Laying The Architectural Groundwork For Your Dream Home

Posted on | May 1, 2013 | No Comments

Building the home of your dreams does not happen by chance. Those wistful thoughts must first be transformed into a detailed set of plans. Asheville architect Amy Conner-Murphy of ACM Design shares with us her insights on ensuring that your mountain dream home becomes a wonderful reality.

Images Courtesy of ACM Design ©

Asheville and the surrounding area are well known for their beautiful mountains – and for many, it is the ideal location for their dream home or weekend getaway. Designing a home in the mountains of North Carolina presents many challenges when considering the elevation, terrain and environmental components of our area. Site analysis is a key preliminary step taken by architects – analyzing the site, slope, site orientation, sun angles, and access. The outcome of the site analysis will greatly affect how a home is designed so that it takes full advantage of a particular property.

It’s a common misconception that one can purchase basic house plans to work on any lot. In the mountains, plans most often will require custom alterations to work for a specific piece of property. These modifications can become quite extensive, depending upon the conditions of the property. The sloped terrain in the mountains requires many homes to be built on multiple levels, with daylight basements to overcome slope factors. It’s likely your mountain property will require excavation to correctly prepare your lot for the home of your dreams. Experienced assessment of a mountain site to minimize the amount of excavation is a critical first step in minimizing overall construction costs.

When designing a custom mountain home, it is important to hire an architect with a background in residential construction with experience designing for our mountain terrain and elevations. People are drawn to WNC for our fantastic mountain views, and often fall in love with a particular property because of that view. View properties are generally priced at a premium, so it is wise to consult an experienced architect for a site consultation before your purchase. This simple step could save many complications and excessive costs during the design and construction process.

Considering the solar orientation of a property and how that will affect the design and long-term maintenance of a home are also important factors in selecting a property for purchase. Taking full advantage of southern exposure is an excellent way for your home to reap the benefits of natural light and passive solar features. Your architect’s understanding of both the summer and winter solar orientations of your property will be important when designing certain details of your home, such as window placements and eave design.

Other important considerations in selecting a mountain property are the water and sewer sources. Is there access to public water or sewer or will drilling a well and installing a septic system be required? Many communities in Western North Carolina do not have access to city water and sewer. Many times these utilities are handled individually by the property owner residents, but in some cases, the neighborhood provides access to private shared water and sewer resources for the homes in that development. If a well is present on a property available for purchase, it is prudent to consult a professional to assess the existing conditions to ensure sufficient water is available, prior to purchase of the property. Due to seasonal and climatic changes, the capacity of a well varies over time and occasionally requires additional work to ensure adequate service.

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