Big House: Exterior Cladding

In some ways, I am thankful that our home has taken 2.5 years to come to fruition. I have learned a lot about myself in the past couple of years, specifically, I have really come into my own design style. I am no longer afraid to branch out and try some unorthodox (for past Lanna) methods. I am not afraid to do things differently than the trends are highlighting.

This being said: I originally envisioned living in a white-painted brick home. When we were working with our architect, almost every inspiration photo I sent her was white brick, with wooden accents, and a black roof. I was convinced that I needed a crisp, white modern farmhouse that looked like all those beautiful ones I have admired in magazines and on Pinterest. Until I saw one in person. Then another. And another. I was a little blinded by the number of white brick homes I began to see everywhere. They felt like copy-and-paste versions of a trend that will fade in a couple of years and then what happens when everyone wants natural red brick again?

Don’t get me wrong here: if you love white-painted brick exteriors, that is amazing, and I encourage you to explore that with your own home if that is what you wish. I still think they are beautiful. But, for me, seeing the same white brick all over every home made me want to do something…different.

So I started thinking about what I wanted our home to be for us. I want to come home every day and feel in awe that I am blessed to live here.

So I started thinking about what I wanted our home to be for us.

Enchanted, Dazzled, Delight…Captivated. Captivated and embraced by the feelings that home encompasses. Many of these feelings have been stirred ironically when I have been furthest from home and exploring places around the world. I have been captivated by European buildings that have stood for hundreds of years, wearing every scar and wrinkle with pride. I have been delighted as I have walked through old downtown shops full of stories. Oh-if buildings could speak, what would they say?

At first, I didn’t know how to achieve this feeling on the exterior of my home, but I knew I wanted every aspect of my home to reflect those feelings of enchantment that have brought me tranquility down to my core. I wanted to blend that old-world feel of comfort with modern design. So I began searching. I needed to keep a rock/brick design element because our foundation had already been poured with brick ledges. I immediately thought of Austin stone to give me texture, but too much yellow reflection in the sunlight. So my search refined slowly from white homes to gray stone.

And then I found Horizon Stone, a company out of Chattanooga, TN that manufactures thin stone veneer (it’s actually made of cement and coated to look like beautiful stone!)

Click HERE to view our exact stone selection

When I clicked on their site and started exploring more I read: …blending the best of old-world stone structures and modern technology, we affordably offer the timeless look of stone with the modern convenience of custom manufacturing.” There it was. Old world. Modern. A perfect match in my books. And affordable?? I order a sample of their 19th Century Stone in Hermitage.

I also ordered some other stone veneer samples to compare because I was nervous this product would surely not live up to its more affordable cost (from the stone yard we purchased from it was $6.50/sq ft, and this was comparable to what we would have paid to have brick installed, then painted!) Let me tell you, none of the other stone veneers I ordered could hold a flame to the color and texture that was on the Horizon Stone sample board.

So we ordered it.

The delivery sat on our job site for 6 months before we finally got to the stage where our masons could install it. But let me tell you that when they were able to install I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Enchanted, Dazzled, Delighted, Captivated. And the masons even took the time to teach and show me how to lay the patterns and install the stone veneer myself, so while they definitely did 98% of the work, I can feel proud knowing that I had a hand in laying the stone of our forever home.

What’s even more exciting is the fact that we ordered too much stone! So we were able to also install it on our retaining wall, and even have enough to face the fronts of some add-ons we have planned down the road (Like a new barn and a workshop!) I cannot wait to continue to use this stone veneer as a way to tie our property together and to feel like we have brought a piece of history here, all while making our own.

FAQ’s

What is the difference between manufactured and natural stone?

Natural stone is made by nature and is quarried and cut into various shapes for different uses. Manufactured stone (also known as a stone veneer or cultured stone) is made of a cement mixture that is poured into molds and colored to look like real stone.

How much per sq ft did your exterior cost?

Prices may vary depending on the stone yard, your location, and cost inflation-but when we purchased ours it was $6.50 per sq ft.

What stone did you use?

Horizon Stone 19th Century in Hermitage

Are you going to use Horizon Stone again?

Yes! We have several additional structures planned (a workshop and a new barn) for our little homestead and I plan to use this stone veneer to tie all the buildings together!

I cannot wait to show you all more photos of our exterior as we get landscaping finalized! It’s going to be good. You can always stay up to date with the most recent updates on my Instagram: @TheRoostingPlace

Talk soon.

xx, Lanna


Mudroom Design

While our future home is still well under construction, I recently shared on Instagram the design board for our mudroom and decided to share links to all the pieces that have inspired this room in our home!

I have to first include some honorable mentions that inspired my mudroom design: (you can find these and more on my Pinterest)

I love how all these spaces meld together with warm tones to give the most inviting spaces!

Click through below to find my sources! I’m super happy to have found most of my tiles at local discount stores over the past year and all that saving allowed me to buy the brass fixture of my dog wash dreams!

BRITTANIA MATTE PORCELAIN TILE

CLOE 5″ x 5″ CERAMIC TILE IN WHITE

ESMER INFINITY GLASS WALL TILE

GOOSENECK TUB-WALL-MOUNT FAUCET AND HAND SHOWER

Fiore Florence Slate & Sage Power-Loomed Rug

My thin brick pavers are coming from Stone Farm Living and I cannot wait to install these Reclaimed Chicago Bricks in my home! Stay tuned for more details because I will be able to get my hands on this space very soon!

Talk Soon.

xx, Lanna


Mood Board Monday: Main Bathroom

“Cozy, comforting, connected”. That’s how I envision my dream bathroom. We have lived in our share of homes and visited our share of bathrooms, and the ones I fall in love with are the ones where I feel like I can truly breathe and relax ( of course also the ones with a large soaking tub). Personally, I don’t like a ton of bright whites or cold marble tones, not in my bathroom. I understand the draw to white bathrooms, I really do. They can feel clean and happy. But for me, I need my bathroom to be a true reflection of nature, with wood tones, warm stone, and earthy elements; so if that is you too, welcome.

I am inspired by dramatic metals paired with wood graining. Something about a sauna enclosed with wood makes my heart happy, and I wanted to incorporate that feeling into our home.

Our bathroom is composed of several “sections”: vanities, wet room, and toilet closet (in addition to my personal vanity that is not included in these design boards). There are several directions this space could head, depending on how the room feels once we have reached that stage in construction.

But for now, let us explore the possibilities, together.

As always, you can see more updates on my Instagram: @theroostingplace

Vanity

I was hesitant about the window between the vanities at first, but it has grown on me as this will allow for natural light to filter in through our shade, reducing the need to turn on the overhead lighting. I love how wood planking and beams will draw the eye upwards and give a natural feel to the space. It then comes down to design elements.

I am breaking up these designs into Option 1: light flooring, and Option 2: dark flooring. I am attracted to both ideas, but it will ultimately depend on the space.

Option 1: Light Flooring

Option 2: Dark Flooring

As you can see, each option can be turned in different directions, all being beautiful in their own unique way.

Wet Room

“A wet room is a fully water-tight bathroom with no separate shower tray. The “walk-in” shower area is usually level with the surrounding floor but with a slight slope to the drain which is fitted directly into the floor…a wet room typically contains a shower and a tub.”

Our wetroom will be equipped with a steam shower, two shower heads, and a soaking bathtub. The back wall behind the tub will be an antique tile and accented by a chandelier (most likely a candle holder to avoid any electricity risks of a steam room, and honestly the idea of a candle-lit soak makes me giddy).

The design of this space also depends on our flooring choice, as we will incorporate the same tile into the wetroom.

I personally love both looks alongside the brass details.

Toilet Closet

Just your average toilet closet, but make it fancy. I’ve included boards that showcase both flooring options.

I am extremely excited to work on bringing this relaxing space to life, and can only hope that this is a space of true relaxation for decades to come.

What’s your favorite: dark or light flooring?

Talk soon and God Bless.

xx, Lanna

p.s. (If you see something you like and would like more information on any items/elements in these boards, you can purchase my link sheets below:

These link sheets are complete with active links to all elements and design suggestions in the images above for you to peruse and buy at your own pace! Happy Shopping!


Mood Board Monday: Main Bedroom Edition

When it comes to design, I am a visual person. I thrive off of being physically in a space, taking in the potential based on how the room –feels– and where it wants to head. I know, that may sound crazy-it’s just a room, right? Well, I see it differently, your home is so much more than just a collection of rooms. It’s a feeling.

To see more of our home as it comes to like, follow along on my Instagram: @theroostingplace

Of course, life does not always allow us to physically be in the space we are creating. Prime example: our new home build. Because of delays and shortages, I am needing to design and choose elements for our home way before we even step foot on a solid foundation. This is where my love for the internet and its resources comes in. While I’ve utilized Canva for virtually designing client spaces, I didn’t really understand its potential for my own home designs until recently. I kept thinking I needed a physical space. But on the contrary, by creating design boards for each space in our home, I am more excited than ever to bring the visions to life.

That being said, I am excited to embark on the new endeavor of sharing my design boards for each space in our new build with you all! Our home is being furnished completely from scratch, give or take a few pieces that will be moved out of storage. You see, in our last home, I was still learning how to create my own style, and then how to meld a style into the space we were in. We also had a ton of hand-me-down items that I didn’t personally choose (which was great given it was our first home).

Several of the furniture pieces are now in the Little House, and will stay here when we move out. So now we get to start completely over!

Main Bedroom:

Mood: Cozy contemporary with vintage feeling pieces, texture, and warm tones to combat beautiful modern build features. I want my bedroom to make me feel cozy and safe, surrounded by soft texture, pretty light, and natural comfort. We will be implementing several of these elements throughout our entire home, but most importantly the bedroom.

Back to design boards: the possibilities are endless, and taking screenshots and compiling all the goods in one place really helps bring the vision of a space to life-all without having to commit to a piece to see how it all will look together! I never consider these concrete, more fluid suggestions to spark creativity and help set realistic cost expectations.

To purchase a downloadable link sheet with all the items displayed above: please click below:

Another reason we are starting over is the size of our new house. We don’t call it Big House lightly-its huge. And none of our old furniture would “fit”. So we sold most of it and are starting fresh! This is super fun, and a little nerve-wracking sheerly because of what things cost-but that is why we budget, plan, and buy throughout the months leading up to move-in day! I’m super excited to be able to share this sneak-peak into our home with you all, and to be able to share links to some crazy cool finds!

I also virtually design for you! If you are interested in a virtual styling consultation, please reach out here or send me a DM on my Instagram: @theroostingplace. This process is super fun and convenient for those who want to start transforming your home but don’t know where to start-on your own time and budget. I will create boards like above for you based on your style, and send link sheets for you to order off of at your pace! Those I’ve worked with so far have loved the flexibility of this kind of option, and I look forward to chatting with you about your dream home.

Talk soon,

Lanna


Big House Inspiration Boards: Exterior

It is time to finally talk about the design elements of “Big House” and what inspired our choices. I am going to try to give some credit where credit is due, but I cannot always find the sources of inspiration, and to those to whom these photos belong, I apologize.

To find more updates regarding our home build, find me on Instagram: @theroostingplace

You can also find more inspiration on my Pinterest Boards

The exterior of a home is the first impression. This is the first space the eye sees when entering a home for the first time, and I wanted to be left in awe every time I drove up to our home. I love crisp lines of modern black windows and sleek white exterior tones. I love the warmth old world stone and how that earthy material connects us to the past while we create our future. This mixture of metal and stone could not be complete without wood elements, so naturally, we are incorporating lovely wooden headers and beams.

I hope to reflect the feeling of warmth and comfort when guests enter our home, and I hope that for now, that feeling radiates to you as well through the photos that inspired us.

Mock-Ups: by Harper Design Projects


We Received Permits!

After ten months of back and forth with the city, we finally received our permits to build the big house! And now that we are off the crazy rollercoaster, I can finally take time and unpack what exactly was happening during the last 10 months.

The past months have been so emotionally and mentally draining-I would be lying if I said it was easy. I won’t be saying what city we live in for security purposes, but our experience with the planning and development department was extremely frustrating. Below, I want to outline a rough timeline of our permit process, so that anyone reading this can be aware of our permitting journey, and can mentally prepare if they are considering building within city limits.

I will disclaim: our property is a rare find (5 acres with a pond inside the city limits of DFW), so since there are not a lot of properties that are like ours, there were several bumps with everyone figuring out the best way to navigate our situation, some we foresaw, others being complete curveballs due to lack of communication on the city’s (and hired professional’s) part.

You can follow along with the journey on Instagram: @theroostingplace

Because this is a recount of events over the last 10 months, I cannot even begin to replicate the rollercoaster of emotions that were felt. There was anger, there was a glimmer of hope at progress, then heartbreak when we had to yet again add/change something else. I had lost the ability to be excited when we heard good news, becasue I felt like there was something bad that would follow. It seemed that every one of Harley and I’s phone converstations started with “do you want the good news or bad news first?”.

But we made it.

December 2020- First contact with the City Planning Department

We first contacted the city planning department in regard to requirements for permits. We were informed that because the proposed site location for the house was more than 600 feet from the main road/existing public fire hydrant, we were required to install a private fire hydrant on our property. In this correspondence, we were told we needed a pre-approved utility contractor to execute a 3-way contract and provide construction plans prior to permit release.

Okie no problem-o.

What we didn’t receive was a list of required documents to submit, so we started gathering all the obvious: architect sets and floor plans, window schedules, engineered foundation…etc.

January 2021- “Proper Procedure”

We were attempting to go through “proper procedure” to locate previously approved fire hydrant permits that the previous owners had applied for. This pretty much meant filling out forms and jumping those hoops for “public knowledge” documents that are in the city archives. We were hoping by using the same previously approved plans that would speed up our process. Newsflash to us, we don’t get access to those documents. *eye roll and one month wasted by going in circles*

Throughout this time we were also getting estimates from our sub-contractors to put together a budget to turn into our lender for funding. No official submissions just yet.

February 2021- “It’s on the website”

After reaching out to the city for a list of required documents (again), we were told all the information we needed was “on the website” in regards to what needed to be submitted. So we look online and try to compile all the paperwork and sets that we could find was required online. This included our architect plans and engineered basement plans, along with a couple other documents. The website was pretty vague on what to submit, as we could not find a specific list. But we did our best here.

During this time we started experiencing problems securing our loan due to changes implemented during COVID-19. So we were tracking down documents to secure that process. (Building loan into a traditional mortgage once building is complete).

March 2021- “I gave you a list!”

We submit our first rounds of permit sets through an online portal mid March and paid the first rounds of fees (half of the total) that were required to get the permit process started ($3,261.62)

Our loan was approved-we had funding!

We were informed we had submitted incorrectly and with inadequate paperwork/plans. They would not even begin to review anything until we completed the “Residential Submittal Requirements” that was attached in an email but should have been accessed online prior to submittal…this document was not found on the website. This was the first time we received a checklist for the process. So we began completing that paperwork/ contacting subcontractors who could provide the missing pieces.

What was required to submit: Site plan (check), Floor plan (check), exterior elevations, door and window schedule (check), wall/wind bracing method, energy compliance, engineered fondation (check), water utility application, park/roadway impact fee paid, and an SWPPP.

We had a difficult time clarifying some missing pieces and getting correct links to paperwork the city required.

April 2021-Finding the right people

We were still trying to receive the paperwork required to resubmit. We had to hire an engineer to show wall/wind bracing, contact our lumber company for a set of framing plans, and contact an energy code inspector to fill out our energy code compliance, all of which takes time. We also learned after doing our own research that we only needed to fill out parts of certain paperwork because this is a residential build and under a certain square footage. (It would have saved time had the city planners told us this, but they didn’t.)

The frustrating part about permits is that you cannot control how fast people work, and there are usually more people/projects ahead of you that have to be addressed first; so despite us reaching out quickly, things take time. That’s pretty normal and is expected during things like this.

May 2021-Time ticks by

We submitted again the first of the month, and received our correction report within 4 days. I will commend them in saying our corrections came back within 5 business days each time, which was nice.

What wasn’t nice was that our first correction report was 7 pages long. Some comments were easily fixable, like a window accidentally being missed on the energy form, or that one set of plans was missing a seal stamp. We were also told that our basement needed an egress, so we submitted to our architect to revise the plans.

What we weren’t expecting was how many comments were involving our lack of fire hydrant plans-which we knew we didn’t submit yet, we were still tracking down a subcontractor to do all the paperwork. We became a little overwhelmed at the extent and even vague statements that were included. This was a whole other can of worms to dissect.

This was also when we contacted/hired a civil engineer to work on elevations, grading, and other issues addressed in our sets. We chose to go with the civil engineer that had worked with the previous owners for their project, because we assumed she was familiar with our property and would be able to expedite the process a little bit-we were very wrong. I try not to speak poorly of others, but as an honest review regarding her business methods: she was extremely unprofessional, rude, and unhelpful throughout the process….it seemed like she had just as big of a power trip as the city, and we hired her.

Hindsight is the best sight…but we signed a contract with her and got stuck…

She did get the job done in the end, and I’m sure she’s a loveley person deep down, but we did not work well together. I do not think she is used to working with people who have an idea how to read codes or do their own research regarding building when it comes to dropping major amounts of their budget…more on that later.

June 2021-Just move the house, dangit.

Civil engineer advised we move the house site back to avoid our flood drainage easement. Harley scheduled a meeting with her to discuss how much we needed to move the house-we really did not want to move it too much because the line-of-view would change by moving it back. We ended up agreeing (in email) to move it back to the advised location. Our civil then gets confused regarding our driveway design and hypothetical pool drawing on the architecht conceptual plans, so Harley calls her to clarify and tells her to move the house to her suggested location to be further from the flood plain.

Here’s where things get begin to get a little messy: She then proceeds to advise us on our fire coding, but because we read the codes we understood that because we were putting in a sprinkler system inside our home, we would not be required to build a fire lane. She was telling us that we would need sprinklers($10k), a fire lane (24′ wide of 6″ concrete) all the way from the main road back to our house (a 600′ driveway…imagine the $$$) AND install a fire hydrant ($45k job btw). We informed her that we read the codes differently…so she starts to fight with us…like a child throwing a fit, and just tells us repeatedly we are wrong and that we won’t be able to build without all three. This all could have gone more smoothly had she been willing to explain, or suggested a solution, but upon being questioned she immediately went into “defense” mode, and it was difficult to work with her from this moment forward. Oh-she did tell us to contact the fire marshall, but in a tone that was going to be a “I’ll let him tell you you’re wrong”…

She also sends us “new sets” but they did not have the revised house location. When we confronted her about it she tries to lie and say that Harley told her to keep it at the old location…when we have emails that clearly state otherwise. And her sets still show a full concrete fire lane even though we asked her to remove it. So we told her we did not want the concrete fire lane included because if that was “approved” then we were forced to add it-and we didn’t need one. At this time we also asked her to leave off fire hydrant plumbing because we had not confirmed the code requirements with the Fire Marshall yet.

In her response, in all red underlining, (this is a professionally licensed individual) I quote:

“I have a reputation for providing acceptable designs.  You are asking a lot to ask me to change my reputation.  I do not subscribe to the reputation of someone who tries to see “how much they can get away with.” I have invested so much time in your project that I will continue down this path with you for this submittal.  However, you are trying to get me to take short cuts that are not in your best interest.  At some point, you will decide the time is also of some value and the multiple reviews will start costing enough time that you will be willing to construct this as required.  However, we can both spend a little time at the beginning if you recognize what you are doing.”

Yes…we hired this lady…and she just told us we were cutting corners, all because we wanted to check the code requirements with someone who knew it. (Civil had even admitted to not fully understanding the codes.)

An added note: When she says she “spent so much time”…she went on vacation for two out of the three weeks that we had been in contact with her…

I set up a meeting with the Fire Marshall to clarify what was required for our property to be within code.

July 2021- Invite the Fire Marshall over for drinks!

We schedule our meeting with the Fire Marshall after the 4th of July. He had hands down been the most helpful city official for us during this process. During our meeting he tells us that because we are having a sprinkler system, we only need to add a fire hydrant within a 600′ radius of our house-no fire lane required. *Everyone breathes with me: this man just saved us $200k worth of concrete we didn’t have in our budget*. Harley now has his personal cell and you better bet he is invited to our housewarming party when this thing is all over.

We get written statements from the Fire Marshall stating what was discussed in our meeting and send to the civil engineer so that she can give us our sets for submittal. Get this: SHE STILL REFUSES TO SEND US A STAMPED, OFFICIAL SET and tells us “I don’t think it’s going to fly but try this”.

But we submit again with requested corrections. And get another correction report. Shocker… we work to correct any comments made…some of which were duplicated due to lack of official stamps…when we sent the report to the civil engineer, she made the comment that “we must have forgotten to include all the pages”. So clearly she doesn’t like to admit she’s in the wrong.

We are also trying to get our fire hydrant contract from our sub-contractor during this time.

August 2021- Fire hydrant from h***

We had to switch companies regarding our fire hydrant…we got ghosted. At this point, there were no more comments regarding our build, just a few left on the fire hydrant and the civil sets. Since we were still having issues with the civil sets anyways, we did ask the house to be moved back once more- I knew this was not going to be taken well by the civil, but she works for us and we were extremely nice about it. (She didn’t like it of course but complied).

Because our foundation crew had availability in their schedule, we ask our project manager at the city if there was a way we could get a partial permit to start digging the basement. The city then responds and states that they will not issue any permits until the fire hydrant is INSTALLED and functional…may I remind you this is not what was stated to us 6 months back. You bet your booty we called the Fire Marshall. He then called the city for us and told them that all he required was a working contract with a finish date and we could receive permits. THIS MAN IS AN ANGEL.

We submit our plans again with corrections. And receive comments regarding our civil sets…we inform our civil engineer to fix the issues.

September 2021-Oops, must have missed it.”

The civil engineer calls an engineer at the city who is making comments. She is then told that our cover sheet (which is our conceptual architect drawing) does not match the civil plan therefore the engineer WOULDN’T EVEN LOOK AT THE CIVIL SETS. Y’all. In 4 months this woman hadn’t even looked at our plans! But never told us all we needed to do was draw a big “X” on those sets and state that during our build we were using the civil sets…

So I draw a giant “X” on the conceptual drawings and resubmit…hoping that’s all. What else do they want?

Despite the small movement forward, we are still having issues getting a hold of city engineers regarding questions about our 3-party fire hydrant, which we are trying to submit. We were told that this was all we had left to receive permits…

Until the biggest curveball of all: on September 30th, we were told that our civil engineer was not “aware there was a basement” and the city “must have also missed it” because we couldn’t build our house as planned with the basement, due to a code that stated that areas in a special flood zone can’t have an elevation below a certain point. The issue with that statement: we aren’t building in a flood zone.

We set up a meeting with city engineers, our hired civil engineer (I wish she didn’t have to be there), building officials, the city project manager, and our basement expert to discuss this outrageous claim. Why hadn’t this been mentioned before? Why was it being mentioned at all, it doesn’t apply? There was no way the city engineers “missed” a basement design plan with multiple engineered documents…unless they haven’t been doing their job this whole time?

October 2021-Emotionally drained

This meeting was a crapshoot. We walked out feeling belittled and infuriated by engineers who assumed we had no idea what we were talking about, even though we are well versed in the city’s codes and the FEMA policies regarding flood plains. This engineer even had the audacity to throw his degree around…the room was split between the people who were haughty and power-struck, and those who realized there had been a huge mistake and the city was liable. Their excuse: “oh, the computer system must have not transferred our comments over”. It took me visibly having tears in my eyes (I tried so hard to hold them back but I was so angry they leaked out of me) for them to change their tone and realize we were coming from a place of confusion and absolute devastation.

In the end, we were left with nothing but brokenness. They told us they had to talk to some other department that oversaw the flood plain committee…sounds like they should have been in our meeting too. So we went into the weekend and waited.

One week later we received the email: “based on the grading plan, Floodplain Dept. can approve this layout…[as long as] a floodproof door is installed and approved in basement egress.”

PRAISE. THE. LORD.

We submit all the required fire hydrant contracts.

On October 18th, 2021 we recieved our permits.

Because this has been a recount of events over the last 10 months, I cannot even begin to replicate the rollercoaster of emotions that were felt. There was anger, then there was a glimmer of hope at progress, then heartbreak when we had to yet again add/change something else. I had lost the ability to be excited when we heard the good news because I felt like there was something bad that would follow. It seemed that every one of my and Harley’s phone conversations started with “do you want the good news or bad news first?”. But by the grace of God we made it. We get to build our home. I truly believe that God has big plans for us through this house because I can see His hand in every step of the way, guiding us through. He made us wait and now lumber prices are down. Crews are available to work. We are able to see the blessings in the waiting, and though this past year was tough, we are stronger in our faith and in our marriage because of it.

Talk soon.

xx, Lanna


Building Update: June 15, 2021

Even though I am a bit behind in disecting this on here, I want to always remain open and honest about our whole building process, and be able to shine a light on the “secrets” of building a custom home. If you would like to know more about the specs of our build, click here. If there isn’t a link yet, I’ll have it up soon! So here we go:

About two months ago, we were extremely excited to announce on our Instagram that we had submitted our building plans for permitting. This had been the second time we have submitted so we felt confident that we would be breaking ground very soon. .Unfortunately, this was not the case.

In case I haven’t mentioned it here before, we are within the city limits of Arlington, TX. We have learned that building codes are extremely strict, and I hate to say that we have hit red tape over and over again when dealing with the city. Problem one has been lack of communication from the city planners. I have a feeling that COVID has played a huge part in this problem, as I believe pre-pandemic you would schedule a in-person meeting with a city planner and disect your project requirements in person. Even though we have been in “contact” with the city since early November, we are constantly redirected to the website when asking direct and specific questions. . However, our inability to meet with anyone caused problems when we first submitted our plans in January, since the website was not specific about the submittal requirements for our specific lot.

It then took us 3 more months to gather all the required documents the city asked us to include in the permit application which I have listed below for those who are curious. While we had included a majority of the required documents, the missing ones had to be completed by several different parties, forcing us into a “hurry up and wait” game that continues to this day.

  • Site Plan
  • Floor Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Door and Window Schedule
  • Wall/Wind Bracing Method
  • Energy Compliance
  • Engineered Fondation
  • Water Utilities Application
  • Park and Roadway Impact Fee
  • SWPPP

Fast forward to April 28th, and we were finally back in Permit Review. This time I thought we had checked all the boxes and crossed all our T’s. Our walls were engineered to withstand wind, our foundation and basement had been engineered perfectly, and we had all the other paperwork filled out. We combined all the files into one PDF file as requested, and submitted them into the online portal. We waited. For 5 days we checked back in routinely to watch the status of each requirement change from “pending” to “complete”. Until one day, everything stopped updating and we got an email from the lady who was coordinating our plan reviews.

She informed us our plans needed corrections. Seven pages of corrections…yes, you read that right…7 pages.

Some we saw coming, however originally we were told that we could apply for those portions later. Now they were telling us we needed everything upfront before they wou;d approve the project at all. So what was in these correction requirements?

  • Full extent of driveway shown and material indicated from public street
  • Missing an engineer stamp on our framing plans
  • Missing engineer letter for foundation plans (this was included…)
  • Energy Compliance review missed one back window specs
  • Manufacture information wanted on the polymer waterproofing for the basement
  • Need egress from the basement
  • Private fire hydrant plans needed and required to meet codes that include fire lane specifications OR sprinkler system plans
    • This actually was 3/7 pages outlining fire hydrant requirements and codes…I’m not going into all that…
  • Floorplan lay in a hypotheical easment that isn’t even approved offiically yet
  • Missing Grading Plan with drainage flow plan
  • Elevation certificate prior to inspection
  • Fire Marshall needs to approve fire hydrant plans
  • 3 way contract provided for said fire hydrant required at permit application date.

Okie. So, that is the gist of our 7 page correction report that the lovely city of Arlington threw in our laps. Many of these issues could have been avoided had we been informed correctly of the actual application document requirements, so honeslty reading through the comments was extremely frustrating. As far as that fire hyrdant issue….so the story is that since the house will lay more than 150′ from the main road, we are required to install a private fire hydrant OR install sprinklers in the house. We originally were going to intall a fire hydrant, but then realized that the city is going to require 4″ ,12-foot-wide concrete as a fire lane all the way back to the house. Thats easily 400′ to the other side of the pond, and that amount of concrete definetly is not in the budget.

So, where are we now? We have opted to install a concealed sprinkler system instead of a hydrant since we are under the impression that this option does not require the “fire lane” of a driveway. We have made all the changes and are only waiting for a civil engineer to get us our plans back with drainage and required elevations. Again, it is a hurry up and wait game. We are hoping to be able to resubmit soon and break ground before the summer is over.

I do want to point out that while the past couple of months have been annoying, there have been some disguised blessings through all this, one of the biggest ones being that we are thankful to not have started digging our basement with all the rain that Texas has had recently. I don’t even want to think about how long all the water would have taken to dry out.

That’s all for now, but I hope to have another update soon.

Talk soon,

xx, Lanna


Pool Talk: Our Pool Design Decisions

When we last talked about pools, we were talking about the basic design factors to take into consideration when designing a pool. The previous blog touched on basic pool sizes and costs, and listed factors that can drive that cost up or down (size, depth, shape, features…etc). If you haven’t read that, you can find it here.

Today, I want to hone in on the specifics of our personal pool design choices. This is strictly our opinion on certain features and does not rule that our decisions are best. Remember, when building ANYTHING, it is always about what works for YOU. What someone else has may look great, but if what you are designing isn’t tailored to your taste, space, and budget, you will never truly love it.

I aim to update this post as our pool designs become a reality, but for the time being, I have included our pool renderings designed by Pullium Pools to help visualize the direction we are wanting to head.

Pool Basics

Shape: Geometrical

We chose a geometrical, rectangular shape of our pool for a couple of reasons: I. this matches our house style best and II. this shape fits our overall yard most ideally. To be honest, I have never really been drawn to curvy pools and we are designing a modern transitional farmhouse that has clean, sharp, lines; white exterior; wood accents; and a black roof. For us, a curvy, rock-edged pool did not match the vision. Designing a rectangle pool also was vital if we wanted a pool cover.

Size: 34′ long X 15′ wide

This size was determined after measuring out how the pool would fit into our yard space. We have a “jutted” patio and wanted the pool shape to flow naturally with the lines of the house.

Depth:

At the deepest points, the pool will be 7′ deep, and slope up to a 3′ large shallow end. Orignially, we wanted to include a deep “diving” end and a large shallow “game play” area, but having both did not fit into our budget. After questioning and envisioning ourselves in the space, we decided that a “cannonball” zone was the best fit for our budget. As much as I would love to be able to have a diving pool, they are not cheap. This is because the total cost of a pool is calculated based on the perimeter. When adding in a diving end, there has to be a certain slope out of that diving end, so the deeper the pool, the longer the pool thus increasing the cost.

Becuase we chose to omit the diving area, we opened up our budget to enable us to include other features we considered a higher priority.

Spa/Hot tub:

  • Outside pool
  • 6″ raised square/rectangle
  • 8 person comfortable capacity

Don’t worry-yes, there is a spa/hot tub! This design actually ended up giving us more trouble than the depth dilemma.

Originally, I wanted a flush entrance to the spa (I didn’t want to climb on top of stones to get into my spa). So we tried several design locations inside the pool perimeter but ultimately decided to place the spa slightly raised (6″) to the outside of the spa. Why? Pool cover. I’ll talk a little more about this in a couple sections down but the pool cover RULED our design choices. If we had the spa inside the pool, we would have had to roll it back to get to the spa when it was covered. This also was a factor if our spa (placed to the side) was flush- the pool cover wouldn’t be able to seal off the pool correctly.

Another reason we opted to raise the hot tub (barely, 6″ people) was to avoid cold water spillover into the hot water area. (Our designer told us we could have just put our least favorite couple on that side, which made me LOL, but we tend to like majority of the people we invite over). To compromise the raised spa (which will have a spillover) with the pool being flush and able to be covered, we have to include a “stepping stone” area or something similar to give our water a place to go. (See reference pic).

Fun Stuff: Features

Tanning Ledge: YEP

This was one of my top priorities when it came to the pool design. If you haven’t heard of one, these are extremely shallow areas/ledges (less than a foot deep) that usually have “bubble” fountains. These are PERFECT for babies and dogs to splash around and play in, and I love the idea of having low tanning chairs and sitting in the water reading my favorite book under an umbrella. Our tanning ledge will cover the end of the short end of pool adjacent to the spa, 15 feet long. This is perfect to space 4 chairs easily in the water.

Grotto: NAH

We chose not to include a grotto. Personally, I consider them a little too loud and every single one I have been under has some form of bug as a primary inhabitant. They also tend to build up some ick and are hard to clean. For us, this wasn’t something we wanted.

Fire: YOU BET

While we don’t have exact locations for this yet, fire bowls/fire pits are a must for our entertaining space. We love the ambiance a fire gives off, and both had this at the top of our “wants” list.

Pool Cover: Automatic

Adding in a pool cover will eat away any budget, but an auto pool cover adds a considerable amount. As I mentioned before, having this feature kinda ruled our design choices. This was a priority for several reasons the top ones being: we have tons of trees around the house, and we are open to adopting or fostering in the future. When taking in a child in the system, agencies are extremely strict regarding pool safety. You either have a pool cover on at all times when not in use, or you put up a pool fence.

I don’t want the eyesore of a pool fence, and we did not want to have to deal with the hassle of taking the cover on and off ourselves/ paying to hire someone to do this so an automatic cover was our best choice. These are most managable price wise when they are installed in a rectangular pool, and like I mentioned before, installing stepping stones to make up for the height difference in the spa/pool.

Slide/Diving Board: NAH

We chose not to include either of these as built in options. For us, we don’t have a diving end, and slides are wonderful for children until they grow out of them. We will probably compensate for this later by buying an inflatable/temporary slide that can be set up and taken down when not in use.

Pool House: MAYBE

This was another last-minute addition to our plans that altered our budget, which is still under debate depending on how our loan plays out at the end. Our options are either to put the pool equipment behind the master bedroom, in a pool house, or make a faux wall of sorts to hide the equiptment. As of right now, we are leaning towards a cheap fencing of sorts to hide the equiptment, and build a pool house sometime in the future.

So yes, that is the majority of our pool choices as of this moment. I hope to add in better photos once our rendering is complete. I highly recommend working with a designer at a reputable pool company. Their job is to help you nail down what will work best for you and your space (we spent almost 2 hours doing this, and we thought we had most of it figured out beforehand!) Don’t rush the process, and remember you are allowed to change your mind! This is your investment, and you are the one that has to live with the design, not anyone else! Do what works for you.

Talk soon

xx, Lanna


So you wanna build a pool? Here’s some things to think about first:

Hello, and welcome to my first blog post regarding some of our building journey! We have decided to go ahead and include our pool in our preliminary building budget for two reasons:

  1. We only want to do one lump loan with everything building-related included.
  2. Building the pool at the beginning of the build process cuts down on messes to clean up later. By building the pool in the preliminary building phase, we don’t have to worry about concrete trucks tearing up our driveway, landscaping, or any sprinkler systems we decide to put in place. I will put a disclaimer that thet pool company will not/cannot start on your pool until the exterior walls of a house are present. This was odd to me, but it has to do with city codes.

Obviously, including a pool into a new build budget isn’t in the cards for everyone, but I wanted to give a breakdown of what the process (and cost) of building a pool is in general. We are opting to put in a gunite pool, so I can only speak to numbers that we have been told based on this type of pool. I can write another blog post on why we chose gunite over vinyl lined later, but for now let’s talk budgeting.

Pool cost depends on a variety of variables, and each individual choice drives the total cost up or down.

Pool cost depends on a variety of variables, and each individual choice drives the cost up or down. Sadly, this is the answer you get to a lot of those “but how much does this cost” questions when it comes to designing or building ANYTHING, and a pool is no different. But I want to share some things to consider when designing your own pool based on the conversations we have had with professionals in order to nail down your ideal budget.

Hold on tight, we are about to talk some pretty hefty numbers. We were told that a standard, 22 foot long, retangle pool with no additional add ons prices start at $60,000. To add on a basic spa (hot tub), prices start at $15,000. This puts a small, basic pool project starting at $75,000. Pool cost is calculated based on the perimeter of the pool, so any abnormal shapes can easily make the cost increase.

Addtional factors that affect price:

  • Size of pool
  • Shape of pool
  • Depth of pool
  • Adding a spa (hot tub)
  • Masonry and Tile choices
  • Fire Features
  • Fountain systems
  • Decking
  • Interior finishing
  • Grotto additions
  • Pool Covers
  • Steps/Seating/Lounging Areas
  • Heating Systems
  • Landscaping
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So now that we have all that stuff out of the way, lets talk about how you can decide what kind of pool is best for you, your family, and your budget. For us, we oringinally wanted it all! Who doesn’t? Pinterest is a black hole where dreams live and reality is a facade that doesn’t exist. However, out in the real world, there is real money that (typically) has to be borrowed/paid back. And our “Pinterest Pool” was going to cost us at LEAST $150,000... hahahaha no thank you…

So how do you navigate what you really need in your pool? First, we wrote out a wants list of everything we wanted- even the crazy things. For us, we really thought we wanted a rectangle heated pool with a deep diving section, large shallow area for entertaining,tanning ledge, and spa; along with some other fun details like fire features. (Like I said, we wanted it ALL). So how to narrow it down?

We started to imagine using this pool and asked ourselves these questions:

  • What do we see ourselves doing in this space in 5 years?
  • What do we see our future (or current if that applies) children doing in this space in 5 years?
  • Do we entertain often?
    • If yes, how many people?
    • Are our guests athletic/enoy water games like volleyball or basketball?
  • What style fits our home?
    • Modern? (i think of these as geometrical, clean lined pools)
    • Traditional? (i think of these as curvy, rock pools)
  • What do we have space for?
    • Are we adding landscaping aroud the pool?
    • Do we need to leave space for additional entertaining/play areas?
Photo by Edneil Jocusol on Pexels.com

Once you have asked yourself these preliminary questions, stand in your space and mark out how big your “ideal” pool would be!

I’m such a visual person and measurements have 0 meaning in my mind if I can’t see it in person. Seeing what you have space for is a great way of getting a size idea down, and doesn’t leave you asking your pool designer “ughh how big is that?” during your meetings. You can always adjust the size if the price point isn’t right, but thise gives you and idea to go off of.

After we had done both these things, it was time to start whittling down our list. We seperately picked out our top 3 features we felt were important to us, and reconviened to compare. Thankfully, we weren’t too far off. What stumped us the most was the desire for a large shallow end or for a diving area, because we needed to make a choice since our budget wasn’t going to allow for both.

Ultimately, we decided on vetoing the diving end and replacing it with what our designer calls “the cannonball zone”. Basically, we have plenty of room for a shallow volleyball area before the grade of the pool will slope down to 6-7 ft (undecided yet, the deeper we go, the longer the pool and the higher the price).

We also decided to veto the deep end so that we could splurge on a automatic pool cover. This is a non-negotiable factor in our design because of the safety a cover offers (vital if we ever choose to foster/adopt in the future). These pool covers start around $15,000, so we did not have the room in our budget to have everything. I will cover more of our thought process on decisions we made in a later post, so stay tuned for those!

Ultimately, it comes down to what you will utilize the most for it’s cost. If it stretches your budget to the limit, will you really enjoy it? Choose what works for you, and your budget to get the most out of your pool!

Talk soon,

xx, Lanna