does matter when you want to communicate your design.


Aug 11, 20 9:28 am  · 
 · 
Superfluous Squirrel

Who cares what the typical modern luxurious house looks like? The idea that all fancy houses need to be similar or have similar elements produces much, much worse architecture than ryanyoung ever could.

 · 
midlander

what exactly are the risks you are trying to prevent? you keep mentioning hurricanes and wind/flood damage but your property is in Arizona?!


Ultimately the best way to mitigate risk is to spread your bet - don't put all your money into one house. From a real estate investment POV you're moving very far along the path of building something completely off-scale for the market. Meaning it would be impossible to sell at-cost in the future because the typical customer just doesn't want the product regardless of the specifications. Investment risk is the biggest problem I see in all this, if this is ever intended to be sellable at some point in the future.

Aug 11, 20 9:48 am  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

You build these kind of houses only because you got the $$ and you care about architecture and not want to settle for ugly mcmansion. If you do these as investment i would laugh real hard. You can definitely resell the house later, just may not be profitable and hard to find the buyer with same taste unless that location is super hot for rich people like Beverly hills or such.

 · 
ryanyoung

The house is really intended as a generational retirement home so there's not as much focus on resale value. While Arizona doesn't get hurricanes it does deal with flash flooding, high winds, and hail. Most of my design ideas are for the mitigation of internal risks like plumbing or appliance failure, as well as common exterior failures like plumbing vent boots which don't need a hurricane to let water in.

 · 
mightyaa

Umm... immigrant mitigation? Are you remote and close to the border? Keep in mind, human coyotes often dump their people once across the border. Your patio light becomes a navigation beacon. Knocks in the middle of the night, break-ins by people who've been wandering the desert happen. Traditional arid architecture also tends to use interior courts... it's also 'defensible architecture'. One I did in NM also provided a hose bib, lighting, shade, and benches outside the entry gate to hopefully mitigate trespassers looking for water and food. That was a long time ago, so I don't know if it's better or worse now.

 · 
ryanyoung

No worries of migrants or crime in general in Sedona, AZ. Very wealthy town with an overabundance of police.

 · 
JLC-1

"mitigation of internal risks like plumbing or appliance failure" there are several technical solutions to this without exposing pipes, (which generally don't fail inside the walls, but at valves). Look up Watercop. I really don't see how you can prevent appliance failures if the electrical and gas is done properly.

 · 
ryanyoung

Exposing the pipe is due to the difficulty in repairing the rammed earth should anything go wrong inside. The other risk mitigation techniques are the drainage system should anything leak to prevent water from causing too much damage regardless of what fails.

 · 
Wood Guy

Architecture is a balance of art and science. You are doing pretty well on the science end, or at least that's what you are focusing on. Most architects focus more on the art end (meaning all of the tangible and intangible aesthetic considerations that make a building more than a warehouse space).

The house in your original image appears to be well-engineered. That is not the same as being good architecture. You're on an architecture forum; we're going to talk about the architecture. 

Aug 11, 20 11:24 am  · 
2  · 
ryanyoung

My concern is that I'll end up sacrificing too much form for the function I seek. I'm definitely in an oddball family so the "client" is more the type to enjoy a quirky home with neat characteristics. Yall have definitely helped me realize I need to pay more attention in the form department.

 · 
randomised

I hope it’s not a pearl thrown before a swine ;-) but if anyone knows how to build in AZ and use rammed earth in an architectural way, it’s Studio Rick Joy, why not hire them?
https://studiorickjoy.com/work/convent-studios

Aug 11, 20 3:28 pm  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

I think OP wants to design it as best as he can then find an architect and builder combo to do a quick permit set and build it to save some fees. Probably does not want to pay the full project service fees, which could run easily above 10% of the construction cost.

 · 

Probably around 7% for the architectural fee which includes the MEP, Struct, and Civil.

 · 
ryanyoung

Not really Jay, that was the initial intention but I've ceded much of that to having a professional involved. I want to create as much as I can and as many versions to show the architect my interests rather than leaving it totally to their creative whim.

 · 
randomised

I know, but you’ll get a smashing house, literally!

 · 
ryanyoung

Thanks for the Rick Joy link, if the architect I'm talking with doesn't work out for some reason I may reach out to him and see if he has any interest in the project.

 · 

ryan - either your architect is horrible or no one as ever explained to you what a good architect dose. First and foremost a good architect listens to the client and will help you discover what you want - need - and can afford in your project. Obviously you pay the architect for this additional service. From your posts here it seems that you do not want to pay for this additional service but as you said want people on this site to come up with ideas you like that you can present to your architect so you can get a set of drawings made up. I'd recommend having the architect you say you've hired perform theses services and actually listen to him / her as they assist and guide you through the design process.


TLDR:  you have an architect - don't be a cheap bastard and hire them to do the work - you will be much happier with the results.

 · 
ryanyoung

I have a meeting scheduled with one, we're supposed to be meeting later this month. We've talked quite a bit about the project but this meeting will be the first time I'm paying for a full review of what I have.

 · 
Non Sequitur

Ricky, why did you not follow you own advice then and stay out completely? It's not like you've provided anything of worth anyways.

 · 
Jay1122

Ryan, remember to get the rough construction cost estimate from the local architect before jumping into the future designs and details. If it exceeds the budget extensively, what is the point of continuing. I am curious how much it will cost for that particular location as construction price varies across the country. I feel its in the Mil. Also remember to include cost for landscaping,site improvements and other none building related. Trust me, its always about the money.

 · 

First off a project construction cost estimate is not something an architect provides as a basic service.. When a cost estimate is provided by the architect it is as you said a rough square foot cost for only the structure and it has no impact or pertinence to the actual construction cost estimate provided by the contractor.

 · 
Jay1122

I know what you mean. I just don't want OP jumping in thinking he can build it with 900K while the architect thinks it is roughly around 2M. Often time there are residential clients walk in with those modern magazine houses think they can build it with 1-2M and then got surprised by the actual cost of 3-5M. Just want him to align the expectations. If he does not have such budget, then comes the "value engineering" we all hate.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

Ricky, how many contracts are you currently involved in that a: are related to buildings and b: are billable?

 · 
SneakyPete

Simplified question: how many contracts are you currently involved in?

 · 
Non Sequitur

You could have just said zero.

 · 
Non Sequitur

I know why. Everyone knows why.

1  · 
SneakyPete

Good to know you condone mass murder by the president. I'll add it to the "Why Richard Balkins is a piece of shit" column in the ledger.

 · 
Non Sequitur

... and you still think we don’t know why you don’t get any work?

 · 
Non Sequitur

Sure Ricky. Sure.

 · 

phishing scam

2  · 
Non Sequitur

total scam. Love the spelling.

2  · 

and bad grammar indicating perhaps English is not their native language ... not necessarily a bad thing, but indicative of a scammer.

1  · 
Non Sequitur

but yet, that was the first example you chose.

 · 
Non Sequitur

...and you charged how much of a fee for that?

side note, I just accidentally poured myself a 11.5% (500ml) beer thinking it was a typical IPA... my fault for going to my home bar without the lights.  I remove myself from any further responsibilities with forum comments.


 · 
SneakyPete

Richard Balkins (name included for future Google searches which any intelligent client does when looking for design professionals) condones using a MOAB (Massive ordinance air blast) over Portland to kill people he is of the opinion are terrorists. Just making sure everyone knows this sick man wants Trump to kill people.

 · 
5839

...and poof! Gone again! How long until the next incarnation? I'm betting 47 hours, tops.

2  · 

Well, I couldn't say I didn't see it coming. Personally, I thought he'd last longer this time. NS, did you pour a ml or two out in his memory?

Edit: he's not completely gone from the site. Just saw he still has posts elsewhere. This thread just got Rick'd is all. Not a total nuke of the account.

2  · 
randomised

Threads where people got nuked really look like a bunch of schizophrenics talking to themselves, would be nice if there was some kind of record or acknowledgement of the posts/user(s) being nuked within a thread.

4  · 
Non Sequitur

EA, I was still nursing the brew when I noticed the nuking. 2ml is maybe too much to pour out tho.

 · 
Non Sequitur

47hrs? more like 7.

 · 
proto

looks like i missed some shenanigans...executive summary? how'd it get from house advice to bombing pdx? & who's the reincarnation I need to ignore?

 · 
Non Sequitur

Proto, Ricky attempt to claim his lack of work was a choice he made because of fear of travel (covid)... then linked it to trump... then to the various protest... then claimed trump added agents inside the protests to kill and rape and that all should be bombed by the government. See Sneaky's post above.  Something also about protesters = terrorists.

 · 
eeayeeayo

He also posted some phishing texts from credit card scammers (as supposed evidence that he is an in-demand design professional), and some more posts demonstrating his misunderstanding of the concept of white privilege. It was a long and convoluted path, even for him. I don't think there's a new reincarnation to ignore, because he wasn't nuked from the site again yet, just from this thread.

1  · 
proto

dudr needs a job...& some therapy

 · 
midlander

that's something he has in common with most architects then

 · 
ryanyoung

Seems like a highly competitive and difficult field yall are in. I have interest in designing and building houses on my own dime, but I'd imagine clients are more difficult than in contracting and I've faced that hell before.

 · 
5839

If Rick is permanently nuked from this thread, then we should just start all new discussions within this thread, so nothing can be Ricked anymore.

 · 
Non Sequitur

Is that not what TC is for? It’s already a Rick-free-zone.

 · 
5839

He thumbs-up stuff in TC. Are we sure he can't post?

 · 
ryanyoung

So I'm working on a presentation of sorts to show the architect. Got some advice from non-seq and I've moved away from the model being the focus, started a list of use/goals for each room, and I'm doing some sketches to show different ideas of the look I'm interested in.


I'm thinking I should meet with a few architects to get a sense of what different companies have to offer and who's most fitted to myself and this project. I like the guy I've been talking with for it, but maybe someone else turns out to be a better fit. Is it reasonable to meet with multiple architects or is that taboo? What is a reasonable ask to get a sense of what they might bring to the project? I'm thinking on focusing on the person to person interaction, as some have said I can be a handful, but is it reasonable to ask for some preliminary sketches? What might I expect to pay for a meeting and/or drawings? Should I let then know I'm testing the field a bit or might that scare them away?


Also, what do you like to see from a perspective client? Examples, inspirations, drawings, land info, etc.

Aug 14, 20 1:08 pm  · 
 · 
eeayeeayo

Lots of residential clients initially meet with several architects. Many architects offer a free initial consultation, and expect you to use that opportunity to learn about their work and talk a little about your project. You can continue to work with multiple architects beyond the initial consultation, but once "pencil touches paper" they will usually consider that billable. Some clients believe that they'll get better work or more options if they run a design competition of sorts in the early design phase, by hiring 2 or 3 architects and letting them all know they're in competition. If you do that just understand that some firms may not be interested to work with you in that situation.

As for what we typically see from clients:  it varies all the way from nothing but the vaguest of ideas, to scale models they've built themselves. 

 · 
Jay1122

Although i don't work in residential, but i was reading one guy's book on starting small architecture firms. So it is just my guess, they won't do real drawings before you commit and sign the proposal. Napkin sketch won't help much. It is reasonable to interview multiple offices and get a sense of the personality, fees, their work load, their portfolio, design process, etc. For architects, they will try to see how committed you are, whats your budget, time frame/schedule, your personality. What is important from client is knowing what you want, reference photos of built project is good. If you do not know, work with the architect until it achieves your satisfaction. And no true architect likes clients that think they are the master. Most problems are in money tho, most of dispute is about fees billed.

 · 
proto

I'll talk about process & strategy & likely scenarios for the proposed work. Happy to share examples of previous projects at different stages for illustration of how we work.

But, if you want sketches specific to your project, that takes dedicated time and will be billed.

Aug 14, 20 3:49 pm  · 
 · 
Jay1122

Honestly OP, with the specific construction you want, your process should go fairly quick and easy. After you determined you like the architect and you got enough money to build and pay the architect.You can start with programming, think about what rooms you need, garages? backyards?Then have the architect propose a few efficient layout schemes for you. You already have preferences. Next work on fenestration, do you want big expensive operable storefront like Nanawall or small cheap punch windows? Large 50K pivot door or 100$ cheap wood door? Then move to roof, do you want flat roof? sloped metal panel like you modeled? Skylights? Then move to interior finishes, pick the finishes you want for wall, floor, ceiling. pick the lighting you want, chandeliers?  Design/Pick the bathroom/kitchen stuff you want. Whether super high end custom cabinet with marble counter top or cheap standard stuff. Tell the architect all MEP is to be exposed, so make them beautiful with exposed ducts and conduits. Then have the architect provide some rendering at the end of the design (professional grade usually cost extra).when you are satisfied with the look and feel of the design, tell the architect to do the full drawing set and work out the details. Voila done. It is really easy if you are decisive. Residential architecture is real easy, it is always the money that is a problem.

Aug 14, 20 5:12 pm  · 
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