Deep Dive: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

It may not come as a surprise—to those who know me, at least—that I'd made many changes during construction, and will likely continue to do so even after I've "finished" my home and moved in. Here's an overview of some of the bigger changes I made along the way (I've made hundreds of small, subtle ones not worth the bandwidth).

The Roof

Without question, the roof saw the biggest changes of the entire project. Even after I'd begun framing the garage, I was still going to use my architect's "reversed facing shed roof" design (shown in Blueprint versus As-Built). As I worked through the framing challenge in my head, I came to the conclusion that it would be more trouble than it was worth to build that way, and I switched to a simple gable roof with a 12:1 pitch, which was far easier to build. I was only going to use gable roofs on the top and bottom levels; the middle level would be a short shed roof, and I started building it that way, as seen in the 21 April 2017 photo below left, showing the header board and rafter hangers in place.

However, I began to sense that the shed roof didn't fit with the rest of the new roof lines. After making some pencil sketches, I confirmed that it looked odd, almost like a mistake. So, a week later I'd torn out what I'd started, and began building another 12:1 gable roof (above right), which nicely unified the appearance of the house.


As the sheathing started going on in late April, I began to get a good sense of the interior spaces; in particular, the foyer seemed dark and claustrophobic. Since it faced east-southeast, it was graced with lots of early morning sunlight, and on 8 May I was inspired to add a window, as seen below. I made it the same size as several of the other smaller windows in the house to (hopefully) save a little money.

Speaking of windows, the office originally had two; the remaining wall space would be occupied by a floor-to-ceiling bookcase. But the office looks out on the open area where the septic disposal field sits, which I'd planned on turning into a meadow filled with flowering plants. It didn't start bothering me until late July, after the sheathing finally went on that area (below left).

By late October, I'd decided to dispense with the tall bookcase (I'll come up with some other design solution after I've moved in), and punched out a third window, above right. I might not have done it, however, had it not been for the fact that a third window of exactly the same size as the others just happened to fit perfectly in the remaining space, with 1/2-inch to spare.


I'm admittedly strange in that I prefer low ceilings; I had to fight with my architect to keep them no higher than eight feet. As I began to design the HVAC system, I found that some of the ductwork impinged on interior spaces. Rather than make awkward-looking "bump-outs," I lowered the ceilings in the office, pantry and laundry down to a pleasantly cozy (for me) seven feet. I know full well some folks wouldn't like this, but these are not living spaces I'd be sharing with guests. Below left, the office ceiling is still eight feet; below right, it's down to seven feet to make room for the main air return duct.

The Kitchen

The kitchen went through many changes during its design, and several more even as I started the framing. In my final draft for the architect, a "skinny" refrigerator stood side-by-side with a small wall oven at right angles to the countertop (below left). But when it came time to start building it in June, I found that it was actually unbuildable as drawn owing to small changes I'd made in the foundation dimensions. It was just as well, as I never liked the fact that the side of the refrigerator would be left exposed, and the refrigerator itself wasn't a preferred model.

After downloading the dimensions of several "normal" refrigerators and wall ovens, I found that everything fit perfectly if I placed the oven at a 45-degree angle between the refrigerator and the countertop (above right). Since this angle reflected a design element prevalent throughout the house, it became an ideal solution in every respect; plus, the side of the refrigerator was now enclosed.

Speaking of the refrigerator enclosure, about two months after I'd finished framing the kitchen (below left), I discovered that I'd made a mistake: I'd used the depth of the refrigerator without the door, which made the enclosure too shallow. So, I tore out half of the framing and moved one side 3.5 inches (below right) so the refrigerator wouldn't stick out. I might not have bothered, except that the refrigerator door would have interfered with the oven door.

The Porch

The front porch saw a curious change: the area along the garage wall had always been planned to be a firewood alcove, which necessitated a small "wing" wall on the open end to hold the firewood in place. After I'd begun framing this wing (below left), I realized that it might be more interesting if it was left "open" as an architectural detail, so I reframed it with multiple doubled studs that will later be finished with hardwood (below right). I did this three times until I got the spacing to look aesthetically pleasing.

Various other changes are detailed in sidebars devoted to specific topics (bottom of page), as well as Chapter 9 and the ever-changing page on Indecision.

No Nails!

Incidentally, these changes would have been incredibly difficult had I not used screws to assemble everything. That's right, I've not used any nails. Screws make a structure stronger yet infinitely easier to disassemble if necessary. I've rebuilt some parts of the house three or more times.

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