Roof and Exterior Help

jeff2013September 4, 2013

Updated 09/04/2013:
Link to Previous Roofs and Elevations
from the architect on July 22nd, 2013.

Over one month ago, I posted the design pictures that I received from my architect. I have received some good comments regarding the roofs, elevations, floor plans, and budget.

While there are some criticisms regarding the various aspects of the design, it is my intention to continue the work with the architect for various reasons below
a) I had switched from a drafting person to this architect and hate to start over again. $$$$ already spent between the two of them.
b) there are some elements in the design that I do like.
c) I would like to give the architect some benefits of doubt in areas that I do not know much about, such as styles, structures, etc.

I had been working really hard on the floor plans and received tremendous help from people on kitchen and bath forums. While the floor plans are still not finalized yet, I think they are greatly improved.

Here, I am posting the designs mainly for help with the roofs and exterior. For the roofs, I have roofs on the top 2nd floor and garage at 6/12 and the front porch/dining/play room, and back patio /great room bottom sections at 3/12. The low pitched roofs are mainly to allow vaulted ceilings in great room and dining room and to have windows in gallery and game room areas.

1. Top /garage roofs with 2nd floor plan no dimension labels

2. Bottom roofs with main floor plan no dimensions

3. Top roofs with 2nd floor plan and dimensions

4. Main floor front section with dimensions

5. Main floor back section with dimensions

Even though I do not have the elevations yet and the complete windows are not there, any inputs on the potential elevations would be appreciated.

My main questions are
A. Would the roofs work? In terms of function, appearance, and cost.
B. Would the house look OK?
C. Any suggestions for improvement?

Next, I would do more work on my own (3D modeling) if needed. Or if I am convinced this is a viable design, I may just present the ideas to the architect and let him improve the design accordingly.
I know I still need to take care of the budget issues but I would do that later in a separate thread.

Thanks for your reading and I appreciate your comments! JF

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Wed, Sep 4, 13 at 18:06

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think that if you want opinions about the exterior looks you would be better off showing the elevations and complete roof plan.

I can't tell what that bit of roof to the side of the master bath is. Style wise I am guessing you are going for something modern?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 5:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I have updated the message to include a link to the previous thread with the latest work from the architect in July showing
the roofs, 4 elevations, floor plans, and some 3D views.

I would like to seek feedbacks on my revisions (still along the line of the architect's work) and anything we can do to make it better (before we start it over if we have to).

That small roof section to the left of the master bath is for dectorative purpose, to form a symmetric counterpart of the right side secondary roof over the porch/dining.

Thanks a lot!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 6:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A 4/12 slope is generally the recommended minimum for pitched roofs with shingle-type roofing materials. A 3/12 may require special underlayment treatment, depending on the type of roofing to be used, particularly if you live is snowy and icey environments.

I like the zoning and economy of your floor plan--it is very efficient, except for the extravagance in the kitchen area which is obviously important to you. Your should understand that your floorplan is ill-proportioned. It is nearly as deep as it is wide, thus making for a very bulky aesthetic from all directions. This is mitigated, to an extent, by the irregular shape of the second story.

A full-width front porch may help with the bulky front elevation by breaking up the first floor mass. If you do this you might as well push out the dining room wall to at least align with the front entry wall. It will be inexpensive extra space.

You've chosen to use hip roof forms which are often rather visually ungainly, unless you have the proportions of Frank Lloyd Wright's houses, ie, long and narrow.

You will need to prepare and study elevations and perspectives to understand the impacts of your roof design decisions and whether or not you like them. Floor and roof plans will not be much help for studying this issue.

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 7:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I see the previous thread but this design is different than the old one and so it will not look the same.

Sorry to see you are having so much trouble with designers. -I don't understand why.

I don't really think this is an improvement over the original in terms of the exterior looks.

The layout is pretty close to the same -what did you think was wrong with the old one?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 7:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sophie Wheeler

It's still going to be bulky and awkward looking to your neighbors and for resale value. You didn't change anything that would fix that issue. A "square" house with a muffin top roof isn't visually pleasing. Hips only exacerbate that, as they provide even more roof bulk to see.

Research the "golden mean". Roughly, it's proportions in thirds. That's what the human eye finds visually pleasing. A home needs to be wider than it is long or longer than it is wide. Or have a distinction between "wings" that have similar pleasing proportions and then a main body that also has the proper proportions.

Think about gables. Not the gable within a gable of a house of a thousand gables look that's been so depressingly common the past few years. Just your simple gabled roof, where one dimension is longer than the other in the ridge direction. (See golden mean above.)

And think about pulling some of the depth out of this house to make it narrower, and the wings more distinct. Maybe the master becomes part of a wing like the garage is, with a small courtyard in between? Look at some hacienda style homes for inspiration. Most manage to have a lot of square footage but maintain pleasing proportions..

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 8:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, well if you are redesigning it to achieve better aesthetics than it would be better to start with some ideals.

The original design was fairly typical of a builder grade city house plan. (yes a bit on the cut up complicated side that could be simplified)

What is your idea of a beautiful house?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 9:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

RE: Roof and Exterior Help

This post was edited by dadereni on Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 14:11

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 11:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for your comments! I am glad there is something you like about the floor plan.
You raised a very important point of the house design problem-ill proportioned depth vs width. When I struggled with the kitchen design, I finally realized the kitchen is so challenging because it is a square of 16ft x 16ft while an ideal layout is a rectangle not a square.
I like the idea of full width front porch. I have sketched something below. I think it would compensate the cutout portions of the dining room to have better visual alignment and also to break up the main floor from second floor structures. Not sure if I interpreted your concept right.
Yes. I would explore other roof types besides hipped roof. I also need to study elevations and 3D views if I think the current design merits such efforts. It is not an easy task for me but I am willing to work as hard as I can (to help the architect’s design hours).

@Chris Stewart
Thank you asking the right questions. Even I do not have good answers to them yet, this will help me understand my strategic goal better.

Thank you for your inputs. I think I am starting to get it. There are some problems with the square footage and bulky look of the house.
I will research on golden mean rule of thirds, and look at Hacienda house styles. The last time I met with my architect in a coffee shop inside B&N, he offered to show me some books and I remember it included that.
As it cannot get any wider, it makes sense to shorten the house depth. I don’t know how to do it but will think about it. I will try the idea of gable roofs.

Yes. I realize that I was focusing on the floor plans so much that not adequate consideration has been given to exteriors and roofs. The floor plan is the only thing I understand well and I have no clue what the 3D part of the house design and I was hoping the architect would take care that for me. Unfortunately, it was not as simple as that and the architect even asked me to finalize the floor plan before he did the elevations. That is why we are in a difficult situation right now. I still hope if we can make the fixes/improvements and let the architect finish up the design.
There are two approaches here.
1. If there is no hope, we shall start fresh and do it as soon as possible. Find some other designer / architect. I am really hesitant to do that.
2. If I am satisfied with the architect and trust him why not let him finish up the work himself? Even my 10yr son questioned me, Dad, since you hired an architect, you paid him good money, and he is a professional, why are you keeping drawing? I am just worried about many things. There are things in floor plans wrong (for example, a 4ft by 4ft toilet closet, and 7.5”riser 11”tread staircase) and there are architectural aspects that I do not feel comfortable with regarding roofs and exteriors. Then there is budget.

I am taking the middle road. I am confident that I can take care of floor plans and budget. I just realized that I need to stay involved with exteriors/roofs design too. I remember the all angled walls and the problems with the latest design. This is really hard on me but it seems that I do not have a better approach. The architect is waiting for me to OK his design so that he can finish the construction documents (with 1/4 budgeted design time left). Apparently, I don’t think I am ready. I have improved the layouts in both kitchen and master bath a lot. I just don’t know what the outcome would be if I am out of the loop just let the architect do whatever the does…. However, I simply cannot afford extra $$$$ on a new architect.

Re: What is wrong with the old design?
Besides some flaws in the floor plans (that I can fix myself) and possible over the budget features yet to be addressed, there are some criticisms from the reviewers about the roofs and exteriors including
Complicated massing, complex rooflines, unbalanced/unsymmetrical left and right, top and down distribution, lack of architectural purposes other than serving the floor plan needs, etc.
The list goes on. I don’t understand all of the terms but believe they address the weakness of the design well. Personally, I have concerns about the two cut outs over the great room and the dining room. I also find the roof lines can be simplified. I am not sure if the roofs are too flat or the various pitches have a conflicting feel.
What do I expect from a beautiful house?
I don’t really know or I may have some preference but I cannot articulate my thinking of the different styles. I like traditional houses. I prefer a simple but elegant house. I like boxes but my wife/kids said anything too symmetric or plain looking boring to them. I don’t mind but they dislike cookie cutter designs.
Actually, my expectation is not that high for house appearance. I like it to be acceptable / looking good to us and the neighbors. If there is anything wrong, I would like it fixed or if there is anything we can do better, now is a good time to improve the design.

Re: Buildable width and depth
The design is limited by the lot dimensions of 70ft x129ft.
Width-We have maximized the width of 53ft (70ft-7ft setback-10ft setback) which is the wall to wall distance from the master bedroom to laundry. I have secured setback variance on one side with the city and may need to do another one on the other side (otherwise, the garage has to shift left by 3ft). Except that the dining room is not aligned with the west side wall, there is not much room for the house to go any wider.
Depth-We almost hit the limit of the overall depth of the lot. With 20ft front setback, we have only about 26 ft driveway (in front of the rear entry garage without alley) to back out and turn around. I like it to be 30ft.
Excluding powder room and laundry, the main part of the house is within the footprint of 56ft wide x 40ft deep. I don’t know if we can make it less square. A fundamentally different layout may be front entry from the west side or from the corner. I am not sure if HOA/city would allow that.

Re: Roof and exterior wall materials
I am inclined to have flat clay/concrete tiles for the roof and bricks for exterior walls with 2x6 wood studs. The recent drawings from the architect have stucco over block on the exteriors. The architect mentioned flat roofs as a solution to a simplified roof and modern flavor. We still prefer a more traditional house.
I am also looking at metal roofs. One idea is to have mixed roofs with tiles on top major roofs and garage and the metals on the secondary lower level flat roofs front and back. Not sure if the combination will work/look OK.

Re: Roof pitches
The architect’s design has 5/12 on the major (top and garage) roofs and 3/12 on secondary roofs. I have concerns that the roof pitches are too low (posing possible leak problems/difficulty in installation) and that there are two different pitches which is generally not constructive to the appearance. I was told that the minimum pitch is 3/12 for tile roofs. I was also told the secondary flat roofs are there to allow vaulted ceiling for great room and dining room and to allow windows on second floor gallery and game room.
When I asked if we can increase the roof pitches or make them the same (say both at 4/12), the architect proposed to change the major roof pitch to 6/12 so there is more contrast in the two pitches.
I am not sure if this has anything to do with climate, but I do see houses with flat tile roofs in our area (TX).

Thanks! JF

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Thu, Sep 5, 13 at 17:23

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 4:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We can move 2nd floor game room over to the place above the great room or the dining. Would that make the house look better?

Thanks! JF

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 7:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Can you post pictures of exteriors that you find pleasing? Preferably in houses of about the same size as what you propose to build. Saying you like a traditional houses doesn't articulate what you want as traditional means different things to different people.

Where are you building this house?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You can't put too much stock in other peoples opinions. They generally reflect the individuals personal tastes and you only need to please yourself and your family.

I see two issues:
Cost to build - yes a simple rectangle or square is cheaper to build than a house that has a lot of offsets, but it is fairly popular to have a complicated layout these days and the original was not unusual. It is hard to compare but I do not see the new plan as saving heated square footage.

Aesthetics - Are in the eye of the beholder. I think that the average buyer would have found your first house acceptable even though it may not meet an architectural ideal.

Designing any house requires compromise. Designing a house that normal people can afford requires a lot of compromise.

Most city lots are narrow and designed to be as small as possible in relation to the house size for reasons of economy and invariably end us up with the common look of modern subdivisions of large chunky two story houses squeezed together.

As far as affordability goes -a tile roof is very expensive and you would save quite a bit by making a box like a four square

I am in Texas also so I know something about costs here what kind of cost per square foot are you trying to achieve?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 10:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I feel your pain, Jeff. It is very hard to do this kind of design work yourself. However, I also realize finding a good architect is also a challenge. We ran into design issues when our house was framed out. The garage roof looked terrible and eventually we had to take that roof off (major $$$$). The architect was perplexed why we did not like the design he had done, and maintained all alone it was the best design possible (in fact the architect has never been as friendly to us since we told him the garage roof was to be changed). The people on this board were horrified by what it looked like after it was framed and helped brainstorm what to do to fix it. The only way we could find to fix it was to try a sketch-up of every style of roof style to see what looked best with the garage. Luckily my BIL is also an architect so he did all the sketch-ups for us. In the end a flat roof with deck with glass railing was what we went for for the garage roof (the rest of the roof is gables).

So in your case, I would use Sketch-up to try out different styles and pitches of roofs to see what would be aesthetically pleasing to you and family. Then run the top choices by the forum for more input. Perhaps starting with the floor plan you have worked so hard on might be appropriate. You may choose to alter the floor plan in the end to get the aesthetic look you want.

Here is a website of house plans showing a variety of house elevations in your approx width/depth limits. I suspect many would be seen as devoid of architecture style or overdone like a McMansion, but it might give you a starting point to narrow down the style of elevation you like and the ones you don't. Once you figure out what general style you like, the website Houzz might offer more images.

Good luck and I hope you and your DW are getting a bit of sleep when the new baby sleeps.


Here is a link that might be useful: stock plan site

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 10:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I can't help you. I wish I could, but roofs designs are complicated. However, I do imagine your changes in ceiling heights are not helping to keep the roof simple. Have you said why you need/want so many different ceiling heights? Would 9 feet everywhere not be nice?

I would love to see your roof with gables and not hips. I am just not a fan of hip roofs. Do you and your DW like them? I definitely think some Houzz image searching would be worthwhile for you at this stage.

How frustrating about the boys' bathroom. I think that is quite a design mistake. How frustrating that you had to pay for 5 hours of architect time. We have had similar frustrations in designing our house and paying for the architect to use ideas we came up with.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 2:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

$100 a square foot, even in TX, isn't going to be custom home territory. It's builder grade, and with a much more simple home than you show. I fear you're well priced out of your ballpark here. That's a complex home, well beyond a basic box, and in a location where the HOA demands expensive upgrades to the home.

A simpler budget plan is what you need. Unless you are going to be able to up that budget to match the requirements of this plan.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 3:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Why not tell the architect you want him to quickly sketch out a roof that is very simple, with very few valleys. I don't understand with a house your size why you need 5 different roof sections. Our house has one big gable over most of the house, with another gable over one side that has 5 foot bump out and then the flat roof over the garage with the glass decking. Our roof is plenty complicated visually.

There is a book that I found very helpful for brainstorming how our roof would look when we were planning our addition that I believe might help you simply your roof and ultimately get a more pleasing look. The book is called: Designs for Remodeling Your Home. It is written by Jerold Axelrod who is an architect. He has many photos of 3D block forms for house shapes including the roof. I found the book at our library, but then bought a copy. It is also available in ebook format for cheap. If you and your DW could find a shape you like, you could use that to show your architect what you like best.

I have linked the book below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Good book for roof forms

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 5:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree that the current plan will be very difficult to get to $100 per foot -although I am very surprised it is currently at $110. You must be in a very cheap labor area and require minimum foundation.

For that style of house I think the hips are appropriate, I guess I would tend to go more Spanish/Mediterranean.

I think something like this might help. All the details are not complete but it is the general idea.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I did not ask for different ceiling heights. Actually my inspiring floor plans have game room over the great room and I planed 10ft for 1st floor and 9ft for 2nd floor. I do take it as a bonus feature when higher ceilings in GR and DR are made available in the architect’s work (my initial plan with the home designer had a two story great room and we later decided not to do that).
Again, roofs and exteriors are not something that I had given a lot of thoughts into. It was simply beyond my comprehension when I was so occupied with the floor plans. Regarding the roof types, my first attempt was just two gabbles to show the architect that I would like to see something simple. As far as hipped roofs, we do not dislike them. In our area, it is very popular especially for houses with low pitch tile roofs.
I will explore other options for roofs/exteriors and am open to modifications to the floor plans. I don’t know how gable roofs would go with the current floor plan. If we need to change the floor plan, the biggest thing I can think of is to move the game room over the great room or the dining area. At this point, my immediate goal is to see if we can make the current design work.
As I am still counting on the architect to finish up the house design, I am not in a position to complain anything. It is hourly rate with a cap which we are certainly going to exceed. So there is definitely pressure on me. For example, I know communication is key to such a project. However, I am refraining from emails / meetings as a reply to my questions would easily exceed one hour and our last meeting went over one hour (he was nice to count only half hour as he had computer networking issue at the time).
I like it when you asked me to tell the architect to quickly “sketch out” a roof design. I recalled that the first floor plans from the architect is all angled walls, it cost him about 10hrs. If he could sketch something so unusual and seek out feedback before he went with the detailed plan, that would save us some money and anguish. I always envy people have handrew floor plans and I know Renovator does so for his clients and I admire him on that. I would buy the book and study more about gable and other roofs. However, right now my focus is on how to fix/improve the current design. Thanks!

@Live Wire Oak,
Thank you for your comments on the budget of the design. I still remember you provided me with very important inputs regarding the same budget issue on kitchen design.
I am almost done with floor plans and now focusing on the roofs and exteriors and would address budget next. Let me briefly explain my budget situation here.
1. Initial estimate. I came up with an initial number based on what I am willing to pay on houses on the market including existing and new homes. I used a high end of the price range and then added 10%-20% to that. It is very rough estimate on perceived value. It does not consider affordability or cost of building.
2. Builder estimate. I went to parade of homes and talked to at least a dozen builders in our area. At that time, I only have preliminary floor plans from the previous designer. Their price per sqft varies from 80-150. Then I have about 5 builders with prices close to my estimate. I was not negotiating and just asked for information so that I could be prepared financially.
3. Bankers / Brokers interview. As I need financing, I need to know how much load I could/should get considering our financial situation. I gave them my budget for the house, and they told me I shall be able to get approval with my stated income. I felt comfortable with the pay schedule so I thought we are covered. At the suggestion of a broker, I bought the land with cash first, which is about 20% of the total budget.
4. Designer/Architect involvement. The previous home designer said he is very practical but he is not involved with cost issues at all. When I had my first meeting with the architect, he gave me a sheet of division cost breakdown of a house he did this May and told me that it was based on hard bidding pricing and there was 20% contingency and 15% GC overhead/profit. I was told by him my budget was good based on that house of similar complexity and with higher end finishes. When I reminded him of possible budget overrun in the design process on multiple occasions, he said I should be patient and let him finish the design first and only after that would he be able to price it out. At my request, he would do an interim cost estimate for me after we settle on a design with 5 additional hours of his work. If exceeded, we would need to identify areas to cut.

The latest comment from the architect is that we are still on track. I don’t know why but besides the architect at least two builders that I talked to a lot do not see any out of ordinary expensive items on the plan. Corners, no problem. Roofs, no problem. Even the round shape breakfast area, no problem. The windows are still rectangle. There might be some difference but may be just a few hundred dollars and the subcontractors would not overcharge them so it is a non-issue. I still do not get it but builders only use sqft method for cost estimate.
Therefore, I am waiting for a ‘final design’ for the architect to give me interim cost break down and complete construction document for buildings to bid it out and give me final costs. Again, right now, I need to finalize the design to move forward.

@Chris Stewart,
Wow! Thank you so much for drawing such a beautiful the picture for me. I like the colors for the roofs and walls. That small window in the girl’s bathroom is very lovely. This really helps a lot.
A few questions
1. What are the roof pitches? It looks that you have the same pitch for all the roofs seen from the front.
2. Do you have the top view of the roofs? I am not sure if you still have the cut out over the game great room. I asked because I see the hipped ridge over the game room is oriented 90 degree from the original design.
3. Another important change is the front porch/dining room roof stops before the study room windows and ends on the right side wall (the original design extends more on both directions). Are there any other areas needing major changes besides things already stated in 2 and 3 so far?
4. Please take a look at my drawings below. One thing I did was to align the left portion of the front walls to cut two corners and therefore to remove 4 big roof lines. So you still think that is not worth it from the architectural point of view? Forget about possible benefits of reduced cost/less leakage problem for now. Which looks better to you? My wife and my daughter like yours (same as the architect’s) drawing better than mine in this aspect. They find the variations interesting and a big flat surface to be boring and much like a cheap KB home. I am not sure about it myself.
I am not sure about foundation cost but we are in south texas and maybe labor does not cost as much here. See my response to LWO’s comments regarding the budget. My focus now is how to settle on the roofs and architect. The design has been put on hold over a month and I would like to see it move forward. As I see that we are running out of budgeted design hours, I am asking for help on roof and exterior design ideas. Help me help the architect.
I am very pleased to learn that you think hipped roofs are appropriate here. I would look into Spanish/Mediterranean house styles.

Enclosed is a perspective view of the sketchup model I did by adding doors/windows. All elevations and additional perspective view can be found in my earlier post dated 9/8 and updated 9/9.

Additional comments and suggestions please! Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 2:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, I thought you said you where 10% over budget so I reduced the porch area and simplified some of the offsets.

Yes the most expensive and troublesome feature of the original was the back upstairs and so I eliminated that inside corner which gives it a nicer roof form. My pitches are 6/12 on top and garage 4/12 on porches (4/12 is the minimum you should go on tile)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 9:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for the information on the roof pitches. I did some research online and realized that 4/12 is also the minimum recommended by the NRCA. I would insist on a 4/12 instead of 3/12 on the secondary roof(s) and use 6/12 on top and garage roofs.

I like the simple roof design when you cover the 2nd floor over the great room. The look less chopped from the back. It would allow high ceilings in GR and we may have some attic storage space. I am not sure how much would be saved. Three exterior wall sections would be replaced with interior walls and the roofs shall be simpler to build. I am not sure if the structure is too plain or it is a simple and pleasing look from the back. My biggest concern is that the staircase/2nd floor gallery area would be very dark. Shall I have skylights or even a small roof tower for that section?

We started the house with a 1.5 story floor plans (2200sqft main floor, and 1100sqft second floor). The inspiring floor plan that I gave to the architect has game room over the great room so there is a rectangle area with all the rooms together.

When I received the current design from the architect, I have some concerns about the flat roofs and the two cutout sections over great room and dining. The architect's justification for the two flat roofs include
1. Natural lighting into staircase and gallery area. Five small windows are there.
2. Windows for lighting, view, and ventilation in the game room. I don't know if we need windows on all 4 sides of the room. I think it might be good if we have window on more than one side.
3. Higher ceilings in great room and dining. The rest would be 9ft on both floors. There is a ceiling to floor spacing of 2ft 10inches. Not sure if we need 1-10 additional space for ducting if 2x12 joists are used for ceilings.

I think I am OK with the plans with or without the central cut out section. The thing bothers me most seem to be the section over the dining. I can try moving the game room around or put some flat roof/ balcony over that area if that make the house look better.

I think I got what you are proposing and I would try it out.

Thanks! JF

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I really like the simpler roof forms done by Chris as well. Hopefully you can find a way to make it work. Flat roofs (as you had in the original plan) are costly and I believe tend over time to be leaky and need replacing quicker (not sure if this is accurate though). Our flat roof does double duty with being a balcony deck and a roof (we used the Duradeck product for our flat roof). Given it is over the garage, future leaks would be less of an issue than living space. You might even want to check with your home insurance company to make sure a house with a flat roof would not lead to higher premiums (due to fear of water damage). I really hope you can avoid that central cut-out section.

If you need more light, Sun tunnel or a sky light can be a wonderful solution. Sun Tunnels are less costly than a full sky light.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 6:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes as far as savings goes. No one thing is usually a budget buster. this removes having exterior finish, soffits and extra overhang on two walls plus flashing. And it helps the roof line. The game room can still have windows on three sides (I just did not finish the model because I was mostly trying to demonstrate a better roof line)

The hall way could be open to the living room. Where the gallery windows are now would be a balcony. the living room ceiling could slope up or be two story.

It won't look as plain when the windows and doors are put in.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 6:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can't wait to see the full version, Chris. Jeff just had a new baby so I am pleased to see you come forward with some very useful help for him. Hopefully he will like it as well as I do.

Chris are you an architect?


    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 6:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nope, just the unlicensed variety.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 9:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is the design (VerB2) without the back cut out following Chris Stewart's suggestion. The windows/doors are missing. This is to mainly try out different ideas on roofing and exterior wall alignment.

Let me know if you have any comments.

Thanks! JF

Roof and Exterior Plan Ver B2
1. Front elevation

2. Right west elevation

3. Back south elevation

4. Left east elevation

5. Perspective view 1

6. Perspective view 2

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Wed, Sep 11, 13 at 15:55

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 3:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The previous compostion will make perfect sense if I am doing a 2 story great room. As we decided not to do a 2 story living, I am not so sure that the big attic space between game room and the rest will be good enough to justify the simplified roofline.

I realize that while we can make some modifications in the first floor layout, it is the 2nd floor room placement that will determine the roofline and overall apperance of the house. There are very different ways of arranging the 2nd floor rooms. One example to move the game room over the great room, another example is to move the girl's suite over the great room. However, there may be challenges tieing the main floor to the 2nd floor by doing that. I am still thinking along this line.

For now, my latest work in progress still has the two cutouts in the front and back sections. I managed to make the front secondary roof pitch same as top/garage of 6/12 by removing the porch connected to the dining (the back flat roof having minimum required pitch for tile roof of 4/12). Instead, I did a bumpout over the study. The front entry door is now tied more to the main section of the house.


1. Front elevation

2. Perspective view

Any suggestions please! Thanks a lot!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 12:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Jeff,

I would do anything it takes to avoid that roof cut-out (flat roof section). If moving the games room solves it - I would do that as that sounds simplest.

An idea that is outside the box, would be to use that attic space as a conditioned attic space for a hideout for the kids. It can be accessed via a ship's ladder. It would need to be a dormer to add a window. We have done that in our home and the kids are very intrigued by this hideaway area. The best part of these kid areas is to make the journey to these spots a bit of a challenge. Susan Suzanka author of the Not So Big House books writes about adding a cozy hideaway area for the kids.

You are getting there!


    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 12:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, I agree that my solution was a fix rather than an ideal. Have you considered using metal roof to get a lower slope on the back?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 10:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


My main complains about the architect's work include
(a) complex roof lines, which may mean bad visual look, potential leaking problems;
(b) front and back cut outs, which makes the house appearance disjointed/chopped; it also creates many wall roof joints needing special care during installation (?).
(c) flatness of the roof pitches of 5/12 and 3/12 for tile roofs, which may pose problems for installation and not drain rain water well.

As I went through the revision process, I am now OK with the general form of the hipped roofs with the simplified roofline as in my latest rendering. I am also OK with the 6/12 and 4/12 pitches for the major and secondary roofs if any.

The thing that I am still not sure is the back cut out portion. I see the problems as stated above and I also see the benefits associated with it (high ceiling in GR, windows/lighting into 2nd floor gallery/hallway and staircase area, more windows on game room).

My strategy here is to see if somehow we could 'improve' it and make the cut out work or we cover it up and do something different.

I like the idea of using the attic space as hideaway place for kids. They would love it. I may also find other usage for the conditioned place such as ac ducting and storage. I am not sure about the cost of doing a conditioned attic. Would like it as a bonus room if it does not add too much into our budget.

It is about time for me to get back to the architect with three ideas
1. An 'improved' design (VerD) similar to his original work with the simplified roof line, increased roof pitches, and fine tuned front elevation.
2. An alternative design (VerC) without the back cut out as suggested by Chris.
3. Any other different possible design that the architect can think of. No flat roofs if possible.


When you talked about lower slope on the back, did you mean the 1-floor secondary roof over the great room (as in VerD2)?

Yes. I really like the simplicity of the appearance associated with standing seam metal roof. I am also intrigued by the idea of rain drops splashing over the metal only from the great room (if that is not too noisy). As you implied there is additional benefit of the metal roof to use flatter roof (to make that portion less visually dominant from the back and to expose more wall sections for window placement on 2nd floor), I would definitely explore more of that option.

How much lower do you suggest? I am thinking about 2/12 to 3/12 as if it goes too low then the vaulted ceiling in the great room would not raise the ceiling much higher than the 9ft anywhere else on main floor.

I do not know if we can mix the metal roof with the tile roofs. Another thing is that metal roof may cost more (?) but it is just one section of about 17ftx17ft so may not be too bad.

Thanks! JF

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 2:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

On my latest drawing (VerD2), there is a cantilever section at the entrance (with 2nd floor room above before the main floor front door). Is that doable or something that I shall avoid? Thanks! JF

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 3:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Jeff,

Just so you know our kids' attic area did not cost that much. The price was mainly the cost to finish the space (drywall, electrical, flooring as well as the triangular fixed windows and two awning rectangular windows). We have also paid to heat and cool that area as well. We have a closet within this finished attic space that houses some of our HVAC equipment.

My FIL built an addition with his wife and they also had a small attic area that they finished (their's is not a dormer like ours). It has a steep ramp to access with a ladder on the ramp (hard to explain). Anyway, it has low and sloped ceilings and an intriguing entrance (ingredients to intrigue kids and keep grown-ups out, creating that club house affair). All the grandchildren from young to old find it their favourite spot. It does not have a window that I recall, but it is still popular. I love our window as you get a great view from that height.

Good luck with your next architect meeting!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 9:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unless you have some really good prices on tile I don't see it costing less than metal -Is that normal there?

You could use the highest pitch which would allow the gallery windows. I think that I would avoid that floating second floor.

This post was edited by ChrisStewart on Tue, Sep 17, 13 at 21:28

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 9:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sophie Wheeler

Not only is tile usually more expensive than metal, it's significantly heavier, and requires more support for the weight. That also adds to the expense. It's also more difficult to have repair issues addressed if the need arises. You end up breaking a few tiles if you've got to walk on them to access a valley or chimney for instance.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 11:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Good to know that the conditioned attic does not cost that much. If we are going to do something similar, I am sure it would be loved by our kids too. I plan to meet with the architect later this week and I would discuss that option with him.


Right now, the gallery wall exterior clearance is 21". The 5 small windows are 4"high by 24"wide. That flat roof has a pitch of 3/12 (rest are 6/12).

If that clearance is not good enough, there are three ways to increase it to enable larger windows there (1) flatter roof Option (3) is the most effective way to allow larger window. However, I am not sure about the appropriate patio ceiling height. In my sketches, I am using 11'10" (from interior floor to roof eaves). Both floor have 9ft ceiling and there is a 2ft10inches floor spacing. Maybe there is some room to cut there.

I do not know much about metal vs clay tile prcing. The architect once mentioned that metal roofs might be pricier than tiles. I will talk to some roofers and research into that.


Thank you for your input on the metal roof. The HOA allows only tile or metal roofs. We started the design with tile roof in mind and I was told by the architect that metal might cost more so I had not seriously considered metal roofs before. With many advantages of metal roofs (weigh much less, reflect more heat, etc), I am considering that option not just for the flat seconary roof but the whole house.

I am not sure if the roofline is still too complicated for metal roofs. There are metal tiles in various colors and I may look into that too.

I am learning something new everyday and that is really fun. Experiened ppl on this forum help me see more options. It is like I opened my eyes and there is a totally different new world.

Thanks! JF

Attached is the house with standing seam metal roofs.


1. North elevation

2. West elevation

3. South elevation

4. East elevation

5. Perspective view #1

6. Perspective view #2

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I met with a roofer this afternoon and showed him the plan with about 4860 sqft pitched roofing area.

The estimate cost is 24.5k for 24 gauge Gavalume steel painted standing seam and 30k for rustic shingle roof.

I still need to find out how the price compares to concrete or clay tile. I was told that the roofline and pitches are OK for them to get the job done.

A bigger issue is whether or not the metal roof is appropriate for this kind of house design (to cover the whole house or just the back flat section only).


    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

2' -10" is a very unusual 2nd floor thickness.

Metal is easier to cut than clay tiles so you are better off using it on a cut up roof I would think.

As far as style appropriateness goes, your house is contemporary eclectic and so that means you can mix and match anything you want that you think looks good. (or if you have a homeowners association that needs to approve the plan -whatever will pass them)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I also do not understand the need of 2'-10" floor spacing.

If metal does not cost more for the build, I would give it serious consideration.

Again, I do not have a good idea about various house styles. I see the contemporay part may come from the metal roofs and the stucco walls may be associated with spanish/mediterranean. Any thing else in the mix?

One interpretation of the eclectric style may be there is a lack of style, or something bad as in McMansions. I do not think there is anything wrong for the house to be just acceptable in apperance but would still love to make it look good.

The cleaniness from uniform colored roofs/stucco walls may work well together. If we deicide to do brick walls, would tile roofs be better?

Re: 2'-10" floor spacing
I was told that there is 2x12 joists and then addtional space close to 2' for ducting. As a reference, the previous designer has 1'-6" main ceiling to 2nd floor distance. I was told that standard joists instead of trusses are used to save money. There are some support
beams as indicated by the double dashed lines on the floor plan for second floor walls/structures. That may complicate the duct runs.

Still, I am not sure
(1) Why ducts cannot be inside (or partially so) the joist?
(2) If the ceiling are not directly attached to the joists, do we need extra framing for the ceiling drywalls? If that is the case, why not just lower the ceilings along two 'hallways' /room divisions orthogonally connected to the HVAC closets. (In a separate note, he planned to have second floor ducts inside unconditioned attic. That plan had received a lot of critisisms from energy rater and other GWers. I will need to address the ductiong issue after the exteriors/roofs are settled).

Thanks! JF

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 23:27

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a scheduled meeting with the architect tomorrow.
I am going to dicuss with him the latest revision.

With a side by side comparison to the architect's original design (available through the link at the start of this thread), does any body see any improvement in the revision? Or anything else that I need to talk with him?


    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well sometimes eclectic is used as a derogatory term and there are many eclectic houses that are ugly but that does not mean that every eclectic house is ugly or that there is anything wrong with eclectic. The design I did was also contemporary eclectic.

Generally the term means that it is not purely some specific already defined design style. Most contemporary plans are eclectic. With modern communication and transportation systems we do not have region specific style much anymore.

Most people are not interested in historic authenticity and all they want is for their house to look nice, work well and be desirable to future buyers.

That being said I do not believe that your current design will have mass curb appeal but I think the layout in general is OK.

Yes, well the duct work needs to be planed for but it can be done with a 2x12 floor or at most 16" trusses.

I will be interested in what the architect comes up with.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 10:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What did the architect say, Jeff?


    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 9:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Thank you for your clarification of the eclectic term for me. I understand GWers tend to have high expectations (which is a good thing to me). To have a professional like you to say the design is OK/acceptable is very encouraging. I really like to complete the project with the architect.

As a last try, I would like to see if we can make the house look good/nice. At least, to make it look better in some way.


Thank you for your following up with me. I met with the architect at lunch time yesterday and talked for about one hour while eating.

1. He said it is OK to do metal roofs and brick walls. So that is something big.

2.After I adressed my concerns about the current design and suggested three stragtegies to improve it including my lasted revision, he did not feel like most of them, including the simplifed roofline by aligning the front walls on 2nd floor, and the bumped out study under the porch.

3. Two ideas coming out during the discussion that he would like to explore
a) flat roof over the ding room to allow deck/balcony in front the game room.
b) a front porch over the entry way only (no extended roof over study as my revision or over dining as his original work) to highlight the front door.

4. It became a little bit contentious (awkward at least) when we talked about payment and scheduling. I told him that I see that our design time is kind of tight so I need to make sure we have constant communication. For example for him to check his ideas with me before he put signficant amount of time into it. He really got me when he told me that he does not have any problem with the time cap (as proposed by him in the contract) it is only my problem (of paying over it) and whatever I proposed or did does not matter much as he still need to redraw them...

Some progress but still a long way to go. Thanks! JF

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 1:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Trying out the two flat roof ideas.

A. I like the flat roof better than the picthed roof over the dining as it is visually simpler so less a problem of the front cutting out. However, I do not see the balcony/deck would be used a lot as it in the front and close to the gate.

B. A balcony in the back would be more useful. The problem is the drainage system for the flat roof with three interior walls.

VerE2 (flat roof over dining as balcony/deck)

VerF1 (Balcony/deck on the back by moving game room over dining)

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 2:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, I thought they where actually working on something but now it sounds like they are just waiting for you to make up your mind.

Going through all these revisions can really eat up a considerable amount of time. It seems like you may need to give them some clear direction as to what you want and let them design it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I am not sure about the flat roof deck. Would you use a high up deck in your climate that much? I would imagine it would be very hot up there.

I agree that it is frustrating for you to rework your plan many times and then pay the architect to draw it up. However, if you had to pay the architect for all the trial and error revisions you have done that would be a huge cost. In other words, I believe you are still saving money working through yourself what you like and don't like (but you are not saving time). No doubt the architect would have rather reworked the design himself (he makes more and has more ownership over project).

When you said:

"After I addressed my concerns about the current design and suggested three strategies to improve it including my lasted revision, he did not feel like most of them, including the simplified roof line by aligning the front walls on 2nd floor, and the bumped out study under the porch"

To me it is more important that the design pleases you and your DW. This is your house and not the architects. If you and your DW prefer the simplified roof line make that clear to your architect. You could put a few different versions in a new thread and ask people to vote on it. You might want to wait until the architect has done his latest version.

Best of luck sorting it out. Don't let the architect get to you.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 5:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


The architect is doing the design himself. It is a one-person shop. It is a hourly rate with a cap contract. Maybe I was worried too much but it seems to me that he is running short of his design time as he is two-thirds into the project (or maybe the underestimated the cap in the contract). I was hoping we had a plan at the end of this second phase and the final phase would be for him to complete the construction documents.

This is the first time for me to see the complete elevations and roofs and even the first time to see his plan with master bath layout. So I think it is reasonable to do some revisions. I made some comments on areas that I do not like in his original design and also presented him with the latest plan that I have. I am waiting for his next round of design.

We decided not to do the flat roof/deck as I do not see it would be used a lot and there are extra drainage issues.
I never expected to be in this situation. I was counting on the architect to take care of various challenging aspects of the house design (floor plans, exteriors, budget) for me. He is a professional paid to do this. It is a lot of work and pressure from my side on things simply out of my expertise and comfort zone. However, it seems to me that I have to step in to make things work. Maybe at some time I realize I cannot take it any more, I would just stop the process. I am still trying my best to make things work and would like him to do his share too.

Anyway, I will let the architect continue his work with the two cut outs. While I like a simplified roof, I am not sure if the alignment would make the roof/wall on the front too plain or even more overwhelming/bulky than before.

There are some important things that I like to architect to work on the front section and we need to decide on the exact roof pitches, how to do the front entry, roofs/wall alignment, etc.

Attached is my revision with the setbacks in dashed lines. We pretty much used up maximum allowable buildable area (actually with garage 3ft into the setback, an issue needs to be taken care of later). It is a corner lot and we have the rear-entry garage without alley access. I would start a new thread to seek feedbacks on the driveway dimensions.

Thanks! JF

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 6:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am not sure I understand, -he is 2/3 the way through his estimated time and all he has come up with so far is that angley house plan which was basically the same plan the first guy made but with some angles?

What exactly has he been doing?

Are you sure he is an actual licensed architect?

This post was edited by ChrisStewart on Fri, Sep 27, 13 at 23:02

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 10:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with Chris' post above. Also, I have been looking around for examples of houses with cut out roofs as you are likely going for. I have not seen any. How common is it to have a cut-out on the roof (flat portion). Chris do you see that element used much in your design work? Is it more common in Texas Jeff?


    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sophie Wheeler

IF he's an architect, he's being treated as the low rung on the ladder draftsman to merely transcribe what the OP wants rather than actually doing any true design work himself. Which is a waste of the OP's money. And it's a frustrating relationship for both parties involved. The OP thinks he has too much invested into something that hasn't worked from the beginning to junk it all and start over, so he keeps tweaking it and tweaking it, and then handing those tweaks over to the professional who can't really be honest with his input because he would then lose the job. Or, maybe the guys is simply incompetent. Someone has to graduate at the bottom of the class. This has been a lose/lose from the start and is nothing but good money after bad and trying to hold onto something that wasn't worth holding onto from the beginning.

It's like trying to restore a 63 Belvedere to completely original condition. Sure, you can do that, but the real question is WHY? Why keep throwing so much money at it when you're just going to end up with a 63 Belvedere?

You can spend the same amount of money on a much better end product by starting in a better place to begin with. All fresh with no polishing a piece of coal expecting it to turn into a diamond.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


What do you think of the roof lines as Jeff has them in his most recent version? Have you seen houses that have successfully and gracefully pulled off a flat roof cut out section as Jeff has in his drawings?


    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, I might have thought the same thing hollysprings but I saw the original plan that this so called architect produced -(the angley house- see previous thread) and so I kind of doubt that they where not given a chance to reformulate the plan.

Also Jeff is saying that he is allowing the person to include the second story balconies even though he actually does not want them. That seem extraordinarily flexible to me. I certainly would not be so tolerant.

Wasting the clients time and money by offering them a modern design when they are not interested in that is irresponsible at best. And if you are going to propose a modern house it needs to be something better than simply taking the clients plan and angling the walls a bit in some Gerhy-esk fashion.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 11:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for your continued inputs on the house design. This peer review process has been really helpful. (Not easy for me to type this while holding my 1.5m baby but I will answer your questions later.)

My latest revision ver I5 featuring
A. 'Added on' section on top front roof to go with bumped out wall. in comparison to the plainness in the earlier revsion and the 'cut off' roof section with longer valley in the arcitect's design.

B Separate porch roof setion to highlight the front entry.

Revision ver I5

In the meantime, I searched online for an inspiring exterior and found a surprisingly similiar house (front perspective view) on the HGTV website.

When I asked the architect if we can go with a contempary eclectic Prairie style for our house, I was told that the architecture of prairie school is one of his favorites. So we may decide to go this route.

Inspiring picture of a pairie house

Thanks! JF

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Wed, Oct 2, 13 at 0:15

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 12:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, I think that many will like the inspiration house. It would also allow you to cut the roof pitch back to 4/12 (if the HOA allows that) which would save some money.

It seems that this will almost take you back to the original design (with some minor changes)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 9:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Maybe due to the hot climate here, low pitch hipped roofs are common in our area, especially for the houses with tile roofs/stucco walls.

I am not sure about the roof cut outs.
1. Back flat roof cut out. I saw some houses with the U shaped layout on both floors, so there is a cut from the back. However, that is different as our house has the great room on the main floor. I guess this kind of arrangement is not common.

I am OK with the back elevation as I see the left/right symmetry and I understand it serves the functional needs of vaulted GR ceiling and gallery / staircase and gameroom lighting.

I would be concerned about the three sides of wall/roof joints so I need to make sure the flashing is installed right.

2. Front cut out roof. I was concerned about the look of the front elevation. I was not sure if lower roof part over dining is tied to the main part of the house coherently.

In my latest revision (ver I5), I did a separate roof section for the entry way. That entry porch along with the dining roof would form a similar zigzag pattern following that of the top roof.

As the house is located in the corner lot which is just one house away from the entry gate of the subdivision, therefore the 45 deg angled view may provides an interesting first impression of the house (in comparison to a typical rectangle foot print, whereas the sharp edge of the wall joint is observed from the gate).

Please take a look at the inspiration house I posted above. It is somewhat similar to our design.


There are some limitations on the design mainly due to the lot size and orientation. We have maximized both buildable width and depth of the lot. I also bear some responsibilities for the current design as I am allowing the architect to do what he is proposing and I gave him the inspiration floor plans/even some 3D drawings that I did myself even I lack basic understandings about house design. Things may be different if I just sit back and enjoy his work.

I found that in the process the architect made drawings with features that I do not like or even with deficiencies / mistakes. However, I think that is understandable or I think that I will have to live with it. There maybe some problems but most of the part I think things would work out with better communications and patience from both parities.

I don't know why but my decision is to continue the design with the architect. Maybe I do not have such high expectations so that I would giving it a pass or maybe I am just so pessimistic that I do not see an easy and better solution from him or a third designer/architect. It is just like any relationship in a marriage, I think there is some kind of compromise/tolerance/commitment other than perfectionism, otherwise, couples with be divorcing each other every other day:)

Going back the latest design, I do see the inspiration house looks better than ours in that it is wider. As we cannot increase the width, to get the proportion better, we may consider reduce the heights. Right now, we are at 9ft main floor, 9ft 2nd floor, 2'-10" floor spacing, what do you suggest here?


Thank you for liking the inspiration house. At least we have something as a goal/reference.

It is still different and we have some design challenges mainly due to the square footprint of the house (I wish the front was wider to make the secondary horizontal roof eaves stronger). I would simply be glad if we are trying our best to make the house look good.

Regarding the roof pitch, the architect also mentioned that it is smaller in the inspiration picture. He sees 3/12 (maybe 4/12 but 3/12 most likely). So we may consider 4/12 (no more than 5/12) for our house. I think that would make the house less bulky ( one of the main complaint from the reviewers here).

I like the idea of 4/12 for less material cost and think we shall go with low pitch as that is characteristic of Prairie house. My concerns about flat roofs (even though I do know what they would look like to me exactly, I need to find some real world examples and see them) would be
1) they may look too flimsy
2) installation challenges (standing seams maybe OK?)
3) lack of attic storage space /access difficulty (cable/utility/duct repairs)

I think we are getting closer.

Thanks! JF

This post was edited by jeff2013 on Fri, Oct 4, 13 at 22:47

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 11:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do not believe "bulkiness" was primary the criticism. Disjointed and overly complicated is what I gathered. This was a result of the original roof resembling a mountain range. The other common crit was that the left side was to plain. I also think that the extra offset in the garage which causes the roof not to work correctly and apparently causes the garage to extend past the building line needs to be fixed.

Prairie can be very low pitch but the inspiration house is at least 4/12 but probably 6/12. I do not think that the extra width makes any real difference. The intent here I think is Prairie inspired and not authenticity.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do like your inspiration picture as well. The house in the photo has much larger windows than your elevation shows.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 4:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been waiting for the revision from the architect after I presented him a model showing some the revision ideas. I just got an email from the architect saying that he would like to do gable roofs for both the top bump out and the entrance porch. He mentioned some other ideas like varied pitches (5/12 top major and garage, 4/12 gables and dining area, and 3/12 great room/patio).

My latest mock up with two gables and pitches at 5/12 except the back section at 3/12.


1. Floor Plan with Roofline

2. Perspective View-Front

3. Perspective View-Back

Not sure if the two gables mixed with hipped roofs would be acceptable for the design.

Any comments? Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am replying so your message might be bumped up and Virgil, Renovator, Chris, Hollysprings, Green, Live_Wire_Oak or other talented designers might see it and give you an opinion on those gables.

I think you need to work on the cohesiveness of the windows. Also, I believe some of the challnges you have faced have to do with the "fat house" syndrome that Virgil described in Angela's thread (on page one now). You might want to read his comments. I think many of us who are building medium - big houses on city lots end up having "fat houses" as described by Virgil. It does lead to less attractive elevations.

Perhaps starting a new thread might be in order so you continue to get comments.


    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 6:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I guess the house design has several weaknesses. Just hope it has enough strengths as well to justify the continued efforts.

When people pointed out the house is as deep as wide and golden ratio, I assumed that is why for the house to look so bulky. As we are maximizing our buildable area, I do not see a fix for this. It is good to know that you do not see this as a big problem.

Yes. I understand that the disjointed / complex roofs are there because of the two cut outs over the dining and the great room. In the revision of the top roof section and the part over the dining, I tried to simplify the roofs a little bit to make it more unified. However, as we decide to go along this line of design, there is not much we can do about it.

The left side is facing a neighbor with 7ft setback (so 14ft wall to wall distance). Their side of the wall to the west even does not have a single window. I tried to add a few more windows to the 2nd floor boys rooms to allow cross ventilation.

Right now our focus is on the front elevation and the front entrance in particular. We are trying a makeover on the exteriors to see what can be achieved with the design.
I agree that we are simply borrowing ideas from the Prairie style not pursing a authentic Prairie house as that is a more involved process which we may not be able to afford.

Re: Garage offset outside building line

While the HOA CCR calls for 7ft side setbacks, the subdivision plat from the city requires 10ft. I already did a hearing with the city and obtained approval of the left neighbor side 7ft setback when I was doing the planning with the first designer. The architect said he needed the extra 3ft to open the view from the great room/breakfast area. He said he would submit the construction document to see permit and if not approved he can change it. I would rather do a second hearing before finalizing the plan.

Thank you for your comments and offer to help with interior designing. We may have challenges in furniture placing in the master bedroom (12ftx19ft), great room (with too many walk ways), and breakfast (requiring banquette benches conforming to 3ftx6ft oval table). Right now the focus is on the exteriors but we may need to plan furniture along the way.


Thank you for liking the inspiration picture. I also noticed that that house have larger and more windows than ours. I think we have room to put enough windows on the front and back. The left side faces a neighbor at 14ft away and the right is west facing street. The west street side is the one I am most concerned due to summer heat here. We decided to remove the three bank window in the DR on that side.

Yes. I think there is a way of arranging the windows more coherently. It is nice for the game room to have windows on 4 walls. However, only window(s) on the back would be used to provide view and all others are for lighting and ventilation. I have trouble finding a way to place the windows with some consistency there.

I finally understand the as deep as wide issue of fat houses. But I will have to live with it so that problem is not bothering me too much. Both Virgil and Holly mentioned this and I do appreciate their comments as understanding something is very important to me.
Thanking for calling for the help on the gables from those talented professionals for me. I have received help from all of them in the past so I am really grateful. Dadereni also helped me with the exteriors in the past. He was the first to remind me to consider exteriors when I was working on the floor plans only at the beginning stage of the process.

And I just started a new thread with some updates from the architect. JF

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 11:13PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Desireable slope for drainage away from house and garage?
We're building a rectangular-ish house with an attached...
Using a contractor question
My husband and I are wanting to build a home. We sat...
After building....items you wish you would have thought of..
Hello, for those of you that built a house. After...
Doorstopper Dillema
We moved in about 2 weeks ago and are really happy....
Please critique floor plan, thanks!
I posted a similar plan Oct. last year and got some...
Sponsored Products
Eurofase Lonsdale Collection Hanging Outdoor Antique Sable Lantern 17477-017
Home Depot
Illusion Rug 7'9" x 9'6" - IVORY/GRAY
$599.00 | Horchow
Gramercy Rug 6' x 9' - SOFT BEIGE
$1,499.00 | Horchow
Gray Faux Silk Lamp Shade 14x16x12 (Spider)
$39.99 | Lamps Plus
ELK Lighting Crystals 10301/1 Pendant - Polished Chrome - 7W in. - 10301/1
$238.00 | Hayneedle
Kichler Soria 11 3/4" High Bronze Outdoor Wall Light
Lamps Plus
Hampton Bay Patio Furniture, 2-Piece Black Lamp Post with Cross Arm, Photoeye, O
$67.97 | Home Depot
Black Splatter Screen
$13.99 | zulily
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™