The farmhouse that our company built for the owners of Springdale Farm, in East Austin, is an iconic home. The architect on this project is my business partner, Eric Rauser, AIA, and he collaborated heavily with his architect wife, Rebekah, on this beautiful design. See more of this house on our Houzz page.
Let’s look at the details on the exterior that contribute to its durability:
Galvalume Roof. This 24ga snap-lock standing-seam roof is perfect for the southern U.S. Its silver coating sheds the sun’s heat, and the thick gauge will take all but the worst hail without even a dent. It should be a 50 year + roof (or even longer if you don’t mind some rust). Also notice that the architect designed deep overhangs and a two-sided porch. Overhangs are the friend of durability! This is also one of the first houses on which I installed roof-top rigid foam using Hunter Panels. Here’s a video I made in 2010 at this house about the roof foam if you’d like to hear more.
Hardie Siding. I’m a big fan of the cementitious siding products. I always prefer the smooth ones to the fake embossed patterns, but either way, this siding is going to be around for the long term. Be sure to use a good housewrap behind your siding, install your windows with sill pans, and follow the manufacturer's install instructions. A good Hardie install will protect your house for many decades without fail. Here's another old 2010 video I shot on this house, showing how to flash a hose-bib penetration if you are interested. (Poor video quality, but I still use this method!)
Steel Porch Columns. These are awesome. A modern detail on this icon house style that sets the tone for the house as you walk up to it. We used a small W section beam for the columns, and the architect detailed some nice but simple connections. These are so much better and more durable than any wood porch post. We also brought the grade up to just under 30″ from the top of the porch so we wouldn’t need a handrail. Handrails can be expensive and block a view so consider your grades carefully; you can hopefully do without.
Cedar 2×6 Porch Decking. I do like the composite deck materials, but honestly, they all look a little plasticky. I also love the tropical hardwoods, but if you want the original chocolate-look like the day you install them, they need a TON of maintenance. The architect specified this beautiful cedar deck and we didn’t put any sealer or stain on it. We simply face-screwed the deck with Square Drive Stainless 3″ Spax screws. If we need to replace a board someday, the face screws make it simple.
Wood Soffits. If you want stained exterior wood, the soffit is the place to do it. I found that the shady and water-protected area under the roof of a soffit makes any wood product look fantastic for many, many years. The clear pine T&G soffits on this farmhouse look like the day they were installed! These are so much nicer than the cheap 4×8 sheet goods I often see even on $1M plus houses. Budget for a wood ceiling on your porch or exterior soffits and you won’t be disappointed.
Pier/Beam Foundation With Steel Skirting. I like the flexibility afforded by pier & beam houses. If we need to remodel this house someday or if we need to re-level this house, the pier/beam foundation is much better than a slab-on-grade. Interestingly, the owners wanted the ability to move this house in the future, and with this foundation, we could slide large steel beams under the house and literally pick it up. For the perimeter of the foundation, the architect decided to use steel plate instead of a more traditional stucco or stone skirting. It’s showing some heavy rust from the sprinklers but I’m guessing it’ll be here for a solid few decades. A very modern choice indeed.
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