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Breathe new life into a classic bungalow
Illustration: Scott Sonoc
Sonoc Architects & Associates
If you live in a bungalow that needs updating, you aren’t alone. The iconic one-and-a-half-story brick houses, some almost a century old, make up about one-third of Chicago’s single-family homes. They are of tremendous historical importance, structurally sound, and often feature beautiful art glass, oak floors, and tile roofs. But many need to be refreshed after decades of wear, or adapted to a modern lifestyle. If yours is one of those, go to the Chicago Historic Bungalow Association and architect Scott Sonoc.
Sonoc doesn’t generally design individual houses. A self-described “social activist with architecture as my tool,” he specializes in urban design, and his residential work usually involves master planning for large developments. But helping homeowners preserve their Chicago bungalows became a calling. “There are 80,000 bungalow owners in Chicago, and not enough architects to go around,” Sonoc says. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we help the largest number of people fix up their bungalows on their time frame, with their economic ability?’”
Sonoc and his firm produced eight sets of pattern drawings that can help modernize a bungalow while retaining its historical integrity. Owners can use them to add a deck, enlarge the kitchen, add a bathroom, improve accessibility, improve energy efficiency, expand the second-floor space, add to the back, or rehab the basement. The Chicago Historic Bungalow Association, launched in 2000, has sold more than 1,500 sets of the drawings for $10 each. (Hiring an architect to produce the drawings on an individual basis might cost as much as $5,000.)
The pattern drawings are pre-approved for city permits and include information on how to select and work with a contractor and establish a budget. The Bungalow Association (http://www.chicagobungalow.org/) also offers special loans and grants.
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