Deep Dive: Blueprint versus As-Built

My architect was a fine gentleman, and I genuinely like him. But convincing him I wasn't looking for anything grand or impressive was a challenge. 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 what I built didn't need to adhere strictly to the blueprint, I felt I'd at last acquired complete control of my home. Note that the deck in the architect's plan (above) was faithful to my original design, whereas the one in the as-built drawing (below) reflects changes I made after construction was under way. Click for larger images.

The two are reasonably similar because the architect was working from my original drawings, which were highly detailed and very specific. But he also deviated from them—sometimes radically—for reasons of his own. For example, he slipped a big surprise into the final draft that I don't recall ever discussing: instead of sliding glass doors on either end of the windowed wall facing the deck, as I'd designed it, he rendered 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 had all of these oddball dimensions, like 31 feet 3-1/2 inches and so forth. I'm sure there were good reasons for that, but what's wrong with simple, round numbers, like 32 feet? The crew that built my foundation was certainly grateful that I'd changed every dimension to a multiple of exactly four feet (above). And when it came time 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 (above), which I liked at first, but after a while looked sort of industrial. The final draft had two shed roofs pitched down toward the center (below), 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. To be honest, if I could have built it the way I really wanted, the roof would be flat, but that would have been a major construction challenge that didn't seem to be worth the cost or effort.

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 grounded star destroyer? (Cue the Darth Vader theme...)

I've had more than a few people offer recommendations about making the house easier to resell. Some of these folks simply forget this is absolutely my last home, and as such, why should I care one bit about resale value? Usually, once that sinks in, they get it. Others smirk—with that "I know better" look—as they launch into a laundry list of reasons why I need to do things differently because they understand the market, and the statistical chances that I'll move again, etcetera, etcetera, blah blah blah. These people do not have ears: they don't/won't hear what I'm saying. I will be here until I die.

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