the agritect

@VELD architect, southwestern Ontario

Farmhouse Design Part III

So you’ve decided you want to build a new farmhouse on your property. First you need to decide if the “Builder’s special” is the type of home you want or do you want something truly special. Check out this blog to help you decide if a custom home is right for you.

Most of you probably want to know what building a new house costs. It depends on the area, but it can cost anywhere from $150-$500 per square foot depending on the quality of home you are building. You may also need a new septic system, if your house hasn’t been renovated in many years. This item is costly and requires specific engineering design and permits. They also take up a lot of space on your property.

Building a new farmhouse on your property gives you a great opportunity to make it perfect. It is easy to apply the principles of my earlier blogs about farmhouse design; views, sustainable principles, daylighting, authenticity, etc………

I will fully admit that this blog is going to focus on contemporary design. If you want the suburban home transplanted to your lot, it’s a matter of taste. But I believe that every home should be site specific and that the suburban home style is not suited to the farm. So what is the modern farmhouse look like? I believe that pictures are worth a thousand words in this case.

What not to do:

Don't be a copycat unless your going to do it perfectly. That means aying for the brick walls over the entire house, not just parts.

Don’t be a copycat unless your going to do it historically accurate. We live in the 21st century, why copy a design from the 19th century?

transplanted from suburbia, such that the lack of windows on the side wall (where the views are) are a leftover from building code requirements when your house is close to the property line. Not a site specific design.

transplanted from suburbia, such that the lack of windows on the side wall (where the views are) are a holdover from building code requirements when your house is close to the property line (like in urban situations) it limits your allowable openings. Not a site specific design.

Avoid the overly frontal nature of the house. A farmhouse sits in the middle of a field, it should address all sides of the landscape. Besides the road is not likely the best view, but this frontal design emphasizes it with the majority of windows.

Avoid the overly frontal nature of the house. A farmhouse sits in the middle of a field, it should address all sides of the landscape. The traditional farmhouse was square and windows placed equally on all side, with the exception of perhaps a front porch. Besides the road is not likely the best view, but this frontal design emphasizes it with the majority of windows.

A for heaven's sake, please don't do this. Plan ahead for the transitions between brick and siding if you can't afford a entire house out of brick.

And for heaven’s sake, please don’t do this. Plan ahead for the transitions between brick and siding if you can’t afford an entire house out of brick. Make the transitions make sense and be logical.

What TO do:
The 21st century farmhouse takes a lessons from traditional farmhouse architecture. Just like the barn, its functional, simple, yet elegant. The modern farmhouse is in harmony with nature, takes advantage of topography, and has modern details.

This house takes the simple form of the square farmhouse and integrates the material palette of a barn for a clean contemporary look.

This house takes the simple form of the square farmhouse and integrates the material palette of a barn for a clean contemporary look.

This house almost completely blends into the landscape and disappears. Green roofs blend it in and it compliments the existing bank barn, and doesn't try to steal the stage.

This house almost completely blends into the landscape and disappears. Green roofs blend it in and it compliments the existing bank barn, and doesn’t try to steal the stage. Farmhouse design should not steal the show from the beautiful landscape it lives in.

take advantage and love the topography of the and you own.  Don't fight it, the results will be far richer.

take advantage and love the topography of the and you own. Don’t fight it, the results will be far richer.

find the great view and emphasize it!

find the great view and exploit it!

Make sure you provide the necessary view, to the kids play area, the barn doors, the laneway, etc. so you can keep an eye on things when you are inside.

Make sure you provide the necessary view, to the kids play area, the barn doors, the laneway, etc. so you can keep an eye on things when you are inside.

embrace the outdoors when you can. except on the days when the wind blows in a certain direction from the barn!

embrace the outdoors when you can. except on the days when the wind blows in a certain direction from the barn!

That’s enough about the outside…a few tips on interiors

Do you really need that 3rd bathroom? Think about the space you really need. I know farm families are generally big, but do you really need that extra 500 square feet? Keeping it small can really keep costs under control. If you are efficient and careful with a design you can get away with more flexible space (not single use spaces like a dedicated dining room) and be more efficient with square footage. Architects and designers are great for being efficient when it come to space planning.

Think about your entry, make sure its generous enough to open the door, get boots off, open closet doors, etc. Most house designs leave too small a space at the front door. This is the first impression of your house make it count.

And the last important thing about designing your farmhouse is the barn clothes door and dirty people traffic. Certain farmers need to be very careful about designing this entry as the animals they grow have potent smells (pigs & chickens) which can permeate your house if you don’t carefully consider them. Carefully orchestrate a mud room entry, perhaps even a separate shower.

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