The pictures are like deja vu all over again, I know. But I've defaced two of yesterday's The Wellfleet Oysterman's House with text to point out ten aspects of house construction that will likely disappear during our lifetimes. They are quite familiar; at least they are to me, who's been poking around old New England houses my whole life. Your mileage may vary if you're already living in a rammed earth ranch in Arizona. Click on the pictures to embiggen them, if you like.
1.An open, site-built masonry fireplace for burning wood
Already really expensive, with a massive shortage of skilled masons and plenty of onerous regulation. Illegal in some places over smoke or the danger of fire from sparks up the chimbley. Not to mention how few people have access to firewood, and access to the get-up-and-go it takes to make a fire with logs. Gas flames in a metal box is all you'll see in a few years.
2. Single pane divided-lite windows
Energy use regulation is fascinated with exotic windows. A single pane window with a low-e glass panel fitted on the outside is practically as energy efficient as the most cutting edge ventana, but I'm probably going to be the last human extant that can set a pane of glass in a muntin window with putty. Modern windows got no soul, people
3. A wood shingle roof
Also now illegal in many places over fire regulation. Sawn wood shingles or rough split shakes are going to be as anachronistic as slate roofs are now in a few years. Notice even the Oysterman's house has asphalt tab shingles on the (dreadful) enclosed porch addition. People are used to ugly roofs now. They don't even notice how drab they are.
4. Shutters that operate
Just plastic slabs nailed to the faux colonials now. The fellows I first worked with called the hardware that real wood shutters swung on: "gudgeons and pintles," just like the nomenclature used for the hanging hardware on boat rudders. Spell-check is freaking out about the words "gudgeons" and "pintles" as I type this. It's a lonely thing to know more words than spell-check does, my friends.
5. A front door used as the main entry into a house
9 times out of 10 I'm looking at nothing but your garage door when I look at your house. If you do have a "front door," it makes a mummy's tomb sound when you open it every decade or so. But even an infrequently used ceremonial grand entry door beats a snouthouse design.
6. A masonry foundation
Poured concrete isn't masonry, really. I'm referring to bricks and blocks and stone. When I was a kid, people were still assembling concrete blocks into masonry foundations. By "people," I mean "me" helping "my uncle." I'm not even sure people are going to go into the ground much anymore to make a basement, never mind building one one 35 pound chunk of concrete at a time. I know I'd pitch myself into volcano before I signed up to do another one. (Note: I put that "one" right after the other "one" to confuse and delight you)
7. Wooden gutters
I used to repair and install these all the time. Every fall I'd be hired to clean the leaves out of them and paint the inside with linseed oil. The fellow I worked for wasn't too bright. We'd wait 2 weeks too long to get around to this, so the gutters were filled with ice already. He told me that taking a teaspoon of linseed oil was considered an old-fashioned health restorative in his family. It explained a lot. Raw linseed oil has many such uses among the homeopathic crowd. Unfortunately, all he had was Boiled linseed oil, which is a deadly brain-destroying poison if you eat it. Most alternative medicine type advice pans out like that; not wrong, exactly -- off-topic.
8. Painted wood shingle sidewall
They used to use red cedar sidewall shingles for use under paint. "R and Rs," we called them; resquared and rebutted. They cost more than space shuttle tiles now. Wood clapboards will hang in there for a while, but painting sidewall shingles is a doomed proposition. Jeez, I hate plastic ersatz anything on a house.
9. Unexposed timber-frame walls
People still think timber-framed houses are swell, and continue to build them now and again. They think the medieval method of making a barn to live in is so interesting that they leave it exposed on the interior to show it off. Colonial people would never leave the guts of the house exposed. No one will do it the insane hernia/black thumbnail way and then cover it up ever again.
10. Oil-based paint
The pigments and vehicle in water-based paint are almost all sorta plastic derived from petroleum, but that's not what I'm referring to. The days of mineral spirits constituting the base for any paint are numbered. They contain Volatile Organic Compounds, ie: pollutants. If you've purchased a gallon of what is referred to in the vernacular as "oil-based' paint recently, you've noticed that it has the consistency of block cheese. The manufacturer is assuming you --wink wink --understand that Home Depot is selling gallons of the ingredient they are forced to leave out to pass VOC regulations, right there on the shelf next to the paint. Since mineral spirits is used for--ahem... cleaning your brushes!-- not for paint thinner, no sirree no way uh uh-- they don't mind that it's 100% VOC, and this ingredient sold alone is not regulated somehow. You can buy all you want of it and splash it into the paste masquerading as $40-per-gallon alkyd paint, which can't have hardly any mineral spirits in it anymore at all nosirree nada.
You didn't hear that from me