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Beach Cottage Transformation


When English settlers came to Rhode Island they brought their culture and architecture with them. Post-Medieval English houses were the first to arrive in New England. These houses were made of timber because it was the most abundant natural resource available to them at the time. Eventually many variations of the english house were created, such as the cape cod and salt box. (as seen below)

These variations happened out of necessity. In Rhode Island you can see the transformation of the english house from the past to present. Gail Hallock Architect continues the tradition by designing homes that are the latest iteration of the New England House. We combine tradition with modern design innovations to suit our clients needs.

Below is a photograph of a 1930-1940s New England Cottage.

We can only speculate what the designers intensions were for this building. This cottage was probably originally designed to be a summer home and was later converted to a permanent residence. What we do know is that the design suited the needs of the original home owner.

Today this cottage and others like it are no longer practical for most families because they are poorly insulated and in many cases to small. This was true for the family that lived in this cottage. They needed more room for a growing family and better protection against the elements. We accomplished this by adding a second floor, installing new doors, new windows, and improving the insulation of the building.

In the past when a building no longer met the needs of the people they would reuse the building materials to create a new building. This practice should be used as often as possible because it’s good for the environment as well as your wallet. In this case all of the original foundation and walls were reused.

The following photograph shows the builder (David Russell Construction) striping the existing structure of the old material leaving the framing intact. You can also see that the second floor framing as begun.

Below is a photograph of the cottage after the second floor framing was complete. You can also see that the builder has already installed the new windows and is working on the the cedar shingle siding and the front porch.

The transformation from cottage to what I would describe as a modern farm house has been completed. The reason I would call this a farm house is because of the large front porch and the shape of the building.

Ryan Russell, Gail Hallock Architect, Inc.

Gail’s Note: Ryan Russell was working as one of the carpenters on the construction of this 2nd floor renovation with his dad, the excellent contractor, David Russell. During the construction Ryan began working with me me as a draftsman and is continuing his studies in architecture to complete his degree. While working in my office he is accruing learning units as well as showing his talent in design as well as construction.

Is Your House in a Zone?

What does it mean?
Flood Zone

Flood Zones are those areas in RI which have been identified by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to be in a Flood Zone. Usually these affect houses on properties along the coastal low lying areas, but can also relate to properties alongside a river.

The flood designations are on file with the town and can also be reached by the FEMA website. This determines the expected flood level at the worst part of a flood or the top of a hurricane wave. The idea for anyone living in a flood zone is to have their structure strong enough to withstand the flood waters. That means very strong foundations and piers. The first floor structure and all mechanicals should be built above the water height as designated in the flood zone so that if the worst should ever happen the house will be above the flood waters.  Sometimes this means the house is on stilts which are hidden.

Coastal Wind Zone

All structures in South County on the bay or ocean side of Route 1 are in a wind zone. The wind zone severity varies by location, but the closer your house is to the ocean, the more likely you will be in a higher wind zone.

To build in these wind zones we use a lot of steel to hold the building together, like tie downs and strapping. We have covers for the windows in the event of a hurricane, or have specially designed windows to withstand wind and or high impact, such as floating or wind born debris.

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