When we decided to sell our 2 family Queens home in 2011 and put all our real estate assets into building a home in Ithaca that could house our immediate family, future in-laws and grandchildren, plus our extended family, we thought we knew what we were doing.
This was our third building project utilizing contractors and architects, and by far the most challenging one (with the biggest pricetag and most exciting result!). We had owned the land in Danby (rural Ithaca) for 11 years when we decided our initial design work needed to be ramped up by hiring professional architects. Our daughter Sarah had just completed her Bachelors in Landcape Architecture from Rutgers University in NJ (She became the 4th generation Rutgers grad, following in Russ's, his parents' and his paternal grandfather's footsteps). Feeling a bit unimpressed about our plans Sarah managed to tactfully ask Russ, "Dad, when you and Mom are gone, you want us to keep the property and the house, right?" When he answered yes, she said, "well, then, we need to change the plans significantly because the way it is now, all I'd want to do is bulldoze it". Somehow she said it in such a way that Russ was willing to work with her design prof and his partner in their summer months off. Brian Osborn and Carmen Trudell did an amazing job of helping us connect a beautiful home with our wonderful valley, optimizing the views and creating a superb family retreat for large families. All with only 1 site visit and a multitude of emails and video conferencing.
There's lots more I can add to this story, but right now I'm going to share about some local friends who are retiring and building their dream retirement home nearby. I meet with her for coffee regularly, and she has been a few steps ahead of me, since her husband was about a year ahead of Russ in retiring. It was so much fun talking about their design plan and their dreams of incorporating things into the home that will make it an excellent home to downsize into and enjoy the rest of their iives. When she discussed the single level plan (no stairs) and the slab they were going to pour I asked if they were going to make it a radiant slab. I shared that one of the big "misses" in our first home building project was that we never knew about putting heating tubes in a concrete slab when it is poured. For that project we had poured a good, level, slab for the basement, which housed a den, bath and 4 bedrooms. The heat was hot water baseboard and I have come to detest most baseboard heaters. Adding radiant tubing to a concrete floor is not a whole lot more complicated or expensive than pouring a slab, but they can't exactly be added AFTER the slab is done. I told her she and hubby should come over and spend the night and bring their socks and they can walk around and experience the difference between a warm floor (we have WarmBoard tm subfloors with radiant tubing designed in) and a cold slab (the Bunkhouse is built on a thickened slab, my plan is to have it cool when they arrive and to heat it overnight so they can enjoy the change come morning.)
I'll let you know how it goes! If you are interested in home design, I'll probably post some more blogs pieces about some of the fun, green, economical, or wonderful decisions we made in building Tenwood. If you come visit, like our friends, we'll let you in on some of things we could have done better if we did them differently.