Author Topic: Home designs that annoy me.  (Read 4633 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Online squall_line

  • Posts: 1652
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2022, 10:30 PM »
This is a minor thing and it's not "design", just poor execution.
We had a house in Maui which had a fantastic view, really liked the house overall.
Except: light switches were at random distances from the doorway.

This reminded me...

Our current house, at least half the rooms on the main floor have light switches outside of the room itself.  The switches for the kitchen are in the dining room and the hallway, the switch in the hallway toward the bedrooms controls the light in the living room (but not the hallway light), the switches for the family room are in the kitchen and the entryway...

There's a bank of 4 switches by the door to the garage that controls the light in the front entryway, which is around 2 corners and 40 feet away.

At least we don't have low-voltage switches like some of the MCM houses in town, although I don't suppose I'd mind those too terribly once I got used to them.

Offline mino

  • Posts: 1210
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #31 on: August 06, 2022, 04:39 AM »
Maybe your house went through a timespace breakage and it failed to reintegrate properly ? Just the wires somehow found themselves, being conductive.

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Shattered_(episode)
When The Machine has no brains, use yours.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1694
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #32 on: August 06, 2022, 10:32 AM »
My house has a steeper-than-usual for basement staircase.  Despite the steepness, and the fact that I am just 5’ 8” tall, I will hit my head walking down the staircase unless I remember to duck,

Blame the architect.  Poor planning.  He might not even have realized the problem until the house was actually being built. 

It does have a walk-out at the rear of the house—a convenience for bringing lumber into the basement shop.  But once there is snow on the ground, that avenue is lost.  It is the primary reason I got the track saw.  Bringing in larger pieces of sheet goods was nearly impossible.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1694
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #33 on: August 06, 2022, 12:15 PM »
Not strictly speaking an architectural error, but a deficiency nonetheless.

When I shopped for my house, I rejected houses at the juncture of a tee-intersection because in the evening cars driving to that intersection would be shining their headlights into the house. I knew I would resent that intrusion.

Some homes situated on a sharp curve would also suffer that fate.  My real estate agent tried to talk me into some of those houses.

I told him, “You’re probably a good salesman, but you will never be a good enough salesman to sell me something I don’t want.”

I had to switch to another agency when he persisted on showing me houses that did not meet the criteria I listed.

I bought a house that did not include all the things I wanted, but also did not include any of the disqualifying things on my list.

Online Crazyraceguy

  • Posts: 2110
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #34 on: November 20, 2022, 03:46 PM »
Anything built after 1920...

I would really like to know the reasoning behind this. Really, what is the determining factor here?

My house was built in 1929 (in the US) and it has "issues" with the design as we live today. It was apparently a popular design, because there were a lot of them built. Both the near east and near west sides of town have them. I would seriously like to know why. I would assume that there was no building code or permit process to pass at that time? If there was maybe this was just an easily approved plan?
Anyway, it has a couple of things that would be considered problems now, which were just normal back then.
First (as built) it only had one bathroom, plus it was upstairs. That was resolved with a fairly large addition in 1950.
Second, doors...everywhere. Coming in the front door, you enter the "parlor" (living room today) directly behind that was the dining room. These were visually separated by some kneewalls and columns. A left turn from the dining room is the kitchen, through a 2-way swinging door. Also in that kitchen the door to the cellar stairs and the back door to the outside. Three doors in a kitchen that is 10' x 14'.?
Third, in that parlor, no closet at all. In fact, none on the first floor at all. Apparently hall-trees or wall mounted coat racks were the thing?
Fourth, the main stairs are way too steep. The rise is just under 8", which is fine, but the run is a little under 8 1/2". They aren't bad to climb, but coming down them is sketchy at best. Do not try it with just socks, you will die. This probably should have been #1, because it cannot be fixed, the others have been.
Fifth, the stairs to the cellar are worse. The total rise is less, because of a very low ceiling, but the run is interrupted by a landing in the middle for a doorway to the outside.
If it weren't for the addition to the back, there would not be an un-interrupted section of wall that is longer than 6 feet.
It sounds like I hate this house, but I don't. Most of the flaws have been addressed, either by my grandparents (long ago) or me in the last decade. The character is still here and it is more livable, nothing like modern open concept. If I was looking at this house as a buyer though? no.
That's kind of not true, I did buy it, but it was from a family member and only because it has been in the family for 90 of it's 94 years. My grandparents were not the original owners.
Which brings me to the original question. What is so great about old houses, especially small "city houses"?
CSX
DF500 + assortment set
PS420 + Base kit
OF1010
OF1010F
OF1400
MFK700 (2)
TS55, FS1080, FS1400 holey, FS1900, FS3000
CT26E + Workshop cleaning set
RO90
RO125
ETS EC 125
RAS115
ETS 125 (2)
TS75
Shaper Origin/Workstation/Plate
MFT clamps set
Installers set
Centrotech organizer set
Socket/Ratchet set

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1694
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #35 on: November 20, 2022, 04:54 PM »
When I remodeled the guest bath, I replaced the inward opening door with a sliding barn door because when you opened the door, in order to reach the light switch you had to close the door behind you.

In the daytime, not an issue, but at night, especially with guests that are not familiar with the layout, finding the switch in near total darkness can be unnerving.

 The sliding door pretty much resolved the issue, but at the cost of money, time and effort.

However, when I visited my brother-in-law’s house, the architect solved that same issue by having a light switch inside the bathroom, and a second one just outside the bathroom (in the hall) both of which controlled the lights in the bathroom.

I haven’t yet decided if it was a design deficiency by the architect, or a lack of imagination on my part.  It would have cost less money, and far less effort to have an electrician come in and install a second switch.

Online squall_line

  • Posts: 1652
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #36 on: November 23, 2022, 10:30 AM »
Anything built after 1920...

I would really like to know the reasoning behind this. Really, what is the determining factor here?

My house was built in 1929 (in the US) and it has "issues" with the design as we live today. It was apparently a popular design, because there were a lot of them built. Both the near east and near west sides of town have them. I would seriously like to know why. I would assume that there was no building code or permit process to pass at that time? If there was maybe this was just an easily approved plan?
Anyway, it has a couple of things that would be considered problems now, which were just normal back then.
First (as built) it only had one bathroom, plus it was upstairs. That was resolved with a fairly large addition in 1950.
Second, doors...everywhere. Coming in the front door, you enter the "parlor" (living room today) directly behind that was the dining room. These were visually separated by some kneewalls and columns. A left turn from the dining room is the kitchen, through a 2-way swinging door. Also in that kitchen the door to the cellar stairs and the back door to the outside. Three doors in a kitchen that is 10' x 14'.?
Third, in that parlor, no closet at all. In fact, none on the first floor at all. Apparently hall-trees or wall mounted coat racks were the thing?
Fourth, the main stairs are way too steep. The rise is just under 8", which is fine, but the run is a little under 8 1/2". They aren't bad to climb, but coming down them is sketchy at best. Do not try it with just socks, you will die. This probably should have been #1, because it cannot be fixed, the others have been.
Fifth, the stairs to the cellar are worse. The total rise is less, because of a very low ceiling, but the run is interrupted by a landing in the middle for a doorway to the outside.
If it weren't for the addition to the back, there would not be an un-interrupted section of wall that is longer than 6 feet.
It sounds like I hate this house, but I don't. Most of the flaws have been addressed, either by my grandparents (long ago) or me in the last decade. The character is still here and it is more livable, nothing like modern open concept. If I was looking at this house as a buyer though? no.
That's kind of not true, I did buy it, but it was from a family member and only because it has been in the family for 90 of it's 94 years. My grandparents were not the original owners.
Which brings me to the original question. What is so great about old houses, especially small "city houses"?

So many of the homes of that era were a) kit homes, and b) heated with gravity-fed systems or boilers.  Having doors to isolate individual rooms helped moderate temperatures or provide heating only in the rooms that needed it.  Modern forced-air systems shouldn't be unbalanced in this way.

You described my old neighbor's home almost to a tee.  My old home was built in the mid-to-late 20's as well and featured many of the same quirks, save that mine was a story-and-a-half with a walk-up attic that was only suitable for storage.  The only reason there were no closets in my house was because someone took out the closet between the front bedroom and the bathroom long before I bought it, making it a sort of en-suite.  The second bedroom would have had a closet, but it was also the pass-through to get to the attic, so I don't know how anyone would have stored anything in it.

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2452
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #37 on: November 23, 2022, 11:12 AM »
Our first married home was located in PA across the Delaware from Trenton NJ, constructed just after WWII. My reading about that era led me to believe there was a severe housing shortage as vets returned and didn't move back to the farm, and this area was a manufacturing hub meaning lots of available jobs.

The house was the classic center staircase Cape Cod, the 30' by 30' footprint even had room for a 10' by 20' garage along with stairs to the basement, first floor living area was ~500 SF. The second story had knee walls/dormers in the front 2 bedrooms and a shed dormer in the rear bedroom/bath.

It had many of the deficiencies you note (from the present-day perspective), tiny or no closets, oil tank/boiler for hot water & heat, cast-iron radiators breaking up every room, no insulation, asbestos siding, lathe & plaster, etc. There were 3 bed/1 bath all on the second floor, Living/Dining/Kitchen pretty much as CRG described, largest closet was just over 2' wide so being DINKS we used a spare bedroom to store our stuff. We couldn't even get a king-sized mattress up the stairs.

I chalked most of it up to a lack of available materials, an enormous need for housing, and the fact that most people didn't have a lot of stuff to fill closets at that point in history. What they needed was a roof over their heads near the available jobs.

Needless to say we spent 13 years modernizing, adding central air (retained the radiators for heat, loved them) stripped it to studs (outside) and added spray foam then Hardy board, new windows and so on. The 30-ish couple who bought it didnt have to make any upgrade inside the house, we just walked back through it a few weeks ago and it's basically as we left it.

I came from the southwest, where I grew up an historic building was from the 1960's. Banging around an area where "Washington Slept" nearly everywhere caused me to reevaluate my perceptions on a lot of things. It's still occurs & a light bulb goes off, like how ~200-year-old manufacturing towns grew up in the middle of nowhere but along rivers (transportation and power + raw materials) or finding out the site we are redeveloping along the Ohio in Pittsburgh was used to manufacture ocean-going Liberty ships during the war, because that where the steel plants were.

Anyway, putting a building into context with society at the time it was constructed is fascinating to me, & forces me to learn more of our history.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline WastedP

  • Posts: 413
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #38 on: November 23, 2022, 01:48 PM »
Which brings me to the original question. What is so great about old houses, especially small "city houses"?

A lot of them are downtown.  I can walk to the bakery, brewery, library, grocery.  And what is "small" by today's standards is totally livable.  The retired couples living in 2200 sf houses outside the city limits are doing it wrong.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 1694
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #39 on: November 23, 2022, 03:16 PM »
In a closet in my home I found the original architect’s plans for the house. As I recall, the drawing was dated 1951 (my house was built—or completed—in 1953).  The title block labeled it, “Midcentury modern ranch”.

What designated it as “Midcentury modern” was the fact that there were no crown moldings anywhere and there were a couple of arches as you entered the house.  Not stupid, but I wish they had not done it anyway, was the fact that it is all plaster and metal lath.  Sheetrock had been around for a while at that time, but I guess that the builder (he built all the houses on my block and lived in mine when it was done), did not trust that new-fangled sheetrock.

Instead he used hybrid panels that were about 2’ wide and 8’ long made like site built metal lath and plaster, but done in a factory.  They put it together with just plaster.  On the ceilings, I have had to tape some of the joints. 

But the big problem, and one the builder should have foreseen [eek], was the fact that WiFi does not transmit through the walls, and it also plays some havoc with cell phone reception (but not lately).

The rooms are quieter.  The plaster does not transmit sound very well.

Hanging pictures on the wall calls for some engineering.

« Last Edit: November 25, 2022, 10:07 AM by Packard »

Offline mino

  • Posts: 1210
Re: Home designs that annoy me.
« Reply #40 on: November 24, 2022, 05:45 AM »
...
But the big problem, and one the builder should have foreseen [eek], was the fact that WiFi does not transmit through the walls, and it also plays some havoc with cell phone reception (but not lately).
...
Maybe he actually foresaw it and went for a partial Faraday cage to protect from the upcomming electromagnetic smog?

Not expecting some "crazy" people wanting to bring their radio transceivers inside their homes!
 [cool]

In this vein, just the opposite, the panel house we had a flat in (built in the early 60s) was made from "poured concrete" panels, with pretty much no rebar inside the walls.

At the time it was economical as rebar was expensive/rare after the war. 50 years later, the lack of (structural) rebar turned a blessing - those buildings had to use more cement to compensate. So they are now both in a better shape than newer ones (no rebar to rot) and wireless signals are also excellent for a concrete house (no metal cage in the walls).
When The Machine has no brains, use yours.