First elevation pictures for comments

rkalishMay 18, 2012

We've progressed the interior to a point where my architect started on the exterior of the house.

It is only a first set of drawings - some items don't line up completely. The back of the house requires work. I want to take advantage of the southern exposure and high ceilings on first floor, so will be working with him to add more and higher windows to kitchen and den. May also look at adding more character / shape to the rear with bay/bow or build-out for the den.

Would like to get comments, suggestions and feedback on the design.


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I would probably remove the gable over the center window upstairs: the gable over gable and recess altogether is a bit much.

I would probably also do a different window in the middle, perhaps a center window with smaller sidelights because right now there are all pairs.

The front facing gables should have a lower pitch than the main roof, right now it looks to be the same.

The small roof to the right hand side of the second story is kind of a weak terminus: the rooflines slowly go downhill from left to right. This is repeated in the high windows to the left of the front door and the lower windows to the right.

I think it is a pleasant looking elevation but right now a couple of things are getting the same amount of emphasis (gables and windows as above), the front facade doesn't quite have a focal center.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:37PM
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If we get remove the gable over the center window, is the roof just flat there? Not sure how that would look.

I agree on the window in the middle. Definitely needs something different and not in pairs. Will start exploring alternatives.

Not sure I understand about the pitch of the front facing gables - could you elaborate

I see what you mean by the right side of the house going 'downhill'. Will talk to the architect about that.

What would you suggest to create more of a focal point? At one point I had thought of only a porch on one side. Not sure how that would change things.

Thanks for the input.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:08PM
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Yes the roof would be flat in the middle. The emphasis would be on the recess with the different window.

If you look at classical architecture usually the pitch or angle of secondary roofs (like the front facing gables) are lower than the main roof. Right now the eaves on the far right and left front facing gables are "pork chop" returns.(The white triangle) I would probably have no return or relatively flat return, with a bit of flashing on it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:20PM
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I agree about the pork chop returns - not crazy about those and they impede the view to the entrance.

Not sure what change could be made to the roof angle - the top roof is fairly shallow so the front roof would have to be even shallower.

Will try to have the architect show me different views for the center top gable (or no gable) and window.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 9:09PM
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The pork chop returns are the ones on the two upper gables to the right and left: the strong vertical, but I agree that the returns on the central porch gable are too large as well.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:21AM
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palimpsest, I worked with my architect on your comments. Getting rid of the porkchops on the center gable. We tried views without the upper central gable and decided I like it better with it in place, but will be changing the window pair to probably a center window with smaller side windows.

We also discussed the garage being at the 'low' right side of the house and looking like an afterthought. He's going to experiment with adding a gable or other roof piece or direction on it to raise it up and give it more connection to the house.

I was thinking about your thoughts on making the lower roof a smaller pitch. Would that also make the front porch ceiling higher? I think that would be advantageous to open up the view to the top of the door a bit and the living room window top.

Will post new pictures when I get them
thanks again

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:04PM
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Epiarch Designs

which is your south face? you mentioned "higher windows to take advantage"...this is actually not the case. Solar design requires more then simply playing with window sizes. Larger windows do not always equal more southern heat gains, which is what I assume you are after.
What is your climate/location?
To maximize solar gains you need to take into account sun angles for peak summer and winter gains. you want the overhangs and window sill heights to be placed so that it blocks the summer sun rays during the peak angle height, which occurs at the end of June.
Different types of glass packages can also increase your heat gains. Windows with high SHGC numbers are ideal to be placed on the south side. The u value will be higher, but depending on the climate and design, these windows will be a net gain heat source (they gain more heat then they lose during the winter). SHGC numbers about .45 are the target, mid .50s should be the goal. Most window brands are finally coming out with high solar gain glass packages.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:50PM
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I hadn't been considering the heating and cooling effect of the windows.

The back of the house faces directly south with a mixture of trees giving sun/shade during the day and I wasn't thinking of solar heating, but simply of the light and brightness the southern exposure gives to a room as well as views of the yard.

Will be doing tree trimming to get more/less sun.

The house is being built to strict energy star compliance by code, and will require high SHGC heat/cool efficient windows. Haven't started the selection on those yet.

I will discuss with the architect how he sees the windows.
We are in NY so mix of winter and summer requirements.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 6:10PM
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Have some revised drawings. Major differences are
- Gable over garage - brings the garage back into the fold and gives some character to the right side of the house.
- Modified the upper center window to be a window with side-lites rather than window pair.
- rid of pork chops on entranceway gables

Comments welcome

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Now, I would try something other than a paired window on the second floor to the far right, the dependency between the main body of the house and the garage.

Right now it is the only part of the house with fully aligned windows up and down and I find myself lokking at that more than at the entryway, because it is a strongly organized center. I would try shorter windows, or a single window--something to make that part of the house more secondary to the main facade.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 5:03PM
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See what you mean - it is very aligned and almost distracting. Will try out the shorter or single. Might be better with a single in that bedroom on 2nd floor to gain some additional wall space.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 5:26PM
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I realize you've already made some modifications to the roof but I think you may still have a problem. In the image below I've circled a spot in red where your garage roof slopes down INTO a rising exterior wall. Rain water will wash down and collect in this spot leading to an early roof failure.

The dashed green lines on your floorplan suggest that maybe you have a short segment of exterior wall here that angles southwest instead of a south facing wall segment - and that will help some by giving you a little bit of a downward slope along the line where roof and wall meet. But still, I'd lay odds that leaves and debris will tend to collect in this spot, get wet, stay wet, and cause problems.

You haven't posted your upstairs plan but, if it were me, I'd so some redesigning so as to get rid of the "gable within a gable" effect. If the outermost gable wall ran across to the peak of the garage, you would not have this problem.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Really appreciate the catch on the roof 'ditch'. Definitely a trouble spot. Will talk to my architect. Below for reference are the 2nd floor plans. Shouldn't be too hard to modify.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 7:02PM
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That would also solve the problem of the weak visual terminus on your upper roof, because the ridge could be carried straight across instead of breaking. There is no need for the setback on the rear corner of the house as the architect has designed.

One of the things that I don't understand about current architecture is the tendency to add little bumpouts to the plan and the love of complex rooflines. There are much better ways to add detail, and the savings by doing simpler forms could be reallocated into better materials.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 9:41PM
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I have been learning so much since I started this project and have been asking for advice from GW members. My wife and I took this on as a project that would be extremely challenging and fun. So far, it has been both and am still in the design phase. We are trying to quickly get the design to a phase where plans can be drawn up and can start talking to builders and your help is really pushing that along.

To keep things rolling, below are images of the rear. You can see better the offset roofs that would be cleaned up by pushing the rightmost roof to the back.

The back still needs work. Latest iteration put larger windows in the den (right most) and larger kitchen window.
Not sure how I feel about the small gable over the left rear door.

Any suggestions to add a bit of 'life' to the rear are appreciated. The bigger windows helped, but it still seems like it could be improved. I'm not too concerned with the rear of the garage, but more with the central living areas and how it will look from the yard.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 10:17PM
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I would get rid of the break on the lower roof, if I could ,and get down to the single setback on the upper story and get them all under one rook on the back, just shortening it like he has with the first setback.

I would put more windows in the back of the garage, to make it look like part of the house. They don't have to operate, just look like they do.

Remember, there will be a patio or something so it won't be as barren as it looks now, but

I would put a window in the master walk in closet, I would put a large window on the back stair landing.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 10:49PM
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I like the idea of a window (even if small) in the master closet. I have one now and use ambient light most of the time for getting dressed. Gets rid of the blank spot on the back 2nd story wall.

A bigger window for the back staircase will brighten up the landing.

I think I understand your roof suggestions - basically combine the two upper small setback roofs to one, and then raise them both to be level with the main roof if possible. A simpler design.

Has one additional advantage - more contiguous area for the Solar PV system. Plan to install a fairly large system over the upper roof.

And then possibly the same for the garage roof - get rid of the setup on that roof - would that imply raising it a foot or two to match the other roof line?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:23PM
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