In today’s era of home construction the idea of building a home with functioning construction patterns is often ignored and rarely overlooked. To put it simply, a construction pattern can be any aspect of a home–from the shingles and columns down to the style of brick joint, cornice and shoe molding. With many people wanting larger homes at the cost of traditional quality and functionality, the standard of today’s traditional home is not what it once was. Patterns such as load-bearing jack arches are disappearing from the current traditional home. This is not good; it makes no sense. But instead of picking at why the functionality and quality of today’s traditional home-building pattern standard has decreased in recent decades, let’s look at why function is more important than appearance.
There is a right way, and there is a wrong way. This common compound sentence is only half-true. There is always more ways than one to do something wrong. One of the most common errs made in the process of building a traditional home is considering a pattern’s appearance above the pattern’s function. To explain, let’s look at jack arches. Jack arches are weight-bearing brick patterns set above windows and doors that hold themselves in place by design. The image provided (found on http://www.johnbuilt.com/1158scott.htm) is a quintessential representation of a jack arch–even if the 2×4 is removed from underneath, the jack arch will still support itself. The reason why the arch made of individual bricks can support its own weight is because each brick is shaped as a wedge. The wedge shape allows for the weight of each brick and of that above to press down into the others while not collapsing due to the weight pushing outward against the wall, thus holding the arch in place. So not only is this pattern one that significantly benefits the appeal of one’s home visually, but–more importantly–it also has function.
What is so discouraging about many of the jack arches being built today is that, while still fashionable, many builders construct them incorrectly and use them for the the visual appeal of a jack arch–forgetting the arch’s self-bearing function. Jack arches no longer serve the purpose for that which they were designed to fulfill. Many developers building quick-for-cheap homes don’t use wedged bricks–and the issues only start there. An arch made of standard rectangular bricks that have no converging center point is faulty; its design will not allow for the arch to hold. Faux arches are supported by steel lintels–an ingredient not found in the making of a functioning jack arch. Such arches and those alike are easily spotted and taken note of.
So, in which camp do you find yourself? Would you rather save money here-and-there on functioning patterns to instead have a larger home? Incorporate faux this-and-that to ultimately make your home a shining example of an entirely new school of architecture? OR, do you find yourself in the camp that approves function over looks? It’s your house. Your home. Where your story is centered around and where your kids feel safe. Wouldn’t you like knowing that your house is and will be the best–your street’s sturdy bastion of functioning traditional architecture–for generations to come? There is a right way, and there are multiple wrong ways. Which do you choose?