Deep Dive: 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. Note that the deck in the architect's plan is relatively faithful to my original design, whereas the one in my plan reflects changes I was more or less forced to make.

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. But to be honest, if I could have built it the way I really wanted, the roof would be flat; however, that would have been a massive construction challenge that wasn't worth the cost or effort. Eventually the gable roof will be finished with green standing-seam steel. The siding, incidentally, will be either vertical barn boards (as seen in the architect's drawings), or cedar shake shingles; I've not yet decided which way I'll go.

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.

Another Deep Dive

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