A lot of different ideas/themes/principles have gone into the designing of this house. Accessibility, open floor plan, passive solar, and universal design all floated through our heads as we worked on revision after revision. Hundreds of hours later we have arrived at a floor plan that seems to make everyone happy, with minimal sacrifices and a whole lot of openness.
A couple things that were kept in mind during the design process.
- I am 28, extremely independent, yet still building a home with my parents. This floor plan needs to have plenty of separation from me/them so that we could still live our own lives and then come together when we feel like it.
- My disability is significant. When I broke my neck I shattered my C3, C4 and displaced my C5 vertebrae into my spinal column which means I have good use of my shoulders/biceps, but no use of my triceps, wrist extensors, hands, or anything south of my armpits on the rest of my body. I have good dexterity/use of my arms and use a plastic stick with rubber pointer attached to my hand to do all the fine motor stuff like using the keyboard/texting. The house has to be a single level and very open floor plan with modifications throughout to accommodate my electric wheelchair and disability. Significant use of home automation systems are planned to make all sorts of things easier.
- Winters here in Northern Maine are extremely long, cold, and dark. The house MUST work to make this 6+ month time feel a little more bearable. Before my injury there was nothing I’d rather do than be outside. This is still the case, but because of the quadriplegia my body does a terrible job of keeping warm. If we could somehow bring the outside sunshine/view in with liberal use of windows it would make life so much better!
- We have a modest income, and must consider the future of this house. Ideally I will either get stronger enough to someday live here on my own or find a lady that rocks my world who wants to live here with me. The house must be modest enough that I could someday in the future pay for it myself.
Stemming from the design challenges mentioned above note the following:
- My parents side of the house is on the east, my side the west, and there is a large open living/dining/kitchen area in the middle where we will come together.
- The open area of the living/dining/kitchen will have a 4/12 pitch, the family room a 6/12 pitch. All other areas will be standard 8 foot ceilings.
- There is liberal use of windows on the south to bring in the sunshine/beautiful view and less windows on the north to keep in the heat.
- All living spaces are on one floor with no basement. The house will be built on a 6 inch monolithic slab with thickened edges around the perimeter.
- There is enough space between the two garage doors to unload from my van.
The exterior elevations of the house look like:
With a few additional 3-D renderings:
I’ll write about the construction method that we have currently decided upon and all the other alternatives we’ve hashed around in a post sometime later today.
It’s beautiful out and I feel like going for a quick stroll in the sunshine. Check back soon!