A couple weeks ago on Thursday, October 25th the team had its first meeting to discuss the feasibility of building a modern and green home in Philly for $100K. Prior to this meeting the 100k house was nothing more than an idea or dream in the heads of myself (Chad) and Brian (Brian Phillips – Principal of Interface Studio Architects). We were (or at least I was) a little afraid to pitch this idea to our top choice of builders over the phone so we setup a meeting at Level 5 Construction’s office.
Brian got the meeting off to a quick start by leading with, “So the 100k house…” I cringed and waited for Donna and Scott Yohe, the husband and wife duo that run Level 5, to kick us to the curb. When I opened my eyes I was pleased that they were still seated and ready to continue the meeting provided we supplied a bit more detail.
We discussed the basic size and layout of the house and started exchanging ideas about construction methods, materials and timeframes. We went through quite a few different possibilities for the foundation including slab on grade, slab with a crawlspace and even digging down 4-6 feet and having the first floor of the house be half underground.
The issue we have in Philly with foundations stems from most sites being unsuitable to build on as is because there was most likely a very old home on the site in the past whose weak foundation and loose fill is still present underground. If we try to simply build a slab on grade foundation the soil will not support it. So if we know we have to dig down a minimum of 6 feet to get rid of the weak soil the question is should we simply begin building a basement or fill the hole back up with suitable fill that would support a slab on grade foundation.
We couldn’t answer these questions in the meeting but all agreed that the project was feasible and the next step would be to get basic design drawings so that Level 5 could start quoting different options to see what might be the most economical. Two other premiums that we discussed and want to try and fit into the budget were also SIP (Structurally Insulated Panels) construction and radiant heat for the first floor. I really want both but we’ll have to see how things shake out in the estimates…
We are looking for as much feedback and criticism of our process as possible so feel free to leave comments on issues in this post or any other post and we will try to address them or even incorporate them into the design.
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