Today’s Ask an Architect query comes from Catherine, the owner of a lovely frame house in the South Slope. Her question is being answered by Joseph Vance of Joseph Vance Architects, a full-service architectural firm located in Brooklyn with extensive experience in townhouse renovations. Have a question for an architect about your wooden house? Send it our way!
Q: We will be redoing the front of our frame house next summer. Is it necessary to patch up holes/gaps on the brick under the siding in a brick-filled frame house? We did this on the back of our house, but the contractor for the front of the house is saying it is not necessary.
A: The brick you see in your exterior wall is there to provide some level of fire protection and is not structural. It is not necessary for the mortar joints to be tight but it would be a good idea to fill in any holes that are a half brick in size or larger. However to give some added solidity to your house (in the wake of what could have been much higher winds during Irene) I suggest having the contractors GLUE AND NAIL the new wood sheathing (beneath the new siding) to the exterior. A heavy construction adhesive like PL 400 should be used. Be sure they use galvanized or stainless steel nails or staples. Also be sure they flash above all window and door openings AND properly install an air barrier like Tyvec.
As a bonus Catherine sent us photos documenting the renovation of the rear of her house (and just to clear up any confusion, Joseph Vance was not affiliated with this). Enjoy!
Back in 1995, when the NY Times reported on the wooden house at 59 South Elliott Place in Fort Greene, historian Christopher Gray referred to the whimsical blue shingled house as an “ice cream sundae amidst the roast beef of its more prosaic neighbors.” I like that.
What makes this eclectic house stand out is not only its eccentric massing, its recessed columned porch, or its open oriels that project from the top floor in a castle-like fashion (it is also not just because Othniel Boaz Askew lived here until 2003, when he was dramatically killed by the police moments after assassinating his local councilmember on the balcony in City Hall). What one instantly notices on this house are the blue scalloped shingles, which were first added to the facade in 1892 and restored not all that long ago when the house underwent a significant renovation.