Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Custom home sites are often chosen because of their views. Some sites in Colorado have such spectacular views that the property is worthy of being a state park. Snow capped mountains, city lights, aspen groves, grassy meadows, rock formations and distant vistas can all be found as views from a custom home site.

One of an architect's tasks when designing a new home is to capture the good views and hide the bad. A well designed home takes advantage of the views offered. Clients may ask that certain views be seen from certain rooms. West facing windows may show dramatic mountains, but allow severe overheating from the setting sun. Smog and haze typically hide views seen when looking through a city. Sunset and weather conditions can often result in spectacular views.

Southern views are good because large expanses of glass facing south bring in winter solar gain, heating the home. Northern views require windows that are a constant source of heat loss, but can not be missed. You need to remember that a dramatic view of nature, mountains and most scenery, will just be dark and unseen at night. Views that are now of a natural scene may be marred by future construction.

Sometimes the architect is asked to design around poor views. Clients may not want to see neighbors' homes and buildings, or power lines or roads. The careful design of the house can minimize poor views. The garage and storage areas are often used to screen unwanted sights and landscaping is sometimes used.

Remember that views as seen from the ground may not be the same as those from the finished house. Floor levels are often higher than natural grade, allowing some views to be seen over trees and neighbors. One trick is to take a ladder to the site, climbing to the approximate height of a floor to see the real view. Some home designs go so far as to include a tower to take advantage of these views.

Photos in order shown.
Lehr residence, Castle Rock, Colorado
Haverkate residence, Larkspur, Colorado
Carpenter residence, Tabernash, Colorado

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


These Santa Fe styled homes near Castle Rock, Colorado are now complete and have aged a few years. Age allows landscaping to take root, furniture to settle into its final spot and for the house to visibly mellow.

These homes are mostly wood framed, one exception is a home which used an ICF product for its walls, another uses SIP panels. Most roofs are visually flat, but slope slightly. They are tapered to drain to downspouts and finished with a rubber roof membrane. A glued down product is now less expensive than a ballasted roof, and colors such as tan are available. One home shows a metal roof, designed to resemble houses in the New Mexican mountains which have tin roofs to shed snow.

Southwest style homes are more expensive to build than conventional homes. Courtyards, portals, thick walls and outdoor spaces add to the cost. A flat roof is more costly than a pitched roof. Santa Fe style homes also require more maintenance than most other style homes. These designs resulted in comfortable, character filled and energy efficient homes. All designs met the 2006 IRC and other local codes.

Photos in order shown.
Cooley residence, Castle Rock, Colorado.
Cooley residence, Castle Rock, Colorado.
Cooley residence, Castle Rock, Colorado.
Goodrich residence, Franktown, Colorado, ICF
Suko residence, Franktown, Colorado.
Cutler residence, Castle Rock, Colorado. SIP
McLane residence, Niwot, Colorado