Well, not quite. How about: “Low Maintenance House Design?” Even the Pyramids degrade with time (they actually used to have a nice, smooth finish stone slab layer over them that are all but gone now).
These days every client of mine requests that I design a house for them with low maintenance features. Depending on their preferences for materials, this is more possible for some while not for others. For instance, some people prefer real wood siding. Wood needs maintenance. Other clients are fine with concrete (actually cementitious) siding boards, which can’t rot or burn or be eaten by bugs. They still do have to be painted though, something most folks do not realize. The color is not through and through. These manufactured boards have a stamped wood grain embossed on them. To an architect’s eye, this is obvious. Perhaps not to all people, however, and many people really don’t care. Why? Very little maintenance.
Some clients are willing to pay their builders for stone facing over exposed portions of foundation walls and stone wherever they can afford it. Not much needs to be done to stone, however, there is a clear coating that can help it resist water penetration that could be applied about as frequently as house paint.
Roofing has lots of options. Many people believe that metal roofing lasts forever. While this may be debatable, the finish paint on the metal roofing (unless it is copper) does not last forever. Cheaper paint will not last as long as more expensive paint (like Kynar). There are asphaltic fiberglass roof shingles in what are called “architectural” grades that are thicker and heavier that are supposed to last 40 years these days. Do they? How many original owners will be around to complain to the manufacturer if they don’t? So that is questionable as well. It is very tempting, however to consider this option, as it is much less expensive than a “forever” roof like copper or real slate, the cost of which is far beyond most people’s budgets.
Gutters on nice houses used to be 6″ half-round copper with 4″ round copper downspouts. On million+ houses, this can still be the case. On homes in the $500k and under market, factory painted seamless aluminum guttering is more the norm today, with rectangular aluminum downspouts. With a factory paint, the maintenance is virtually nothing, until the day far in the future when that inexpensive paint oxidizes to the point where it flakes off, then you will have to field paint them to restore the appearance, and then you will probably have to paint them every 5 to 8 years thereafter. So low-maintenance items that are low in cost as well, may begin life as low-maintenance then change into a more periodic maintenance as the decades wear on.
For soffits (the underside of your roof overhangs), high-end houses typically have polyurethaned spruce-pine-fir 1x6s tongue & groove. That is a handsome ceiling. However, you will need to recoat that, perhaps at a frequency somewhat less often than the paint on the exterior of your house. For homes that are mid-range to lower end, integrally colored perforated vinyl soffits or factory painted aluminum soffits can start life as nearly maintenance free. At least until the factory paint oxidizes some decade. It should last a long time in its protected location.
Some clients these days are even asking Rand Soellner Architect for low-maintenance fascias. A fascia is the typically vertical trim board at the roof edge. That would probably translate into pressure treated wood fascias, covered with factory painted roof flashing break metal, or copper. Copper obviously would be much more expensive. The factory painted metal will last quite a long time, but perhaps 10 to 15 years down the road, this coating may oxidize and need to be field painted and then you begin a repetitive cycle of more frequent painting than when you began with the factory coating.
For your low maintenance house design, please give Rand Soellner a call at 1-828-269-9046.
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