Working with an Architect | Exterior
Drawing up Blueprints
We’ve been planning and dreaming up ideas for the house addition. Time to battle test them by working with a seasoned architect. We learned the value of working with a professional draftsman and learned a few key things in the process.
Where did we leave off… Oh yeah. We were left without a contractor to fix our damaged roof, with nothing but a few names and phone numbers. And luckily these 3D renderings they initially drew up. I believe they used Google SketchUp, which you can download for free. It’s pretty neat how they could draw 3D sketches straight on top of photos of our house!
From these renderings, you get a pretty good idea of what we’re planning.
We really didn’t like the second option. We wanted this to be clean and simple.
We never knew there were so many roof pitches to choose!
Working with an Architect
We took these ideas, and some ideas of our own, to the architect referred to us. Luckily, we immediately felt comfortable working with Chuck. We had a mutual respect and give-and-take relationship as far as communication. He was very receptive to our ideas as homeowners, but we were equally receptive to his expert opinions and recommendations. It’s their job to make clients happy while also guiding your project with their institutional knowledge. So ask questions and value them as a resource! I learned to be firm in what you want, but flexible in how you get there.
After one or two brainstorm meetings, Chuck had some preliminary plans ready for us to review. We decided we really wanted a vaulted ceiling to give us an open, airy loft feel. He helped us weigh the pros and cons of this. For instance, how steep did we want it? Different truss styles vary in price. We’d be deviating from the style of the rest of our home which has a 12/4 pitch, so that was something to think about aesthetically. We decided on a 12/12 roof pitch as you can see in the drawings below. He thought that would be pretty cool too.
These are the backyard views. The windows were a tricky business. Chuck gave us a few options below. These were just to get our wheels turning. We actually agreed with him on most things, but we just weren’t quite in love with any of these variations. He also coached us a little bit on this fact: Square or rectangular windows generally cost way less than custom shapes and sizes like arches or circles. Just think about how much more work it is to make and fit those.
Standard shapes, but too boxy
Too elaborate = customs shapes $$
Again, normal windows but looks like a bunch of stacked squares.
Windows Round 2
With this knowledge, we decided to go with standard window shapes but still wanted to do something interesting with them. So we looked at a bunch of other homes and did some online searching too. There had to be houses out there with big rectangular windows that still looked unique and not boxy…
This picture isn’t pretty, but it gets the point across of something visually interesting with normal off-the-shelf windows. I loved this tapered, tiered look.
This shows the idea a little better, with a little window up top.
I could not find anything close, but I could see it clearly in my mind. So I found this photo and popped it into a photo editing program in my phone and added the window shapes. I send this over and here’s what Chuck came up with for us.
Oh yeah, much better. We decided to do without the window in the peak, so Option A and C were looking like winners. I was leaning toward C with them snuggled closer together.
Here’s where we landed. We want to keep as much of the existing board and batten siding as possible. It’s wood and in really good condition. It tends to last a long time. From there on up, we want to put up an LP Smart siding that is pre-painted along with a cedar shake in the gable.
Another thing our architect helped us to decide was whether or not we want to keep our wood burning fireplace. He isn’t in a position to give financial advice about the plans, but from his experience, he thought it would be more cost-effective to replace the wood burning fireplace with a gas insert. This is because fire code requires you extend your brick higher than the roof, so that’s a lot of new brick! Instead, you can replace with a gas insert and frame in the chimney stack.
We were lucky to have a good working relationship with our architect. We felt we could call him up anytime with questions or to bounce ideas off. My top advice is to be open to their opinions but also clear on your vision for your space. If you can find someone you can collaborate with, that’s priceless.
Next up, taking those plans to the city for approval (hopefully)!