I’ve been raised in house projects. My mom is an architectural genius with ideas and willpower like no other and my dad has built and renovated houses his entire life with his incredible eye for detail. They both have a huge bank of knowledge when it comes to building good, beautiful and smart homes and somewhere along the way, their passion for projects like this spilled over and landed in me.
When we started sketching The Wildlyh Home, there was no shortage of ideas and we got support when we needed it. We have had the help from a close friend of the family (who is an incredible architect) and so the finished blue prints are a mashup of our core ideas and plans, my parents awesome advise and our architects brilliance.
That all sounds easy enough but the reality is that the timespan from the first real sketch to the finally approved building permit was 17 months with countless back and forth in between. Owning land is a dream but let me tell you, the things/permits/law’s you have to take into consideration and work through to get to where we are now, are massively many. Not only do you have to plan a house that you’re actually allowed to build by the local county government, but you also need fresh water, electricity, a road and plumbing. We wouldn’t have done it any other way but I will say that on more occasions than I have fingers for, it’s been hard to move forward due to the number of legislations.
These are the main things we have taken into consideration when creating the Blue Prints.
- Solar orientation (temperature + light)
The placing of a home is a big deal mainly in terms of temperature and light and there are a few things to keep in mind. Traditionally houses were placed with its short sides towards north and south. Because we’re on a hill and due to other factors in the surroundings our home has it’s short sides towards the north/west and the south/east. Also because of the surroundings we placed our kitchen/living area towards the north/west and our sleeping quarters towards the south/east. Because we’re early risers this is ok but the living area might get a bit too hot during the summers (the sun will flood through our big windows on the south/west side). Working with a combination of solar orientation, the temperature where you live and how the surroundings look (hill?/woods?/water?) is how you’ll find your way.
When building a home that is as kind for the environment and as possible, windows come up a lot, the placing of windows, the amount of windows, the u-value of windows. You don’t want too much heat to leak out and you still want to be able to take in the surroundings while indoors. We feel like we’ve found the perfect combination but the only way to know is to actually have lived in the house for at least one round of all four seasons.
- How you live in/use a house
How will you use your home? Which rooms should be in short distance to each other? Do you need to be able to go outside on more spots than one or two? How much space is perfect between the dishwasher and the kitchen island? This is all about the huge things and all about the small things. Overthink and you will still find aspects that you’re going to wish you’d thought about beforehand. We have planned a home that we think will fit an outdoor loving, hugely kitchen using family that need smart space for storage, laundry and tecnichal systems (for water & heating etc). We’ve also favored open space instead of squeezing in more rooms.
- Special needs (Photography light)
This was a part of the planning of the blue print, placing of windows and the placing of the house in terms of solar orientation since I work from home and need good spots to photograph in. Might sound slightly obsessive but really it’s just moving a certain window 40 centimeters to the left and the placing of a door a little bit more to the right. My point is, if you have specific needs for your house it might be fun and smart to keep these in mind when sketching.
Bigger? Smaller? One or more? Linked to a bedroom? Think about how you’ll use your house and plan accordingly. We’ve gone for 1 main bathroom (with shower + bath) and one small bathroom (without shower or bath) on the first floor and then one small-ish bathroom (with shower) on the second floor. Our big wardrobe is linked to our bedroom and with the mess we live in now (NO storage) I’m very excited to get organized.
- Future plans/extentions
Are you planning on extending the home at any point? Where? If this is a real plan then it’s a good idea to keep this in mind when placing the house and also creating the blue prints. (I’m of course thinking of that build-in green house, guys..
If you have the opportunity and want to work on/build your house yourself, the project will be cheaper. We will do a few things ourselves but the way our lives look with two businesses and two babes we chose to outsource and look at it as an investment in our time. Building smaller is always less expensive but there is also the factor of being smart. Sometimes the initial cost of a couple of extra square feet is worth it in the long run for example. Needing to extend the house/move to a bigger one after some years would be more expensive. Here under budget, we also look at choice of materials. If you desperately want a certain material that’s more expensive than other alternatives, have this in mind when planning the home, there are always ways to cut corners by looking for used/reclaimed material. Building does take more time this way since the readily available things in your nearest hardware store might not be what you want. Think outside the box, let it take the time (if you can) and find the way.
Some examples from our project:
- We hope to be able to afford using tadelakt in the bathroom so we keep this in mind when working on the rest of the house. Tadelakt is an all natural plaster made partially out of pulverized marble. This would enable us not having to use chemical laden vapor barriers that are otherwise standard in bathrooms.
- Because we didn’t plan it early enough (time- & budget wise) we’ll be using EPS insulation in the foundation. I’m not thrilled about this since making this sort of insulation require the use of lot’s of fossil fuel. More about that tough decision and insulation tips here.
- We’ll be using a lot of wood panels for our inner roof and while readily available painted panels are cheaper the paint includes toxins so we’ll be sourcing natural planks and paint them with completely natural paint. The money saved on the foundation insulation will go to things like that.
- We may not fully complete the second floor straight away and thus be able to move in on the first floor, take it slow, save some money and then continue.
- Have faith, work for your vision and be ok if all the things don’t turn out the way you thought they would (so hard but one gotta stay sane..
Other things worth mentioning when it comes to planning your home are:
- The exterior plan (something that suit you and also will be approved by the local county government),
- That ventilation will work well with your house plan
- If you’re into looking at the flow of energy in a house, some basic feng shui is powerful.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!
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Elenore Bendel Zahn