Columns to nowhere are unsightly.
This house could look so much better, just envision it:
- minus the round top window over the front door;
- with much shorter columns (it would be nice if they supported an actual beam);
- and the gable roof dropped down so the fascia lines up with the rest of the house.
Then it would actually shelter the entry point, and not look like a ridiculous afterthought.
A small and efficient Tumbleweed Tiny House.
it's something of a buzz word these days. It would seem that everything we as builders use is getting more expensive due to cost or limited availability. Everything that leaves the site (fill) or arrives on site (concrete, lumber, drywall, etc.) comes by truck, and many of those things are very heavy. They use fuel, and lots of it. Those materials may have a lot of embodied energy to manufacture them, such as concrete, drywall, aluminum, windows and doors. Many are petroleum based, as are asphalt shingles, certain flooring materials and paints. Often those materials are being put into houses that are not as energy efficient as they might be. We are currently building an unsustainable type of housing that is for the most part too big, too inefficient, too poorly designed, and headed for the landfill in too short a time period. Some of the manufactured products going into these houses is junk, vinyl windows, cheap asphalt shingles (which can't stand the increased UV levels) and miles of vinyl siding that is buckling weeks after being installed.
Why not build something better the first time around? Build it smaller which is possible if properly designed. Build it better... more masonry, higher insulation levels, upgraded finishes. Then live in it longer than average and enjoy it more.
Smaller and better is less expensive to build, less expensive to tax, less expensive to heat and cool, less expensive to furnish, less expensive to decorate, less to clean. Yes, like many things in life... less is more.
Architectural embellishment could cause water overload problems.
Our first example for "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly series was not difficult to find. Just a quick spin through a couple of subdivisions and, oops, there it is!
Here is an example of an "architectural embellishment" that creates big-time water problems. I'm not quite sure what to call this structure that has been added between two rooflines, and completely blocks two valleys, carrying 60% of the rainwater from the front of the roof. The valleys have been "re-directed" around this obstruction, but judging by the attractive vertical flashing that has been added, the volume of water coming down must surely overload the gutters and make approaching the front door treacherous in cold weather.
Below is a fine example of the "floating porch roof" – No beams. It appears as though at any moment, the posts will punch right through the ceiling from the load. Beams create visual sense, even today, when they are often no longer structurally necessary.
Floating Porch Syndrome. Adding beams would create a cohesive look.
Example of a perfectly balanced Ontario Cottage. A new house can be beautiful.
The origins of "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly" began with my frustration with the average subdivision "spec" home... a mish-mashed muddle of misplaced and missing details:
- columns supporting flat soffit (no beams),
- porch posts that are far too thin,
- turrets above garages where there is obviously no living space inside,
- a tiny smattering of "gingerbread" (I hate that word...but that's another tangent),
- "welcome to my garage" facades.
Can we please just build simple, simply adorned, pleasing and symmetrical homes? I want to empower my clients to make solid choices when renovating through education of the building industry. Like so many things in life, we should go back to the origins of the bungalow and keep it simple. Forget the pseudo-Victorian trim tacked up above the porch; give the substantial posts something to support; and make the focus the front entry, NOT the garage! And leave the country farmhouse style screen door at the building center.
Simple, pleasing... please.
A few simple chores to keep your home healthy into the next season.
I have had a number of clients ask me to put them on a yearly "clean out my eavestroughs" list, which morphed into an Annual Inspection service in the fall. With this in mind, here's my list of autumn chores:
- clean eavestroughs (gutters for my American clients)
- check roof (missing shingles, ice damage, chimney flashings)
- inspect caulking and flashings (bay windows, fireplaces, windows & doors)
- evaluate grading (to prevent water accumulating next to foundation)
- prune back plantings (whoa...isn't that landscaping? See below)
- paint touchups to exterior woodwork
- clean your chimney (and check that the cap is critter proof)
The common element in the above is water. It is without a doubt a homeowners (and builders) worst enemy. Less stuff in the gutters means less ice on the roof in winter. Caulking is self explanatory... but never rely totally on caulking, if there isn't a flashing behind that caulking, switch builders. And the pruning of shrubs and bushes is a reminder which arose out of a beautiful old porch I just inspected. If it hadn't been crowded by outrageously overgrown yews for the past 15 years, the client may have had to sink $2500 into a paint job, instead of $20,000 on a rebuild. Wood will last a long, long time if it is painted and allowed to stay reasonably dry.
A final thought... never hire the builder who can be there right away. There is almost always a good reason for that.