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Saturday, April 26. 2008
After a long hiatus, they're back. Here are a couple of brick bungalows, of a style very common in the streetcar neighborhoods of Nashville, built for middle-class families in the 1920s (these two are both from the Edgehill neighborhood, close to Vanderbilt). They don't try to be flashy, but are solid, well-proportioned homes that are now far more popular among buyers than their much more recently-built ranch style counterparts in the same neighborhood.
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man, i love 20s & 30s architecture -- at its most grandiose you get deco treasures like the chrysler building -- and on the plebian end of the scale, these liveable human-scale workman-honoring bungalows. mcmansion is SO over with. it never did feel right. it's somehow related to the national obesity problem. a spiritual confusion, hopefully re-ordering as we speak.
Couldn't agree with you more, Buddy, The average one of these homes in this neighborhood is about 1800 square feet, with one bedroom downstairs and two or three on the half-story above, all on a quarter acre lot or smaller. The prices for the 1920s homes have surged way past those of the 1970s, ranch houses, even on the same streets, and even when they are in need of rehab. Gentrification, McMansion backlash, call it what you want, but there is definitely a rediscovery of these modest but dignified houses.
To me residential architecture is really where it is at: we have architecture books full of the "worthies" - the great monuments and cathedrals and skyscrapers - all of which are awe-inspiring in their own right. But the architecture of the home and the residential neighborhood is the architecture that people have to spend the majority of their lives living in and around. It is certainly no less important than other, more heavily documented areas of architecture.
indeed, the market is flashing a good cultural sign in up-valuing these architectural messages. your words "modest & dignified" remind that modesty and dignity are as much about respect for neighbors as for oneself; people can be--literally as well as metaphorically--larger and more deliberate in such spaces, rather than slightly dwarfed and illegitimate inside the rootless and oddly seedy mcmansion product.
I'm noticing a lot of new construction in Atlanta across the value spectrum are starting to echoe these classic designs but with updated feature/functionality - garages to the side or back or even detached, design elements of craftsman, tudor, colonial. The poor suckers who bought the oversized, ugly multi-peaked, poorly constructed mcmansion are going to be hurting when it comes time to sell. Those things already look dated and like the bad fashions of the 70's will hopefully never come back into style.
Yes, the same thing is going on in Nashville. The 3500 sq. ft. McMansions are going the way of the dinosaurs, assisted by high gas prices and heating costs. And as much as the word bugs me, the emphasis on "sustainable" living has contributed too. Nonetheless the suburbs do continue expanding outwards, only at a slower rate and with more modest houses on smaller lots.
Yankees sure have an odd definition of the word "bungalow".
Adorable cute house:
Obviously, the realty world has corrupted the word beyond repair. Why, look! According to the ad, here's another "bungalow"!
I love bungalows too Dyl but having living space in the roof does cause some problems. Notably, ice dams in the winter and really hot bedrooms in the summer. Not enough room in the rafters for the R-40 insulation (about 12" of fiberglass batts that I like to see) and 1 1/2 - 2" of venting (air flow) that is needed for todays standards. One solution for an older bungalow is a cold roof. Changes the look of the house some though because it will require about a 14" fascia board.
From Richard Taylor AIA...
"Hot" and "cold" roof design and construction can get complex and can make it difficult to assign proper terminology to each. Regional variations also muddy the waters - I would expect things to be a little different in Alaska! But let's look at the roofs in their simplest forms:
A "hot" roof simply means that heat (and humidity) from the conditioned space below can get into the attic/air space above the insulation (there must be some degree of attic/air space above the insulation). This warmer air can cause snow/ice to melt on the roof surface above, which then refreezes on the unheated overhang, leading to ice-damming. The air cavities take on heat; that's the origination of the term "hot roof" and the reason why the cold roof method was invented.
A "cold" roof is "sealed tight"; there's no attic/air space for heat to leak in to, so the building materials remain "cold". Hence the term.
That's the basics. A cold roof is further defined (when properly designed and built) by a second layer of plywood, over sleepers, creating an airspace that keeps the slightly-warmer building materials below from making any contact with snow or ice. That may be the source of confusion - there IS an airspace in a proper cold roof, but it's not above the insulation; it's OUTSIDE of the primary roof.
Interesting, Patina. The ice dam problem is not much of an issue in the southeast, but I am well familiar with how stiflingly hot it can get upstairs in the summertime in these houses. Since the pitch of the roof is already so low (such that it would not be possible to build it under today's building codes), adding a lot of insulation underneath would dramatically reduce the living space. Yet it still seems possible to retrofit them with some insulation:
In my neighborhood, the upstairs are either blocked off and used as storage, or else benefit from a combination of tree shade and window A/C units. The upstairs spaces, with their angled-in walls, are not very big in terms of cubic feet, and so are not that expensive to heat or cool even with older insulation.
Can be a tricky problem in what are otherwise pretty great homes. One friend had the bathroom ceiling cave in. I think many bungalows were mostly uninsulated when built so the venting and moisture problems were not an issue. Later on many homeowners stuffed the rafters, eaves and side walls full of insulation with no venting or vapor barrier. Those are the houses to watch out for because moisture soaked insulation will rot the roof and lots more. Also, when retrofitting, can get more R value per inchfrom dense styrofoam but the cost is higher per square foot.
Who knew that bungalows could generate such an interesting thread of comments.
capricious readers you got -- who can know where they'll alight?
Semi-serious question: Is a bungalow the same as a cottage? I've seen the words used interchangeably but don't know. Both seem to conjure up images of a simpler, more intimate era of living.
I enjoy reading magazines such as "Cottage Living," much more so than reading about McMansions, or even real mansions, in other publications.
And a semi-serious answer is that there really isn't a clear dividing line between the two. Both are 1 to 1.5 story houses, often with front porches, but I would say a cottage better describes a simpler home, without dormers, and with the roof sloping down along the sides of the house - like this "Katrina cottage:"
Many bungalows can pass as cottages, but more often are larger, can have a roof which slopes down towards the front and back of the property (like both of the houses posted above), and usually have dormers, whether functional or decorative. Craftsman details are more common too. This is hardly authoritative, though!