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Thread: My diary: Building a new home

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
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    My diary: Building a new home

    Here is the first (posted) photo of my new home. Construction began in September and is expected to be completed in April. I'm starting this thread to provide information on accessible home design. I'll post regular updates and specifications as things progress. Please feel free to ask questions or post your own information. First, the basics:

    Location: Portland, Oregon

    Layout: Main level has a dining room, kitchen, great room, office/den, full bath, half-bath, laundry room, garage and deck. Upper level has two bedrooms and full bath. Lower level is a "daylight basement" that is accessible only from the outside.

    SF: 2743 (that figure includes the lower level but excludes the garage and deck)

  2. #2
    Cool! It will be really fun to read about over the next few months.

    Are you using Bearson for the elevator?

  3. #3
    how r u gettin up the stairs?

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    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
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    Hey Beaker. Yes, we are using Bearson. He's coming out this week to talk with the framers to make sure the wall is reinforced properly. He's already reviewed the plans to make sure we had adequate clearance on the landing to accommodate the lift.

    Airart1: I will be installing a Concord inclined platform lift to access the upper level. The lift will have a battery backup, and the house will have an emergency generator. In case of mechanical failure or other problem, the office/den can be transformed into a bedroom, with a fully accessible bathroom. The lower level can be reached by using the stairway off the deck, or the path I'm having built from the front of the house to the back. Also, the lift is the ONLY accessibility-related expense, since the bathrooms and other areas were "modified" prior to construction.

  5. #5
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    Several people (here and elsewhere) have asked me why I am building a multi-level home since a single-story "ranch" would be accessible without the cost of a lift/elevator. I looked into every option and carefully weighed the pros and cons. The main factors:

    Location. The area of Portland where I wanted to live is hilly, and there are few single-level homes with adequate square footage. As you might be able to tell from the photo, my lot is very narrow. The appeal is the wooded view out the back. Most houses in this area are built into the hill. My lot is graded, so the main level will actually drop off at the back.

    Size: I could have gone farther out into the 'burbs to get size, but doing so would have compromised location. If I stayed in my chosen area and found a single-story home, I would have compromised size.

    Cost: After crunching the numbers, I figure I'm saving between $50,000 and $75,000 by building a new home -- rather than modifying an existing one. How? I found a lot that already had a set of plans. I paid a small sum (less than $3,000) to have those plans modified. The only "real" cost directly related to accessibility is the platform lift. Everything else -- from wider doorways to roll-in showers -- will cost me nothing extra since the modifications were made prior to construction.

    I hope this explains my decision.

  6. #6
    Glad you are using Bearson.

    Please check Private Topics. There is a message for you from me.

  7. #7
    i was wondering what kind of lift setup u were using, thats gonna be cool...i built mine in 92', and love it, but its flat on the ground, but it sure is nice not having all the barriers that come with just buying an existing house......

    Koran Verse 9 : 11

    -- For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome
    Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of
    Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair, still more
    rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and
    there was peace.

  8. #8
    FYI: Make sure you pay very close attention to your contractor and the subs. I learned the hard way when my house was built...I found out a little to late that my general contractor stopped paying his subs during the ladder part of construction and my house wasn't finished. I also got taken for a lot of $$. Be very aware of what's going on and get everything in writing. Talk to the subs and make sure that the are being paid and are not having any problems with the general contractor.

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    Senior Member KDK513's Avatar
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    Did you eliminate the 11" difference in elevation between the house and garage? We did and were charged extra because the foundation required a "step" to do so. We were left with a 2" difference, a requirement for carbon monoxide according to code, so we had a concrete ramp built to access the house from the garage. There are no steps to the front door of our new home or to the rear patio. We were also charged extra for the wider doors.

    Some of my husbands favorite features are the remote controlled ceiling fans, remote starter for the fireplace and the remote controlled duet window shades we had installed.

    Good luck with everything!

  10. #10
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    Originally posted by Brad_D:

    FYI: Make sure you pay very close attention to your contractor and the subs. I learned the hard way when my house was built...I found out a little to late that my general contractor stopped paying his subs during the ladder part of construction and my house wasn't finished. I also got taken for a lot of $$. Be very aware of what's going on and get everything in writing. Talk to the subs and make sure that the are being paid and are not having any problems with the general contractor.

    Good luck.
    Great advice, Brad. Thank you.

    Fortunately, I don't have oversight responsibilities. This house would have been built on this lot regardless of whether I was the buyer. It's not a custom house, per se. The builder has granted me great flexibility, but the decisions are essentially his to make. I therefore have no direct contact with the general contractor, othen than regular site visits to check on accessibility issues.

    I actually learned a lot when I bought my condo several years ago. Though the building and unit were essentially finished, I was able to make several modifications. This saved me big $$$ without having to go through the "custom-built" process. I would recommend this tactic to anyone considering a new home. Find a new home development and get in early on modifications.

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