Re: Common House costs
From: PattyMara (
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 10:52:09 -0700 (MST)
Dear Roger and List,
Thanks for your recent post, Roger about your common house design.   Seminal 
information for those in the planning stages.  At Tierra Nueva (central CA 
coast) we've been moved in for over a year now...and our common house has 
most of the features your described in your plan.  I have a suggestion for 
you about your mezzanine which we wished we would have done, but only 
hindsight gave us the clue.  Our great room/dining room is overlooked by the 
mezzanine and has a tall cathedral ceiling. The half wall of the mezzanine is 
solid, with a wide sill/mantle.  Being solid,  the half wall does 2 
unfortunate things:  it helps bounce sound around in an already treacherous 
acoustic environment and it visually cuts off the two spaces.  

When we sit around and dream about what we can do to improve our miserable 
sound quality in the dining room (by the way, what have you folks done about 
mitigating sound?  Think about it now, because it will be a huge problem if 
unaddressed)  we wish we could tear out the solid wall and replace it with a 
wooden railing.  The sound wouldn't bounce and there would be a continuum of 
sight, connecting those on the balcony (which we use for overflow dining) 
with those on the main floor.  It would provide more line of sight comfort 
for the parents watching kids too...our game room and video/tv room is 
upstairs and the kids love going up alone.  Some parents are uncomfortable 
with that solid wall barrier. 

I believe the solid wall is a bad design feature, and limits the use of our 
mezzanine. Consequently, the mezzanine is rarely used to its potential.  When 
we're feeling flush we may tear the wall out and replace it with a beautiful 
wooden railing crafted in our yet-to-be-built wood/metal/craft workshop. 

Good luck on your common house...and thanks for the reminder about the gap 
between what architects/builders plan and what planning departments and 
city/county codes require.  There are trolls under the bridges.  

Patty Mara Gourley
Tierra Nueva, California 

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