Sidebar: Blueprint versus As-Built

Unfortunately I had running battles with my architect from beginning to the end. His design sense was that of what I'd call a "typical" architect: he was constantly trying to impose more "impressive" attributes on my decidedly modest and conservative preferences. For instance, his first draft had twelve foot ceilings. I told him, no, I want eight foot ceilings. His next draft had ten foot ceilings. I told him again, eight foot. His final draft had nine foot ceilings. Sigh.

When I learned that I was not bound by the blueprint, I felt at last that I'd acquired complete control of my home. Compare the blueprint, above, with the as-built version, below. Click for larger images.

The two are reasonably similar only because the architect was working from my original drawings, which were detailed and specific. But he also deviated from them—sometimes radically—for reasons of his own. For example, instead of two sliding glass doors on either side of two floor-to-ceiling windows in the main living space, as I'd designed it, he specified an elaborate folding glass door system. Impressive, yes, but it would have been outrageously expensive to build, requiring a pair of enormous custom-built accordion windows and a massive steel I-beam across the width of the house to hold up the roof. Worse, it had no screens to keep bugs out and cats in! Not to mention it also did away with the fireplace I'd mandated from the very beginning.

His drawings also tended to have all of these oddball dimensions, like 31 feet 3-1/2 inches. What's wrong with simple, round numbers, like 32 feet? The crew that built my foundation was certainly grateful that I'd made every dimension a multiple of four feet. And when it came time for me to do the framing, it made my life easier as well.

The only aspect of the design I gave him free reign over was the roofline. The first draft had arched roofs, which I liked at first, but after a while looked sort of industrial, and would have been costly to build, requiring custom-fabricated arched trusses and curved steel roofing. The next proposal had two shed roofs pitched down toward the center, which was interesting, but would have been quite challenging for me to build.

In the end, I wound up designing the roof myself—as I was building it, no less—which consists of three simple gables with a very low (1:12) pitch. The middle roof was going to be shed style, but after it was half-built, I decided it looked odd, so I tore it down and replaced it with a gable roof like the others. Eventually they will be finished with green  standing-seam steel. Originally the siding was to be vertical barn boards, but I've since decided on cedar shakes. I want the house to blend into its surroundings.

When she first saw it, my realtor remarked that my house was... "odd." Well, I guess that's me in a nutshell. Anyone besides me think it looks vaguely like a star destroyer?