The following information is provided so that a prospective buyer can gain insight into the construction of the house and have a body of information to present to his or her independently picked home inspector. Sculpturesque will not sell a house that has not been independently inspected by a private inspector of their choice.
My name is Martin Lide. I am a sixty three year old architect and builder. In designing this house (and my last few) I have paid acute attention to designing out things that have caused problems in the past. The house design is simple and straightforward, though lovely.
The Exterior of the home was designed to blend into the “Craftsman” theme of the Brookesmith and Greater Heights neighborhood. This was done with broadly overhanging eaves, eave brackets, cultured stone and the use of “hunter green” as an exterior color.
Hunter green has a nice rapport with the trees at the rear of the house and in the surrounding neighbor-hood. Additionally the roofline gives a nod to the “airplane bungalow” style of craftsman house.
The interior of the house departs from the craftsman motif which would more typically be characterized by compartmentalized rooms and the use of deeply stained oak cabinetry and woodwork. The rooms in this home are large and open and flow into each other in a modern manner.
The interior color scheme begins with off white walls. Natural light comes through the many windows in the house in order that the interior be bright and emotionally uplifting. By painting the interior walls of the house white, the incoming light reflects and bounces rendering a bright and cheerful interior.
The windows and doors retain the heavy casing of other craftsman style homes but they are painted rather than stained with a soft neutral color that transitions softly from the white walls.
The color scheme softly transitions to the tile and wood floors in the house. Altogether the interior colors comprise a pleasingly neutral color scheme which sets the stage for an owner to install furniture accents of deeply stained wood which will then blend the house’s old and new.
HOUSE AND YARD
The house was designed so that all of the living spaces flow visually out into a large side yard. This yard contains a considerable area that an owner could adapt for small children to play in, family pets to play in or a pool or other landscape feature such as a patio and trellis.
There is an ample private garden area to the rear of the house where the owner could cultivate herbs or plants of their choice.
The ample L shaped yard provides the occupants with a green space fashioned after a small private urban "pocket park" which embraces the house.
With the exception of the one secondary bedroom and a shared bath on the second floor every room in the house views out to the side yard bringing in light and facilitating the ability to monitor small children or pets that may be playing there. The Master Bedroom views out to a covered balcony and then over the balcony to the side yard.
Presently the side yard is grassed but there is not a walkway installed. The builder's reason for that is to leave ultimate usage of the yard flexible for the next owner.
Deluge rains are becoming all too common in Houston. When that much water falls on a structure it stacks up and finds ways to infiltrate that would not occur in an ordinary rain. The more seams and joints between intersecting planes that a structure has at the roof line...the greater the probability for leaks.
This builder will no longer construct a house that doesn’t conform to these three guidelines.
The roof of this house has four simply sloping planes. Two lower ones over the garage and two higher ones capping the second floor. There are no hips and no valleys. Just simple ridges running east and west which shed the water perpendicular north and south to the roof edges. All walls have eave overhangs of between two and four feet.The master bedroom balcony is completely covered and overhung by four feet. The idea behind this is...if a window is well shielded by roof overhangs it does not matter if it is open or not. Water can’t get to it unless the rain is blowing sideways.
Beyond that, it is important to insure that all openings and seams in a structure are well sealed so that whatever rain water may reach them cannot infiltrate. The builder gave strenuous attention to these details.
The other thing that water puts at risk are foundations. Once a foundation is poured you want it to remain unchanged and unmoving. The weight of a two story house does not present that great of a risk to a well designed concrete foundation. But the forces of a heaving earth underneath it present a substantial threat.
In some locales there are rock formations at the surface or not far beneath. That is not the case anywhere in Houston. Ancient compacted dirt is essentially what lays beneath Houston. At the surface in many places around town is gooey dirt locally referred to as”gumbo.”
When rainwater lands on rock, it’s state remains mostly unchanged. When rainwater lands on dirt it swells. In long periods of drought it shrinks. When the rains return after long periods of
drought it swells a great deal from a contracted to an expanded state.
That sort of expansion and contraction can break a foundation. In the opinion of this architect foundations around Houston poured well into long droughts are the most at risk unless they are designed to respect these potential soil movements.
The key to a good foundation in Houston is shielding it from damage by rain cycles and soil movements.
This builder is comfortable with post tension slabs. Essentially they are a good system from a design standpoint achieving a good result in relation the amount of materials used. They’re shortcomings arise from “cut corners” and poor workmanship during installation. If they are not put in correctly they are not “forgiving.” When placed and hardened a post tensioned foundation functions somewhat like a monolith or a large plate of concrete on the ground. It can even “list” slightly with soil movement like a ship on water. Very very very slightly. Nevertheless the goal remains to pour it and have it remain as still and unchanged as possible forever.
The house at 414 Walton began as a post tensioned slab. But the rain cycles at the time of construction were heavily wet and the soils around Houston were soaked for a period of weeks. For that reason this builder chose to add # piers to the foundation each extending nine feet down into the earth to “firmer clay” (soil). This essentially turned the original post tensioned foundation into a bridge held up by the piers and spanning it over the less stable soils at the surface...thereby greatly reducing the likelihood of future movement and damage. In addition the foundation was poured with 5.5 sack cement mix which exceeded the engineer’s specification and is significantly stronger than a typical foundation.
This ticket displays that the concrete used was 5.5 sack match which exceeded the engineer's requirements.
This pic shows how the existing earth underneath the foundation area was cut away so that more stable "select fill" could be placed.
This shows the select fill while it was being placed to form a fouindation pad.
This shows the sekect fill after it has been compacted and leveled into a foundation pad.
This photo shows the foundation piers being drilled down to more stable soil.
This photo shows concrete being poured into the piers.
This pic shows the foundation ready for concrete.
The house is almost a pure rectangle. That simplicity and all corners being 90 degrees provides for a stout box. The roof is a simple pitch with four simply sloping planes.
This photo shows the front of the house. The exterior walls of the house are 2x6 studs. The first floor height is 12 feet. The second floor height is 10 feet and there is a vaulted ceiling over the Master Bedroom. 2x6 studs are not required for a two story house but the builder used them because they allow for 6 inches of batt insulation in the walls yielding an R-19 versus an R-13 for 2x4 walls. Additionally they are stronger and their added thickenss makes the interior walls at windows and doors appear more architectural and substantial because of the added depth. 2x6 also create a extra margin for error when the plumbers and electricians drill holes in the studs to pass wires and pipes.
As a result of the wall thickness, the headers (beams) over the doors and windows are triple 2x6's or 8's or 12' s depending on the span.
The second floor is supported by 24" deep open web wooden trusses. These transfer the weight primarily to the long exterior walls that run from the front to the rear of the lot. That takes the weight off of most of the interior walls. The 2x8 rafters that carry the roof also bring their loads down on the exterior walls. Additionally the rafters are braced at their midspans to various internal walls which ultimately convey the stresses to the foundation.
The frame is hurricane strapped per city of Houston code requirements and fully sheathed on the roof and walls with as combination of 1/2" oriented strand board and 1/2" CDX plywood. The first foot of the frame is sheathed in treated "moisture resistant" plywood. The builder saw no need to take the treated board any higher on the wall because the likelihood for flooding at this location is neglible due to the lot's height above White Oak Bayou.
Passive components are non mechanical items that contribute to the energy conservation of a residence.
The roof shingles are an "energy star" color. That means that they reflect enough radiation to qualify for that deisgnation.
They are mounted on 1/2 inch oriented strand board roof decking that has a radiant barrier applied to the underside.
There are two attic spaces and they are insulated with 12 inches of blown insulation resulting in an R-38 value.
The Vaulted ceiling over the Master Bedroom is insulated with cellular foam to an R-20.
The exterior walls are 2x6 wood studs and insulated with six inches of batt insulation resulting in an R-19.
The entire first floor living area is tiled. There are two reasons for this;
#1 Slabs give off moisture as they cure and can deform wood floors as they do. Tile won't deform.
#2 Houston summers and heat are the greatest energy concern.
Many houses in the Heights area are raised over a crawl space. This means that during the heat of the summer that the area under such a house contains hot moist air that can be the same temperature as the ambient air temperature and this heat has to be resisted by the insulation on the underside of the house.
The home at 414 Walton has no crawl space and the concrete foundation rests directly upon the ground. The earth underneath the house remains relatively cool. The concrete foundation is a good heat conductor and too some extent conducts warm heat from the inside of the house towards the cooler earth below. Tile facilitates this conductance more readily than carpet or wooden planks. In the winter on real cold days these floors can be cool...but the winters are moderate in Houston.
The house has electric heat and electric cooling. The house is only 2,425 square feet but is divided into three air conditioning zones.
The first floor is one zone and is served by a 2 ton Lenox unit.
All windows are "e glass" in vinyl frames. This builder likes vinyl windows because the joints are fused with heat and don't require painting. The builder has vinyl windows on his own home and after eight years they are working perfectly and in good shape.
The kitchen appliances are all stainless steel and manufactured by Bosch.
The Bosch oven is model # HBL845UC.
THe Bosch Microwave is model # HMB5051
The Bosch cooktop is model # NIT566UC and works on the principle of "electric induction." This appliance cooks food with energy efficency and it's sleek black glass is easy to maintain.
The Bosch hood is model # DUH36252UC.
The Bosch dishwasher is model # SHE65T55UC
Please contact me.
Martin Lide Architect
1822 Prospect Str
Houston, TX 77004
713 562 3910
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