- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Howard Simpson decided to expand his horizons.
Although he loved the character of his 1930s farmhouse in Great Falls, he wanted more space. This presented the challenge of matching materials when planning an addition of about 7,000 square feet for the back of the house. He wanted to create a new kitchen, a great room, a master-bedroom suite, a media room and a wine cellar in the addition.
"We merged the old world with the new world," Mr. Simpson says. "You have to come up with some imaginative ideas to do that."
Correctly matching materials when expanding a home keeps the integrity of the building, says Josh Baker, co-founder of BOWA Builders in McLean. Although locating compatible items can be like going on a scavenger hunt, the creativity invested in the search is worth it when the proper combinations are found.
"With few exceptions, people renovating ask us to do seamless designs," Mr. Baker says, "so it looks like it was original to the house, even if the house is only 20 years old."
BOWA Builders broke ground on Mr. Simpson's house in July 2000. The main renovation took about 12 months. The home is almost complete, with just some last-minute details to be handled in the wine cellar.
Mr. Baker says one of the difficulties in working on the project was finding the type of stone to use in the addition. The house originally was made from Seneca stone, which comes from Pennsylvania. After an intense search, the builders located the material needed at Bell Stone Co. in Emmitsburg, Md., just south of the Pennsylvania border.
Then they needed craftsmen who could cut the stone to match the rectangular shape of the stones already in the home, Mr. Baker says. King Stone Corp. in Falls Church performed that task.
For the roof, the builders had to search for clay ceramic roofing tile, which is no longer produced. They located a source that salvages old tile from demolished buildings, the Roof Center Inc. in Bethesda. On the areas of the house that were visible from the street, Mr. Baker says, the builders used the original material. On areas that were less exposed, the craftsmen used a modern roofing shingle in a matching color.
When expanding Joe Lawrence's home in McLean, a reproduction of an 18th-century Colonial house built in 1989, Mr. Baker needed to find heart pine wood which is hard and durable, with warm tones for the flooring of the addition. During the summer of 2001, the builders added a garage with an office above it and wanted the flooring of that section to match the rest of the home. Because original heart pine flooring is hard to find, the builders used wood made from milled heart pine from salvaged beams of demolished buildings. The entire project took about 90 days.
Aside from matching wood when renovating Mr. Lawrence's home, Mr. Baker says it was crucial to make sure the style of roof used for the garage was the same as for the rest of the home. The house has a gambrel roof, which appears barnlike when viewed from the side.
The builders also had garage doors custom-made to look like barn doors, which complement the style of the house. Inside, they installed antique beams into the ceiling of the office to create a country feeling.
"They did such a great job that everyone who knows me said it looks like it was always part of the building," Mr. Lawrence says. "That's the best compliment you could give a house."
Owners of older homes frequently want to install windows with antique glass to coordinate the interior of a house, Mr. Baker says. This material may be purchased from antique dealers who sell old windows. The old glass can be taken out of the original windows and placed in a different frame.

More than any other product, brick is difficult to match, Mr. Baker says. This is because bricks vary in size, texture and color. They also have been aged by the sun and the weather. To overcome this problem, builders save the brick from the parts of houses they tear down so they can use it in constructing other sections.
If enough brick isn't available from the demolished portions of the house, Mr. Baker says, his builders call possible sources who might sell antique brick that could meet their needs. The builders also make sure to custom-color the mortar to coordinate with the existing conditions of their project.
Tom Perry, vice president of marketing for the Brick Industry Association in Reston, says many manufacturers are using modern techniques to make brick that gives the appearance of older brick, which has slightly irregular characteristics. This is because a growing number of homeowners desire an old-fashioned look in their houses.
"There are all kinds of brick being made today," Mr. Perry says. "If you are restoring an old house, you might luck out and find a modern brick that matches an older brick."
Michael Lerner, president of Meridian Homes in Bethesda, says if similar brick cannot be found to create an addition on a house, often his builders create an artistic divider made with a third style of brick between the old and new sections.
"Otherwise, it will stick out like a sore thumb," Mr. Lerner says. "Not that anyone did a poor job or that it's poor quality, but some bricks have been out in the sun for 20 years, and the bricks you purchase to match don't match."
Soren Jensen, president and owner of Danish Builders Inc. in Rockville, says another solution to creating a complementary surface is to intermingle old bricks with new bricks in the structure of a house.
"The mason has to be very thorough to place the old and new stone," Mr. Jensen says. "You want it to look as authentic as possible."
One of the reasons brick is difficult to match is that modern firing techniques differ from those used years ago, Mr. Jensen says. In years past, many of the ovens were man-made, and the clay was not completely clean.
"There was a lot more inconsistency in the shape of the brick," Mr. Jensen says. "Today, every single ounce of ingredients is all measured."

Bruce Wentworth, architect and co-owner of Wentworth-Levine Architect-Builder Inc. in Silver Spring, says most modern products are mass-produced, which gives older, handmade materials a different nature.
"Older homes usually have more character because of the more unique materials," he says. "The craftsmanship is what is so attractive. The newer homes don't have some of the craftsmanship."
The smallest details can reveal that an addition occurred, even the trim around the windows, Mr. Wentworth says.
"It's a dead giveaway," he says. "If you can't find the right trim, you can have it made."
He says giving attention to the particulars of a building is a matter of respect. If someone has muddled the windows, doors, siding and roofing, the house quickly loses its integrity and is no longer an aesthetic whole.
"It's discourteous to dress your building inappropriately," Mr. Wentworth says. "It becomes a mess."
Craig Durosko, president of Sun Design Remodeling Specialists Inc. in Burke, says the hardest standards to meet when matching materials are those of the architectural review boards in historical districts, such as Old Town Alexandria and Warrenton, Va.
"They are very picky," he says. "You really have to be articulate."
Nothing can be overlooked, Mr. Durosko says. This includes aspects of the structure such as the shingles on the roof, the overhangs, the size of the windows, the window grids, the shutters, the trim, the molding, the siding, the pediment and the foundation.
"It's the biggest part of remodeling, to make sure you use the same architectural features, from top to bottom," Mr. Durosko says. "The value of the house goes down if you don't. It looks like an add-on. You want it to look like it was built with the house, whether it was built 50 or 100 years ago."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide