Dormers add flare to a tired old house

Many homes built in the 1960s are pretty vanilla when it comes to roof lines. These house have relatively flat roof pitches, little or no gables and add little to a home's curb appeal. One way to add a bit of umph to that tired old colonial or rambler is to add dormers.

The dormers will add interest, some height and really enhance the overall look of a home anrd its value if they are done right. However, if they are not sized properly, those same domers will remind you of a person with a tiny head  wearing an oversized hat or for that matter a hat that is too small for their big head.

Our Story

Work begins on dormers

The framers started work on the dormers in the morning by removing parts of the roofing material and making sure that they aligned properly over the second and first floor windows. We knew that the dormer on the left was aligned correctly and that the 2nd floor window was going to be moved slightly to the left to accommodate the new bay window below. The reason for that was that the architect did not take into consideration the odd dimensions of our 1960s colonial.

As the work began, my partner's anxiety grew. The dormers seemed immense in terms of their overall height and position on the roof line. They were placed right at the front edge of the roof. I quickly pulled out the plans and sure enough they checked out. The framers were constructing them exactly to the specifications of the drawings. And so all three dormers were completed. To be honest, we sensed that something was wrong and kept looking at the drawings and three dimensional drawings for some insight.

Houston, we have a problem
Dormers are way too bigWe went home that night and sat around looking at the pictures. The completed dormers certainly gave the old colonial some additional height. However, in our opinion, they overwhelmed the house. The dormer windows were so much larger than the second floor windows, even when we factored in the new sizes. Instead of bringing some visual relief to the roof line, the dormers looked oversized.

We then remembered a conversation with our architect. The conversation centered on the dormers and at the time our architect thought the dormers were too large for the house and promised to redraw them and include them in the plan. Unfortunately, the revised drawings never made it to the construction plans. Fortunately, we have a very honest architect, who remembered the conversation and realized that it was his mistake. He met with the framers and contractor and devised a plan to modify the dormers.

Dormer Modifications
Our architect would move the dormers away from the edge of the roof by 34 inches. By doing this, the elevation of the dormers would be exactly the same, but the face of the dormers would be reduced by about 23 inches. This reduction was more in proportion with the first and second floor windows and achieved the desired result.

Middle dormer fixedLuckily the window order of the dormers was not finalized and could be changed. Also our architect took responsibility for the change order so we were not out of pocket for the reframing costs.

Final Words
If you see something going on at the job site that does not sit right with you, then call your general contractor or architect right away and bring your concerns to their attention. You may end of saving everyone time and money.