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Thread: Regulating corrugated metal houses

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Regulating corrugated metal houses

    My county is trying to regulate building facades, namely, trying to regulate the use of corrugated metal facades on residential buildings. Currently, we do not have any design review, or facade regulations. Has anyone else ran up on this problem? Is there a good list of "non-offending materials"? We have a strict zoning code (this loophole aside), and don't do any "look like your neighbors" business.

    Do any munis out there permit corrugated metal with nuanced restrictions? I'd love to get some feedback from the planners out there, thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    seems a might draconian to me. your code could be preventing an architect from actualizing the greatest building ever known. i can see preventing the entire facade from being corrugated, but why would you prevent an accent piece?

    (spoken as an architect, not a planner)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Doubtful. The building as it stands is unique and half-finished. It is two stories tall on a major thoroughfare. It looks essentially like a 25 foot tall, white accessory shed, supported by huge I-beams in the interior. There are no architectural flourishes, it is simply vertical with white, very flat corrugated metal, I believe a low-guage of corrugated metal.

    Also, our code is not preventing anything right now, which is the issue the county has with it.

    It's a little draconian.
    Last edited by mendelman; 23 Feb 2009 at 4:24 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    you might consider some sort of percentage guidelines. we just finished a project in new orleans and the zoning and neighborhood committees required a certain percentage of the building to be masonry (brick or stone) and the other materials had to play nice with the surrounding neighborhood.

    i personally dont think saying "no xyz material" is the way to go since it can be pretty prohibitive - but some flexible language that lets you retain some control while still allowing artistic freedom on the side of the designers is a decent compromise.

    did this building not have to go through a design review? if it did - why was the all metal facade approved in the first place?

  5. #5
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Is the problem with the material itself or the context/association?




  6. #6
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Is the problem with the material itself or the context/association?


    http://www.yworkshop.com/2008/05/eci...au-architects/

    http://www.terasrakenneyhdistys.fi/t..._kirjasto.html

    i think its a matter of poor application coupled with a negative association. every building material can be beautiful - but it takes someone who isnt a moron (or greedy developer) to use it appropriately.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    great example and comment, cellophane. I agree that in the right context it can be attractive.

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stumpydoo5 View post
    It looks essentially like a 25 foot tall, white accessory shed, supported by huge I-beams in the interior. There are no architectural flourishes, it is simply vertical with white, very flat corrugated metal, I believe a low-guage of corrugated metal.
    Gotta' see a photo, if only to add to the worst case scenario gallery.

    It sounds like the problem isn't with the material, but rather the form of construction; a prefabricated metal building. It really can't be considered in the same league as a mobile or modular house, so I doubt a ban would be protected by HUD regulations. Many communities ban prefab metal structures for commercial and industrial uses. Why not extend it to residential?

    In Central Texas, corrugated metal -- but not prefab buildings -- is part of the local architectural vernacular. Here's some language from the (still draft) development code I'm working on, for commercial architecture:

    Corrugated metal may be used to reinforce a vernacular design theme. Corrugated metal may have a cumulative surface area of ≤25% of the area of all exterior walls for a building.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Without a doubt, the context is the issue. Unfortunately, there is no zoning provision, currrently for context-based design. I have seen some great buildings done with corrugated metal, especially deeply-grooved, horizontal corrugated metal, and corrugated metal roofing.

    I'd like to show a picture, or the location, but as a new planner, and a new poster, I'm worried about what one should post online. Any advice?

    Thanks for the suggestions so far, especially the percentage-based solutions. Good stuff. I will say that the stuff around this building are generally wooden or brick ranch-style homes, with some cinderblock or metal buildings on the main drag. (This place is on the corner of a General Office district (including the property in question) and a Residential district). I'll see if I can get pic.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    We just passed some architectural guidelines that limit vinyl siding (which my director hates!) for our neighborhood conservation district. When I was writing them, I found that giving choices and options is the best way to go.
    Writing architectural guidelines is all about promoting the styles, materials and architectural features that are compatible with the area, but allowing flexibility so not to limit architectural creativity. Limiting the amount or the percentage on the front facade may be the way to go.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Funny that you say that. I live in a "conservation district" and I HATE IT. Damned commie planners. A few years ago I wanted to tear off the 30's era 6 foot cieling lean-to kitchen and bath and replace it with a 2 story kitchen, bath, and master bath. It could not be seen from the street. The neighborhood Nazi Bitch From Hell that ran the board nixed it. Oddly I can tear the house down and build a new one without the board's permission.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    My husband would like to have our exposed block chimney wall clad in corrugated. I just can't see it, but he's the one with teh fine arts degree, what do I know. The local vernacular would dictate we put faux field stone up there, I'm thinking paint it or stuccoe it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jen View post
    My husband would like to have our exposed block chimney wall clad in corrugated. I just can't see it, but he's the one with teh fine arts degree, what do I know. The local vernacular would dictate we put faux field stone up there, I'm thinking paint it or stuccoe it.

    I'd give the metal a shot. You can also have HIM rip it off and apply another treatment

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    yeah and then build a shed with it, an outdoor burner maybe?

    thing is on the chim we don't want a lot of seams to show, so need big sheets custom cut, the house is blue norman rockwell ocean tbe. Need the right gray to compliment.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    Off-topic:
    Funny that you say that. I live in a "conservation district" and I HATE IT. Damned commie planners. A few years ago I wanted to tear off the 30's era 6 foot cieling lean-to kitchen and bath and replace it with a 2 story kitchen, bath, and master bath. It could not be seen from the street. The neighborhood Nazi Bitch From Hell that ran the board nixed it. Oddly I can tear the house down and build a new one without the board's permission.
    most historical overlays and historical groups completely miss the point of what needs to be preserved and why. the people that run these groups are usually not architects, planners, designers or generally people with a clue. they are run by socialite wives of accountants who wouldnt know good sense if it backed over them in an SUV.

    most materials have a good application and a bad application. (re: vinyl siding) the cheap vinyl siding looks bad and will lessen the overall feel of the neighborhood. high quality vinyl or cementious fiberboard will look as good as the original materials and will make the building easier to maintain in the long run.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    most historical overlays and historical groups completely miss the point of what needs to be preserved and why. the people that run these groups are usually not architects, planners, designers or generally people with a clue. they are run by socialite wives of accountants who wouldnt know good sense if it backed over them in an SUV.

    most materials have a good application and a bad application. (re: vinyl siding) the cheap vinyl siding looks bad and will lessen the overall feel of the neighborhood. high quality vinyl or cementious fiberboard will look as good as the original materials and will make the building easier to maintain in the long run.
    Holy crap you nailed it. LOL

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Finally, the building in question:

    Click image for larger version

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    Click image for larger version

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    Does this really merit corrugated metal approval/denial, or is this more a pre-fab buiding? What do you think about the building in general.

    UPDATE: This building is located in an R1-A district. This building would allegedly be a live-work building, with residential on top, workshop on bottom.

  18. #18
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Wow, that IS truly ugly. Are you certain there is there nothing else in the zoning code that one might be able to hang their hat on to put the kabosh on this particular project? A couple site-specific things occur to me: it appears the addition may not connect to the existing dwelling (can't really see) apart from sharing an adjacent wall. You say this property is R-1A? That would make the upstairs living area potentially a separate dwelling unit - does your zoning code either limit the number of principal uses on a lot or does it treat 'granny flats' as an accessory use?

    If the units really are connected/interconnected there may be nothing more you can do in this case, but a 25 foot-high accessory building in this photo certainly appears to be excessive and quite out of character with the surrounding neighborhood (not to mention an aesthetic nightmare).

  19. #19
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    most historical overlays and historical groups completely miss the point of what needs to be preserved and why. the people that run these groups are usually not architects, planners, designers or generally people with a clue. they are run by socialite wives of accountants who wouldnt know good sense if it backed over them in an SUV.

    most materials have a good application and a bad application. (re: vinyl siding) the cheap vinyl siding looks bad and will lessen the overall feel of the neighborhood. high quality vinyl or cementious fiberboard will look as good as the original materials and will make the building easier to maintain in the long run.
    We dont have a board for the conservation district, its entirely adminstered by the planning department (aka, me). Maybe its for the best, or maybe we are a little biased, but generally is someone is making a good effort and it fits into the guidelines, we'll let them do what they want. Our conservation district is in lieu of a local historic district, btw, so we have more flexibility than if we had a historic district.

    As for the vinyl siding comment...can't discriminate against the different types or qualities of vinyl in our code (except hardi plank is a masonry product, not plastic, and we allow hardi). High quality true vinyl is ok looking, but, its the same cost as hardi plank and you might as well do hardi at that point since you save money on your homeowners insurance here!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Wow, that IS truly ugly. Are you certain there is there nothing else in the zoning code that one might be able to hang their hat on to put the kabosh on this particular project? A couple site-specific things occur to me: it appears the addition may not connect to the existing dwelling (can't really see) apart from sharing an adjacent wall. You say this property is R-1A? That would make the upstairs living area potentially a separate dwelling unit - does your zoning code either limit the number of principal uses on a lot or does it treat 'granny flats' as an accessory use?

    If the units really are connected/interconnected there may be nothing more you can do in this case, but a 25 foot-high accessory building in this photo certainly appears to be excessive and quite out of character with the surrounding neighborhood (not to mention an aesthetic nightmare).
    Let me be more clear. The "house" is not actually an accessory structure to the other house. I meant it looked like a shed. The two buildings are different parcels, differerent owners, etc. The building shown is being built on R1-A, and has been required by the county to incorporate certain residential details, i.e. residential looking garage doors, windows on the second floor. The first floor is intended to be used by the developer as a workshop (warehouse) with workers living above. The owner lives in the next county. Further down the line, the owner will probably petition the county for a rezoning to commercial, and so he has pre-emptively built a commercial building within R1-A guidelines, as a sort of protest, one might say.

    We are now performing an acceptable materials study, as a way to plug this hole. We don't have design review, and don't want to get into the business of regulating bulk or scale business. I think we will end up regulating certain types of metal, including the metal sheeting shown here. What distinguishes good metal from bad metal, code-wise?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
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    That building is on a separate parcel???!! Wow. What about setback regulations? Do they exist in this zone?

    What about the primary use? If the workshop is downstairs and the living quarters are upstairs, it could be argued that the workshop (percentage wise) is the primary use and quite possibly not allowed in this Residential zone.

    In our codes, the accessory use (ie: the workshop) can't take up more than 25% of the structure and must not be obvious from the exterior. If I'm understanding correctly, this setup wouldn't work.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Believe it or not, with the windows that will be added, this building will meet code. It meets setback regulations, despite the effect of the photo, which makes the building look like it's jutting miles past the neighbor.

    This is both a zoning battle (avoiding this situation again, through the use of materials) and a legal one (damage control; making sure this building is used residentially). Higher-ups believe that by legislating building facade materials, we can avoid more warehouses in R1-A and other non-accomodating zones. Boy, do you hate euclidian zoning or what?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    My ignorant view is that if there are people in your community who are stupid enough to WANT to live in such a building and they can assume that anyone in town will ever talk to them or even sell them gas, then you shoudl let them. It's like someone living among head-hunting cannibals how to go about improving their table manners...
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    The owner-builder is not stupid enough to live in this. It is being built by a person from a neighboring county, and the residential second floor would house his employees ("workers"). Front-end loaders, cars, supplies on the bottom floor, allegedly. Court cases have been fought, mostly to ensure some sort of residential "look".

  25. #25
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The tricky part in regulating something like this is that prefabricated houses are permitted anywhere site-built hosues would be (per US federal law), but a metal building ... well, it isa prefabricated structure. How cold you define a prefabricated metal building that makes it clear the definition doesn't encompass prefabricated or modular houses? I do see zoning codes that ban "prefabricated metal buildings", but they don't define them.

    Residential architectural regulations are always a touchy subject, but you might just have to consider them, especially if the demographics and overall culture in your community are "rugged" -- the kind where you could reasonably expect to see more structures like this. At the very least, something requiring a minimum level of fenestration or a certain percentage of transparency, or a ban on garage-dominant facades.
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