Siding diagram
Illustration: Gregory Nemec
The layers of materials that envelop the Timeless Home protect the wood framing and sheathing (1) from the damaging effects of sun and rain. Plastic housewrap (2) covers the walls, while 30-pound roofing felt overlays the roof (3). At all the vulnerable spots on the roof- the eaves, the valleys, and the bases of the dormers and chimney-copper (4) and rubberized waterproofing membrane (5) prevent water infiltration. These are covered in turn with a layer of brick veneer (6) at the basement level, fiber-cement shingles (7) for the first floor, and plastic slates on the roof (8).
At the Timeless Home job site in Atlanta, the air is clacking and buzzing with the sounds of staple guns and electric drills as general contractor Jason Yowell eagerly unwraps the latest delivery: a 500-pound cardboard package wrapped in plastic, containing an 11-by-7-foot picture window that will soon grace the living room and afford a panoramic view of the surrounding woods. This recent arrival is just one of the 49 aluminum-clad, double-paned windows scattered about the inside of the house, and Yowell is anxious to get them in. "With all the rain we've had lately, the sooner I can plug all the holes around here, the better," he says.

Without properly installed windows—and siding and roofing—no wood-frame house will last very long. A structure depends on these materials, carefully layered, to form an “envelope” that protects its supporting framework, and, ultimately, its inhabitants, from the ravages of the weather. Yowell says good workmanship is critical at this stage because water will quickly find its way past a poorly built exterior. "And you'll end up spending a lot of money trying to fix the rot, the mold, and any other damage that may result."

For architect Jeremiah Eck, who designed the Timeless Home for This Old House magazine and the Masco Corporation, a building materials supplier, the envelope is as much an aesthetic concern as a functional one. "The materials enhance the character of a house," says Eck. To realize his vision of a contemporary residence cloaked in a mantle of tradition, Eck chose both time-honored and man-made products. This being Atlanta, close to some of the biggest clay deposits in the country, brick was the logical choice for covering the basement-level exterior walls. For the first and second floors, Eck specified shingles and board-and-batten siding made of durable fiber cement. And on the roof, he chose deep green shingles molded from recycled plastics to look just like slate. “The big question in all house construction today regards the preservation of natural resources,” says Eck. “These new materials reflect a classic look, but with up-to-date technology behind it.”
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