Elevation Help..Where would you put the stone?

niteshadepromisesOctober 16, 2013

So our GC tells us in about 3 weeks we'll begin installing siding on our home. I need to decide where and how much stone we want to install. At 20 dollars a square foot installed for cultured stone, I know its the most expensive siding choice there is and I'm torn about where and how much to put on the home. We already know that the entire front of the home will be stone. At a minimum we will put it in all places shown on the following elevations.

In an ideal world where money isn't a factor, I'd want stone to follow the entire basement level of the home. Its a daylight basement and you can see on the side shot photo the line of where the basement meets the main floor. I would want stone set below that line and hardiboard w/ tudor accents above it. The elevation drawing now show hardiboard all the way to the ground on both sides, and the back of home. I know this is the most economical route.

The back of the home is the longest dimension and if I go stone on the basement level and on all 4 sides of the home below the basement line I estimate it will probably cost upwards of 45k. I know that later on there will be somewhere we'd rather spend the extra and its often the case that folks skimp some on back elevations.

As far as visibility, there will be a sidewalk on the side of our home shown in the photo, running along the back as well, past the woods. So neighbors will be walking by both these sides of the house. On the garage side of the house it will basically be an alley with 6 feet of space to the side of the next house tho you may see some of this side as you drive down the road.

I see the following options:
1. Do as the architect has drawn and just do stone on the front and office up to the first foundation line jog. Cheapest.

2. Do stone on the bottom (below the line on the side shot photo) on both sides of the home, (I know the alley side is a bit of a waste but I can't see doing one side and not the other) but not on the back. We'd still do some stone accenting on the back like around the eyebrow arches of the screened porch if possible.

3. Go all in and do stone on 4 sides of home including back basement level. The bank breaking option :)

Any options i've missed? GC suggested just a 3-4 foot stone line going all the way around but for the life of me I can't reconcile how that might work with the way the ground slopes back on the sides. I think maybe he just threw that out there without considering that.

Also you more familiar with the build process..if we decide to go for less stone and happen to win the lotto one of these days, how hard would it be to add stone on back/sides later? (This is a questions my husband had, I didn't know the answer)

This post was edited by niteshadepromises on Wed, Oct 16, 13 at 2:34

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First of all, what's required by your HOA or covenants? And must it be "stone"? Why not brick? I think the home would be lovely in all brick. It's more suited to it's lines than stone would be.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 9:54AM
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I vote #1 but am wondering whether -- since you'll have a combination of hardiboard and stone on the entire house --- it would look better to mix in a little hardiboard on the front, too. That way it would be more of a smooth transition to the sides and back.

Maybe you could post your northwest elevation as well as photos from the front.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 10:19AM
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This is a different style house than yours, but it's a good example of how they've used stone and siding on the front, siding only on sides and back, and then tied it all together by using a lot of stone in the landscaping.


Here is a link that might be useful: Easton Home

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 10:30AM
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I think brick would look much better as well.

I am not a fan of one side of the house being brick/stone, and the other three sides siding - I feel cheated when I think I'm looking at a gorgeous brick home, and it isn't. To me it looks super cheap. I much prefer brick/stone as an accent on the front.

I think I would do brick up to the windows on the front, and siding everywhere else. You have an awful lot of detail going on with window shapes, the detail above the garage door, the shakes on the gable end - I think less brick/stone would definitely be more effective and pleasing.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

As drawn, it looks like you started with the stone and then ran out of money.

I prefer it when a single feature is highlighted so it looks very intentional and makes an architectural feature more significant. In your case, I would stone the turret around to the first jog on the side and then continue the stone along the basement so far as it makes sense with the landscaping.

Of course I would prefer it as that's what we did!

We stoned the full front gable including the porch.

Then we used stone on the foundation side to blend into where the terraced walls were installed.

We selected a genuine thin stone...new england field stone... that matched our native stone as we have LOTS. So the thin stone was used on the building and 95% of the stone used in the rest of the landscaping including the terrace walls above were from our property.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Ummm... first off, please please DON'T put stone where you have it shown on the west elevation. Stone siding should be installed so that it looks like the stone is a structural material rather than merely thin slices that are glued to the frame siding. Structural stone is heavy and must be supported by stone all the way to the foundation. Having stone "floating" on the upper floor wall as you have shown on the west elevation SCREAMS that it is not structural.

Second, stone 3 - 4 feet up is almost as bad as stone floating on a second floor structure. Again, structural stone would not just stop dead such a point. Although spec builders seem to love this "high waisted" britches look, it tells the world that the stone is not structural.

Looking at your pictures and elevations, I'm having a very hard time finding your front door. Do you have one????? Or, does everyone enter through the garage? I ask because, given your rather confusing design, if at all possible, it might be nice to use the stone to make the front entry more noticeable and thereby help guide visitors to it. But I can't make a suggestion about how to do that without knowing where the front door is.

However, just looking at your pictures (without knowing where the front door is) I would be inclined to recommend that you use stone ONLY on the parts I've shown outlined in pink below.

If you do this, at least from the front and sides, it will look like you built the lower level with stone and then started balloon framing for the second level which would look logical. Using stone on that multi-sided room on the front would also be logical and would highlight that section. The stone could die into the hardiwalls on each side and that would make it look like the stone turret was perhaps added on at a later date. Plus, there is a logical point on both sides of the turret room where, if you stop using stone, the stone can "die into" the surrounding wall instead of just stopping with a raw end showing.

Finally, you didn't ask but looking at your roofline, I'm concerned that you have at least one place where rain water may collect in a valley rather than dripping off of your roof. I've marked it on the second picture above. You see a horizontal piece of framing timber that goes into the side roof at a point IN FRONT of the place where I'm pointing at. The horizontal frame is obviously there to be the top of a small triangular section that will direct water toward the front. But what happens on the back side of that horizontal frame?

I hate to say it but your roof is a complex nightmare. I'm guessing you did not use an architect. If an architect designed this roof, IMHO, he (or she) should turn in his architectural license and go into some other line of work entirely. At this point tho, "it is what it is" and you're probably stuck with it. Do be aware however that you are likely to have roof leaks on a fairly regular basis because every valley and every spot where your roof changes directions is a "weak point." Complex roofs are, by their nature, more prone to leakage than simple roofs. And worst of all is that I know you've spent a pretty penny getting that roof built when a simpler design would have cost less, looked nicer, and been much more weather efficient.
Anyway, if your builder cobbled this thing together, you might want to get someone up else on the roof to check it. Or if you're able bodied enough to get up there yourself, look for any point on the roof where, if you were to place a golf ball, it would roll down and STOP before hitting the ground. That is a spot where WATER will collect and quickly begin to leak into your home. Also look for places where leaves and debris are likely to collect. If leaves collect, they get damp and stay damp for long periods of time leading to softening of the roofing shingles followed by leaks.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Here is a view with the front door

I see the look you are going for. I am not an expert at all here and am just now learning how things go together. I did a quick search for gothic and found this fun blend of stone and brick that might interest you. Good luck with your decisions.

Here is a link that might be useful: gothic stone and brick

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 3:16PM
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The stone on the west elevation is a fireplace bump out. Its actually a see through glass fireplace which is why we put stone on the outside. It will be a prominent feature on the deck. I'll agree it doesn't make much sense without stone below it but I'm not as concerned because with woods 10 feet or less from this side of the home, no one is ever going to get a true sense of the back elevation without climbing some trees and the small wooded area is protected so never can be cleared. Whereas from the deck, a stone fireplace makes sense (to me anyway). I admit it would look better with stone below on the basement level as somewhat of an extension of it but that's the expensive option that honestly I'm not leaning towards atm. I'm currently leaning towards exactly as you've drawn it Bevangel, except with a full stone front as my builder wants to see. Those walking past the back of the home won't likely see much higher than the railing on the back deck line if I had to guess but if suggestions can be made for something more suitable for that fireplace bumpout I'm all ears (or eyes as it were!)

Appreciate the brick suggestions but husband hates brick (with a passion). He won't put it anywhere on his home. We're going for a "castle" or "cottage" look for the home. I know brick can be lovely but convincing husband of that is another matter :)

The HoA is basically our builder, he's the architectural review board currently. He has said he wants to see the entire front of this particular home done in stone, there is no written covenant that says it has to be. However it does say in my contract that the elevation has to have his approval. I myself prefer the look and low maintenance of stone so I haven't pressed the issue at all with him. As for what I do past the front facade, its pretty much up to us unless we opt for hot pink or neon at which point he'll tell us no! The elevations show shake on the side gable, I don't honestly believe we'll do that. We'll probably continue the hardiboard/tudor lines up. That gable is awkward because of the cut corner below it, due to an easement line. I will probably do as little as possible to draw attention to that which means I wouldn't change materials there. The front gable will have some corbels/beams where the smaller triangle is up top to add a bit of interest. That's still to be determined.

I'll provide a few more pictures. The front needs to have some overframing done on the right of the door down to the ground and we plan to have an awning roof constructed (of copper) to sit above the door and provide coverage for the entry. The entry was designed awkwardly and that is one place where the architect somewhat dropped the ball. I did ask for a covered entry and he gave me 1 foot...A copper juliet style awning was the best option we came up with and when all is said and done I do think it will look charming.

Obviously an architect was used and yes, with the plan shape the roof is..interesting! The architect himself told our builder that the roofline didn't really please him but I'm fairly sure it was designed without any obvious drainage flaws but I'll certainly have a closer look. I'll throw a roof plan graphic up as well. I think the complex roofline is just something we had to accept and live with for picking a more or less triangular lot where the building had to follow the lotline (with just 3 feet inset). As an aside however you can see the fireplace bumpout fairly well underlaid on the roofline diagram.

I do appreciate the comments, even the more critical ones. Keep em coming and thank you!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 4:24PM
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I would use stone where it looks like it is structural, not just slapped on the side of the house. You want it to dead end into a corner an not just as a facade.

It's really coming together!


    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 4:30PM
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Thanks spotty, very sweet of you!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 5:13PM
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Could you do the foundation and fireplace only? That would look the most real.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 8:48PM
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niteshadepromises - Now that I see your roof plan, I remember your lot and its design issues from when you first posted about it months ago. A VERY difficult space to work with indeed.

Having looked at your roof plan, I agree that your architect DID provide a drainage route for every point on the roof. The spot that I was originally worried about (marked with a red X below) is intended to drain toward the front of the house and fall off the roof right where that ladder is leaned up against the house in the very last picture you posted. So that's good but...

I still see two problems, one with the roof as designed and one with the roof as it was actually built:

First, EVERY portion of the roof that I've shaded in green on the drawing above is ALSO designed to drain at exactly the same spot! Without exact dimensions, I can't calculate the total roof area that will drain toward that approximately 2 ft wide edge of the roof. But, assuming that the secondary bathroom that is visible thru the roof plan is approximately 40 sq ft, I would guesstimate that the sections of roof that are shaded green cover about 1000 sq ft of floor space.

Did your architect discuss with you or have you thought about what having that much roof drain to one location is going to mean when it rains?

The national weather service describes any rain up to 0.3 inches/hour as merely a moderate rain. Anything over 0.3 inches per hour is considered heavy. And if you search the internet, you will find plenty of stories about thunderstorms dropping 4 and 5 inches of rain in an hour and you'll even find some stories about even heavier amounts of rain falling in an hour. Obviously then, it is probably not terribly unusual for a heavy rain to drop 0.5 to 1 inches of rain in an hour.

1/2 inch of rain falling on 1000 sq ft in one hour would be over 300 gallons of water that has to drain in one hour. 1 inch would be over 600 gallons and so on.

Let's say you get a storm that drops 0.5 inch of rain over a one hour period. That means you are going to have 300 gallons of rainwater pouring off of your roof at that one narrow roof edge in a single hour. 300 gallons per hour is 5 gallons per minute. That's twice the flow rate of a shower head. And it's going to be coming down as a sheet of water against that very short section of rain guttering.

And, what if you get a cloudburst that drops that same 1/2 inch of rain in a 15 minute period? It happens....a lot! (I live in central Texas and we don't get that much rain...barely 30 inches a year...but just a couple of days ago we got 3/4 of an inch of rain in a 20 minute period followed by another half inch in less than an hour a little later the same day. And I've seen worse storms.)

If you get 1/2 inch of rain in a 15 minute period, for that 15 minute period, water is going to be pouring off your roof at that one spot at a rate of 20 gallons per minute!!!! Will that short section of gutter be able to channel that much water that fast? Remember too that water weighs 8 lbs per gallon so 20 gallons weighs 160 lbs. I would be surprised if that much water did not simply tear the gutters lose completely.

And, if the rain either overflows your gutters (or tears them loose completely) all of that water is going to be pouring down from a height of about 10 feet and hitting the ground just a few feet from your front door. Imagine the size of the splash it is likely to make... and the hole that the falling rain is going to dig. With your door so close, it is going get covered with mud. And there is no way you would be able to open the door during a heavy rainstorm without water splashing into the house.

And that is the problem I see with the roof "as it was originally designed."

Problem number 2 is that the original roof design has obviously been altered by the addition of that cupola/turret that is not shown on the original roof plan. (I'm actually curious as to exactly how the cupola is supported but that is a different issue entirely.) And, did your architect also sign off on the addition of the cupola to the roof?

Anyway, here's the issue: While it is hard to tell from the pictures just how big the cupola is, I'm guessing that it is located directly over the circular staircase and therefore has the same diameter as the staircase. I'm guessing that because, as a design feature, having the cupola smaller than the staircase simply would not look terribly good.

If I'm right about the size and location of the cupola, then from the roof diagram, it looks like the staircase (and thus the cupola) sits where I've shown the yellow circle in the diagram below.

Notice how the yellow circle cuts off the red drainage line I had before. In fact, all rain draining from the entire area I've reshaded to purple is going to be at least partially blocked by the cupola. It will have to be diverted into that narrow space between the edge of the cupola and the edge of the roof that is directly to the left of the cupola on the diagram.

The purple section looks to cover about 200 sq feet. A half inch of rain in an hour falling on a 200 sq ft area would add up to t0 about 60 gallons of water. That 60 gallons is going to have between the edge of the cupola and that roof immediately to the left. 60 gallons is the equivalent of a bathtub full of water.

Worse, if anything at all (a few twigs and leaves or an old bird's nest) should happen to fall on the roof and get washed by a light rain down towards that narrow V, it is likely to become lodged in the V and basically create a dam to hold water back. Then you're going to have rain water collecting up against the back side of the cupola until it gets deep enough to find an alternate route down. And, when the rain ends, some water is going to remain pooled in that V.

I really hate to say it but I foresee significant roof problems ahead. I hope I'm wrong but...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Thanks for the info Bevangel. The architect was involved in the addition to the roof. My builder worked directly with him on the idea of adding it. It was necessary to make the diameter approx 2 feet smaller as compared to the stairwell, creating a 1 ft inset as compared to the stair. That might help some on the narrowing issue that concerns you, in addition a cricket was built on back of that cupola to help with diversion of water/debris around it. Still so, the issue of debris has come up and our GC did say we'll need to do a certain amount of maintenance, including possibly cleaning debris from the roof surface yearly with all those trees nearby. Being in Portland Or he said we should expect that regardless. I do hope adding that turret doesn't cause trouble but it did cross my mind and I hope you are wrong too!

As for the drainage, yep we did discuss at length with our builder what kind of options we have for handling the large volumes of water coming off that section. We spec'd gutters in this area out larger to try and cover it and I expect we may need to have a more custom solution in the future for handling it if they don't stand up to the test of time. I had one bid for a very thoroughly designed custom scupper/gutter system there but they were 5 months out :( I couldn't leave that roof without gutters that long in rainy Portland!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:36PM
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Sounds like you and architect and builder are well aware of all the potential issues and doing everything possible to address them. I do hope all goes well for you.

If it were me, I'd go ahead and order that custom designed scupper/gutter system and get it on ASAP. And definitely put an annual roof cleaning on your calendar.

Ah, the joys of home ownership...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 5:51PM
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Since you've been so kind as to offer feedback on our roof Bevangel and I value your opinion (you were instrumental in helping to tweak the original floorplan which I now *love*) I figure I'll throw up a couple more pics regarding the cupola. Bit of a derail on my own thread but feel free if anyone else has any other material suggestions to shoot them my way!

We did make sure to spec water and ice shield underlayment in this entire area that is less sloped. It was recommended by more than a few folks that had a look at it.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 5:54PM
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You can add rock at a later date without too much trouble if you use the really thin veneer rock so you don't have to consider the foundation having to have a rock ledge. Based on your floating rock fireplace I'm guessing that is what will be done anyways.

We are considering doing that to our home. We did it on our shop and would like to add it for less maintenance.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Thanks I was definitely wondering about that. I think that's what we'll do with the back for sure. I just can't justify the expense at the initial build phase. I'm still pondering the fireplace. I could just do a rock trim around the fireplace face as an accent and maybe just hardiboard the rest of the way up. I'll have to speak to hubby and GC about that and see what they say

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 10:10PM
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I would do stone around the front door and around the office to the second corner (almost to the tub). The garage and gable would be siding. Normally I am not a fan of stone sitting on a roof but in your case -since it is a turret, I would stone it as well.

I think that this would make it look more like a smaller stone house that had been added on to.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 9:11AM
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