Can You Really Trust Your Contractor?
You may really need our services!
Old House Guy New and Old House Services
I am prompted to write this after recently consulting two homeowners in the middle of a project. One homeowner wanted to remodel their 1990's house to appear more traditional and better fit in with the older homes in the area. The other, a 1870's home that needed some minor work. After seeing what harm can result without my guidance, or the guidance of another professional, I now write this to caution all homeowners of both old and newer homes.
Both of these homeowners were very excited to share with me their plans and the wonderful creativity of their contractors. They were so happy to spend their money on modifications they really believed would look good. I cannot really blame the rabid contractor or the homeowners as they are both exposed to so much bad design they cannot help but want to reproduce it.
There is a video out there about Spring Break called Girls Gone Wild. Someday I will make a similar video called Contractors and Homeowners Gone Wild.
Yes you can make a new house have more of a period or traditional appearance but you really need to know what to do. More importantly you need to know what NOT to do. Just because someone spends a lot of money on a project, does not mean that the house will look good. It can still look ridiculous.
I have found that many of the people that care the most, and try the hardest to make their house look good, are the ones that fail. The problem is that they do not even realize it or if they do, they just cannot figure out what is wrong so they keep buying: new light fixtures, new landscaping etc (more distractions). After all this they finally convince only themselves their house looks good.
The following is an excerpt by Steve Mouzon that explains what people do to their old and new homes.
. . . historic homes consist of misshapen pieces of modern or Disneyland interpreted traditional architecture stitched together with no clear vision of what the result should be. The same is for current construction stitched together with semi-traditional pieces or architecture. Most people probably can't explain exactly what is wrong with this sort of building because there are just enough traditional pieces thrown in to make it look vaguely traditional at first glance just as Frankenstein looked vaguely human at first.
Do not make this mistake - I can help you! You can buy books and study design or you can ask OHG. No matter what you decide to do to your house, at least you will understand your options and be a better informed and educated consumer at a just a small cost.
Contact us for an Initial Consultation
Send us a high quality photo (2 megs or higher) of your house with your thoughts, questions, or what you (or your contractor) have in mind. Please contact me BEFORE you begin your project and before it may be too late.
The fee is only $25.00 per half hour on the phone and easily payable through PayPal or by check.
I am available by appointment weekdays (day and evening) and some weekends. If I think you could benefit from my virtual consulting service, I'll let you know.
Click here to contact me and I will let you know how I can help you.
Virtual Consulting Services - via email or phone
- Restoration, Remodeling, and Design Consulting
- Blueprint review
- Find out what to do to improve the curb appeal of your home and see a photographic image of what it can look like.
- What would your house look like with shutters, a period porch, and the correct windows?
- After years of bad renovations - see what can be done to bring back the traditional beauty of your house and what will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
- House Color Consulting
All services and renovations are based on proper architectural design as discussed throughout this website - of course!
For a proposal, please contact us with a photo and your questions.
Here are some examples of what we can do with our Virtual Consulting Services
(Images have been reduced in size/quality for webpage viewing)
A Virtual Restoration of the John Onderdonk House
John Onderdonk House Before
John Onderdonk House - Virtual Restoration pic
Virtual Restoration with Shutters
The John Onderdonk House dates to about the 1860's, with an older section to the left.
Vinyl siding in a Dutch Lap style was removed and replaced with wood clapboard allowing the face of the house to properly align with architectural features. In other words, the additional layer of vinyl on top of wood siding causes features such as the window casings and frieze board to appear recessed. Removal of the extra siding layer corrected this problem. Notice the additional shadow lines. Although subtle, they do add to the overall character of the house. You no longer have that "tacked-on" look.
Fake plastic windows were replaced with true divided light, two-over-two double hung windows as the original windows were, and six-over-six in the older section. Dark green window sash color is typical for the period enhancing the appearance of depth.
The arched window on the 3rd floor was retrofitted with a plastic replacement sash that just screamed "wrong". It is now restored back to its original appearance.
Louvered shutters were added to the main part of the house; solid-paneled shutters were added to the older section, on the left.
There is a section of the porch to the left that was enclosed. I opened it back up and continued the balustrade to follow the porch roof although I don't believe the porch is original. Additionally, since the porch floor is so low, there was probably no balustrade between the posts, however they will remain for now.
The Italianate frieze board features some nice colors, but when combined with the white vinyl, there is no possibility for this house to look good. Colors for the house were based on the frieze board and are typical for the period.
The vinyl siding extended down to the ground concealing the foundation. A fieldstone foundation now provides the appearance of a solid base and makes the house appear stronger. The small window in the old section just doesn't fit in, but I left it there for now. A slate roof was added, chimney painted, and a period door replaced the Home Depot looking door.
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The following house had been remuddled over the years. A previous owner had gathered the stone and constructed the wall himself some years back. For this reason and sentimentality, the owner chose to keep the stone and use complementary colors allowing it to blend in with the house. Based on the client's preferences and building structure, Arts & Crafts elements were proposed as shown below for this lake-side home.
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The following house is in need of an extra bedroom. To avoid upsetting the design of the house, additions are only recommended for the rear of a home and should not be visible from the street. However this house is located on a corner and rear addition will then be visible from the street altering the view of the streetscape. For this house there is no way to avoid this. We proposed two designs to make the addition blend in and not disrupt the fenestration of the building.
Below are two designs. The first design shows a second floor addition allowing the lines of the house to continue from the bay and extend out to the rear.
The second proposal retains part of the hip roof on the first floor. This design allows the original design to show separation and provide a less boxed appearance. The evolution of the building is also easier to follow.
Design 2 with roof separation
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Viewing the same house again, notice the porch. The porch is circular at the corner but the porch roof is not. Apparently an earlier homeowner replaced the porch roof and took the cheap way out. This roof does not cover the circular balustrade and allows the effects of rain, snow, and sun to be a maintenance nightmare. In the following photos the porch roof is redesigned for purpose and beauty and a new paint color scheme is added.
Circular porch roof to cover circular porch and balustrade
Proposal for a new paint color scheme to bring the house to life
Bungalow Gets a New Porch
A bungalow restoration - off to a great start but needs a porch and some finishing touches.
Can We Really Trust Builders and Architects?
Can you pick out all the mistakes the architect made to this house?
This house may look good at first glance and possibly the fifth glance to some, but there are numerous mistakes and I will show you how when corrected, they can improve curb appeal. Click here to learn how.
Exterior House Colors - Hand in Hand with Architecture
Color is all around us. It is a sensation that adds excitement and emotion to our lives. From something as small as the color of your shirt to something large like your house, these colors stimulate our senses and affect our mood and emotions.
Color plays a more critical role in a house due to the large expanse of "canvas" you have and the large impact you can make in your neighborhood affecting the senses of those passing by. This is why the process of painting your house is most critical.
There are colors that work together and those that work against each other; colors that over the course of history were popular in certain architectural styles or during certain periods of history.
What is most important is color placement. There are certain structural features on a house which need to be displayed correctly to give your home the appearance it was designed to have. To accomplish this, the colors you choose must work together with the form and structure of the building.
This is where most people fail when having their house painted. They may have chosen the most beautiful colors that work very well together, but placement of these colors on the house do not follow the architectural form of the building and can make it look off balance.
As usual in architecture, although these errors are realized by our minds, most people are not in tune with their inner senses or have the time to really notice disharmony.
To help you avoid these errors we now offer a Paint Color Consulting Service
We will help you select a color scheme that will both reflect your tastes and be appropriate for the style, age and setting of your historic home.
Cost for this service starts at $175.00 for a more basic house and higher for a house with more architectural features. But wait, there's more! Act now and we will include your Dog House at no charge!
An example of how color consulting can improve curb appeal.
This nice little bungalow started out with a great warm rust color. As good as the base color was, something was missing.
Here we first replaced all the White with a Cream color to soften the contrast between the base color and the trim. The blocks in the foundation needed a dark color to visually provide the house with a strong base. The lattice under the porch now connects the house to the base and makes it visually appealing by picking up the colors in the house. We carried the dark green in the foundation forward to the shutters, front door, and garage door. The garage door actually has good detail but can't really be seen in a small photo here.
Although this small change in color really improved the house, there are still some additional changes that were made here to improve the overall appearance.
The front door does not match the style of the house. Here we replaced it with a period Craftsman style door in natural wood that blends in well with the base color of the house.
The garage door style was ok, but a quality new door like this makes a big impact. Highlighting the vertical structure makes such a wide door look less wide and more aesthetically pleasing. In addition the window pattern follows suite with the front door.
Shutters were re-mounted the correct way overlapping the window frame.
Other changes recommended- Removal of hanging plants that will hit your guests in the head. Mailbox should be painted black or choose a brass or copper style. Move the satellite dish to the rear of the house where it can't be seen. When looking at the house, it distracts your eyes to it. The downspout on the right should be moved to the side of the column, not in front.
The color in the brick steps work well, but the material is incompatible with a wood porch and will separate. Wood steps would be an improvement.
Landscaping - plant an evergreen on the left corner, no higher than 3/4 the door height to help frame the house. Smaller shrubbery at corners of the steps.
So as you can see, a very simple house can have great curb appeal with the right color combinations and just a few simple changes.