NOTE: I'm re-posting this, hoping for some comments that are actually
useful and sincere. I really appreciate any *real* advice from someone
who actually knows what they're talking about. That said...
I'm having a general contractor build a house that I designed using
Broderbund's 3D Home Architect software. It's a 2-story colonial, or
maybe you'd call it a colonial revival. Here is a link to something
that is similar...
Our builder is very competent, but he's not very savvy when it comes to
traditional architecture. Most of his houses are basic ranches. He's
done some colonials and cape codes, and the workmanship is excellent,
but I've noticed some annoying shortcomings when it comes to design,
like the windows are not spaced uniformly, or he'll just leave out the
center window on the second story, or he won't allow the proper amount
of space between windows for shutters. I've mentioned some of these
things, and his comments have included, "We'll I'm not a big fan of
shutters, anyway." ...but this is a colonial!!! (Again, see the link
above for the traditional look I'm trying to accomplish.) Other
concerns include roof pitch, window trim, the front portico, door and
baseboard trim, etc.
So here's my question... Is there a book or online resource that I can
refer to for information about standards for colonial architecture,
like dimensions, proportions, window spacing, etc? I really want this
guy to build our house, but he just needs a little help to make sure he
doesn't overlook some important details that could make the house look
Please help. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
While the responses that you've received haven't been what you wanted,
your constant reposting will accomplish nothing, other than to irritate
those who might give you acceptable answers.
Suggestion: Put down the cup of coffee.
Believe it or not, I don't drink coffee.
Sorry for the multiple posts, but I wanted to start the thread over,
and then I accidentally re-posted under the original post instead. I
think I've got it straightened out now. :-)
So, who has some advice?
I don't mind buying a book. Where would a professional architect turn
to find out the standards for a traditional colonial 2-story for things
like window proportions, spacing, trim, shutter width, roof pitch, etc?
With all due respect, you brought this issue on yourself. Broderbund's 3D
Home Architect software is a toy used to make pretty images of shapes. You
"thought" you'd save a few bucks by "designing" the house yourself and by
hoping the your GC would be able to come up with all the colonial detailing
required to make a Colonial house. Now, you are finding out (well after the
construction has begun) that the GC isn't specialized at all in colonial
detailing and while this construction is going on, you are scrambling to get
some detailing together to build out your house.
This, in turn, is surely causing delays and will undoubtebly cost more.
Your "savings" will soon or already have vanished.
Now you find yourself in a mess as the detailing won't fit the given
existing dimensions that were built, your proportions are surely a mess and
you'll end up with some expensive "cobbled" together design and house that
cost many more times than if you'd have hired a professional designer to
begin with where your details would have been worked out beforehand, where
your specification would have determined how much detailing would be
involved, where a bid set would have given you exact pricing for that
detailing, and where your construction contract with that GC would have been
based on all the construction including all that proportional Colonial
It would have been done right. I hope you learn from this exercise.
As for Colonial detailing, go to a library, get a book on Colonial homes and
study the detailing and proportions, decide how on earth you will fit it
all in and take out a pencil and some paper and start sketching some details
that may or may not salvage some of your house. There are thousands of
Then, when it's all said and done a few months and a several extra thousand
dollars from now, ask yourself these questions:
1. "I just spent several hundred thousand dollars on a new house and what
have I got for it?"
2. "Was all the effort, grief, and additional dollars worth saving a few
thousand dollars by not hiring an architect to properly design the house in
the first place?"
Good luck... oh and by the way, you should still go out and hire a
professional to salvage this design....
Pierre Levesque, AIA
"wanna be Architect since 1995"
The Prairie Avenue Bookshop (Chicago) is one of the nation's premiere book
sellers of architectural and related subject matter. I guarantee you will
find what you are looking for there including patterns, plans, and books
<%= Clinton Gallagher
NET csgallagher AT metromilwaukee.com
URL http://www.metromilwaukee.com/clintongallagher /
 http://www.pabook.com /
Ah! I useful reply! Thank you very much! There have been a few
useful replies in this thread. Most have been worthless.
I will do like you say--buy a book or two. That's the advice I've
received from a couple of others.
When I finish this project, I'll post photos and floor plans, and then
you guys can judge for yourself.
All of the replies have been in agreement - they're not worthless.
Your attitude has been worthless.
You need someone to tell you that there's, gasp!, information in books?
Now, don't take my word for this, but there are big brick buildings
that have tens of thousands of books that they'll _lend_ to you. For
FREE! They're called libraries. Visit one, I'm sure it'll be an eye
opener for you.
Ask for Mr. Blue - I'll be holding my breath.
BTW Learn to quote. Not all newsreaders work the same way, and it
isn't automatically clear who and what you're replying to.
I'd be surprised if there wasn't. What have you come up with so far?
John, check out your local library, bookstore and internet search engine,
and stop getting sidetracked with all your responses here. It seems you have
some homework to do!
If you've done the gist of your design in Broderbund-- whatever that is
exactly-- and your GC's execution's lacking, then, short of some
industrial-strength homework on your part, like maybe something next to a
degree in architecture, it seems to make sense to hire an architect.
Incidentally, has your GC already begun to build it, or is it still in the
I'm a designer by trade, with a strong interest in architecture, but even by
my training and experience, I doubt I'd dream of winging it without an
In fact, if I was leading the political show, I'd be sorely tempted to
legislate something to the effect that anyone/any entity planning on
building, be legally obliged to have an architect approve all projects (if
they don't already, which to my understanding is not the case)... if only to
cut down on the usage of an expression I'm reminded of:
"There goes the neighborhood."
'Colonial' is in fact a family of distinct 'traditional' building
styles, used by original European settlers who relied substantially on
their respective 'native' methods of design and construction. Hence
colonial includes Spanish, Dutch, Georgian, Federal, etc. etc. etc. The
image you link to doesn't actually reflect any of these styles
specifically but is a watered down version of a copy of a copy of a
copy that may have had Federalist or Georgian origins. As such it is
more proper to call it simply 'vernacular'.
Even so, the architectural characteristics you're looking for are not
primarily characterized by a lack or presence of shutters, nor by a
centrally located window above the doorway. Plenty of Federalist houses
exist without these features, for instance.
As for references, try googling 'colonial revival' and you'll get
oodles of images that you can pick and choose from.
Window placement is a function of inside as well as outside. Having a
grid of windows on a house invariably means having windows not
centrally located in rooms, which is what your GC may actually be
trying to achieve.
We get people here all the time who use products like Broderbund and
think they are actually designers when they do so. Fortunately, there
is a lot more to architecture than using a $70.00 cut and paste CAD
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