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You can’t fight the site and stay cheap

October 6, 2010

The vast majority of American homes sit on their lots without any thought of the views or the terrain or trees or anything but paralleling the street in front of it.  This is because the vast majority of American homes are built from stock plans that are designed with no site in mind.  When you ram a simple rectangular box into a hill that flies off to one side weirdness happens.  Decks launch out into space, windows face hillsides, cars are forced to run slalom courses, great views are unseen and rainwater flows where it shouldn’t.  One of the main causes of home renovation is fixing that brain-dead ignorance of the sites that surround them.   There are ways to make it work, but it usually takes a lot more effort than simply removing a wall or adding a bay window. Retaining walls, dirt removed/moved/brought in, careful deck design, landscape steps and expending the house to address views or redirecting the house away from things best unseen. These are costly fixes, so the neighborhood, the site and the house itself should be worth the investment.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Traceroo permalink
    October 7, 2010 7:49 am

    The reason houses face the street was because in days of yore, folks had front porches and walked up and down the street and visited with one another on their porches. Now the front porch is considered wasted space, front doors are almost obsolete, and the most important portal of entry is the gaping garage door. Many suburbanites keep their garage door open most of the time and greet guests through the passage door between garage and house. The mudroom is the new entry hall, the kitchen is the new parlor. Neighbors live next to one another and sometimes don’t meet for years. To hell with community. If that’s the attitude, sure, let’s tuck the house wherever the view, topography and light is best, and to hell with facing the street. Relating to a neighborhood is obsolete, just as relating architecturally to one’s surroundings is similarly obsolete.

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