I need ideas for window details. Can someone please help?
First some background info... I'm having a local builder build a
farm/folk house that I designed using 3D Home Architect and the
builder/designer is basing his final drawings on my plans. It's a
pretty safe design, so for the most part it doesn't matter that the
builder/designer is not very style savvy. That just means that I'm
responsible for telling him what I want, and I pretty much know exactly
what I want. The only problem is with the windows. I could really use
The porch and the front of the garage are going to be brick, and the
rest of the house is going to have sage (green) vinyl siding with white
trim on the corners. The windows are going to be 3' x 4' 5" double
hung windows with no grill/panes and no shutters. They are going to be
white vinyl on the outside and on the inside they will be pine that we
will stain to match our oak casing/trim. Where there is vinyl siding,
there will be 3 1/2" white vinyl trim all the way around the windows.
Here's my question: For the windows in the brick, should I also ask
for the same 3 1/2" white vinyl trim around the windows so that they
match the rest? I'm afraid it would look odd. I've looked at
thousands of new homes for ideas, and nobody seems to put trim around
their windows where there is brick. But yet when I run this issue by
other people, they recommend that I ask for the windows in the brick to
be consistent with the rest of the windows--with the same white trim.
What do all of you think?
In case it helps, here are links to some drawings I exported from my 3D
Home Architect software:
Keep in mind that the porch rails will be white vinyl like the posts,
and there will be a shingled brow across the garage gable and the porch
gable, as shown in the front elevation. The front elevation is the
only drawing that shows all the trim details.
All constructive feedback is greatly appreciated.
That patch of brick looks tarted up in the vinyl siding. Why not get rid of
it and use matching vinyl siding. When I was teaching, I would have flunked
anyone who "glued" brick to a facade that does not ask for it. You are
building a Midwestern farmhouse style, the originals used wood, not brick.
I appreciate your concern about the original farmhouse style. I ran
into the same issues when I was considering a Cape Cod. Most "Cape
Cods" today have little resemblance to true Cape Cods from 100 years
ago or so.
I've decided that when people say "Cape Code" or "Colonial" or
"Farm/folk House," regarding new construction, they're not implying
that they're trying to copy the original early designs. This home is
more aptly described as "inspired by farm/folk style." In other words,
it's a "Farm/folk Revival." So, although the originals employed little
no brick, much like Colonials, which were also 100% wood clapboard
sided, the modern versions often have brick accents.
In our area (Southwestern Wisconsin), brick accents or brick porches
are very popular. It also serves a functional purpose, as the brick
appears in all the areas of the house where people come in contact with
the sidings--main entrance, porch, garage doors, etc--where vinyl
siding might otherwise get damaged or dirty by frequent contact.
What do you think about my rationale?
Oh, yeah... One more thing... The covenants in the development where
we're building require at least a small amount of brick and/or stone on
the front of the house. 100% vinyl sided homes are prohibited. Also
prohibited are large steel external buildings/garages, boats or
vehicles parked in the yard, all any external shed must match the
house's style and materials, must be behind the house, and must be
proportionately smaller than the house (e.g. a certain percentage of
the main floor's square footage). ...and this is a rural development!
I actually like the covenants. Keeps out the riff-raff.
Thanks again for your feedback--much appreciated.
Ir-rationale. Not sure what you do to the front of your house that
would damage or dirty vinyl siding - but stop it! Vinyl is easier to
clean than brick and is far easier to repair.
As eds opined, pasting on a brick veneer to the front of a house is a
cheesy way to go about getting the brick incorporated into the
building. It's Colorforms design and construction. I'm sure you've
seen it on a million different houses. They all suck - each and every
one of them. It always looks like the builder/owner didn't have enough
money to finish the building with the nice stuff and cheaped out on the
sides of the building.
As far as your covenants keeping out the riff-raff, most of the
covenants I've encountered were created by riff-raff. People with
little knowledge of design who are "blessed" with absolute surety that
their way is best, create the covenants to insure that none of that
"wacky" stuff gets built. Unfortunately good design is so rare that it
is wacky stuff. Covenants are rarely anything more than legislated
Holy shit, I'm channeling DON! I'm going to go lie down now. ;)
I've seen some pretty nice, and very expensive homes that have brick
accents. When done well, I like it. And it's all about what *we*
like, right? So I was only asking about the window details because
that's one detail where I don't know what I like--I don't have an
opinion--so I'm seeking expertise.
As for brick accents being bad... I could see if I was making the
entire front brick, and everything else vinyl; that would be bad,
because it would indeed look like I was trying to make the house look
like brick from one view, and then go the cheap route everywhere else.
But in this case, for the front elevation, we're balancing the brick
and the wood (vinyl) pretty tastefully. The brick only goes up to the
porch roof, or, in the case of the garage, up to the shingled "brow,"
which is the same level as the porch roof. Everything above that
natural line of demarcation is going to be vinyl, like the faux
dormers, the gable on the garage, etc, and even the gable on the porch
roof above the front entrance.
As for covenants... I live in a rural area. If there were no
covenants, we would have people building huge steel buildings in their
front yards. That's just the way it is in rural Wisconsin. If you
want to protect your property values, you have to have covenants. You
can't assume your neighbors are going to be reasonable. As soon as you
start to assume that, you'll end up with a highly medicated dude
building an enormous "pond" in his front yard, or the fanciest 8-car
garage in town!
What do you guys think about the house in general?
I'd seen some HGTV show where the people wanted to redo the tacky front of
a house for which they'd paid somehting over $400K.
The job was easier then they'd expected because the huge front
columns/"portico" thing was stucco-coated *FOAM*.
I was utterly appalled.
To quote the current movie ad:
"how can you kill what's already dead..."
If you're commenting on the design, I can't assess the situation from
your twenty words. If you're commenting on the construction technique,
you need to get out more. It's called EIFS or an acrylic stucco
system, and it is as good a system as any other as long as the
installer knows what they are doing.
Ask Don. I'd hazard a guess that at least 50% of the buildings he
designed in his previous life had some acrylic stucco detailing.
I know what acrylic stucco is. It was created to adapt to climates, such
as Southern California's, whcih experience wide temperature fluctuations
over short periods of time (such as going into the 40's at night and the
upper 90's in the afternoon). It was OTOH quite problematic in the cool
rainy climate of Vancouver. I've personally seen (and lived in) both.
The stucco, acrylic or otherwise, was, however, not the issue. The OP's
statement is quoted right at the top. The issue, as indicated by the OP's
aasterisks and caps, was the foam used to make the underlying structure.
You wrote the part about the foam, so why are you referring to the OP?
There are numerous examples of foam products used in construction that
present no longevity problems if installed as specified. Do you have
issues with polyurethane sprayed insulation, Dow blue board, rafter
mates, Wedi board, etc.? You shouldn't - they're good products.
Categorically classifying a product or process because it involves foam
is misleading. As I mentioned earlier, if there are any issues it's
due to the installation, not the foam itself. It's no different than
seeing rotted wood siding and blaming the wood, instead of either poor
installation or lack of maintenance.
Because I thought the OP mentioned it first. Earthlink has dropped the
original post so I can't refer back to it. So sue me.
I mentioned something specific. Those other items were not part of what I
Some foam is cheap junk. Some is long lasting. A lot fo stuff used in
construction is fine, but a lot is crap - it depends upon who's involved in
erecting the structure(s). I've seen a lot of junk. If that's not part of
your experience, then good for you. But I'm not going to pretend I haven't
seen or learned what I have merely because you don't want to acknowledge
those things. The plain and simple fact is that a great deal of what is
produced for the middle class does cut corners, and there is a lot of
shoddy stuff out there.
Now, maybe all your clients can afford Million-Dollar-+ properties, and
maybe you don't have to expose yourself to the things that us mere lowly
peons can afford, and if that's true, hey, you're lucky, that's peachy, and
count your blessings. But I've looked, from a mere lowly peon consumer's
POV, at a bloody hell of a lot of stuff in the past quarter century, from
coast to coast and in both the US and Canada, and sorry, but I *have* seen
a lot of junk, and a lot of neighborhoods that look run-down and seedy
after only a couple years because inferior materials and methods were used
in their construction. Money is taken away from practical, and even
important, things, and applied to cheesy stick-on geegaws and poorly-done
indents and whatnot in the mass, as a supposedly "decorative" substitute
for actual design. Again, I don't claim to speak for your expereince or
for the expereince of wealthy clients - just that this is common in things
meant for us lowly, inferior peons. Unfortunately, there are also a bloody
hell of a lot more of us, than there are of wealthy people who also have
good taste. The end result is that you end up with *vast* suburban
wastelands - I recall driving out west from Pasadena, and seeing the floor
of the desert valley (where San Bernadino is located) and seeing huge
swaths of ugly, crowded, energy-wasting, cheesy, cookie-cutter bedroom-
community houses, with yards so tiny that there was no room for so much as
a modest shade tree. It was IMO nightmarish. But it was all that a lot fo
poeple, who worked way the heck over in LA, could afford - even decent
rentals in the cities are beyond the reach of many working people. Even if
there are "some" affordable properties, there aren't nearly enough for all
the people who need places to live. Which in turn means that developers
have a pretty much captive audience. So if they feel like saving $$ and
tacking of porticos or so on made of styrofoam, they know they can get away
Now, if you don't have to expose yourself to areas like that, that's great
for you. But they do exist, and there is a lot of cheese, and a lot of
inferior stuff in those areas.
You had mentioned I should ask Don about acrylic stucco - no need, as I'm
familiar with that item; I do recall, however, that Don has mentioned
observations similar to mine, except in even some areas in which I couldn't
afford to reside.
And it is a fact that there are elements that are no longer structural, and
no longer made of durable, long-lasting materials. Sorry, but styrofoam is
not a structural or long-lived material.
Now, it's patently obvious that using better materials would mean smaller
square-footage, if a developer's profits, and the buyer's prices, are going
to remain the same - it's a trade-off situation. For myself, I'd *prefer*
my home to be smaller but sturdier, however, one has to have land in order
to build, and there is not much land *available* (meaning, for sale) that
has nbo been bought be developers - and developers only allow their own
houses to be built in their developments. So, as a buyer, one also has to
make trade-offs, especially if one or more household members has to
At any rate, it's of course your right to take exception to something (or
everything) I say, but by the same token, it's my right to not lie and say
I haven't seen what I've seen. And, if a material is described even by a
builder as only "foam", as was the case in the TV show I'd mentioned, then
I'm just saying what they said - not condemning (or extolling) all foams
for all purposes.
As per the OP's post, plywood would have been an inprovement...
I've never been a fan of it, because so many of the geegaws are not good-
quality materials. I realize that some people like, for example, Victorian
as an overall style. I don't personally care for it, but I *have* seen it
done well, so that the house looks "of a piece", like the different
elements belong together, *AND* are made out of materials that won't look
crappy after a very few years.
The design is one issue, but the materials also play a part - I've seen far
too many neighborhoods, across the continent over the past 30 years, that
are not even 5 years old, but wherein the houses already look worn-out and
seedy, because the cheap materials had so little durability.
The above is one of the very specific reasons I insisted upon buying a
place in a neighborhood in which all the homes had at least the first
storeys fully bricked (with full-brick fronts), and at least Hardy-Plank
for any siding and soffits. Sure, we *could* have gotten a place for a lot
cheaper, if we wanted to live in an area where all the siding was wood, but
we've observed the results on wood siding of the elements, and lack of
upkeep. Similarly, while I was in Massachusetts, I saw examples of
Colonial that were at least well-thought-out and built from quality,
durable materials - and the all-too-common stuff that was just sloppy half-
arsed "design", cheap materials, and crummy construction.
What it is, is a matter of up-front cost, versus long-term cost. Something
that looks like a large up-front cost now, is very often *significantly*
less expensive than the long-term costs that add up.
So, where you mention proce versus quality below - it's very possible that
the person didn't just look at price, but rather, at *cost*. Most people
don't do that any more, from what I can tell.
"I know what I want". If there was a single phrase that has been the
bane of my existence, besides, "Is it in yet?", it would be that one.
People _always_ know what they want. Then I have to fight them tooth
and nail until they're half convinced and let me do what I want based
on trust. When it's done, _now_ they know what they want - "That's
Bigfoot, your design, your "pretty safe" design, is fine, it's lovely.
It's something that someone using 3D Home Architect would come up with.
There are similar houses all over the country - not identical - but
similar in treatment.
You're going to be spending major bucks on this house, living in it for
quite a while I'd imagine. Single biggest investment and all that,
right? If you're living there, you want to make the house your own -
individualize it. If you're selling it, you want to set the house
apart - individualize it. You could do that by having two kitchens or
five bathrooms, but obviously that costs a lot of money and makes
little sense. Or you could work on the detailing of the house. The
way things fit together, make transitions, etc., are what really make a
house shine. I'm not taling about good construction as that's a given
(or should be), I'm talking about good design.
3DHA is a dangerous tool. It gives people the idea that they too can
be designers, which, of course, anyone might be, but it does it in a
way that ties the person's hands as it is giving them all of the nifty,
"Wow! I can really see the house now!" power.
Some say God is in the details, and others say the Devil is in the
details. Either way, details are the important stuff. You need to
start incorporating the details as soon as possible. The house will
develop a life of its own and it will tell you what sort of window
details it needs. It will make the design far more interesting, far
more complicated (no negative connotations, thank you), but not
necessarily much more expensive. If done correctly, and incorporated
from the beginning, the details can be inexpensive bonuses. Tacked on
at the end, they become more expensive, kludgy and little more than
Colorform details. Peel it off and slap the detail on the building.
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