House Model

I’ve been working on my 3D SketchUp model of the house for quite a while. This isn’t finished by any stretch, but it’s starting to look rather presentable, so I’m sharing it now. I have a laundry list of things to add to the design, like the spiral stair down from the second floor on the back porch and slew of minor tweaks here and there. That said, this is what I hope the house looks like from the outside. It may not happen: there are zoning setback requirements that may prevent us from having the front porch span the whole house. If that winds up being an insurmountable permit challenge, we’ll have to revise the porch to only be on the side with the door, and not protrude out as far.

Some of our design decisions may help for unintended reasons. We removed the windows from the North side on the plan because they just overlook the neighbors house and don’t bring in a lot of light. As it happens, because our house is on the property line that may help us for fire code reasons. Apparently houses are no longer permitted to be so close to the line, but we can get a waiver because it’s an existing structure.

The other thing I’ve been working on (aside from scheduling architects as Sarah posted about) is working on our Chicago Green Homes plan. We want to apply for the city’s Green Permit Program, which would save us a lot of money on permits for things we’re planning to do all ready. However, in order to qualify, the plans you submit have to reach a variety of criteria, including a minimum of a two star rating on the Chicago Green Homes guide, as well as two items from their “menu” of green design elements. My thinking is that by figuring all of this out now, I’ll  save a lot of work (and money) for our architect.

I went through 162 pages of guide fun, selecting items and tallying up their point total. I mostly picked items that we were already planning to do and things that wouldn’t cost us a ton of extra money, since spending money on air pressure tests to save money on permits doesn’t make a ton of sense. I’m not in this for the certification itself. The energy efficiency is its own reward, and I doubt the resale value of the home would go up dramatically just because of the certification, though I could be mistaken. Since we’re not planning to sell anytime soon anyway, it’s not a strong motivator. The two required menu items for the Green Permit program could be accomplished with additional points from the Green Homes guide, so I elected for the three star rating, along with 200 points from the Energy Efficiency category. The majority of these we need to include as a specification on our submitted plans and we’re good to go. Some of them will require some calculations and software. Chicago already has a whole list of requirements for Energy Efficiency that’s required by normal code, so we’ll need to do a lot of it regardless. Then we just need to make sure the elements we’re adding, like highly insulated walls, high-efficiency windows, heating, and cooling exceed those requirements. Whichever architect we wind up with we’ll need to go through all of this I’m sure, but having done a once over ahead of time will probably help a lot.

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