The cottage. A Bungalow, a Cape Cod, just any modest cosy dwelling in a traditional design.
After house shopping for a long time you finally find the house of your dreams.
It’s the cutest cottage you have ever seen. Just like something out of a story book.
At one time there were many cottages like this.
But what happened to them? Where have they gone? Why are these cottages so rare?
Sadly the people who fell in love with their cottages eventually murdered them.
It’s usually a slow gradual death, sometimes unnoticeable, not much different from arsenic poisoning.
Death of a Cottage
The following is taken from How Buildings Learn and What happens after they’re built by Stewart Brand.
“Of course, there was no bathroom so we had to build one, and we added a utility room at the same time.”
“The council made us put large windows in the new part.”
“We found the cottage was really too small, so we built on a new kitchen and extra bedroom at the back.”
“With the children growing up we needed more bedrooms, so we put another story on the back addition.”
“Then, when the children married and left home, the house was too big for us and we sold it.”
“When we bought the house the old part was very dark, so we put in bigger windows and a glass door.”
“We also added a garage.”
“Just as we had got the house as we wanted it, we had to move, and sold it.”
Next new owners:
“When we bought this house the thatch was in a very bad state, so instead of repairing it we decided to have it tiled.”
“We needed more rooms, so we built up the front at both ends.”
“We put in a new Georgian-style door and windows in the front, to be more in keeping with an old house.”
Outgrowing Your House
This is a sad story but people change and circumstances change. Life happens. Instead of changing the house to fit our needs it should be the other way around. We should adapt to our house and when our situation and needs change we should understand that moving into a home better suited to us is the best choice.
While a house may live on for hundreds of years, our time is brief. We have no moral right to obliterate that which was built by our fathers before us. Let us not be selfish but remember that we are stewards of a house that will live on after us. Read Why Old Buildings Should be Respected.
Adding an Addition to Your House
Additions must be sensitive to the existing house. The additions in the story above disfigured the house into something it was never meant to be.
Many architects and builders will add onto a house in the way above with no regard for the design or personality of the home.
Additions should be no larger than half the size of the original house. There are many homes out there that may better fit your needs if more space is needed.
The above photo is taken from Hooked on Houses . Here we have a very charming Cape Cod home with a giant garage. Separating the garage from the house is what we call a “hyphen”. A hyphen is a smaller structure used to separate the house from the addition making each section distinct and allowing them to retain their own identity. This is what lacked in the story above. Not that this is an answer to every addition.
The garage however is enormous – too big for the house even though it is connected with a hyphen. One would say the garage has a house attached to it, not a house with a garage. This garage should be detached and placed farther back.
Sure it’s nice not having to go out in the cold to your car but look at the price that is paid for that convenience. This selfishness destroys the over appearance of a lovely house. The garage is what is first noticed, not the house.
Bottom line: Beware of what architects and builders will suggest and don’t be selfish.
What Can I do to Protect the Character of my House?
Here is a sad story about a historic house that was purchased and destroyed by well meaning homeowners. Read this article and see how a Preservation Easement can preserve your legacy.
Please share this article. Doing so may prevent the loss of a beautiful home.