In June of 2017, my family moved back to our home in Port Orford, Oregon. Chiloquin was nice, but home is always best! Getting moved back in, repainting the house, and all the other chores took quite some time, but once we got settled in, we soon began work on a project long in the making: the construction of a new house on the property. We have long rented out a ramshackle trailer that becomes progressively more dilapidated with each passing year, but my parents finally decided to put something new on the building site and tear down the old dump.
However, we have been hard at work since long before physical construction ever started. In fact, my parents began design and planning work well before leaving Chiloquin, and for the first time allowed me to play a part in this fascinating, frustrating, and ultimately rewarding part of the house building process. I love designing things and laying out structural elements so they fit together to form a larger, unified whole, and I very much enjoyed the opportunity to contribute my ideas and add to the design as it progressed. However I feel my most valuable contribution to the project came in the form of visualizing the plans through digital 3D modeling, something my parents were previously unfamiliar with.
I have long had an interest in 3D modeling and spent small bits of time here and there learning free software such as Google Sketchup and Blender 3D, but never taken the time to make accurate, interesting models or seriously invest in learning all the features of a program. However, the house design gave me a perfect opportunity to both perfect my modeling skills and help my parents in the process. I chose to go with Google Sketchup because it is free and easy to use, and then proceeded to realize every detail of the house plans in 3D. In the process, I tested the limits of my patience, my skills, and my computer, but in doing so learned a great deal about 3D modeling, 3D rendering, and house design. Despite having put well over 100 hours of work into it, the 3D model is still a work in progress and I modify it often, updating the file constantly to try new ideas and match the progress we make building the real thing.
The Port Orford House
Here are screenshots of all the main parts of the project. Admittedly, I have spent a lot of unnecessary time on this because, firstly, it took me a long time to become proficient enough to learn how to best use my time and avoid difficult to fix mistakes, and, secondly, because of my insistence upon building everything myself without making use of any components obtained from outside sources. My most recent additions have all concerned the garage, as the real thing has been completed, to make everything match reality. I have updated the garage model to include details such as individual boards in the siding, tongue and groove fittings on the finishing boards, all realistic construction elements, such as framing, plywood covering, drywall, roofing, and trim, detailed electrical hardware, animated components (such as doors that open and close), all the fasteners in mechanical elements (i.e. hinges, mechanisms, etc.), and accurate dimensions down to 1/32 of an inch.
Below are a series of renders I've made using the 3D models shown above. My skills regarding this process are still very much a work in progress, but I am slowly improving. The renderings were all created with a free software called Twilight Render, and highlight many of the more intricate details of my modeling.