Tag Archives: dignowity hills


Bids in and the Eterna Building System

Bids in and the Eterna Building System

So the bids are coming in! I asked 3 builders/general contractors to bid out the project based on architectural drawings we finalized a few weeks ago. As you probably know, I’m a bit obsessed with green building materials and really wanted to go with something other than stick construction. I was very interested in Cresco Concrete products but couldn’t find a builder and structural engineer to work with them for a reasonable amount. I did find a similar product though.. the Eterna blocks. A local engineering firm has worked with them before and has a concrete person who builds exclusively with the blocks. I’ve gotten the bid in for 2×6 R19 construction from all three builders. I’ve gotten 1 bid in for the block system and hoping for another early this week. From talking to the engineer and concrete person, the pricing is somewhat competitive so I’m interested to see what it really comes out to. None of the builders seem too interested to work with them (mostly because they are unfamiliar) but I like them for a couple of reasons.. Insulation (for heating/cooling reasons and sound), they don’t really burn, resistance to termites, and ease of applying stucco. The big downsides are cost, lack of options for people who work with it, and lack of general information available.

Hopefully there will be more news coming soon!


Building in the Historic District…

One of the drivers for setting up this blog is to document the process around doing new construction in a historic district in San Antonio. I haven’t been able to find any details anywhere else on the web, so I figured it would be nice for someone going through the same things in the future.

So what have I learned so far? We turned in our plans to get on the agenda for the next Historic Design Review Commission (HDRC) meeting about a week ago, we’re planning to be on the August 21st meeting agenda. HDRC actually has a pretty informative website and guidelines, which I think I’ve gone over about a 100 times so far. Here’s some basics:

  1. There are different guidelines for new construction and renovations
  2. New construction guidelines focus on not having anything that would distract too much from the historic structures but they also don’t want you to mimic them (this surprises a lot of people)
  3. The process consists of two approvals, conceptual (approving the idea) and final (approving the actual plans) approvals
  4. The staff we have worked with so far has been amazing easy to deal with, more than willing to meet to review plans and ideas before we are actually putting anything up for approval

I’ll keep posting more as I figure it out. We’re applying for conceptual approval, which basically means that we want to make sure we are on the right track before fully locking down our plans with our architect. So you’re probably wondering.. just what are the plans looking like? Image

Here they are! It’s still a work in progress, but it gives you the general idea. We’re trying to mix some of the elements of the neighborhood with some more modern touches. Here’s some general information. We’re going for a mix of material on the outside, mostly stucco but also clapboard siding (probably the most used material in the neighborhood. The pitched roof is standing seam metal roof, also very common. My favorite part is actually in the back. The porch and second story deck. If you go out to the lot and face south you can actually see the Tower and several other downtown high rises at ground level. So we’re very excited about the downtown views from 10-12 feet up! Overall the house is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2 story house with a fairly open floor plan on the bottom and all 3 bedrooms upstairs. We’ll post more on the specifics of the interior and site plan at a later date.

What comes next? There are a couple of things coming up soon.

  • First of all the HDRC meeting, I’m expecting some feedback even before the meeting, so we might be making some adjustments between now and then.
  • We are also members of and involved in the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association. A fantastic group of people who live and/or own property in the neighborhood. We hope to present our ideas at the next meeting on the 19th of August.
  • And probably the most exciting and scary part…… starting the search for a builder or contractor to run our project! If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear them!