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Old 01-30-2007, 01:57 PM   #1
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Italianate Victorian coupla Design


I am buying an Italianate Victorian house. In the 1920's the coupla started to leak and instead of fixing it, they ripped it off of the house and threw it away!

I'm going to want to put one back on the house and am looking for some plans to start from. I'd like to add a widow's walk on the back (if not all the way around) so that I can sit out there and look at the lake 3 miles away. The entire area is apple orchards so there is nothing to block the view.

There are stairs up to the attic, and a good sized hole to where the original one was. I'd have to build a ladder to get up there, but that's not a big deal. The hole is currently about 4x3 feet, but I can block that off to 2x2 to squeeze through to the main area.

the only plans I have been able to find are for barn type couplas with weather vanes. I need a large one with sitting area, windows and a door - though I don't think the door is standard or the widows walk, but they will face the back so that's ok with me.

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Old 01-31-2007, 10:47 AM   #2
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Italianate Victorian coupla Design


I suspect you would need an architect if you wanted plans. Nothing, even if you could find something, would match up to what you have on site.

A very good craftsman could probably build something off of pictures and sketches but it would be VERY difficult to find someone with that skill level.

Are you thinking of DIY for this?

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Old 01-31-2007, 11:11 AM   #3
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Italianate Victorian coupla Design


Honestly? Yes.

I actually wrote into ThisOldHouse, but I know that's a long shot!

What's the worst that could happen? It could fall off the roof while I'm in it and plummet 35 feet to the ground below. uh.... yeah. that's pretty bad!

The hole in the roof is a fully framed in rectangle that is extremely solid and supported. I think it could be built on the ground and then lifted with a crane and "dropped" into place, but that would take some doing and just might be out of my skill level. (yeah, "might" ). It is accessed by a 3 foot wide staircase, so could also be feasable to build it in place. I have no fear of heights and the roof is relatively flat so it might be possible to build pieces in the bedroom below and carry them up. (I'd invest in a climbing harness for a double safety measure.) I would definately have an engineer come in to specifically check the roof timbers and make sure that a ton of lumber and windows wouldn't come crashing through!

I know how to correctly build framing for load bearing walls, frame in windows, build / support a balcony and an overhang deck. all of those things combined could make a coupla. Of course all of those things combined could be a disaster! Yes, I am realistic about things. I figure if I wing it and it doesn't work, I have a cool tiny gazebo for my yard. Talk about the world's most expensive dog house!

The plans for some of the oldest homes in the city I currently live in are at the historical society down town. There is a chance that an Italianate coupla is still in those plans somewhere.

My added bonus is an original photo of the house from about 1900, so I know what it is supposed to look like. Most houses like mine have had the staircase to the coupla ripped out to be replaced with a hole in the ceiling. Previous owners built hardwood bead board closets in the rooms that didn't have closets, they are not beautiful, but they are 10 feet tall with a closet space at the bottom and a cabinet at the top.
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Old 01-31-2007, 11:21 AM   #4
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Italianate Victorian coupla Design


I would say, aside from the dangers, is that it could look like crap, leak like a seive, need to be replace within a year of doing it and cost 10x what it should. You have those same risks if you hire it out too!

You may have notice that I have not given you any guidance on how to do it. No one could from afar. I wouldn't even try.

You may be able to get some good avice with a particular detail, when you got to that point, such as "how do I flash such and such when these conditions are present"

Where are you located?
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Old 01-31-2007, 11:45 AM   #5
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Italianate Victorian coupla Design




Yup, you are 100% spot on!!! I don't deny it! I'm pretty sure this is a project that the vast majority of carpenters have never done, let alone considered!

There are a few houses with couplas around, I'm considering knocking on doors and asking if I can go up and look at them and take pictures. Who knows? Maybe someone will say yes.

It's sort of like a scaled down rectangular gazebo, isn't it?

I'm in Rochester, NY.
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Old 01-31-2007, 11:49 AM   #6
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Italianate Victorian coupla Design


I have considered it on a smaller scale. I do odd jobs on the side and had a project lined up but the funding never came through.

My great great gradnfather built this coupula.
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Old 01-31-2007, 12:07 PM   #7
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Italianate Victorian coupla Design


Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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