Exterior Elevation Help Needed!

uponthehilltopDecember 27, 2013

Hey Guys!
We are looking for feedback on our exterior elevation, specifically the entry area. Originally, we had a brick base with double timbers going up to the timbers in the apex.
LONG story short, our builder was concerned that the sides being open would allow water to rush onto the porch in the rain.
So, we planned to enclose it and go with stone and the timbers in the apex.
Now, in an effort to save money we ditched the stone but kept the timber apex. What you cannot see in the attached pic is that we are grading down the front entry area to allow for 3 brick steps up to the porch. We are also having brick "fan out" as 3 ft walls on each side with a place to put decorative urns.
I hope this makes sense!
I have never seen the arched timbers in the apex without stone. What do you guys think? We are going with a rustic brown and the lady at the design center (for our builder) even said not o waste the money on stone because it will just blend with our brick selection.
My only other option would be to ditch the timber apex and oval the brick above the transom window and run the brick all the way (enclosed) to the apex.



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My opinion--the timbers look out of place with the rest of the design. I think an arch would look better with all of the other arches.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 8:07AM
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Thank you, rrah!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 8:29AM
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A plan and the other elevations would help us understand the house. A perspective would be even better.

I think the reason you are struggling with fine tuning the facade is that it is a collection of design elements with no unifying overall concept for those elements to support. It's not something many homeowners and builders understand and I only understand it because the first question a professor would ask in design school is "what is your parti?"

Parti - from the French Prendre parti meaning " to make a decision ", often referred to as the big idea, is the chief organizing thought or decision behind an architect's design presented in the form of a diagram, sketch and/or simple statement. In general, without a parti a designer risks reaching a point in the design with no idea of how to proceed. At that point is is wise to stop and create your parti.

This is where sketching is essential; a computer may be a useful presentation and production tool but it is terrible for expressing your ideas.

The use of accurate architectural terms will help you communicate better with others and get better search results on the internet: the porch is a portico; its roof shape is a gable; the timbers are straight and trussed not arched; a brick arch shaped like an oval is an elliptical arch. The arches above the windows are segmented arches (a portion of a round arch less than a semi-circle).

Front facing gables can be strong architectural elements but can be compromised when the main roof is much taller and hipped with no other roof elements. Arched window openings can be strong architectural elements but can be compromised when the windows do not fill them. A projecting portico can be a strong architectural element but it can be compromised by a larger stronger gable element. I can think of no practical or architectural reason for rectangular gable vents.

Here is a link that might be useful: end gable timbers

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 9:02AM
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@Renovator8- Thank you.
The timbers are arched, it was not done correctly in the program. I am emailing our builder now to ask about the rectangular gable vents.
The Houzz link was extremely helpful!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 10:29AM
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What about stone and hardi instead of brick for the front of the house? I think it would make the timbers stand out more. I have no idea if that would be a huge cost difference but I've seen a lot of houses on houzz with the stone/hardi combo and they look nice.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 11:20AM
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IMO there is way too much roof going on. It feels like it either needs something to break it up (e.g. dormer), or it needs to be less tall.

Also the gable that contains the entry is lop-sided - it dips lower on the left side than the right, which looks weird here. IMO lop-sided gables like this only work in a whimsical (e.g. cottage/ranch) setting not this more formal treatment.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2013 at 11:47PM
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Aren't you already framing? I can understand changing materials at this point, but redesigning roof lines and all is probably not an option.
I really don't understand what you are saying about all the arch being open or closed, where you're looking at putting stone, as I don't see any on the current elevation, but if it's cost effective then why not go all brick? It seems like it would just be a small amount of stone in the overall picture.
I like the brick facade.
Another consideration, if you're building where an ARB has already approved your elevation you probably need to go back to them if you make even the slightest change. Even the vents.
We have approval from our ARB for our elevation, and when I discussed with dh and our builder maybe changing the number of mullions in the transom windows across the front I was reminded that we'd need ARB approval and that would hold up the ordering process.
I do know of another build very recently in our development that put the windows in at a different height than was approved by the ARB, and in the end the builder had to go rip them out and reinstall. That was a very big very expensive mess.
Anyway, it's worth noting.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 9:47AM
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Mlweaving- thank you for your response. Due to rain we have had a delay with framing. They supposedly will begin framing today or tomorrow. The ARB President is the husband of my friend, and as long as we keep with the look of the neighborhood, there is no major issue.
I guess at this point the only thing that could be done with ease would be to add a dormer window above the small window on the left, coming out of the vast roof space.
We are building on a lot with lots of trees.
One thing that cannot be seen on this pic, is the garage and far end of the house are about 10 feet forward of the center of the home, so the house is not flat across the front...
In the end, I think it will be the finishes that bring this to life. A really beautiful brick, with some detail work, good shutter color etc.
I have to trust our builder, I guess!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Your just getting nervous because you see the work actually starting. It's the same for me. Your house will be beautiful if you will just look at it without nitpicking every little detail. Words of advice from my dad.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 10:33AM
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Thanks everyone! Had an emergency meeting with our builder today and feel MUCH better. Added a large amount of stone and will just eat rice and beans for a few months, lol!
I really appreciate everyone's input.
I was able to ditch those gable vents as they indeed served no purpose.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2013 at 8:16PM
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