Saturday, February 2, 2008

Considerations When Choosing a House Design

Considerations When Choosing a House Design
By: Marcel LaPerriere

Esthetics: Will it look good and be a home we are proud to call our own?
Function: Will the house fulfill the needs of my family? Will it provide the shelter and comfort that we need in our home?
Cost: What will it cost to build?

Many design classes will teach you that there are 3 things that must be consider when designing or choosing a design. They are; Esthetics, Function, and Cost. After many years of working in the building trades I will argue that a 4th should be added and that is Serviceability.

Many years ago an architect told me his primary goal was to design a home that the owner would always be proud to say they owned. He said it was important that each and every time the owner saw their home amongst the other homes they would proudly point to theirs with no hesitation. This architect demonstrated to me how important esthetics is; especially considering that a house is part of what makes a home for your family.

Obviously when we decided to build our dream home we all want the most value for our money. We want our home to not only look nice but we want it to be comfortable and function well too. Balancing a budget to build a functional house while still making our home look good, can be a challenging task. Add in the fact that we want a low maintenance house, and then the task can become even more of a challenge. However, I would point to red cedar as being one of the most ideal building materials to help us achieve our goals of functioning well, and be esthetically pleasing while still being easy to maintain. By incorporating red cedar into our family’s home balancing all of the design criteria lessens our challenge.

Red cedar functions very well in most building environments and is an especially good building material in our rain forest environment. Red cedar is also a very affordable building material that is easy to build with. And, who doesn’t like the looks of red cedar? Now for the 4th consideration that I have added: Serviceability. Red cedar is known for its longevity. It is extremely rot and insect resistant and hold finishes well making it an easy material to maintain over the life of the home.

Yes, we could all live in tarpaper shacks. They would fulfill our need for shelter. Even with heating costs that tarpaper shack could possibly be economical. However, ascetically a tarpaper shack would not be very pleasing to our eye, and would not function well for our family. I will stick to my assertion that you will have to look long and hard to find a better building material than red cedar. It functions well, it is very economical, it is very pleasing ascetically and best of all is easy to take care of. Short term and long term you will get more value for you’re our hard earned dollars with red cedar than any other building material.


Lady Di Tn said...

Saw bees like to bore holes in the cedar around here. Our picnic table at the cabin at the lake has several places it looks like swiss cheese and then my nice cedar whirly gig had one come up and bore a hole into it. Dirty ole bee. I have a picture of me standing on the porch at the lake with a badmitten rack slaying the buzzing beast. Now I am leaning toward quarz for my kitchen counter tops as they have the best rating so far that I have found for stain resistance. What do you suggest is the hardest and best bang for the price of admission?
Oh this kitchen has the orginal 1964 oven, range, counter tops. We have changed the light fixture and I just had bead board and a chair rail added.

Marcel said...

Hi Lady Di,

Your post proves that there are many regional considerations. Also keep in mind there are many types of cedar. Red cedar is commonly grown only on the west coast and is often called western red cedar for that reason. In your part of the country I believe that your cedar is sometimes called white cedar and as I understand it is not really a cedar at all, but a pine? I do know that white cedar is nowhere near s resistant to bugs as red cedar.

Here in Sitka we have Alaskan yellow cedar. Red cedar grows along the cost but not as far north as Sitka. Yellow cedar is even more rot resistant than red and keeps the bugs out better too. The bad news is that yellow cedar is very regional and all yellow cedar harvest today is old growth as there is very little 2nd growth. Yellow cedar is also a very slow growing tree, and is on the decline more than likely because of global warming.

As for your countertops, that too is a regional thing. Here in Alaska the cost of transporting any stone here is prohibitive. That is why we use a synthetic product. I would have liked to use granite or soapstone, but the freight was going to kill us.

FYI: Soapstone is the material used for most chemistry tables in classrooms and labs all over the world. Soapstone is used because it is very stain resistant. Some of the best soapstone in the world comes from the New England states so it may not be too expensive for you.

Also Tennessee has lots of limestone, and I would assume some marble. So those stones might be good for you. I do know in Europe we have seen both marble and limestone used on countertops and we have seen some that are over 100 years old. So, I’d guess that could be a good choice for you. Since whatever you use will need to be installed by a pro, do your best to find a reputable dealer. They will be able to give you good advice if they are honest.

Good luck!