Get your mind out of the gutter…by going gutter-less!

June 27, 2014Architecture, Custom Homes

 By Marsie Klug

meditation spa

Meadowlark’s “Home, Unplugged” is gutter free

Every summer during the Parade of Homes event, the public is able to tour an array of Washtenaw and Livingston counties’ newest homes. Beautifully curated, the homes showcase the builders, architects, and designers who make them a reality. This year, Meadowlark featured our designed and built “Home, Unplugged,” a custom Asian-inspired home nestled away on a wooded lot and designed as a haven from the busyness of work and life. While demonstrating energy-efficient construction, low maintenance finishes, and many resource conscientious features such as geothermal heating and cooling, SIP (Structural Insulated Panel) walls and roof, Superior wall foundation, ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator), and bamboo flooring; a detail of the “Home, Unplugged” missed by most of the tour participants was the gutter-less roof lines. Gutters provide many advantages for the home. By diverting water away from the home, gutters prevent erosion and protect the foundation from settling and thus separating from the rest of the house. Gutters also aid in keeping basements dry and protecting the home’s wall structure. However, gutters can be unfitting, dare I say unattractive, to the overall aesthetic of a home. In some homes, gutters appear as a tacked on accessory, forgotten during the design of the home.  There are ways of incorporating gutters into the design so they “disappear” visually.
These gutters are ready for some tender love and care… photo courtesy of http://gutterhelmetofnorthflorida.com

These gutters are ready for some tender love and care… photo courtesy of http://gutterhelmetofnorthflorida.com

Gutters also require maintenance and cleaning. When a waterfall develops from blocked downspouts and gutters full of leaves, maintenance is a must. Every fall, my parent’s gutters fill to the brim with stringy oak droppings. The droppings are too thin for the current gutter guard technology, thus requiring my parents to scoop out the droppings multiple times throughout the season. Gutter-less homes are feasible through properly designing a way to divert water from the house. Instead of a physical gutter, a well-designed ground drainage system will act as a ground gutter. By incorporating into the landscaping, a ground drainage system’s design can be visually undistinguishable to the eye. For “Home, Unplugged,” larger stones strategically located around the home play double duty, both in aesthetically connecting the house to nature and in diverting rain away from the home. The vital underground drainage system is unseen – more evidence that what makes a quality home is not only the visual, but also a very well-thought out design of how the home will be lived in and how it will live with nature. At Meadowlark one of our tenets is quality begins on the inside – what is not seen, but what makes the home not only beautiful, but also healthier, more comfortable and easier to maintain.  We have been doing Behind the Drywall Tours® for many years and they have been extremely popular.  For the next tour perhaps perhaps we should host a tour explaining what is below the grade! Missed the Parade of Homes event? More tours and other events are on the horizon for Meadowlark – visit our upcoming events page!  
EPA gutter less diagram 2

Example of an alternative to gutters, drawing courtesy of the epa.gov

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