Bow Roof Cape Cod

fromnhJanuary 28, 2009

Hi, Ive been interested in building a center chimney cape cod house with a ell (( new house but with a historical characteristics).. I have found that a bow roof would be better.. no knee walls, etc..

I have been searching the internet, trying to find books . But the bow roof house is just not popular... I am wondering if anyone has built one, has pictures and can get me their thoughts on the bow roof cape... thanks!!

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I forgot to add the link of the house..

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 2:44PM
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My guess is the cost keeps a lot of people from building one, hence why you don't see it much.

I think it adds a nice detail, but I'm guessing this is one where budget wins for most people.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 6:45PM
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Way long ago there used to be plans offered for sale in the back of Popular Science for bow-roof cape houses.
I suspect they figured out how to reuse quonset-hut technology (or parts) to make the rafters.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 7:19PM
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Have always loved the look. I'd guess your best bet would be to check your local library for books on antique New England architecture, classic NE plans, etc. This is one where what you need may be more plentiful on paper than the net.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 7:21PM
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Saw many on Cape Cod in the mid eighties. The newer constructed ones had laminated rafters special milled locally. The other advantage besides open area without knee walls is that it is incredibly strong roof structure especially in snow country with high snow load requirements.

Hopefully Mighty Anvil will chime in with references/ websites and his thoughts!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 9:39PM
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Try this link if you are looking for plans, ideas, or a complete home building package. I do not have a Bow House, but do Love them.
We are at the tail end of building a new/old home and this is one of the companies that I did contact.
The woman that I spoke with is where I got the idea to minimize kitchen cabinets by adding a large pantry to my design.
Didn't go with a Bow House, because DH didn't Love the style as much as I did.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bow House Inc.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 8:23AM
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Thanks for all the replies....

jenanla, I see that this company is not to far from New Hampshire...I'm going to see if maybe I can set up an appointment... What was your overall impression of this company?

I really love the look of the Bow Roof Cape Cod....

I am also wondering.. how do I get the weathered look from the link picture I posted..

Does anyone have any ideas??
To me, it giving that look like the house has been there for awhile and does not scream "I'm a new construction!"

I'd like to do vinyl shakes.. not wooden shakes..

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 9:50AM
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"I am also wondering.. how do I get the weathered look from the link picture I posted"

Ask painting contractors in your area. There's a bleaching method used that gives the weathered look better than staining but i dont know the method or products used.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 9:54AM
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I've always loved the bow roof and would have built one if I could have talk DH into it. There is an old farmhouse I've coveted for years with that design. Practicality-wise, the use of space is great and the aesthetic to me is so classic.

In answer to the weathered look, see the Cabot Bleaching Oil, linked below. Haven't personally used it, but have seen it. We did use Cabot stain for our exterior and it is a good product.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cabot Bleaching Oil

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 9:38PM
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I found the people at Bow House Inc. easy to deal with. They were easy to contact, and very helpful with information. I would definitely recommend calling them.
I could not convince DH to go with the Bow roof. He, well actually, we both love a Saltbox, so that was what we decided on.
Somehow we ended up building a center chimney Colonial.
I still drool every time I drive by a Bow Roof, I think they are simply stunning.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 12:30AM
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Thanks for everyones response...

jenanla I contacted Bow Roof, INC. I can not wait to hear back from them!

jilliferd, thanks for the link to Cabot stain.. It is exactly what i am looking for.. that natural, weathered look, without relying on the weather BUT i wanted to know if I could have that look by using a vinyl shake?? Is that possible? I have not seen any pictures on here but maybe I have overlooked ??

Where I live, you see all different kinds of capes but I have not seen any Bow Roof Capes.. The house is going to be built in between two VERY Older capes. But I have always loved that look of weathered/lived in homes.


    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 3:41PM
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Is the reason you don't want to do wood shakes because of the maintenance or cost? Once they are weathered, I don't believe they require any additional maintenance. A higher end vinyl isn't cheap either, but labor install costs may be less I suppose. Since we are entirely DIY we focus more on material cost.

There is a house not far from us that used the vinyl weathered shakes and while it doesn't look terrible, it would not fool the eye especially if it is between two older, authentic capes. Maybe there are other products out there better than the ones I have seen. There have been some Nichia (Sp?) photos on GW that look pretty good in pictures.

We did Certainteed cement board lap siding and stained it on-site and when looking for shake products for the gables (cement board, vinyl, etc.) decided that nothing looked like the real thing but the real thing. So we will have a little more maintenance but worth it IMHO.

I hope you will keep us updated on your findings and decide to ultimately build.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 2:07PM
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I don't know why it would be particularly difficult to build a bow roof cape or why it's popularity would be an issue. It would have knee walls like any other 1 1/2 story house.

there are companies that make bowed rafters (see link) so the additional material cost should be minimal and a cheaper way to add some character to a house rather than using the standard repeating gable cliche.

The shingles you want are resawn white cedar made by Maibec from Canada and are dipped in Cabot's Bleaching Oil (or another Cabot stain) at the factory. I have used them many times and they require less maintenance than any other siding and age quickly to a cold silver gray. You could also use natural red cedar with no stain but they will age less evenly with dark areas under the eaves, etc. but they will last 40-50 years even on the ocean which is why they were used in the first place.

Here is a link that might be useful: bowed rafters

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 3:09PM
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jilliferd... I am not opposed to wooden shakes. I was under the impression that they require more maintence than vinyl.... Do you know if the maintence would be if I used them for the roofing??

mightyanvil or anyone else.. Do you know why the roofs of an ells or the roofs of the additions to Bow Roof Capes are not bowed but rather a straight pitch(not sure if that is the correct term). I am thinking that I would like to bow the roofs but I am not sure if it would look awkward..

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 1:37PM
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