Elevation Feedback

tminatlSeptember 24, 2012

I've been following this site for several months as we embark on building our house. Loads of good insight and help.

We've just gotten our first 3D renderings. Some things we like quite a bit, others we are still trying to figure out some better options. All feedback is welcome even harsh criticism as I think you need to hear everything to make the best decisions.

We do like the underlying floor plan and have spent more time working on it. It has been in unison, but more focus until this point.

Some salient points that might help the feedback be more targeted:

- Directional orientation is that the back of the house with the deck (and one side of the screen porch) is primarily east and the side with the garage is primarily south

- We have some fairly strict lot coverage limits on impervious surfaces and are at those limits. That prevented us from having a detached garage with a courtyard between house and garage. We can't expand the footprint more than about another 50 sq ft including decks, sidewalks, etc.

- The lot is approx 80 feet by 225 feet on a corner

- Location is in Atlanta (Decatur for those who know the area)

- The house is five bedrooms and four bathrooms with 4/3 upstairs as private family space.

- Family of five with a five year old and two year old twins. No future family additions planned.

- It will have an unfinished basement that the plans don't show the windows for as of yet.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.


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Are you able to show all sides?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 5:57PM
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Elevations are not my forte, but it looks like the person has drawn in a depression of the soil on the left of this rendering, which would cause you water problems along your foundation. Is that a true representation of your topography in the area? I'd see to it that all land slopes AWAY from the house.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:06PM
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In my opinion, it is an attractive exterior. The window placement and sizing are interesting. I like that the roof is not complex but yet has detail. I look forward to seeing the floor plan because it is ALL about the floor plan!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Apologies for not posting all sides. I thought it was the combined file, but it only included the front. The PDF was combined, but I haven't figured out how to combine the required JPEGs.

We just had a design session and I'm going to include the new views (sorry for the multiple posts, but that is the only way I know to get all sides).

Biggest difference is trying to simplify the roof by massing it with a single ridge. This replaced the combination gable/hip already posted. Still a bit torn, so if folks think the combo might be better, I'll post the other views of that roof.

One thing we are still struggling with is the dormer on the flat two story side. Originally, we were going to use that to add permanent attic stairs with the possibility of finishing the attic later. Lowering the roof pitch from 8/12 to 7/12 created a problem with the main roof. However, it makes the house mass much better. It would be great to figure out a different dormer (shed did not look good) to achieve the same goal.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:43PM
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The next several posts are the other sides. Again sorry for not being able to get them in one file.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:45PM
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    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:49PM
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    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:56PM
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    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:58PM
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    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:05PM
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    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:12PM
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Last elevation.

On the other questions, I think based upon me walking the site and the discussions with the builder that the topography will slope away from the house. It might be a quirk of the software program. Good catch and one that I will stay on top of as we start building.

I'll post floorplans as soon as I can figure out how to get them out of PDF.

Thanks again for the feedback.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:23PM
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IMO, the two most interesting and engaging elevations are the east and south. Both of these have a variety of depth and projecting elements, with interesting play of light and shadow during the day's changing sun location. They have a good balance of variety within on overall, unifying theme, without being fussy.

The two weakest elevations are the west and north, with the north being the weakest of all. It cries out for some break-up along the long, unbroken wall whose proportions are accentuated by the long roof line at the first level, mimiced by the roof line above at the second level. Could the wall plane beneath the large dormer be brought forward at least 1'-0 and carried up to the dormer roof? That, or something similar would greatly strengthen the elevation, IMO.

If the building footprint on the north elevation cannot be enlarged by 1'-0 or so, how about a prproojecting, cantilevered bay, projecting out 1'-0 (above the continuous stone masonry wainscot) for either the first floor, second floor and attic, or all of the above? Something needs to break up the long horizontal side of the north elevation.

The west elevation has me puzzled. Is it the primary front entry, or is the south the primary front entry?

I like the direction the design is taking: sort of a shingle/stick-style that is appealing to me. Some nits I don't like:

--The gable roof fascias are handled incosistently (this may just be the quirks of the perspective drawing), and should be consistently detailed;
--I don't like the vertical material elements at the corner of the south and west elevations and on either side of the entry door/portico on the west elevation. They are inconsistent with the treatment of the garage doors on the south elevation and the typical wainscot treatment around the other elevations. I'd change those verticals to a wainscot element, similar to the rest of the house elevations. I's assuming this is some sort of stone masonry.

Hope this is helpful.

One other thought: floor plans and exterior/interior elevations and spaces must all be developed together for a synchronized and harmonious whole. Good design is not so simple as developing an appealing floor plan and then simply wrapping it with a variety of materials to keep the rain out. This is what most of the house plan factories do, and the result is a consistenly bulky, massive and almost always uninteresting series of exterior/interior elevations and spaces. Good design is not floor-plan centric or elevation centric; good design finds a way to blend floor plans and elevations/spaces into a pleasing and inspiring whole. Just a thought!

Good luck on your project.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 11:53AM
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I agree with Virgil-- if I were to visit that house, I wouldn't know which door to knock on. Honestly, I'd wonder if the house was a duplex or something, because the house seems to have two primary entrances. I think you need to downplay your non-front door, and perhaps eliminate the sidewalk from it to the street.

Also, an easy way to get an image out of a pdf is to take a screenshot of it.

Aside from my criticisms, I like the look of your plan. I'm dying to know why you have windows at floor level on the North side. Is it open to the basement there?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 12:05PM
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Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

Quick responses and follow on questions (using my phone so brief)

On the interest of the sides, we are struggling with the north side as well. I like the suggestion of the one foot bump out. We made a slight chane rand the dormer is up higher and wider now, it might work even better.

The west side is our street address side, but most likely the lesser used door. It definitely needs a sidewalk. Perhaps using only a sidewalk from the driveway on the south side??

The fascia (assuming material) will either be cement siding or most likely shingles on all the gables. Agree that needs to be consistent.

We haven't decided on the external materials fully. One concept drawing had the skirt and those vertical elements as brick. I'm not sold on the corner being brick with cement siding on most of the rest of the front. If cost wasn't as issue I would consider brick for the whole first floor. Any thoughts about materials are welcome.

The lower windows are stair windows on the basement stairs.

Completely agree that interior and exterior has to work in unison. We have been part of the way there, but not as tied as I would like.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2012 at 3:25PM
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