I should know by now that driving through most subdivisions fills me with a sense of incredulity at how the designers of these buildings can't seem to get much of anything right. Don't get me wrong I am not asking for High Victorian splendour, I am equally impressed when a tract builder can get simple proportion and some common sense detailing right - I just wish it could happen more often. Just for fun, here are some incredibly badly executed details that are all from one "development":
I have beaten this drum before, but it bears another go around (as it seems to be everywhere) - a column that bears somewhere that makes no visual sense, well, makes no visual sense. Perhaps the bottom of this column is inside the garage… ah yes the splendour of the garage - so important that we overwhelm the front of our homes with a box for our car. Your front door is the welcoming point of your home and the last place to settle for daft details like this.
A bit more effort would go a long way with this house. While colour can be relatively subjective, I think we can all agree that the pure white of the trim here is too stark and the grey of the "stone" (undoubtedly concrete that thinks it is stone) is rather bland. Where it really goes off the rails is the white flashing at the bottom of the upper storey wall above the porch and the dormer above the garage.
With a bit of forethought and for no extra cost the flashing should be grey like the masonry and roofing - and it disappears from sight instead of standing out like a sore thumb. You can also see it peeking out below the blue upper gable siding. These are small but important details that tract builders often leave to chance and they ruin an otherwise reasonable design. The porch column bases should be slightly wider - they have a "cone head" effect with the columns above, and the single vertical post above the porch steps is far too skinny and lacks imagination.
Fake stone on the front, brick on the side - pick one and roll with it. The height is bizarre - slightly higher than the sills of both the front and side windows looks like a ridiculous mistake. The front roof columns are too skinny and straight, undoubtedly made from pressure treated lumber by the framing crew. Lastly this trend of stone / brick on the bottom and siding above has got to stop. The difference in depth that causes the eavestrough downspouts to jog out gives us more unnecessary visual clutter.
Most of what I said about the last house applies to this one as well - but this one adds a small sliver of "stone" between the garage doors - lets imagine this house with one wide garage door (which is actually less costly than two smaller doors, and I know you tract builders are held hostage to every nickel) and the result is better - we lose the look of "we're having a hard time fitting everything in".
We need to start valuing proper design - even if we build 50 houses all the same in a development. With a little planning and some common sense these homes can look so much better.
Rory McDonnell is a General Contractor, Licensed Carpenter and Architectural Designer with Build, a construction firm in Stratford, Ontario, specializing in new custom homes and renovations.
I am a licensed carpenter,