Patience Pays When Renovating

Don’t skimp on safety measures for the sake of saving time and money during your next renovation project.

“Code enforcement with blinders on.” –Roxanne Swanson

Crows nest fire escape.

John Warren

The 19th-century Italian Villa with French dormers and a mansard roof has survived with its belvedere, it’s doubled brackets and faceted bays, its porch trim and round-top windows intact. Someone even thought to call out details in the last paint job.

So how did that fire-escape deck and ladder arrangement come to be? Looking like a kids’ tree house or the crow’s nest on a ship mast, it’s a highly visible eyesore that obliterates two pretty windows. And can it really be legal? Once the escapee is down the hatch and on the porch roof, there’s that vertical ladder to descend. Which, by the way, looks like an invitation to a break-in. We wonder: why not put egress on a less visible facade—or perhaps via a delicate metal spiral stair?

The house is in a pretty little village way up there in Vermont, on the border with Quebec.

Don’t…float a design-challenged suburban deck at the top of a commanding Victorian house. Don’t use discordant materials. Don’t rush to the fastest, cheapest option.

Tags: Fire Escape OHJ May 2017 remodeling

By Old House Journal

Founded in 1973, Old House Journal is the original authority when it comes to old-house restoration, traditional house styles, period kitchens, bath & kitchen restoration, DIY projects, gardens & landscaping, and more-- from Colonial and Victorian through Arts & Crafts and Mid-century Modern homes. 

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