Quick Spring Update of Usonian Dreams

Well this was the second worst winter in the history of recorded weather. More snow and more cold days than every year except 1880. We did reach down into -33F which had us working in the house most days getting it ready for sale.

Not much has been going on in the design front. We were designing a garage to add to our current house to increase our home value and practice skills we will need to build our future Usonian house but as with everything else, it has been put on hold until we know what is happening with our future.

We still have not decided to purchase a piece of property that has an existing house on it or just an empty lot. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and to be honest, we have not seen that ideal property that is within a realistic price range. The previous house/property we were looking at has only been reduced by $10K and is still honestly $40K over-priced (or it would have easily sold over the winter). The other 200 year old house and 1.5 acre property we wanted, the new owners are building as we speak (don’t know how they dug a foundation with a frost depth of 50 inches this year).

There is so much up in the air right now with our girls starting college in the fall that we are still not sure where to look or how long we will be in our current home. If a nice piece of property with a liveable house comes on the market and is realistically priced, we are ready to sell and move on short notice. We can then get permits to start the Usonian house using our floor plan. Otherwise, we will stay here till the girls are completed school and build the garage/workshop and work on some of the furniture we will need for the new house.

Never has my wife and I been so much in the unknown as to our future. I had someone ask me where I picture myself in a year and any other time of my life I would have told them in a flash. Recently though our only stable piece of information is we know that our dream is out of the city living in our Usonian Dream house.

Possible “Frank Lloyd Wright” Dream Property…

We did a bit of property hunting over the weekend outside our city. Remember, Frank Lloyd Wright did recommend going out 50 miles and then go farther to build a house…so we did. We looked at several properties right on the North shores of lake Erie because we figured the house can have a south-east facing, unobstructed view, and still be within our budget. Fifty miles inwards to the city…NO WAY we could afford that view.

Possible Property for Our Usonian Possible Property for Our Usonian

Here is what we are considering. It is a section of land on the top of a 50 foot bluff that is subdivided into 150 feet X 700 foot lots. The reason we thought this would work is there is restrictions set by the authorities that stops a neighbor from building in the future in our path. To put it another way…you would enter house from the north side of the property not seeing the lake behind, come around the corner into the living room and have a totally unobstructed view of the lake.

There are 6 lots available and if this is not the lot, there are plenty more around that area, mostly newer retirement homes. A local agent told us most of the farmers sold off their land to subdivide and make a profit. At times some of these lots are going for as low as 400 FT frontage for $70K. We both are just shaking our heads for the past two days knowing it is something we can both picture our future Usonian house and life beginning on. It will fit the view to perfection.

VIDEO: Contemporary Usonian Floorplan modeled in Google Sketch Up

Video 2 shows the inside a bit without furniture. Lots of work to do but at least it’s moving along.

Spent the day going to another lumber mill discussing what woods are available and costs. Will update this information soon.


Quick Update on Usonian Land Issues…

Just a quick note on our progress. I have had to sort of sidetrack the land acquisition for our Usonian home because of business matters.

What is happening is my business is in a phase where I need a temporary physical location instead of my current home office. The ultimate goal is still to work mainly from home but at this stage, in order to get the business into more of a hands-off state, I have to have a quiet place to interview people and occasionally meet clients.

The way this relates to our future Usonian plans is that I am making decisions that may or may not affect our location. Too far from the city can pose a problem, but not if I set it up correctly now. Too close and we are fully defeating our dreams into the future.

Our primary purpose is still to be away from neighbors and live a self sustaining lifestyle as pictured by Frank Lloyd Wright (and achieved by him in some cases with Taliesen).

So my wife and I have been looking at more properties. We have been torn between getting a 4 acre plot for half what 25 acres would be. In other words, do we get the 4 acre plot soon or the 25 acre lot into the future a bit more.

The thing about the 4 acre plot is usually the orientation of our house although by mirroring my Usonian floor plan, it is still doable. I REALLY likeĀ  our house plan and am almost trying to fit the plot to the usonian design…FLW would likely ex-communicate me for doing this.

We found one 25 acre farm that would be absolutely perfect for our needs but again, we are dealing with people that are over inflating their property values (in some cases by 75% over assessed value.

So our weekends are spent driving around the county looking at possibilities and dreaming of the Usonian life we are going to lead and the weekdays have been spent building a business to get it to the point that it will automatically sustain our Usonian lifestyle.

I begin to design and make tons of fatal FLW Usonian mistakes…

X Shaped House

X Shaped House

While waiting for a few books to come in to help me learn about Usonian houses and the concept of “Organic Architecture”, my wife and I began to sketch some ideas. The first was an ‘X’ shaped house.

Now remember this is when all I knew about a Usonian house was its minimalistic nature…and the fact we wanted one!

The kitchen ‘core’ would be in the middle of the house and there would be a living room wing, kid’s bedroom wing, master bedroom wing and garage wing. A garden would reside off the back of the house. I think my wife drew the happy face garden as a joke.

The kitchen ceiling would be raised above each wing’s ceiling to create a chimney effect which will be describe later in this blog.

It seemed like a great idea but it had just about EVERYTHING wrong with the design becoming a good Usonian design.

One was with the complexity of the design. Usonians are simple and elegant. No wasted space. No opulence.

Back to the drawing board. Except this is where I made the second mistake. I downloaded Chief Architect as a way to sketch out my ideas. This was a major bad judgement call on my part. The reasons will become apparent as this blog continues.

Adams Usonian Plan 1

Adams Usonian Plan 1 - Big Mistakes!

So I began sketching with Chief Architect and came up with a typical L shaped usonian plan based on the Jacobs house, Rosenbaum and to a smaller degree, Kentuck Knob (also known as the Hagan House or Chalk Hill). Here was my first solid idea.

What we liked about the L shaped Usonian plan was the fact that it sort of wrapped around a garden in the center of the house. It was as though the house was part of the garden. Which was yet another mistake in my design! Do you see the garden? Frank Lloyd Wright would roll over in his Taliesin grave seeing that Usonian floor plan.

It was becoming more real as my wife and I sat in front of the computer designing what we felt we needed into a floor plan which I will describe in the next posting…