My Beef With Bad Home Design

I regularly drive past a 1950s split-level rancher that is being renovated near my home. At this point, I can see that the addition being built is closed in with plywood and the roof is on. But I cringe every time I see this home. It’s not that it’s structurally or technically unsound. It’s just bad overall design.

As you may already know, split-level homes have characteristic low roof lines, a big garage feature, and wide windows that refer back to the low, wide stance of the home. Typically, the private areas of the house are upstairs, and the public family room areas are downstairs. They were invented when people began buying cars and moving from the cities where they worked to the ‘burbs. That’s the culture they refer to, and it’s why they look the way they do.

The remodelers who are putting the addition on the house up the street are doing something “production builders” do. It’s a kind of home design based on Hollywood set designs, where only the part of the house facing the street gets the Palladian windows and lots of dormers, to signify “money spent” or “wealth,” if you will. It doesn’t matter what kind of house they are building; each one gets dormers and Palladian windows — even a 1950s rancher!

Of course, if you know anything about design, you know that multiple dormers on a split-level rancher are silly. The house is developing an identity crisis as the renovations progress because the two very different roof line styles now compete with one another. They also create a hinky roofing detail that is bound to leak in the future … but that’s another story.

When renovating a home, unless you are doing extensive tear down and rebuilding, you need to refer back to the original house with the new additions being built. If you don’t, the two design styles will end up “arguing” and creating confusion. And, at a minimum of $250 per square foot for a new 900-square-foot addition (this price is from the remodeler’s own website), these homeowners are going to end up with a $250,000 carbuncle on their hands.

Here’s one that’s done right! split level rancher

When It Comes to Older Homes, Small Is Not the New Big

In the world of new construction, the mantra is “small is the new big.” This means that people who are building new homes appear to be tired of — or can simply no longer afford — the ostentatious 5,000+ square foot McMansions that were so popular during the last decade. In our business, however, where we work on older homes in and around metro Philadelphia, the opposite is true. We get a lot of calls from folks requesting additions for their homes. They simply want and need more space.

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How Do You Know It’s Time? Part 3

Last week, we got a call from a woman who said her house felt too small now that her son had become a teen, and she was also dissatisfied with the outside of her home, but she wasn’t sure how to fix those problems. A quick Zillow search told us that this woman’s neighbors all had 4-bedroom homes with 2-3 bathrooms, while she was living in a 3-bedroom, 1-bath house. The “bird’s eye” view of her neighborhood told us that most of her neighbors had put additions on their homes to increase their size, and their homes were now worth 1/3 more than her house, even in this time of conservative appraisals.

We find that this is a common problem facing homeowners:

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Design to Build = The Better Way to Go

At Myers Constructs, Inc., we use the phrase “Design to Build”™. It is our trademarked remodeling system.

You’ve all heard about terrible remodeling projects where the project goes over budget and takes forever to complete, while no one knows what’s happening, and the homeowners are suffering while waiting for the next shoe to drop.

That’s not us! Our system takes the chaos and stress out of your home renovations. This system is great for commercial projects, too.

Design to Build™ means we only design what you want and can afford. We don’t design with the aim of piling up billable hours like some people. That’s because our business model is based on what we build, not on design time we bill for.

We won’t design highfalutin flying buttresses (or other misfit architectural details) on your addition just because they’re really cool. We understand your home’s style and we Design to Build™ using that style as a taking-off point. The result is a long-lasting project, built on time and on budget, with few or no surprises.

This means that you can relax knowing that you’ll be pleased with the results of this system. Why not go ahead and schedule that vacation while we complete your project for you? Many of our customers do.

Think You Need an Addition? Think Again.

We often receive phone calls from folks who think they need us to build them an addition for their home. I wanted to share my perspective as a design/build remodeler with you about this: you shouldn’t build that addition before you maximize the space you already have!

Now don’t get me wrong. We like nothing better than to build stuff. The bigger the home-remodeling project, the better!

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