Everything you need to know about building in the lowcountry from a trusted source, Architect Rachel Burton

Conceptual Design for Kiawah Island Custom Home

In this second installment, I will share how our Conceptual Design for a new custom home on Kiawah Island is progressing and how we are meeting the needs of our client who wanted a home that supported their lifestyle and maximized the views of the marsh.  Detailing the develop of the site considerations of building on a character lot and aligning the challenges and opportunities with the design goals of our clients.

At Swallowtail, it all starts with the client’s wish list. And I don’t mean the literal list of number of bedrooms and bathrooms. After many years of interviewing lots of homeowners, discussing their design goals and looking at pictures of kitchens they really liked, I have come to realize most Architects don’t ask the most important questions: What would a perfect day in your new home look like? What are you doing? Where are you? Who is with you? What do they say about your new home? What do you see when you look around you?

In asking these questions, I am trying to fully understand how do they want to live and what is important to them. That way, when I am designing their home I can select the design options and solutions that I know will fit them best.

Once we have approval for the Site Analysis, what is the next step?

On our first layout, we had a large Great Room/Kitchen facing the water with the deck and porches wrapping around the tree. The pool was on the side with the best sun and the best long view. The clients really liked where the design was going and thought we had the ‘good bones’ to fine tune the design into their perfect home.

Version 1 of Marsh House on Kiawah Island

Version #1. The main rooms are on the view, with the deck wrapping around the tree connecting the screened porch and the pool. It had the right ‘bones’ but the landscape architect asked we provide more space around the tree.

But our Landscape Architect noted we had literally circled the tree with our decks, pools and stairs and he asked we provide more space around the tree.

In our second version we addressed those concerns. We pushed the whole house and the deck further away from the tree and decided to cantilever the deck from the foundation wall of the house so we would increase the distance between the foundation and the tree. We also moved the pool further from the tree and changed the angle of the pool to increase the space between the pool and the tree. Lastly, we relocated the stairs. All of these strategies provided a lot more space around the tree for its roots to remain undisturbed.

Version 2 of Marsh House on Kiawah Island

Version #2. Now the tree has a lot more breathing room for its roots as well as its branches.

As we had not yet received the information back from the surveyor showing the exact location of the tree limbs, we remained worried that that the corner of our second story might be at the same height as one of the major branches. However, from our visual inspection on site, it looked like the branch extended over the one story master bedroom suite. While we waited for the surveyor to schedule a site visit, we received further feedback from our clients on how we could make changes that would improve the design to meet their lifestyle.

With relief we received this crucial information from the surveyor, and verified the branch did extend toward the one story master bedroom suite and our roof height was well below the height of the branch. With this information and the  interior revision requests from our clients, we began our third refinement of the design.

Version 3 of Marsh House on Kiawah Island

Version #3.  We’ve developed the interior of the home to match the clients revision requests, and we have confirmed the tree branch will extend over the master bedroom suite. On this plan the tree and the branch is shown on pink.

With this level of design completed, we are ready to submit our design to the ARB for Preliminary Approval and have the Builder prepare a ball park cost estimate

In my first post about this project, I discussed how we had looked at the site considerations when we started the design.


More posts about this home From Rachel’s Desk

Two Technical Design Awards for Swallowtail

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Summerville, South Carolina; July 16, 2019 ––Swallowtail Architecture has been awarded two Technical Design Awards for Excellence from Architect's Creating Homes (ArCH). The 2019 [...]

On The Boards: Site Considerations on Kiawah Island

Site Considerations for a new custom home on Kiawah Island required us to design around a beautiful 41'' diameter live oak tree. We detail the process of initiating the design in the post. Our clients intend to retire and live on Kiawah full time, so they want to make sure the design considers not just their current lifestyle but can continue to support them as they get older.