We are a small firm in Texas, and we have been designing homes for a
subdivision that requires us to submit a scaled model for each home in
a "design review" process.
We have completed one model for this community, but have many more to
come and would appreciate any tips and tricks you can provide us (been
out of school too long around here)! Specifically, we're having
trouble with the roof and it feels like we're just cutting out the
pieces and folding them, making them work the best we can.
Check out some pictures of our last model - ANY suggestions would be
appreciated! It doesn't have to be fancy (obviously!), but we could do
We agree wholeheartedly about simplifying the roof. Unfortunately,
it's not always an option for clients who are trying to build
multi-million dollar homes at all kinds of angles and heights, etc.
Assuming that the roof plans themselves can't be changed, can anyone
offer any advice?
Trying to build a roof that complicated is a bitch no matter what you
do. Funny thing is it's just as annoying to frame and roof it in real
life. This is one of those situations where somebody had better learn
to cut some corners (off). That roof is guaranteed to leak, no ifs
ands or buts. It's just a question of when.
In an earlier life I used to be a professional model builder. Using
materials that are the correct scale thickness will make it easier to
build such cut up roofing. I primarily used foam core for massing
models as it's about the easiest to work with and you only have to deal
with covering the cut edges. Sometimes I'd cover them with matching
paper stock, and other times I'd use wood trim - that really punches up
the roof edges, looks great, simple to do, but you don't want to do
that on the roof surface itself.
You could also use foam and a hot-wire knife, then spray the roof with
a textured paint to simulate the roofing. That would hide a multitude
of sins, but you're trading off one thing for another - less precision
required, but another process.
You could also build the roof using a darker board. The little black
gaps between pieces that don't fit so closely really stand out against
snow white board. I wouldn't go with black or anything really dark,
but something approximating a normal roof brown would help.
I was also thinking of foam-core board, but re: cutting, aren't there
inexpensive, hand-held mat cutters that allow you to change the angle of
the cut? I looked on amazon.com, and saw only fixed 45 degree angle
But Google revealed this one - cutting angle and depth are adjustable.
It's bloody expensive for a hobbyist - over $1000 - but might be acceptable
for a professional:
This one is cheap, under $25, and is described at being both depth and
http://www.artstuff.net/dexter_mat_cutter.htm $23.95 but I haven't yet
found the shipping info
Amazon.com has what *looks* like ti might be the same thing, $27.99 plus $8
The thing I'm thinking is that, any time one tries to cut a board-shaped
material so as to make a polygonal shape, the sides have to be angled, or
there will be gaps on top. That's why I was thinking of hte adjustable-
angle mat cutter.
OTOH, I suppose they also could just do 90 degree cuts and then cover the
gabs by gluing narrow strips of paper onto the top (I'm assuming strips are
glued to the bottom to help keep the pieces stable during positioning).
Or, it might be possible to fill in the gaps with some sort of
Yup, there are a variety of colors available even in someplace as "mundane"
as Michael's Arts and Crafts - I think it was all 1/4' thick, though. The
white comes in a variety of thicknesses. I haven't looked for it in Texas
Art Supply, so I don't know whether they display a greater range of sizes
and/or colors. But the main point is that there are colors available.
OTOH, an inexpensive air-brush, a bottle of arcylic paint, some distilled
water, and some extender medium would also solve the color problem.
((Always use *distilled* water to thin acrylics, if you intend the object
to last for a decent length of time - the minerals and chemicals in non-
distilled water weaken the chemical bonding of the acrylic and can cause
eventual flaking and peeling.))
I'm not saying that houses shouldn't have unusual shaped roofs. I've
worked on plenty of those. I was trying to say that the roof appears to
unnecessarily complex. As others have pointed out, that is usually a
function of poor architectural design not a "feature". In my opinion many
of these complex roofs look like a stack of weird mushrooms and are not
all attractive. But then perhaps I'm getting too used to the Northwest
look of mono-pitch roofs with big cantilevers and exposed soffits.
Bob Morrison, PE, SE
R L Morrison Engineering Co
Are these at 1/16" scale or smaller?
If smaller you could always do good old fashioned clay models. Otherwise,
you could use thicker board or more solid core like strathmore board which
has uniform solid white layers that makes your roof edges straighter and
hides the seams somewhat.
Also, you could spray the whole thing with a fine white spray like gesso
spray which lightly fills the gaps and other imperfections
Otherwise, charge more for the models and spend more time on them.
A roof should unify the building, not break it up. Without plans, there is
no way to easily see how these roofs fit to the plan, but if there is really
no other way the plans are to complex. Think of the roofs that FLLW and H.H.
Richardson put on expensive houses, simple, simple, simple. Your developer
needs a design lecture. BTW why all the hipped roofs? Are they really
I have used this company before for 3d "plots"
http://wwwl.lgmmodel.com (sorry, I do not know how to make links)
They are relative inexpensive if you model in 3d. I gave them a .dwg
file of 3d solids.
The client ended up paying around $900 for model of his house. It
costs more if they have to do the modeling.
I have photos, but do not know how to post them.
I think they also do precut laser sheets from 2d for you to assemble.
You don't have to put the URL and IMG tags. Most newreaders add those
Pretty impressive models on that site. I'd guess that the picture of
the model you linked to wasn't a $900 model. I'd be interested in
seeing a picture of the model they did for you. Post a link.
I sent them a 3d model that was modeled in Architectural Desktop and
converted to 3d solids. They have a program that "shrinkwraps" the
model with 3d polymesh that they plot from. They tweak some stuff so
it does not break (like the railing). This model is 1/16" scale and
the plotted size is 10x14x5. They could do slightly larger if they
modeled the site by hand and just plotted the house.
They used to state on their site that they may be able to do models for
under 1,000 depending on the rediness of your file, but they have
updated their website and I could not find it.
Just load the webpage that has an image and copy and paste the URL from the
browser into the newsreader document.
<%= Clinton Gallagher
NET csgallagher AT metromilwaukee.com
URL http://www.metromilwaukee.com/clintongallagher /
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