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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

eBay House in Southborough, MA by Ruhl Walker Architects

 
August 31st, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: Ruhl Walker Architects

This husband and wife assumed they would never be able to afford the modern house of their dreams, but one day they discovered a surprisingly affordable lot and decided to see if they could do the impossible.  Many considered the heavily wooded lot ‘unbuildable’ because it was squeezed behind five suburban McMansions, it was dotted with granite outcroppings, and its irregular shape made it hard to imagine a conventional house; but the lot’s perceived ‘unbuildability’ made it affordable, and a small clearing at one end beckoned to the clients.

Front View (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

  • Architects: Ruhl Walker Architects
  • Project: eBay House
  • Location: Southborough, MA
  • Size: 2,500 SF
  • Type of project: Affordable single-family house for a family of four
  • Cost: $150/SF
  • Contractor: Rick Fairfield, Fairfield Construction
  • Structural Engineer: Jack Martin
  • Photography: Greg Permru & Steve Ratner
  • Software used: AutoCAD

Exterior View (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

Program: Open living/dining/kitchen space, studio that doubles as guest room, master suite on main living level with fireplaced sitting room and full bath, 3 bedrooms and bath upstairs, and 3 car garage including workshop with adjacent mudroom.

Intereior View (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

Site: Oddly shaped, rural, wooded lot with natural clearing, considered unbuildable, and therefore affordable.  The lot shares a driveway with an adjacent house, and backs up to the back yards of three other houses.  All adjacent houses are 1980’s speculative “colonial” McMansions.

Exterior dusk (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

Design challenges: The owners are collectors and restorers of mid-century modern furniture, and dreamed of one day living in a house that would be compatible with their furniture.  They had limited means, but discovered a very affordable lot near their existing house and decided to build the (affordable) house of their dreams.  The owners asked for a small house that would feel large and loft-like, flat roofs, large south-facing windows, and a flexible floor plan that could accommodate their small family and two young children, but also visiting adult sons from a previous marriage.  The owners also wanted a design that would age well with time, and work as their children became adults and they became older.

Interior View (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

Design solution: The initial concept was for a long, low bar-building that would fit into the narrow lot, with floating planar elements that would define the entry, main living spaces, and 2nd floor bedrooms.  Massing was kept simple, circulation space was minimized, spaces were located so that they could have multiple functions as the family aged, finishes were kept very simple and conventional, and square footage was limited.  The main living space is a light-filled double height space that helps the house feel much larger than its actual square footage.  The owners ultimately hit their initial budget through careful design as well as purchasing almost all finishes and fixtures (lighting, hardware, cabinetry, plumbing, flooring, tile, etc.) online through eBay.

Living Room (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

Materials: FSC certified cedar shingles, sustainably reclaimed fir siding, recycled KWC plumbing fixtures, recycled Modric door hardware, recycled IRIS and Lutron electrical fixtures, cork and bamboo flooring, Vermont slate tile in the master bathroom, recycled glass tile in the kitchen.

Bathroom (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

Ruhl Walker Architect’s initial concept was for a long, low bar-building that would fit precisely into the narrow lot, with floating planar elements to define the entry, main living spaces, and 2nd floor bedrooms.  In order to control costs, the overall massing was kept simple, circulation space was minimized, spaces were located so that they could have multiple functions as the family aged, finishes were kept very simple and conventional, and square footage was limited.  The main living area is a light-filled double height space that helps the house feel much larger than its actual square footage.

Badroom (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

The owners ultimately achieved their initial budget target (half of the typical cost for custom construction in the area) through the careful design as well as by purchasing almost all finishes and fixtures (lighting, hardware, cabinetry, plumbing, flooring, tile, etc.) online through eBay.  Besides the loft-like open living/dining/kitchen space, the 2,500 SF house also includes a studio that doubles as guest room, a master suite on main living level with fireplaced sitting room and full bath, 3 bedrooms and 1 bath upstairs, and 3 car garage including workshop with adjacent mudroom.

Stair (Image Courtesy Greg Permru)

Plan

Plan

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Categories: Autocad, House

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