Monday, August 04, 2008

Architecture in Alaska Part II

New Addition by Black + White Studio Architects in Anchorage, AlaskaAway back in April--seems like years ago--I wrote about our home remodeling efforts and how much fun we were having working with Black + White Studio Architects. Planning a home addition is like planning a vacation or a wedding--what's not to love?

Well a lot has happened (or perhaps NOT happened, if you're a glass-half-empty kind of person) since then and though we'd originally planed on starting work in May (that's your cue to laugh heartily at our expense) I can finally report that "Houston, we have lift off."

I won't bore you with too many details about the excruciating pains the Municipality has taken to ensure our project never happens. Forgive me my melodrama but a drama it has been, earning a spot in the Crazy Hall of Fame because in short our house was built before the current housing ordinances were in place. Regulations now require that homes be 20 feet back from the front property line when in fact our garage is eight inches over that line. Eight inches. Eight LOUSY inches.

At any rate, we wanted to build our addition straight up, flush with the garage but given the reaction from the city you'd think that allowing us to build on top of our own house on the existing wall would be akin to helping Al Quaida distribute crystal meth wrapped in asbestos to the starving orphans of the world. We had to be stopped.

They told us that no, we couldn't build straight up and that regardless of common sense the addition had to conform to the new laws and must be built eight inches farther back. On top of the garage. They didn't care that it would be more expensive and time-consuming, that it wouldn't be quite as pretty and wouldn't give us as much space as before. They simply didn't care. Oh I shouldn't say that, I'm sure the Municipal office workers down at Permitting got quite a thrill out of being able to tell another human being how they could or could not build their house, that kind of power always excites. It's always nice to see our taxes dollars at work--making the world safe from felons such as us.

So it's been slow going to get a contractor, get prices down to where we wanted them and then to jump through all the city's hoops. Not that I'm bitter.

There were a few points where we said "Do we really want to do this? Shouldn't we just forget it, sell all of our worldly possessions and buy a yak farm in Tibet? They don't have housing ordinances there do they?" but when it came down to it we knew we'd be happy with this beautiful addition--that and I bet yaks aren't easy to house train.

So we closed our eyes, held our breath, signed on the dotted line and ripped off the garage roof on Saturday. There's no turning back now. I made a time-lapse video of the demolition which I must say is very cool. After 170 pictures I've learned a few tips about the technique and plan on taking more and better footage of the construction then will put it all together at the end for the big unveiling.

I didn't get pictures of Andrew actually using the jack hammer so it looks like he's tearing up the concrete steps with his bare hands.

But for now all you need to know is that we're forging ahead and these pictures are what keeps us going:Interior of New Addition by Black + White Studio Architects in Anchorage, Alaska

Ta da! The exterior picture at the top is an earlier photo and doesn't show the darker paint we chose, the new entry and front steps that we'll be putting in or the Grasscrete we'll be using for landscaping.

Here's what it will look like from inside, as I've said before the design is perfect and it will be so beautiful when it's done. This interior shot is looking along the addition from one side to the other and you can see the sliding door in the middle there that will separate the girls' room from the boys' room. It can lock for privacy or open to create this large, bright, creative space that will have a great view of the mountains in front. And just look at all that desk and shelving space.

They're telling us that it will be done in two months. You can bet I'll be posting final pictures--do you think there's any chance on earth we'll be finished in 60 days?

Sponsored by Sweet Retreat Kids--for fun kids decor. Fun spaces are memorable places.

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Heather said...

Wow! I love the new design. Congratulations on finally getting started. That stinks that the city wouldn't grandfather the addition in for you. Our town allowed an actual fire code violation to be grandfathered in a few years ago. You need to move here. :o)

Alice Wills Gold said...

WOW! You are going to have your hands full. I hope it turns out better than you are imagining. You just can't be disappointed after all of that.

Loved the video.

karen said...

Finished in 60 days? Maybe finished in 60 days ON NEPTUNE. *sigh* ...not that I'm jaded about construction schedules, or anything. The video is great! I'm looking forward to watching your progress as we head down into our own kitchen renovation. I keep telling myself all the fun (permitting, as you've found) will be worth it!

Lis Garrett said...

HA! Your video had me in stitches. You are absolutely brilliant, Michelle.

Here's to hoping the rest of the project go well. :-)

SarahHub said...

WOW! What a great project!

I'm sure it will be a headache at times, but the drawings are beautiful! Keep them in mind when the going gets tough!

As far as 60 days, it will never happen. Our contractor was supposed to finish our addition right before Halloween 2006. It was finished a few days after Christmas. Thankfully, my daughter didn't arrive till January!

One Mom said...

Loved the video! Looking forward to the rest of the long as the addition is enclosed before the snow flies, I'm guessing that's the priority! Ha! Just joking!

The Source said...

That's going to look so amazing!

ames said...

Oh wow!! The color! That's fantastic, I can see why you love it so!

Two months? I hope it works out :) Tell me you've seen the movie Money Pit "you sound like a parakeet, two weeks! two weeks!"

lapa37 said...

It looks great sorry to hear about all the red tape you had to deal with from the township. It's amazing how they an tell us what to do with out property.I hope it only gets better and all is completed with no further complications.

Cocoa said...

The new design is AWESOME! And poo to building codes. It so doesn't make sense. I love all the shelving and the neat little sliding door. Very cool.

bestfamily said...

UGH! Goverment idiots. Glad it is moving along finally, and cannot wait to see it completed! I miss the gorgeous mountain views!

Heather said...

That's ridiculous about the code. Some people really need more excitement in their lives.

Karen said...

That is so modern - I love it! Especially the LIGHT that comes through the windows. I miss my old house in Alaska with the whole front being windows...might not have been really energy efficient, but it sure was cheery in the summer! :)

Pencil Writer said...

I don't mean to be pessimistic, but I once worked for building/electrical contractors . . . it seems that you have to add some time to their projected "finish" date. And I've had some recent remodeling, etc. done, too, and well reality bites.

Now, if in Anchorage, they move at a much faster pace and have great integrity, etc. You may finish early (?) . . . Let's hope and pray they have all their ducks in a row and they do so.

May the Construction Angels abide with you in rich abundance until your project is complete.

It will look great when done! Sorry the gov. folks have to be so horsey. It never ceases to amaze me how gov. people can be that way--unless they're dealing with their friends/family. Equity doesn't seem to exist. Either that or old fashioned ability to be reasonable and logical. Power-hungry beasts! (Sorry. Did I say that?) I've worked for the gov. It never ceases to amaze me how full of *** stuff*** some of those people are! Best of luck to you all.

Looking forward to the blow-by-blow picturs/descriptions of your progress.

Maddy said...

That wasn't quite the video I had in mind but oh well.

60 days. Architecturally speaking, experience tells me that you take the original time estimate, double it, deduct one third for short cuts, add two thirds for unexpected complications and times by the number of overseas parts that have to be imported.

Munchkins and Music said...

Neat Video! I am excited for your new addition!

SabineM said...

LOve the video and the music to boot is really fun!
Haaa city ordinance....I think you should have bought a Yak farm.. I would have moved with you!

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Renovations can surely be intrusive and induce many a migraine, but from the final look you've posted, it will be incredible! Congratulations, and much luck! Petra

Kim said...

My favorite part of the timelapse is the kids riding their bikes! There is something about construction that brings out the kids and the men who live next door--exciting stuff for the neighborhood!

Always TRIPLE the length of time that a contractor gives you. And then consider that completion date a conservative guesstimate.

rajf9598 said...

Very nice, the interior and exterior both look amazing. especially like the interior

Carinne said...

Sure it will be done in 60 days - after all it was started on time - right?

tjhirst said...

Projects like these seem to always take twice as long and cost at least 20% more than expected. At least ours did (a very moderate estimate)! But Good Luck and hope it's at least dried in before the snow flies! Not to be pessimistic. You've hit your hurdles (maybe?) and I'll be praying for you that that's all you'll have before you get that wonderful and beautiful addition.

Lissete said...

Dealing with ANY municipality is not fun! They make it oh so hard on us for minimal things yet things that shouldn't pass inspection do.

In our experience, all contractors tend to stretch the truth when it comes to time frames. We started our pool in January with a 2 month time frame. We did not enjoy it that summer as we got a final in October! Evilness!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

The music in that time lapse made me happy. :-) Nice job.

Of building projects, I cannot speak. Not without bursting some capillary veins in my head, anyway. So I'll just wish you luck.

Anonymous said...

That time lapse video is too, too cool. Good idea.

I can't wait to see the final design!

all over the map said...

How exciting. Gaahhh I love it!
Two months sounds quick but I'm pulling for you.
I empathize with regards to getting permission from local council and the planning commission. Oh how I do.
Try doing it on a historical landmark that's protected by a National Registry. Oh the joys! Sometimes they simply can't see that the rules need to be bent, just a little. I could write my own post on this topic.
I look forward to the finished project.

april said...

When it comes to housing projects, no matter how big or small, ALWAYS multiply it by four.

Two months, they said?

They'll get it done in about eight.

I don't want to rain on your parade, but unfortunately that's how it always seems to turn out. :(

It looks beautiful, though!

Anonymous said...

I see a contest coming...who can guess the date the new addition will be done.

Anonymous said...

It's going to be great! And it's going to take forEVER. Our little backyard patio project is finally getting started tomorrow, and while they've told us a week, I'm anticipating at least two. Because it hasn't rained all summer, it's guaranteed to rain this week. Gah. ;)

chickadee said...

that will be very cool to see. i would be so surprised if it was finished that fast.

carrie said...

that's very sleek! I'll have to come back to see the video since I'm processing my own video right now and it's taking up all my laptop's memory to do so.


I'll be back!

Tamara said...

I feel your pain!!!! We have been dealing with the city for the past 4 years trying to get a deck and addition done. The inspector has come 5 times for the deck and finds something picky and wrong each time. Plus the building codes have changed over the past few years that we had had to change what was already completed to comply with the new requirements. The city won't let you do anything to your own "private property". Thank goodness they are saving us from ourselves. What would we do without them???

Kim @ What's That Smell? said...

As an Architect I have seen numerous project come in on time and way more get behind schedule, often for things beyond all human control. Can it be done in 2 months, absolutely! Will it, well, always have a contingency plan!

Your demo video was great fun, I enjoyed it!

I was a school Architect for a long time before I chose to stay at home with my kids last year and we struggled daily with municipalities not willing to work with a school district, I can't imagine what a headache they are causing for an individual homeowner!

Good luck, it looks like it will be fantastic and your family will really enjoy it!

Killlashandra said...

Ok, blogger just timed out and nixed my comment. I'm not sure I'm going to recreate it all here or not.

Glad to see the renovation is still happening if with a few alterations. That's more than I can say for my front porch steps at the moment.

I loved the time elapsed video. Wonderfully done!

I'll cross my fingers for 60 days. ;)

Janet said...

That's a fabulous design. Hopefully you won't have any more problems from the city. We have the opposite problem here - no zoning whatsoever. So a broken-down 1970s trailer can sit next door to a brand new McMansion (yes, we do have those).

EPDM said...

That's a very nice post. I think that people need more excitement in their lives.

Bryan Landon Concrete said...

I just wanted to say the plans for this are quite original. Grasscrete will be great. Just so you know second paragraph should read 'planned' not 'planed'. Not a big deal. Thanks for the post.

Mississauga Garage Door said...

Very nice, i like it very much. This give me a very good idea on how my new house want to look like. lots of lights coming into the house.