A rather important element in the construction of a new house is the very first step - design. In the not too distant past home design followed set rules of form and proportion, and the result was homes that made sense to the eye and were pleasing in form. The plans may have come from an architect, an experienced builder or even a catalogue or pattern book. Certainly there were designers who thought outside the box so to speak, but they did so in logical and thoughtful ways. More recently we have the "I can design my own house" mentality - and we certainly are not richer for it!
The result is homes like this - designed by builders where the bottom line is key and a draftsperson is paid minimally to design something "unique". With five different exterior wall finishes, a column holding up nothing but a stuccoed beam, and a walk out roof deck above the double car garage. How bizarre.
Another in the same development, oddly jutting forms, a collection of mismatched window styles and sizes, and this use of cheaper vinyl siding on side walls has to stop - we can see it from the front and it just screams "I was built on a budget".
And right around the corner, as if to emphasize that this development can indeed have "oh so many" poorly designed houses, sits this garage with an entry way tacked on the side. I could not determine why the roofline above the garage is so high, no windows indicating living space above it - and that is another design rule - if it doesn't make visual sense to the casual observer, it cannot appeal. This one certainly does not!
We are drawn to houses such as these for very basic reasons - they make sense - the porch is for sitting on, the front door is prominent and logically used to enter and be greeted, the large window is a sitting room, the upper gable windows are bedrooms, etc. The detailing is pleasing and shows that these homes were built by craftsmen who were proud of their work and took care with the construction. We have so many examples of how to do it right, that our insistence on doing it poorly by reinventing the home and "improving" it is a real head shaker.
Rory McDonnell is a General Contractor, Licensed Carpenter and Architectural Designer with Build, a construction firm in Stratford, Ontario, specializing in new custom home builds and renovations.
I am a licensed carpenter,