exterior elevation help

TammyTEAugust 22, 2013

Still working to make this look right. You can see my original post in the link with earlier pictures. A friend of mine said that we would not be happy with the rooflines because the pitches were different and didn't line up well. He also said we wouldn't like the dormers being different sizes and that it's not symmetrical. I think we would probably like the different dormers but the other stuff I have honestly been concerned about.

Here's the most recent one the designer sent. She changed the roof pitches so that the side sections are the same pitch as the middle section. She also raised the roof on the left (master bedroom) section to match the height of the right (garage) section.

I imagine doing all those things will add a lot of cost. Right?

Do you think it looks right now? Are all those changes worth the money in the long run? Do you think it would look better if we just changed the ceiling height so both sections match each other in height but left the pitches different? I think if the pitches are different it only looks odd from the side, right?

Here is a link that might be useful: original post

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Sophie Wheeler

Just do a single shed dormer across the whole top. It would look better than the two off sized ones. Asymmetry only works when there's overall balance, and you've focused on attempting a symmetrical look without symmetry or asymmetrical balance.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 7:35AM
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I think you should remove the porch railing and put in some larger columns and just have an open porch. Some shutters would be a nice touch too.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 8:39AM
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The drawing appears to be drawn incorrectly; it should not be possible for the dormer bottoms to be so close to the roof eave drip line. The result is that the dormers appear to have slipped forward onto the porch roof and the window sills are too close to the second floor.

You should show a side elevation and better yet the preliminary section the designer used to determine the relationship of the elements in order to draw the elevation or 3D computer model. If that hasn't been worked out yet, your designer rushed ahead and needs to stop and pay attention to the structural relationship of the walls and roofs.

In any event, do whatever you need to do to get the dormers to appear to sit higher one the main roof.

Always show the floor line on an elevation and the side elevation so others can understand what is happening in the building. Elevations are poor design visualization tools. They show everything accurately in scale in 2D but that is not what your eye sees. This appears to be a 3D model so why not look at it in 3D?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 8:54AM
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holly-I see what you are saying. I thought about the one long dormer and I wasn't sure how to make it work. I need to revisit that idea.

spotty-No railing at all? That would probably look nice but I'm not sure I would feel comfortable with no railing. We've got young kids.

Reno-I think I understand you, although I'm really bad at all this. (Which is why I come here for help!) I noticed the dormers looked low and asked her about that and she said they are where they should be and just look funny because of the computer program. I have asked her to send me side views of this most recent pic. I also asked her to be sure she input all the environmental stuff in correctly as far as which way it faces, sun exposure and such. Is that what all you are talking about?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:11AM
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This is not a true "elevation drawing" but a close up view of a 3D perspective. Ask your designer to turn off "perspective projection" so the drawing will be in "parallel projection" and therefore show the true "elevation" of the house. Then it will be possible to correctly judge the different height relationships. In the perspective view all your designer needs to do to confuse these relationships is to raise or lower the view point.

It would also help to see a true side view elevation.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 1:10PM
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Thank you! I asked her for just that. I'll post it when I get it. :)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 1:13PM
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There is more than one way to frame a 1 1/2 story house so a wall section is critical in understanding the appearance of the house.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 8:44PM
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It would be good to see the plan. If these dormers are still the only windows in the bedrooms, even if they meet the clear opening required for ventilation and emergency escape, you should rethink the oversized wings.

For that reason and to get the dormers above the porch roof I would raise the ground floor ceiling to 9-0 and platform frame the second floor.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Reno8- What do you mean by oversized wings? Do you mean the 2 side sections of the house?

I am still waiting on her to send the new pics.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 3:12PM
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Yes, the two side sections don't appear to relate well to the main building. Different slopes and ceiling heights make the eave lines awkward and possibly difficult to flash. A center building with wings has This been used for hundreds of years but usually with a two story center building.

Are the garage doors 9 ft tall?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 5:38PM
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I think they are 9'. We plan to get a 15 passenger van so we looked up the clearance needed and went with a door that would work for that. Pretty sure it was 9'.

As for the rest of the plan, we were trying to keep it simple boxes to help with cost. Should we turn one of the wings so the gable is in the front or something?

Here's the most recent plan I have on my computer. A few things have changed but for the most part this is fairly current.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 5:47PM
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Here's the upper level. There have been changes here too but I don't have those on file.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 5:49PM
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Bridget Helm

i think one shed dormer on top will look better than the 2 differing dormers. i also think fattercolumns and no railings will beef up the the front and balanbe nicely with the one beefy shed dormer

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 5:56PM
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Would it look better to separate the garage and house? Put the mudroom in between the two spaces. The mudroom would be one level but the garage would still be taller. Almost like a closed in breezeway. This might also help my situation with the half bath and mudroom layout. I really would like a bit more room in there.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 8:36PM
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Maybe like this?

Would this be more expensive to do the mudroom/garage this way? If we did it this way I would probably turn the garage so the gable was in front. If we did that could it still be a side entry with the taller doors?

I like the flow of this mudroom/half bath better. There's a spot for a drop zone between the half bath and the kitchen entrance.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 9:09PM
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I feel like I'm talking to myself but I went ahead and worked on this a bit in the software I have. The plan I had saved isn't an exact match but it was close enough to serve the purpose here.

What if I switched the kitchen and dining (to get more light into the ktichen) and put a breezeway style mudroom section in between the garage and house? The mudroom would be a one level section with the roof facing the same as the house. The garage would turn 90* and have the gable facing front.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 12:18AM
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Try moving the larger dormer about 3 ft to the right and repeating it again on the other side. The left one would include the small bedroom and the stairway and the other would match it symmetrically. Then both bedrooms can have 2 windows.

You could leave the dormers separate or join them with a slower sloped roof, a common false dormer treatment New England. The connector could be set back a foot so the faces of the dormers still seem separate.

This post was edited by Renovator8 on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 22:28

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 6:27PM
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Looking at the second floor plan, and the unsymmentrical layout of the spaces, I think a continuous shed dormer across the front would be the best looking. Windows could be designed to match, and provide light for both bedrooms and the stair well.

As it is, it appears the designer has just looked at the second floor plan and plunked windows into the upper bedrooms with little regard to the exterior appearance.

Reno's sketch looks good, but there's something that appears amiss about the location of the windows and the actual plan location of the stairs. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 9:49AM
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Reno-I like your drawing but I don't think it will light the stairs. Which is fine, since it's not doing that now. Do you think that will look fine though?

It seems my problem is that the center ends up looking symmetrical but the two side sections are not the same so it doesn't work. :(

Virgil, the designer just sent me this picture with a continuous dormer. She also sent the upper floorplan adjusted to make it work. She said maybe we should make the dormer even bigger to make the interior work well.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:28AM
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Here's the upper plan to go with the large shed dormer.

I don't like how it chops up the smaller bedroom, but I guess it gives that one more space. I dunno. I'm still not in love.

Maybe if we turned the garage? Would that look right? I worked up that other plan that I posted above with the breezeway style mudroom and I like that a lot but it adds 12' to the width which will make things difficult on our land layout.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:31AM
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Also I am open to more suggestions on the upper level. If anyone has a way to make it into 3 bedrooms instead of one large and one small up there I would love some ideas.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 11:39AM
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Sophie Wheeler

If you turned the garage roof's ridge orientation and made it the same ridge height as the main roof, you could use the room above the garage as bedroom space if you paid good attention to insulating the garage ceiling.

That would create more asymmetry to the facade, then the left gable wouldn't have to work so hard to be symmetrical. A shed dormer for the larger dormer, and keep the gabled dormer for the small one.

The minimal amount of square footage that this adds wouldn't be that expensive, as it's bedrooms. But, it would give you your three bedrooms easily, with the current small bedroom being able to be a study.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 8:22PM
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Thanks for doing that Holly. I will run this idea by.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 10:40PM
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If the stair were to be moved to the other side of the lower hall it might be centered in the house and the upper bedrooms could be of equal size and if a shed dormer were added to the rear, another bedroom could be added. This seems like a 2 story house trying to fit within a 1 1/2 story shell.

I wouldn't mix dormer types on such a small house and to work well in the small bedroom a shed dormer should be as wide as possible.

If a shed dormer roof extends to the ridge line it will have about a 6 in 12 slope which is good. If it stops lower, it will have about a 4 or 5 in 12 slope.

It is also possible to join the double dormer scheme that I posted earlier. At any rate, the porch and dormers prevent this design from being a simple Cape Cod style so I would treat it as a "cottage" and use shingles without corner boards and apply close rakes with simple eaves without "mutton chop" cornice returns.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 8:24AM
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I was thinking along the same lines as Reno, i.e., move the stair on the first level so that it is as centered as possible on the first and second floors. This will make two reasonable sized bedrooms on the second level. And it appears that a shed dormer on the back may enable a small third bedroom, or other usable space, to be added under the roof, if desired. If you want to make the attic space above the garage usable, you will need a corridor in order to access it, thus making the large bedroom smaller to achieve a minimum 3'-6" clear corridor.

That said, I like the change in exterior massing that your study permits by separating the garage from the house with the laundry space. This would likely make it difficult or impossible to access the attic space over the garage, however.

Whatever you do, I would not consider the very bulky and ungainly proportion of the elevation with the 2-story garage plopped against the house as shown above. This approach changes the character and proportions of the house completely and not for the better, IMO. If you want to access the garage attic space, leave it the way it is and work a corridor into the second floor to access that space.

Good luck with your project!

If you want to access and

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 9:01AM
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Oh gosh. I've gotta look up some of those definitions from Reno. I have no idea what some of that is. :)

Virgil-I also like the look of the laundry separating the garage. I also like how it flowed better on the main level. I was able to move the kitchen to the back wall and get more light in there. I just don't know if I can make it work with our land layout. If we did that can we use space above the master section or is it too low?

I hadn't thought about a shed dormer off the back. Can I use the space over the garage if the doors are 9' tall? That's possible. I'm sure that's even more money though. Of all the options, which do you guys think would be cheapest to build?

Shed dormer off back
Using space over garage
Using space over master section

As for the bedrooms, I would prefer to have 3 bedrooms up there. 2 good size and one could be a bit smaller. We have 4 girls and a boy so I really don't want just 2 bedrooms of equal size.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Would it look dumb to have more of a saltbox style? The 2 story part would be in the back and the front would have the longer looking roof with dormers. I can't find a pic of what I'm trying to explain. Just trying to figure out how to get more space upstairs, as cost effectively as possible but still get the dormer look that we like.

Not asking for much huh?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 1:01PM
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Renovator8 awesome pics! Hats off to you!


    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Thanks Jen, I find a computer model to be a very poor design tool unless you are just trying to get the roof shapes to work and for that SketchUp is the only software that allows me to design as I draw. The rest are stiff and cumbersome.

A Saltbox is a shallow 2 story house with the rear roof slope continued down over a 1 story rear extension to the first floor. I've see them located sideways but never with the back facing the street. A Colonial Saltbox doesn't have dormers or a porch.

If you want to add floor space to the 2nd floor try extending the front eave of the main roof to the front edge of the porch and use dormers. That was a common Colonial configuration in the Tidewater South (Southeastern USA). Here's one from 1810 in NC:

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 4:56PM
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Fori is not pleased

For what it's worth, you don't need a 9 foot garage door for a van unless it's a class B RV. They usually cap at around 7', so do double check that if it's creating problems.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 5:59PM
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If the height of the van is 7 ft. or less, an 8 ft high door should be adequate and a low overhead door rail system should allow a 9 ft finish ceiling height in the garage just like in the main house thereby simplifying the structure.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 6:26PM
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