When Qualified Remodeler asked me to write an article about a challenging remodel project I worked on, I thought of a project that I designed in 2011, which was completed in 2012. My client had lived in this home all her life, and her husband, who was a Colorado fireman, had recently passed away. She wanted to remain in her home and keep all of the existing sentimental features and design, while creating an addition that would allow an accessible design for herself because she intended to stay in her home for the remaining years of her life.
The home was a simple ranch-style, built in the 1940s, with a very basic front-to-rear roof slope. She asked me to add an attractive and exciting new look to the front elevation, in a Mediterranean or Southwestern theme. As we went into concept drawings, we had an issue lining up the existing roof with a new roof. I decided to create a design that removed the entire roof, and add a new roof that would create a new front look to the house. My client did not want the new design to interfere with the ceiling of the existing house, because existing sloped arches and coffered ceilings on the interior had sentimental value.
The new front elevation design created some high-pitched gable ends and a new covered porch. We added to the kitchen on the east side of the home, and created a covered front porch and a covered garden room on the west side. This allowed us to create the high-pitch gables and allowed for some arched windows and arched stucco accents. These gabled ends then recessed back into the existing roof, which is where we decided to add a new front-to-back roof that would also incorporate the additions on the rear of the home.
Ideally, it would have been easiest to remove the entire roof of the existing home, including the ceiling. When I proposed this to my client, she emphasized she did not want to lose architectural features such as the interior coffered ceilings and arches. The roof challenges and the size of the addition were becoming extensive; even the prospect of removing the house entirely and starting with new construction was discussed. But based on my client’s feelings toward her home and the existing rooms, we chose not to. We needed to preserve the old while creating new.
During design, I implemented the approach to add a new roof built over the existing roof. When I climbed inside the attic area of the existing roof, I discovered many rafter failures and sagging roof areas due to the age of the home and realized that we were running into structural issues. At this point, the client and I decided it would be best to remove these rafters.
Using the services of a professional structural engineer, we determined that we could cut off the entire roof and leave the existing 2x6 ceiling joists. We then placed ¾-in. plywood on top of the 2x6 joists to create a level and flat surface.
Before placing the trusses, we decided to provide a 2x6 plate at all bearing points and at the perimeter of the roof. This allowed a place for the new trusses to be fastened. On the new addition areas, I extended the wall height to meet the new height where the 2x6 plate was located on top of the plywood area. At this point, I was able to complete the design without having to interfere with the inside ceilings.
The result of the project was that my client was extremely happy. This remodel project won second place in the American Institute of Building Design’s 2012 American Residential Design Awards for best remodel project.
Bernie Kern, AIBD CSI, has been in the residential building industry for nearly 30 years and has owned and operated BBKern Designs LLC, Colorado Springs, Colo., for nearly 20 years. Bernie is serving his seventh consecutive year as president of the AIBD Colorado Society and is a professional member of the AIBD since 2002. He is also a member of the Construction Specifications Institute.