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Phase 3

ryanyoung

I've been working on a project for some time now, a retirement home for my parents. This latest version is mostly thanks to 22.5 degree pipe fittings. The goals are simple:

  • Centralized plumbing systems with drainage
  • Exposed plumbing, HVAC, and electrical
  • Durable materials (Concrete, rammed earth, copper, and steel)

Thanks to some feedback here I've been really focused on fenestrations, so any critique is appreciated. It's located in Sedona, AZ on a light SW slope. I'm trying to take in as much southern light as I can for the cold winters and as much SW breeze as I can for the hot summers.

N is up, 22.5* split

Written in Xactimate so forgive the graphics, the rammed earth walls appear hollow. 

SW View, copper roofing over hallways and copper soffit for great room OH

North

East

South

West

Preliminary estimate: $512,298

Sedona House Estimate PDF

 
Apr 11, 21 4:20 am
ryanyoung

I'm wondering about maximum outward angle for shearing on the rammed earth walls, hence "Earthcrete" in estimate. Currently it's at ~7*

A LOT of similar items were used in estimating if anyone's familiar with Xactimate.

Apr 11, 21 4:27 am  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

ah yea, this again. Designing around typical mechanical connectors instead of actually considering the quality of the space. I remember the last projects. 

Apr 11, 21 9:50 am  · 
4  · 
bowling_ball

Yep. He's back again. This time with more hot garbage.

Apr 11, 21 1:22 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Somehow I knew you'd get first comment. Good to see you again non-seq

Apr 11, 21 1:49 pm  · 
2  · 
Non Sequitur

Hi Ryan. Get a real estimate from a contractor, not just your insurance writer software. You’ll find there will be a big difference since you’ve not considered actual construction details and sequencing.

Apr 11, 21 2:08 pm  · 
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ryanyoung

The software is pretty good for that actually, not the sequencing but those line items are pretty inclusive. 10% O&P covers sequencing and coordination typically. Usually my estimates are within 10% of final costs as long as I get the items right, although some areas I don't really have the experience to write properly (foundation and electrical especially). But I know plenty of contractors who write in Xact, not like I'll get it on the dot but it puts me in the ballpark. The rammed earth or earthcrete aren't in the system so that's probably off, I used the item for >8' reinforced concrete walls per CY then added another rebar item and a plate compactor at 1hr per 4lf. If the total comes out at more than my $700/cy I'm gonna have to reconsider the material.

Apr 11, 21 2:29 pm  · 
 · 
archi_dude

not that bad actually. The hate you are going to get is from people who get frustrated at how easy architects roles actually are. Not the historical master builder role, just the new 21st century architect as master space planner role we've pigeon holed ourselves into. I would recommend posting on design build or construction forums to get some good feedback. The comments you'll get here are going to be focused around aesthetics.

Apr 11, 21 1:32 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Thanks man. I do post on some other forums for that kind of info (lesson learned) but I'm actually here for the aesthetic feedback in this case.

Apr 11, 21 1:39 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

It’s very easy to do mediocre residential but it’s not really that hard to make it half decent. I rank this example below mediocre so there is loads of room for improvement.

Apr 11, 21 2:06 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Care to point out a few things? Your feedback totally overhauled my access hallway idea last time (begrudgingly I must admit) and I feel like I am getting closer to a quality product with this version.

Apr 11, 21 2:17 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

"The comments you'll get here are going to be focused around aesthetics." ...what do you think architecture is?

Apr 12, 21 12:18 pm  · 
1  · 

archi_due wrote:

“The hate you are going to get is from people who get frustrated at how easy architects roles actually are. Not the historical master builder role, just the new 21st century architect as master space planner role we've pigeon holed ourselves into.”

 

Where do you practice that you think this is what an architecture does?


Apr 12, 21 6:03 pm  · 
2  · 
ryanyoung

Same project, new hot garbage. I'm trying to improve that quality in this iteration, the function hasn't changed though. I went out to the property and took the views into consideration, ditched the bermed roof as I was having trouble getting enough light with that design, and moved the spare bedrooms to the opposite side so the HVAC could be run along the spine.

Apr 11, 21 1:37 pm  · 
 · 
bowling_ball

Part of the problem is that your drawings don't convey any of that clearly. That might be a place to start

Apr 12, 21 6:30 pm  · 
1  · 
ryanyoung

Ya I got a little excited an posted before I should have, glad I did though because otherwise I would have invested way too much time before getting these critiques

Apr 13, 21 2:01 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

I'm really liking this great room. The combination of sloped roof, 22.5* angled walls, and slight outward lean on the exposed ends makes it look like it's jutting out when really it's about 7*. Walk-throughs look horrible in Xact but I like how the walls spread out as you come in, makes the room feel bigger than it is. From around the dining area to the W window (beside the entry) you catch the leaned extension coming off the master which parallels with the entry wall lean.

The hallway roofs are the only slope that can be seen from the front and add up to about 3 SQ, if I make those copper it looks like the whole roof is copper, everything else is hidden by parapet.

Apr 11, 21 2:00 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Those hallways will hopefully act as suncatchers during the winter months, light should go straight through to the steel interior walls which would absorb much more readily and the heat would be trapped inside the envelope.

Apr 11, 21 2:03 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

I'm trying to decide which software to run up the model in next, is the Sketch Up studio a functional enough BIM to work on the HVAC plan? I have the most experience with sketch up but I'm gonna have to do a lot of research and tutorial regardless and I don't want to spend all that time learning it only to find another program would be better.

Apr 11, 21 2:09 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Some more images, ignore the ceiling color as that's the roof diagram (program can't do separate colors on top/bottom face) and the graphical glitch in the kitchen corner, the rammed earth wall continues to the back wall with an opening for laundry room entrance.

View from dining, facing SW. Shows the parallel leaned walls out the entry and side windows. I'm unsure about the slanted openings for the hallway, initially that was for ductwork but the HVAC plan was changed so those may get flattened.

View from entry facing N, angled walls make the room look larger than it is to me.


Showing leaning wall extensions, 7 degrees currently but the sloped roof makes it look steeper. Need to determine maximum stable lean then this will be adjusted

The overview was too wide to see the layout here clearly, same utility hallway with adjacent baths and kitchen as previous designs but the guest bath was moved away from the master and the kitchen runs perpendicular to the utility rather than parallel like before.

West wing close up, not so happy with the mini-hallway coming into the master but I think it looks better than extending the adjacent hallway, nook for a desk or easel with southern view

East wing close up, TV nook/fireplace tucked away as personal preference rather than central features in living room. Bedroom 1 has a shitty view but I couldn't get a windowed offset facing SE to look good, plus it complicated the envelope.


Apr 11, 21 6:42 pm  · 
 · 
Jay1122

Oh you again. What kind of feedback are you seeking? Composition and scale? Material and construction assembly? HVAC system? Structure?

Personally the design just disgusts me. The plan layout is not efficient or elegant to me. You either do efficient orthogonal or go absolutely crazy. Anyway that is just personal preference. The form angle is based on pipe fitting 22.5 degree you said? That sounds straight stupid to me. If you said the site is shaped like that I would've bought it. That triangle part at the middle totally kills it for me. I would prefer a clean rectangular bar oriented properly on the site based on sun location. But if you got the extra $$ and like the space layout, it certainly can be built. 

The entrance door is right next to sofa? I would definitely put a foyer space before the great room. Is there chandeliers? How can a custom house not have one? How would you locate it in your great room?  Where do you put shoe racks? coat hangers? Or whatever personal stuff you use. Customize to your own need, that is the beauty of custom house. Clearly you have not thought about the real furniture placement and actual real life impact. Area of dining table is about same size as the kitchen? A lot of dead spaces. Glass between bedroom 1 and dining table? Watch kids/guests in their bedroom while dining? That is some weird taste. Two expensive storefront systems just to be in front of those corridor? That is absolutely waste of $$ to me. Don't do glazing for the sake of elevation. And a custom house without garage? How is that possible. At that stage, I definitely expect myself with a Porsche or something better in the garage.

Honestly this thing is a waste of money to me. Anyway just personal opinion. Do whatever you want. Also, what is the total square footage of the plan? Just curious and want to do a quick $$/sf.

Apr 12, 21 1:26 pm  · 
1  · 
ryanyoung

Thanks for all the feedback man, I'm working on a sketch-up version and any critique helps. Had a busy day but should be back at it tomorrow.

Apr 12, 21 11:01 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Definitely gonna take another crack at the entry, I really like tduds ideas below. I think if I free up that a bit it'll help alleviate the dead space but I don't want to kill that completely, I like a little empty in a room. Personally I love triangular shapes, I would have gone 60 degrees for an equilateral but they don't make fittings for 60 so that's a hassle, hence the 22.5 degrees. The "window" between the dining and bedroom is an opening for the HVAC up in the corner, just for calculating. The garage will be detached and shouldn't block any of the good views. Total it's around 1950 sf

Apr 12, 21 11:32 pm  · 
 · 
gibbost

You've clearly focused your attention on the rammed earth walls and the overall form.  Now you need to address the layout.  It is not good.  Entry sequence into the main living space seems awkward.  The master bedroom is meh--workable I guess.  Why do the other bedrooms not have easy access to a bathroom?  Door placement into the bedrooms nullifies any use of that wall for furniture. I pity the person who has to move and replace the washer/dryer.  Scale/proportion/placement of exterior windows needs help.

Apr 12, 21 1:58 pm  · 
2  · 
ryanyoung

The window shapes and placement is so ambiguous it's driving me crazy. I can look at a wall and say I like or don't like it but I can't figure out how to accomplish that with intention. I'll take another swing at it for the revision.

Apr 12, 21 11:02 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

I see what you mean about the door placement. I'll fix that.

Apr 12, 21 11:39 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

I don't know why people always ask for critique when what they want is affirmation.

Apr 12, 21 2:09 pm  · 
4  · 
gibbost

Great question Tduds. But then again, isn't that also why we have Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram?

Apr 12, 21 2:17 pm  · 
2  · 
ryanyoung

I don't, I'm glad to get the critique even if it comes with a lash here or there.

Apr 12, 21 11:04 pm  · 
 · 
SneakyPete

WHY ARE THE OPENINGS WEIRD SHAPES?!

Apr 12, 21 3:13 pm  · 
1  · 
tduds

Pipe fitting angle.

Apr 12, 21 3:16 pm  · 
1  · 
ryanyoung

Openings have been corrected, originally I was thinking of using that for the ducts but it looks ugly as you've noted so they're flat in the latest version

Apr 12, 21 11:05 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

I really do like the haphazardly placed green rugs.  They really tie the rooms together.

Apr 12, 21 3:24 pm  · 
2  · 
tduds

Not sure why, but I had some time to kill this afternoon and threw 15 minutes and 15% of my effort towards a solution that I don't think totally sucks. You're welcome.

Apr 12, 21 8:10 pm  · 
1  · 
tduds

Architecture is extremely easy y'all.

Apr 12, 21 8:11 pm  · 
1  · 
tduds

If I wanted to really improve the flow I'd make the main entry from the north, maybe give both guest rooms a southern view, maybe do something fun like break the western wall at the master bath & put a tub in a cantilevered box with glass on two or three sides. But I wanted to see if I could make the space workable with as little change as possible.

Apr 12, 21 8:15 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

I like the idea and placement on the courtyard, especially since I definitely need to rework the entry. I don't want to move the guest bath to the other side as I really want to centralize the plumbing. The property is only really accessible from the SW as it's a corner lot, the slope gives good views to the S, W, and NW though. Wouldn't rammed earth work better as an envelope if it covered the the north side too? I've been working to keep the W, N, and E walls as solid as possible but most the designs I see are like this, open at both ends.

Apr 12, 21 11:17 pm  · 
 · 
Jay1122

I don't want to interfere with your design. But in terms of basic comps there are many more better strategies. Such as C shape Courtyard. L shape. The rammed earth in this design by Tduds is more like party wall for Row houses. With a ton of waste space dedicated to corridor. Also that space is not courtyard, more like a recess for a tree trapped between two solid walls. The design should include site, showing vehicular access, pedestrian walk ways. Plants. Outdoor patios, terraces, etc. 

Here is a house that I really like. See how the glazing is centered around courtyard. And the layout is efficient. 

Courtyard House

Apr 13, 21 10:18 am  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

Ryan, rather than layout I am more interested in assemblies and details. That is probably where you need the true expertise and critique. Can you do a few detailed wall sections. I want to see your exterior wall assembly, roof and foundation. Interior wall partitions. I want to see the performance and aesthetic quality of your build. That is what differentiates cheap 2x4 spec house with high end custom. Honestly you could easily find a plan book for layout strategies. They will be way better than your design. But that is up to your. Layout reflects personal taste and needs.

Apr 13, 21 10:35 am  · 
1  · 
tduds

In retrospect 'courtyard' is the wrong word. I originally labeled it 'garden'. I thought some big red stones & a couple saguaros would be nice to look at on your way to the kitchen in the morning.

Apr 13, 21 11:32 am  · 
 · 
tduds

If you want me to actually think about things I start at $160/hour

Apr 13, 21 11:33 am  · 
 · 
Jay1122

Nah, we should not do the designs. It is Ryan's game. Everyone has their own weird taste and needs. That is what custom house is for. For me, I probably will have a glass storefront connecting the car display room(not quite garage) and my living room. Showcasing my imaginary "Porsche" or "ferrari". That is the best wall decoration for my living room. Not generic white wall and big painting. Definitely a 2 story great room with nice open tread solid wood and glass railing spiral stairs. Big modern chandelier. High end kitchen and custom full height millwork. Some roof garden outside my bedroom to yell at the kids. Uh hmm, getting drifted away.

Apr 13, 21 12:18 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

ok

Apr 13, 21 12:22 pm  · 
 · 
Jay1122

Oh, I have a good tip for Ryan. Imagine you are a real estate sales person. You are selling this super high end custom house and touring the buyer through the building. How would you convince the buyer why this house is worth the double/triple price of the equal sized 2x4 spec build. What does it offer that those houses does not besides the obvious rammed earth. The more you can list, the more quality your design contains.

Apr 13, 21 12:35 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Even though resale isn't a big factor for this, that same concept has me really worried about the look of this place. I'm worried that if I build too much to my current taste and say "who cares what anyone else thinks?" I may be end up not liking the design in 20 years when my tastes have changed. Hence bringing it here to get it torn apart, people I showed in person weren't critical enough.

Apr 13, 21 3:51 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Here's the property

Apr 12, 21 11:18 pm  · 
 · 
b3tadine[sutures]

I think about the desert homes I've seen, the really good ones that take site, elevation, flooding, light, and materiality into consideration. This does none of that. A shame. Deserts are amazing.



Apr 13, 21 1:59 pm  · 
2  · 
Non Sequitur

What is amazing here is how the OP manages to miss every single aspect of what makes custom house design interesting.

Apr 13, 21 2:01 pm  · 
1  · 
b3tadine[sutures]

Where careful consideration is required, this building does nothing but satisfy egos.

Apr 13, 21 2:04 pm  · 
1  · 
ryanyoung

Some tweaks based on the feedback. Momma wanted a courtyard and I like T-duds side access idea for creating one. The over-lit hallways have been removed and I added some small closets. The other bedrooms aren't much closer to the bath but I'm having trouble accomplishing that with my goals. Not satisfied but it definitely seems more functional than the original. I'm working on putting together a list of what my goals are and I'll post that next, I feel like I'm losing sight of what this was supposed to be.

Apr 13, 21 2:17 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

Oh.... no.

Apr 13, 21 2:25 pm  · 
1  · 
archanonymous

Why are all the views towards the neighbor's house?

Apr 13, 21 2:26 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

nothing says good design like placing closets and utility spaces on exterior walls.

Apr 13, 21 2:31 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Ya, I like it even less than the original. The neighbor's house shown is gone now, the land is owned by my godfather who is also planning on a rammed earth/rolled steel retirement home. The slope of the property lets me see over that house as well and there's a great view of small mountains and sunset to the SW.

Apr 13, 21 3:08 pm  · 
 · 
archanonymous

If I wasn't on the most boring lunch and learn with no credits associated with it, I never would have done it. I'll probably regret it as-is. 

What is this weird kink? Get rid of it. Make the rammed earth walls straight and bring them inside. Overhangs, they are a thing in the desert. 

Apr 13, 21 2:37 pm  · 
7  · 
tduds

Solid improvement.

Apr 13, 21 2:38 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

900% improvement.

Apr 13, 21 2:52 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

This is actually really close to the very first design I did, the offset parallels at least. I was just looking at it and thinking I should give it another try.

Apr 13, 21 2:58 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Thanks for doing this man, it reminded me of where this project started before I got carried away with eccentricities. This also makes my dilemma with the utility room a bit more manageable. Gonna try to tweak this to suit my goals and see where it takes me.

Apr 13, 21 3:45 pm  · 
1  · 
archanonymous

You clearly care about your mom and I think you are on the right track with some of these big ideas on materials, look and feel, and the courtyard/ entry sequence. This is the kind of substantial constraints and direction architects love to get from residential clients. However, please hire an architect. 

They will take your ideas and make them the best version they could be. You probably don't even need to get full drawings, but a bit of design advice and collaboration could really help. It is not just space planning - it is organization yes, but also clarity of concept or parti that makes a building architecture and not a building. Please hire an architect if you want this project to be good.

In conclusion, you should hire an architect. No reflection on you personally, but there are people on here who have designed literally hundreds of houses. There's no way you can do as good a job making your ideas sing as they can. 

An architect, hire one you must.

Apr 13, 21 5:55 pm  · 
5  · 
ryanyoung

Ya man, the more times I try this the more I respect what you guys n' gals do. The sheer number of factors to be considered for every little decision is just crazy. I've talked to two architects so far based on their experience with rammed earth and examples I really liked. Both have expressed interest but they have projects they're already committed to right now.

No one I've talked to on the Architectural side seems to take the functional goals seriously enough, and no one on the construction side cares at all about the look in any serious way. I feel like I need to find where my tastes lie between the two so neither runs down the road without the other, these practices and yall's feedback is really helping me find where that line is.

Apr 13, 21 6:11 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

I think it's gonna help a lot to get my head around what's important, so here's the list. I think with all that's here I should be simplifying the layout a bit as there will already be plenty of quirkiness without weird triangular rooms... I do like them though.  Forgive my lack of lingo but I don't really like the modern look emphasizing large overhangs cantilevered off one wall and am trying for more of a cliff-dwelling look for the exterior. It's great to have 1.44 acres in Sedona but this lot is not epic enough to justify big glassy walls, the focus needs to be more on the house and immediate area where we can landscape. The views are good, nice sunsets and a bit of red rock, just not as good as they could be in Sedona. 

The hardest thing to work around is this connection between the kitchen, bathrooms, and utility/laundry. It's a core concept but making it work aesthetically is a nightmare. Tduds if you can come up with a solution for this issue in under 4 hours I'd gladly pay it just so it stops haunting me.

Functional

  • Water loss mitigation
    • Kitchen, master bath, bathroom, all connected to laundry/utility
    • Roof penetrations (vents etc) covered by higher roof overhang
    • No valleys or dormers
  • Near-handicap accessible construction
    • 3’ doors, 4’ minimum wall lengths
    • reduced upper cabinets (only for glasses)
    • 1 story
  • Kitchen sink faces out into dining room
    • Guests pass dishes over, stay engaged while washing
  • Window over stove
    • Let heat out, hood vent through shared wall opening
  • Oriented to catch southern light for winter and block northern light 
    • Openings for southwestern winds in summer
  • N wall continuous to prevent flash flood water buildup
    • Rare but it does happen, water from NW and NE and flow to the W/SW low point

Aesthetic

  • Rammed earth walls matching Sedona sandstone layers
  • Exposed plumbing, HVAC, and electrical
    • Copper, spiral duct, conduit
  • Large master bath, freestanding copper tub inside walk in shower
    • To be removed for handicap conversion if necessary
  • Appreciation of SW, NW, and SE views


Parents

  • Momma wants a courtyard
  • Not too large, momma doesn’t want to clean (~1500 sf)
  • Kitchen/dining as primary social space
  • Large master closet
  • Indoor/outdoor shared space for “fire-pan” gatherings
  • Master bedroom art/personal desk space


Personal

  • Odd angles, off-square rooms, triangles
  • Large master bedroom
Apr 13, 21 2:55 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Gonna think about this a bit more, read through this massive thread again, stare at previous versions, and try for round 4.

Apr 13, 21 2:56 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

Also, utility room has an exterior wall.

Apr 13, 21 4:01 pm  · 
 · 
Jay1122

Jeez, some of the tiny things you care about amazes me. You need big concepts before your "Kitchen sink faces out into dining room, Guests pass dishes over, stay engaged while washing" Kind of stuff. 

Big ideas man.

 "Water loss mitigation Kitchen, master bath, bathroom, all connected to laundry/utility" What? You want to use gray water for your toilets? On site cistern tanks? 

"Roof penetrations (vents etc) covered by higher roof overhang" Huh? You just need proper flashing. Who cares about overhang. I would never let that drive my design.

"N wall continuous to prevent flash flood water buildup Rare but it does happen, water from NW and NE and flow to the W/SW low point". Huh? talking about storm water management? Serious? 

You are really stepping into the territory I think is beyond your capability.

Apr 13, 21 5:26 pm  · 
1  · 
ryanyoung

These all stem from the same thing, inspecting thousands of houses for damages. Water is the most destructive force on the planet and I want to build in a way that reduces the risk of loss. It starts in one of three places: the sky, the ground, or the pipes. Water from above is way more of a hassle to negate than people let on, if I climb a roof for water intrusion then 90% of the time it's the vents or valleys (often due to additions) where the water got in. My solution, no valleys and cover the vents.

Apr 13, 21 6:51 pm  · 
 · 
tduds

Makes sense, you're hyper aware of a problem and working with a limited set of solutions. This is where an architect would be of value. We also understand this problem, but have a wide range of solutions to work with.

Apr 13, 21 6:58 pm  · 
 · 
ryanyoung

That hit the nail on the head. But they're busy and I'm bored.

Apr 13, 21 7:02 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

I like clarity, therefore: Are HOBBY ARCHITECT and ryanyoung the same person?

Apr 13, 21 3:27 pm  · 
 · 
Non Sequitur

No.

Apr 13, 21 3:31 pm  · 
1  · 
randomised

Clear :)

Apr 13, 21 6:25 pm  · 
 · 
x-jla

Rammed earth walls should have nice deep windows.  You want to experience the wall thickness.  The revise above by arch anonymous is good because of that.



Apr 13, 21 4:17 pm  · 
3  · 

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