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desiring to build modern duplex in austin

by jakob clark last modified Feb 17, 2007 12:44 PM
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desiring to build modern duplex in austin

Posted by jakob clark at February 03. 2007
My brother and I are moving to Austin in June. We would really love to explore the idea of building a modern duplex. Basically we would need a one bedroom per side (plus a small guest room if financially possible) and a shared studio space. We would need to own each half separately, so of course we would need to get creative on how to make the studio space "separate" spaces that can interact. Of course the big issue is money, but I will be selling my home where I live. What would be the best route to go to figure out how much I would need as downpayment/startup? I have absolutely no ballpark ideas. We would like to deal with design-build firms, as they have seemed the most affordable and less risky (meaning an all-in-one price, including land that is affordable). I have considered talking with Mark Meyer, KRDB, Gregory La Vardera, and Amy Dempsey (in this month's Dwell). I know KRDB and Dempsey deal with design-build projects for sure. I love the aesthetic of all these designers and would allow ceative freedom, pricepoint being the biggest constraint. We definitely want the house unapologetically modern and functional. I am more than fine with small square footage being maximized by smart solutions. The studio space would need soundproofing as it will be used for both music and graphic design. Any suggestions are welcomed! I don't know how possible this is, but you don't know until you explore. Seeing yet another young couple in a modern house in austin in this month's Dwell has really gotten me prepared to check out my options. Austin or Bust!

Re: desiring to build modern duplex in austin

Posted by Gregory La Vardera at February 03. 2007
Jakob - you know I'd like to work with you, but I'm not going to be able to do design build in Austin from here! I could help you with a modular solution, I could mod a stock design, or design from scratch with you. I don't think EcoSteel is going to be cost competitive on a small project. Do your research and figure out what works best for you. Its great that you are making this move though - I hope that means more opportunity for you to do your music thing.

Re: desiring to build modern duplex in austin

Posted by jakob clark at February 04. 2007
Thanks Greg. I am doing my research. You know me, I want this as badly as anyone. I did buy "The Perfect $100,000 House" by Karrie Jacobs tonight to assist me with ideas and to expand my knowledge of building constraints. This is for music's sake. My brother and I are purchasing some recording gear and hope to promote our projects and eventually start a stdio and record label ... hence the studio space. I have wanted to do this for 4 years (I looove austin) but my wife wouldn't go for it. She was very jealous of my music passion and my passion for modern architecture. She left me in June, and now I plan to use this opportunity to try and reach some personal goals. I will read this book and ask more questions. I really wonder what it takes for a downpayment etc. I have come into some money, but wonder if it is enough. I guess I will find out! I am guessing two one bedrooms plus studio should be 1500 sq feet or so.... I don't know. That does seem much smaller than any of your EcoSteel projects. I don't know about codes etc. but I was thinking about a 3 story design with apartments side by side. 1st level - contains studio and garages 2nd and 3rd - 2nd contains living, dining, bathroom, laundry, kitchen and the 3rd would actually be a balcony bedroom perhaps over the kitchen area open to the living room below (making the living double height thus visually increasing space without increasing actual sq footage). Just an idea...

Re: desiring to build modern duplex in austin

Posted by Mark Meyer at February 04. 2007
jakob,

I've relayed this info to you privately, but feel it may be of help to othes in a similar situation. Some of this will be specific to Austin alone, some will apply across the boards:

In terms of design/build for a specific client there are a few things to know. The KRDB projects and Amy Dempsey's projects that have been featured in dwell are speculative projects. They were built and financed by the design/build firms (taking advantage of city low interest SMART housing loans which have certain caveats) and then sold to persons qualifying for first-time homeowners and moderate income loan assistance programs offered by the city of Austin.

This mechanism is obviously different than building a project for a specific client, so your mileage as it pertains to being able to take advantage of city offered homeowner assistance programs is may vary considerably from the dwell cases.

This however doesn't mean that design/build isn't the way to go. The positives aspects of working with a design build firm still exist, however the guarantee associated with buying an existing product cannot be counted on. Of course this issue is one that design/build attempts to address via quality control and ability to do custom things cheaper than handing them off to a builder and asking them to take on responsibilities they may not be accustomed to (= $$)

What it seems to me you're going to be looking at in terms of project structure is something as follows:

•find and secure property. If you can afford the land outright as your downpayment you'll be way ahead of the financing game

•secure a design. If you can afford to pay for the initial design (at least to the point of an appraisal set of drawings) those payments will count towards your downpayment on the construction loan as well.

•secure construction financing. This would be based on your design/build contract, so it could be based on a not to exceed contract, a cost-plus contract, or a fixed construction cost. All of those different fee structures have their pros and cons, so it is essentially something that you have to negotiate with whomever you decide to work with.

•construction (the fun yet stressful part

•rollover of interim construction loan into fixed mortgage. This will still be a bit tricky (although not any more difficult) in that you need to figure out how to finance the contsruction as 1 project yet mortgage the finished project as two homes. This is all doable, but will require some serious homework. It may be that the best course of action is to set-up a limited partnership between your brother, yourself, and the design/build firm, and build the project as a partnership, and then sell the project to yourself and brother.

In terms of Austin ordinances you'll run up against the following for a duplex situation:

•height will be limited to 32 feet tall but also ONLY 2 STORIES (no mezzanines, no interior access to rooftop decks, though rooftop decks are permissible). you'll also be required to meet certain vertical setback requirements that limit height

•maximum allowable construction will be limited to 40% of the lot area. this part gets complicated in terms of which things count towards this overall percentage

•you'll need to provide 2-4 parking spaces on the lot, which can make you run up against the impervious cover limitation of 45% total lot area


In terms of the sizes you are talking about my guess is that your best bet would be to build it all as 1 story with connected garage/studio spaces. You may also find that it makes more sense to do a slightly larger project, in terms of securing financing. The appraisers will be running comps and you're not going to find many 1-bedroom new construction comps in Austin.

All that being said I know it is a doable proposition.

Mark

Thanks Greg. I am doing my research. You know me, I want this as badly as anyone. I did buy "The Perfect $100,000 House" by Karrie Jacobs tonight to assist me with ideas and to expand my knowledge of building constraints.

This is for music's sake. My brother and I are purchasing some recording gear and hope to promote our projects and eventually start a stdio and record label ... hence the studio space. I have wanted to do this for 4 years (I looove austin) but my wife wouldn't go for it. She was very jealous of my music passion and my passion for modern architecture. She left me in June, and now I plan to use this opportunity to try and reach some personal goals.

I will read this book and ask more questions. I really wonder what it takes for a downpayment etc. I have come into some money, but wonder if it is enough. I guess I will find out!

I am guessing two one bedrooms plus studio should be 1500 sq feet or so.... I don't know. That does seem much smaller than any of your EcoSteel projects.

I don't know about codes etc. but I was thinking about a 3 story design with apartments side by side.

1st level - contains studio and garages
2nd and 3rd - 2nd contains living, dining, bathroom, laundry, kitchen and the 3rd would actually be a balcony bedroom perhaps over the kitchen area open to the living room below (making the living double height thus visually increasing space without increasing actual sq footage).

Just an idea...

Re: desiring to build modern duplex in austin

Posted by calvin a. moore II at February 17. 2007

Previously jakob clark wrote:

My brother and I are moving to Austin in June. We would really love to explore the idea of building a modern duplex. Basically we would need a one bedroom per side (plus a small guest room if financially possible) and a shared studio space. We would need to own each half separately, so of course we would need to get creative on how to make the studio space "separate" spaces that can interact.
> <br>Of course the big issue is money, but I will be selling my home where I live. What would be the best route to go to figure out how much I would need as downpayment/startup? I have absolutely no ballpark ideas.
> <br>We would like to deal with design-build firms, as they have seemed the most affordable and less risky (meaning an all-in-one price, including land that is affordable). I have considered talking with Mark Meyer, KRDB, Gregory La Vardera, and Amy Dempsey (in this month's Dwell). I know KRDB and Dempsey deal with design-build projects for sure.
> <br>I love the aesthetic of all these designers and would allow ceative freedom, pricepoint being the biggest constraint. We definitely want the house unapologetically modern and functional. I am more than fine with small square footage being maximized by smart solutions. The studio space would need soundproofing as it will be used for both music and graphic design.
> <br>Any suggestions are welcomed! I don't know how possible this is, but you don't know until you explore. Seeing yet another young couple in a modern house in austin in this month's Dwell has really gotten me prepared to check out my options.
> <br>Austin or Bust!

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