Designing our home took a very, very long time. Three years to be exact.
Our original concept was to use prefabricated straw bale panels. "Green Panels" built by a family owned business in southern Saskatchewan was our preference because it was much faster, more seasonally available and supported local enterprise.
The first conversation with a designer took place in April 2009. Shortly thereafter the designer became unavailable and would continue as project coordinator. Her rookie colleague was taking over as designer. This became a long, drawn-out and frustrating process. Ultimately a waste of our resources. We were not pleased with how things were advancing but, against our better judgement, continued. Long story short...we disapproved of all design concepts and actually designed the floor plan ourselves. This information was then forwarded to become official straw bale panel construction drawings. In March 2011 we received the final drawing package. We liked (but didn't love) the house and were relieved to be finished with the hope of building that summer.
Our project fell off the rails when, one week later, we were told the panel builder was closing his business. There was an option to continue having the panels built by individuals with less expertise and little supervision. After much discussion and several phone calls we decided to get off this path, stick it in reverse and choose a different path. It was a bitter pill to swallow.
A local construction company dedicated to building non-toxic, earth conscious structures connected us with a designer. The original design was refined to better suit our needs and was turned into a conventional straw bale design. Our first set of "new" plans were received in August 2011. Final drawings were received in June 2012 after months of revisions regarding some key structural components. We applied for the building permit and heard back quickly that an engineer stamp was required. Another four to six week wait! Back to the designer! Back to the engineer! Back to the building inspector! Tick tock tick tock! At the end of July 2012 we received the engineer stamped drawings and the building permit.
Our home is a south facing bungalow with a walk-out basement and wrap around deck. Great thought went into every component of this plan including room placement, aesthetics, heating, roof overhang, layout, plumbing, and window placement. We are certain it will be a comfortable and functional home.