Friday, January 29, 2010

What's New II

I apologize for taking such a long hiatus. It doesn't mean that things have not been moving along at record pace. Last I posted, we were starting the Green Homes process. Jeff made modifications to the design that made sure we were going to comply with all the Green Home requirements. For instance, I was told that we have to have a vegetable garden. Not that I'm against this, but we've never been able to succesfully keep a house plant alive, so it will be a challenge. Meeting the Green Homes requirements allowed us to qualify for the Green Permit process (explained in a previous post). While normally a single-family home can be "self-certified," we (Jeff) were asked to go through each trade individually because of the fact this would be the first time they were examining a home that would be built in this manner.

The process went fairly smoothly. The one surprise is that they wanted structural engineering specs detailed on the permit drawings, which, as we were told, is something that you usually do not need to do until after you receive your permits. But we complied, and now the permit drawings are complete.

Jeff recently put the project out to bid with seven general contractors. This is beneficial because we received some preliminary pricing from the modular home manufacturer, but are still awaiting numbers for the excavation, foundation and finishing work. We are really hoping that the responses we get from the general contractors are competitive. It would be silly to manufacture an "affordable" home and have the costs of the site prep make the project unfeasible. We are hoping to find a GC who is as committed to the project as we are, who wants to show that there's a different way that you can provide housing for people that is sustainable and not break the bank. I'm positive that we will find the right guy (or gal) to make this project a success!

In the meantime...we have been making "selections." Selections for pretty much everything, from the tile in the bathrooms to the color of the house. Again, besides needing to nail down these details, it is part of solidifying the project budget to finally estimate what this project is going to cost, and, especially, to determine how much we have to borrow. Finding a lender has been a whole other ballgame. I will refer to this in another post.

So we decided to go with bamboo floors for the entire house, except for the tile flooring in the baths. Jeff picked out a "strand" pattern which looks like it is going to be beautiful. As potentially mentioned before, although we want our home to be "affordable," we still have high end tastes.

We did decide to go with EcoUrban to do our kitchen and bath cabinetry. Again, EcoUrban is located in the city at 15th and Western, and do all their manufacturing here as well. Even better, they hire locally, which makes me like them even more. Again, all their cabinetry materials are urea formaldehyde-free, so it is a more sustainable product.

EcoUrban pricing has been incredibly reasonable for the quality of product they offer. Our cabinetry in the kitchen will be "floating," or mounted on the wall, both upper and lower cabinetry. The upper cabinets will be glass with bi-fold doors that close upwards. We will have sustainable stainless steel countertops to complement the room.

We also are including high-end appliances. Some may think this is unnecessary, and perhaps it is, but I enjoy cooking, and I've been told that the right appliances can make me cook like a pro! So, yes, our appliances are Miele, Wolf and Dacor. We did find an appliances store in town that gave us very reasonable pricing on these items, and we even got lucky enough to find a Wolf oven in a display showroom that we are going to get for a deeply discounted price (this certainly helps!!). The refrigerator (Miele), dishwasher (Miele), exhaust hood (Broan) and clothes washer (Whirlpool) are all energy-star rated, as required by Chicago Green Homes.

There are two things that do not necessarily meet the affordability goal, but are so cool that we have stretched our budget to include them. The first is that we would like a floating staircase with wood treads. I'll be honest, we just love the way these look, and this is our dream house, and, darnit, we want one! Also, and this is a recent phenomenon, we looked at Jeff's webpage for the C3 and noticed the ultra-cool fireplace --- the FireOrb ( I'll be honest. I don't know that we can really afford this, but it is sooo cool. I want one.

As to colors for the outside of the house, we are still undecided. I'm liking a steely blue, Michael seems to like a rust color. I'm sure we will not figure this out until someone tells us we have to, so we will keep you posted.

We are very excited that the windows on the house will be manufactured by another local company, Serious Windows, who have come up with a technology to makes incredibly energy efficient windows.

Well, that will give you something to chew on for the moment. Will definitely be posting more frequently as things are really beginning to take off!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kathy,
    Very excited to stumble upon your blog. I've been researching prefab options in Chicago for years and, as you've mentioned, it's always been a bit of a mystery to me. I came upon Square Root's site the other day and then to your blog. Jeff and I have actually exchanged messages and I'm hoping to get more info from him soon.

    We don't have vacant land yet (currently own a condo in Chicago) but I've always got my eye out for that right mix of affordability and location. Would love to talk to you offline about your experience working with Jeff (sounds like it's been a good one), the city, looking for vacant lots, etc.