Where’s the bathroom he asked. By the front door, I reply. He turns and smiles, You can tell it is only my second time in this home. I have been scampering around this house for the past three hours, so I know its layout. In reality, I have investigated a few homes from this builder with the same layout, so it is almost like an old friend now. The front window will always have that crack in the wall above it because of the weight bearing down on the studs from above. You would think that the builder or architect would take note a change that little defect, but I always find it.
I like to consider the layout of homes. Where will the inhabitants walk? How will the rooms be used. Would moving the closet create a better room? I do not share these thoughts with my clients. I think of the elements of Palladio’s designs, and why his homes were so imitated. High ceilings with well proportioned rooms are part of their charm. Proportions have been shown to be how we determine beauty. However, the thought about use in these homes gives them an appropriateness.
I know that architects for these subdivisions cannot come to sight the home on each lot, but I think that they could give some more thought to how the homes are used and situated to their neighbors. In one home, the laundry room was just off of the entry hall about thirty feet away from the stairs. The bedrooms were upstairs. There was an odd little room upstairs, which might have made a good laundry area. It had a small window, and it really was not big enough for many uses. Maybe it was intended as a home office. I wonder why the entry area was chosen for the laundry? Opening the door, I could have my first sight be dirty linens and clothes, a welcome experience. I have seen laundry rooms on the second floor or in the bedroom area on the first, and I thought this was a clever design.
In another home, the window for one bedroom looks directly into the bedroom of the neighbor’s home about ten feet away. A closet was along the back wall, where a window would look upon the back garden. Children today would be more likely to communicate through their computer than their windows. A teen might not want to be seen by the person next door.
Some plans leave safety behind to make the customer happy. Entertainment rooms with no windows are placed into homes to satisfy demand. What happens with a fire outside the door? It would be wiser to educate than to give in to a clients demands. An argument between a contractor in Georgia and myself ensued when I suggested that building codes have been developed to make homes safer and sounder, so they should be followed. He argued that since there is no problem just after construction, and it is what the customer wants, I should not complain. I pointed out the reasoning for the code, and that I could take him to a home to show him the result of not building right. This caused him to walk away, convinced that he was right.
I wonder how this one home will sell. The owner wanted to evoke a style that was popular here in Texas one hundred years ago. The rooms were attached on the interior sometimes, but an external balcony was used to go from room to room most often. They included the balcony for two rooms, but not in the spirit of the design of the original. Access to the rooms was by walking through the different rooms on the interior only. I felt uncomfortable walking through a room with a sleeping teenage son to go to an office.
I imagine that contractors who work on remodeling will continue to have work. This is a nice expense for homeowners. Look at your home; how is it designed?