This Palisades home overlooks the Potomac River and the best river view was from a small attic window. The owners wanted to capture the view and create a more usable living area to entertain family. We added a large gable dormer to create an open, light-filled living space with a higher volume. A smaller rear shed dormer allowed us to add a new bathroom to this level.
The only way to create an open, light-filled living space was to construct dormers in the roofline. Our designer opted for two—one large gable dormer on the front of the house and a smaller shed dormer on the back roof.
The front dormer adds volume to the space and it is fitted with three large casement windows that capture the river views.
The challenge when adding a dormer is maintaining structural support of the ridge beam. In this case, given the age of the house, finding point loads to support the existing ridge beam would have created unknown conditions and required renovation work on the first and basement levels. The engineer’s solution was to create an A-frame girder [the triangle is a structural form] supported on existing exterior bearing walls. The new dormer framing is tied into this girder.
Energy code required R38 insulation in the new dormer roofs, and the homeowners also wanted to add more insulation to their existing roof. Open cell spray foam insulation was the right choice to accommodate both requirements.
The drywall follows the framing, which creates interesting ceiling details.
A new rear dormer in the attic allowed for the installation of a full bathroom on this level.
We installed new hardwood flooring throughout the space. Though the attic had two large existing skylights, to bring in more natural light we added two more skylights—one in the bathroom and one in the hallway. We also installed new recessed lights throughout the entire space and in the bathroom.
October 20, 2015
Attic, Insulation, Dormers