Monday, June 28, 2010

Geometry versus Miracle Materials

Houses are combinations of geometric shapes. Most are groups of rectangular boxes, sometimes end-to-end, sometimes stacked, and nearly all capped with sloped roofs. The proportions of the boxes and the angles of the roofs create an architectural language. Successful house additions usually mimic this language.

To accommodate additions, houses often need to lose or relocate doors and windows. It's part of the "cost-of-connection", a subject for a future article.

Here is a typical conversation between architect and homeowner regarding the cost-of-connection:

We need to relocate the bedroom window in your daughter's bedroom.

- Uhhh, Suzette's room? The one my sister and I just wallpapered?

Ya. That one. Nice job, too. But the bedroom window needs to be moved because the new addition's roof will cover up half of it.

- Can't we lower the roof instead so the window can stay?

We CAN lower the roof slope, but then we CAN'T use shingles, which in this case is the preferred roofing method, because shingles and the steeper roof slope is more in keeping with the style of your house, and instead we'd have to rely on "miracle materials".

And if I have to play the miraculous material card, I'm not going to use the high maintenance modified bitumen or torched down type materials often used in the residential construction world, I'm going straight to the good stuff, a commercial EPDM membrane roofing system.

- And that costs more money than the residential type material?

No and yes. No, because I'm only interested in "doing it right", and whatever it costs to "do it right", is the baseline cost. The cost of what we should be DOING is what we should be PAYING. Yes, because skimping on inferior and/or short-lived materials costs less in the short term.

- Is it cheaper to put on the shingled roof, move the window and patch the hole?

Maybe. It's a win/win/win for you. It's at least comparable in price, will require less maintenance, and will look better on the rear of the house.

- The flatter roof wouldn't look good?

It won't look traditional. It'll look "jammed on".

- Oh...forget it then. I can buy another roll of wallpaper.

And if you can't bring yourself to face your sister, there's enough money in the budget that we can have a pro rehang the paper for you!

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