Our friend Todd pointed us the direction of the 100khouse project (it's now on our links bar). One of the posts on that site lead me to this article.
I guess that my first take on that article would be, well, we're not that stupid. Which is both true and false. False: we are stupid enough to think that we will be able to build a modern home on an urban(ish) infill lot near downtown Salt Lake City, possibly in the city's oldest neighborhood. Also false: we are stupid enough to think that this will be moderately easy — sure, we're expecting the usual hang-ups, but we're also expecting that this won't take 10 years and a million bucks.
But, true that we're not that stupid in that we are learning from experiences such as these. In talks with people who built a modern house in a Salt Lake neighborhood last year, the owner suggested that we be in an owned home while trying to build — he said the financing for building would be easier. We definitely took that into account this fall as we waited on building until we had bought and renovated the current place.
We also have learned and heard again and again that it's important to keep the house design as standard as possible. That usually means 4'x8' construction in order to capitalize on standard size materials that everyone needs — drywall, plywood, door openings, etc. That doesn't mean we want to build a box, though. The creative part of this process will be making something relatively standard seem exceptional. That may mean taking ordinary materials and using them in unusual ways (for example, the use of commercial glass in residential application). It will almost certainly mean getting creative with the design of the house since it will probably be on an oddly shaped, tiny lot because that's what infill lots usually are.
Also, that article is more than five years old. I'm not foolish enough to think that America has undergone a sea change in opinion about modern building since 2002, but I do suspect there has been some incremental easing of the pitchfork-and-torch mentality toward this style since then. Perhaps I should say that I hope that easing is a reality.
Given that we don't have a lot yet and are still unpacking in this place, it's fairly easy for me to predict what we will or won't be able to accomplish with this hypothetical house. But it's sure great to plan on being awesome...