The design process started with a piece of sketch paper and a discussion of how many bedrooms and other spaces we wanted. We knew we wanted two bedrooms an open living area/kitchen, an office, and of course a workshop/bodega for brewing, building and fixing surfboards; maybe even a luxurious inside bathroom (big change from where we had been living for the last 3 years!).
At first I designed a two story house. The last house we built was two stories and it saves land space and can be cheaper if you do a wood second floor (doing a cement second floor is expensive because of the extra steel and cement both for the floor and the support columns below, plus wood for the forms). If you read our blogs on the beach house though, you know we had massive headaches with the carpenters doing the wood floor. Other friends of ours have used other carpenters for their floors and no one has found one they are happy with.
This two story house was the first design for which I learned to use a 3D modeling program, Sketchup. It is a great program and pretty easy to learn (I found it helped if I swore a lot as I was learning though). Maybe I spent 20 hours on the design, maybe 30, I’m not sure. Doing a 3D computer design is great because you can get a feel for the spaces as you do with a 3D walk-through of the model, and we changed innumerable things during the design. I had been reading all kinds of material while designing the house- re-reading passive solar and environmental design books I have and many new websites, looking at dozens, maybe 100’s of floorplans, etc.
We finally agreed on the final design and were starting to think about starting the construction, this was in December, 2013.