Home Design Diary

Decision Time for Porch, Pump House, Tank

The story of our house building adventure (using Long House Plan 508-1 designed by architect Nicholas Lee) continues: we made some key decisions this week. You may remember that we were looking at where to place the water storage tank, and then it turned out we needed a small shed to house the pool equipment and the pump for the well.

Architect Nick Lee and Petaluma, CA builder Ryan Eames settled on the southwest corner of the lot, adjacent to the well itself, which seemed the most practical and cost-effective location.  I liked the suggestions from Facebook viewer Tobe that we should either bury the tank or use the pool as the storage system. Both excellent ideas — however, we had already purchased a tank that was designed for above- ground use only, and regulations in the area don’t allow using the pool for auxiliary water storage. You can see from the  view below that the tank and shed will dominate the view from the master bedroom and porch.

On the other hand they will help define an outdoor room near the pool. The current thought for the pump house, which will be 10- by 16-feet, is to make it the simplest sort of gabled structure. One idea — not yet agreed upon — is to cover one wall with a metal trellis system, like this one from Greenscreen.

Covered with honeysuckle, for example, the shed could provide a leafy backdrop to the pool. I’ll let you know the final decision here.

Other decisions this week focused on the house-long porch or gallery. What about cross bracing for the porch roof, which engineering seemed to require. It might look like this.

That struck me as a little too Western frontier town-ish — like a movie set. Others seemed to agree. If we aimed for greater simplicity, then, what size posts? First thought was to use 4-by-4 steel posts, but they proved too expensive. Then 6-by-6 wood posts seemed appropriate for the scale of the house. However engineering required that there be nineteen posts, set at intervals of 9 feet, like this:

So many posts set quite close together began to make the porch look more like a cage, so after conferring once again with the engineer, architect Nick Lee looked at somewhat beefier 8-by-8 posts, shown below.

The simpler profile with 9 posts instead of 19 seemed much less cluttered. And it turns out that using fewer, though larger, posts is actually the less expensive way to go. That made the decision even easier. As Goldilocks might have said (actually she would have made a pretty good client): this version feels just right!  With regard to the roof we’ll save ca. $8000 by switching from metal to composition shingle. Done. We think we have already saved roughly $30,000 by switching to conventional wood frame construction (for the walls) from a form of structural insulated panels (SIPs). Also, we need to decide the character of  the exterior walls: to batten or not to batten? Stay tuned.

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