Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teardown gets it's rafters

Lot's more to go before this is pretty: wood shingles, clapboard, stone, curvy porch roof, arches, columns, balconies, chimneys, eyebrow, dovecote...

We've been waiting to see the roof line.
It defines the outlines, massing, the height, and the relationship with neighboring houses. (see a "wall of dread" picture in the P.S.)

There is no getting around the bigness...

...but I think the final shape moderates the bigness. This is a well designed house. Great detailing will emerge as the house nears completion. I believe it will make its neighbors look better.



Here it is in context with it's neighbors, pictures you don't see in real estate listings which always show houses as if they are the only one on the block.

The new house is making the houses on either side look different but surprisingly they don't look smaller. That's not ironclad 100% yummy goodness - I mean- those houses would look better with a garden between them.

It's a skill we don't appreciate: Architect Bob DeFiore can't make today's house look like it's neighbors. Nobody builds houses like it's neighbors any more. But within the constraints and tradeoffs between, owners requirements, costs, loans, and zoning, he controls the masses and roof lines, the details and finishes.

There is a pleasant framing / backdrop effect for the existing houses. Rather than being somewhat indistinguishable from their neighbors. Now they stand alone, framed by bigger houses in different styles, now unique rather than a pea in a pod.

Now the small houses have the deep front yards. It's part illusion, but still a luxury in our neighborhood.

Lot's more to go before this is pretty: wood shingles, clapboard, stone, curvy roofs, arches, columns, balconies, chimneys...

Here is the whole slide show


P.S. This is a big wall of dread in Ashford Park...

I'm sure they expected to tear down all the existing houses but I'm not crazy about the new ones.


  1. This is so fun Terry, you keeping up with this project. Feel like I have a private reporter!

    New house looking large but a few well placed understory trees would help immensely. Other landscape tricks too but those understory trees should be put in pronto.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  2. Tara, can't wait for it all to be done. The design/builders 2-storied a house nearby, super nice job. They managed it without even messing up the yard which had very good turf on it.

  3. Very, very interesting. The house is still at that stage where I can't imagine how it will look, but I do think it looks big compared to its neighbors.

    There is a street near Chastain Park where the houses can't have basements because of the creek. The older houses just had two stories, and that was that. The newer houses are being built with three stories, and they tower above their neighbors. There is one house that was beautifully renovated a few years ago, a 1.5 story house, very charming. In the intervening years, the house to the left was torn down and a 3 story house was put up; the house to the right is currently under construction, and they tore out all of the trees and are building a 'Greek Revival' 3 story house whose columns make the house look even taller. I feel a bit sorry for the 1.5 story house in the middle, which is now in the shadows of the huge houses on either side.

  4. Folks around here mostly don't like these. Some lots let you build "modern size" without showing the size too much.

    I think by and large in Morningside architect and builders do a good job and relating the existing housings. But as I say nobody builds houses like the existing houses.

    Most folks realize that if they are building these in your neighborhood, it's probably a good neighborhood.

    The worry is: Do these big new houses make ordinary 60 year existing houses tear-downs. That is, are these houses reduce the home price to the lot price. Or does having a $1M+ house next door make your minimal traditional more valuable? I don't know, some of both I'd guess. Does the little house next door bring down the price of the big house?

  5. I've been wondering how this was coming along, so I was pleased this morning to view these photos! It is great fun, Terry.

  6. I did notice the new house has a smaller front yard. I guess they moved it up since the footprint is larger? I can't wait to see more progress. I loved the plans you sent me awhile back.

  7. love watching this...there's a teardown just up the street from me and I find myself altering my route to 'spy' on it every day now!

  8. I like to watch construction of new houses in my neighborhood, too. But, I'm not as kind as you are in my assessments of these new houses. It's more pleasing to my eye, when there is some sort of architectural continuity. By that I don't mean cookie cutter, but there should be a flow.

    I'm not sure if the big new houses reduce the value of 60-year-old houses down to their lot size. I imagine that would depend on the style of the house and its condition. Of course, if you have a towering behemoth next door casting its neighbors in shade, I wouldn't think that would be a good thing.

  9. Doug, I'm a serious tear down drive-by guy. There are a lot of them in nearby neighborhoods right now. And all are "above average" as the say in Lake Wobegone.

    A single change from one day to the next can be dramatic: Like installing windows.

  10. House things:

    Most folks aren't very kind to the new ones. In some neighborhoods I don't think it's worked out very well. I think you can have beautiful streets where houses are packed cheek to jowl. Or they can look ugly for 100 years. I think eclectic streets / neighborhoods can be the best of all.

  11. I agree with you about a garden making the division between the two houses look better, I think they improve anything (except the situation on the dread of Ashford Park picture). I think it's important for archetects to keep a fluidity in a neighborhood; the houses neededn't look all alike, but if they look way too different it makes everyone's home seem lesser.
    Just my opinion.


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