We’re at that point in the year where the sun is starting to make its presence known by giving us extended day light hours. But the effects of the cold acts like winter is an entity cuddled in a slingshot in that the cold of winter is about to hit us, along with snow and ice that makes a daily walk a risk taking adventure. Is there a way of guaranteeing that our walkways will be free of snow and ice year around? I believe there is.
With spring around the corner, lets take a quick look at one of our SimpleTwig garden projects during the renovation of a Carroll Gardens Brooklyn townhouse.
When purchased the garden was overgrown with fallen fencing, and whatever thrown wherever. Our first steps were basic cleanup. The ivy was trimmed back and the trash, fencing and anything not savable removed. We kept the existing gravel cleaning it up so we could use it as a base for a new slab and tile.
This garden is just 30×40 feet square with buildings on 3 sides. Because of this we decided to make more of the planting area by raising it, and at the same time provide additional seating for informal gatherings.
We are proud to have developed a simple pipe system that prevents basement and cellar flooding due to a blockage in the house trap. It’s a rather simple system that for a couple hundred dollars can spare a homeowner from thousands of dollars in damages, including sparing them from the week or so to make their flooded area ‘sewer free’ which is not an easy task and often leaves residue behind despite the best efforts. YUCK!
As an extension of the practical aspects of a functional laundry room for smaller homes as discussed in the previous article, here we extend those functional aspects to higher end and luxury homes to touch on what is possible, and, what should be.
There are many advantages for a townhouse owner to occupy a lower duplex, or perhaps it is the top floor duplex they should seek, and while a very strong case can be made to put the owner of a townhouse on the lower floors, there are solid arguments for occupying the top two floors. I, architect Nick Buccalo, will examine both possibilities and invite your comments on the issue.
This version is for the smaller walkup building of 25’x60′ in order to fit the programmatic components comfortably. It provides a way for a developer to accommodate more people within a building footprint and thus increase the yearly income.
The concept is simple, take what would normally be a three bedroom apartment and change it to 4 shared living suites where individuals get their own private suite, complete with a private bathroom, bedroom and living space, and then share only the kitchen and other building amenities. For a 5 story walkup, the potential is for 19 ‘bedroom suites’ versus the conventional 5-3 bedroom apartments. It is simple math from this point to understand that the suites are occupied with working adults while 2/3’s of the bedrooms from a standard apartment are occupied by children, or, that home office.
For new construction, and in this as other studies to create rental apartments, an Architect is going to be confronted by two likely scenarios, the adjacent buildings have existing party-walls with the property line running through it’s center, or, there are no adjacent buildings and thus new party-walls can be built directly over the property line. In this version of our townhouse plan, we explore the ramifications of an existing party-wall that can not be used as it does not meet earthquake code requirements, or, a new building positioned it’s party-wall completely onto its own property.
This results in slightly less interior space, but also creates a unique situation where the joists can run from the front of the building to the back. The design result, is a 2 bedroom apartment with a huge great room with 3 windows bringing in the light and air, something that most people in New York City, Chicago, Boston or any large city would love to have.
This is a very cut and dry analysis of four different stair configurations that could help generate an additional $54,000 in rental income from a 4 story townhouse type structure just by reconfiguring the stair, touched on in a previous article (which we would recommend reading). The first option is the traditional townhouse stair, found in most townhouses in New York City. Often this stair offers stunning architectural detail and should be preserved, but more often than not the original stair has been replaced with a metal stair, due to sagging or some other issue. Sadly the replacements lack character and often do not fix the underlying issue to why they were sagging and are themselves sagging, causing stress fractures in party-walls at each end of the stair.
The advantages of replacing the stair are simple, it frees up square footage that can be used inside an apartment. The following compares three different stairs, the traditional, the compact and the ‘extended landing’, and a new comer, the squarish stair which is the best option (< spoiler alert). It is noted as ‘Stair 8’ which reflects the number of versions we’ve studied to get to that point. This ‘best option 8’ is shown in the article ‘The Ultimate Townhouse Floor Plan’ released August 28, 2017, so take a look at that one as well.
The following studies are not for new construction, but rather for the traditional townhouses of varying lengths, from 35′ to 50′, representing the vast majority of townhouses in New York City. The study examines the most efficient layouts for these variety of sizes and why they are efficient.
Efficient Layouts? In architectural design, the efficiency phase of the design process is an effort to minimize circulation space or other ‘wasted space’ (like public spaces) so there is more square footage available for usable rooms, and, with the newly found square footage to allot that space according to hierarchy, that is the Great Room (Living, Kitchen and Dining, in that order) being the place where people spend most of their daytime hours and thus represents the highest priority and top of the hierarchical pyramid, followed by bedrooms, bathrooms and the other rooms. To be efficient in architectural design means to leverage the available square footage to the best benefit of the end user.