Blending in with the neighborhood

Wednesday, August 24th 2005, 10:18 am
By: News On 6

Infill is a term for building new homes in the middle of an existing neighborhood and one Tulsa architect says it's rarely done right, with houses that tower over or clash with the other homes around it.

Steve Busch says there's a better way. To prove it, he remodeled his "own" house.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says Steve Busch's Brookside house will fool you, the materials look new, but the style is old-fashioned. "I think we've done a great job on our little street here, maintaining the integrity of the deal, but you turn the corner and you think you're out south."

Just down the street from Busch's house is what he calls a prime example. He says there is an existing house and then right next door, you have a much larger house with a much different style, nice house he says, but bad infill. "I've got a problem with the south Tulsa guys, not personally, but with them coming in and building south Tulsa houses in the Brookside area. And I helped do south Tulsa for the past 34 years and it's got its own look."

But what about space, you ask? People nowadays want space. Busch added on to the back of the house, nearly invisible from the street, so it doesn't look out of scale. "We went from 1,600 square feet to 3,800. So we've got plenty of room."

Some touches are small, like putting the wood on the window frame on the outside. Others like the stone, he searched for months. "It came off the Claremore armory building they tore down. But that's the stone you'll see on other houses around the old neighborhood." Obviously an architect is more sensitive to the look of a neighborhood, but he hopes anyone can see the value of blending in. "The homeowners are just going to have to spend some time and get involved or this thing will be completely out of control in four or five years, they'll be building all sorts of things."

Busch says with an experienced architect, the cost of a remodel is comparable to new construction.