The Two Flat: Pitched Roof Progress!

Kim standing on the steps of our fixer upper, with a blue tarp flapping in the wind, via Yellow Brick Home.
So, so windy!

When we last updated on the pitched roof at the two flat, we were making progress on our design, but hadn’t finalized it. You all chimed in with some incredibly thoughtful design ideas and we can’t thank you enough! We showed every one of them to our architect for consideration, and they were tremendously helpful in getting us to a place where we feel really good about the progress. (And do you see that ‘brick’? More on that in a minute!)

Sketching Our Ideas

If you’ve been following along, the sketch on the left (below) might look familiar. This drawing illustrates the direction we thought we were heading in. That is, until demo started, and we realized that the space between the second story windows and the first floor ceiling was not as substantial as we anticipated. Had we proceeded with the idea laid out in the first sketch, the pitch of the roof would have ended up squished to the point that it was nearly flat. In order to work toward a solution, our architect did a quick sketch that we absolutely loved (on the right). This option showed the roof protruding above the second floor windows for an interesting architectural detail. We were all in and excited at the possibility of gaining a gable over the front door as well, so we gave the framers the green light!

A composite photo of two different sketches of potential designs for the front of a Chicago two flat, via Yellow Brick Home.

As construction began, we quickly realized that the second floor window on the left side of the house was still way, way too close to the gable, and it would ultimately overlap. So although the drawing was nice in theory, it couldn’t have worked. Bummer.

Finalizing the Pitch of the Roof Once and for All

We tried to convince ourselves that the gable would have felt too busy anyway, but to give us a better idea of the final look, we decided to move forward with construction of the main roof/porch structure. At that point, we would then meet onsite once it was framed out. A few days later, we met at the house, and upon seeing the framed roof in person, we all agreed that adding a gable would create too much visual chaos, so we nixed the idea completely. We can already visualize the completed front of the house and we think it’s gonna be a stunner! Squint, squint!

A framed Chicago two flat building under construction sits between two vintage brick apartment buildings // via yellow brick home

And check out those window pans. They turned out better than we could have imagined, cute, even! I’ll admit that I was nervous about them from the beginning, but we think it adds enough interest to the home without looking crowded or busy.

We Have Brick! Oh, Wait.

Now that the front porch is complete and the stairs are finally back in place, we can resume using the front door as our point of entry. On a project this long and involved, the small victories are definitely worth celebrating! Oh, and in case you’re wondering, that strip of red brick near the top of the house is actually faux brick asphalt shingle. I know. Upon discovering it, our architect took delight in sending over a pulled back photo with the taunting caption “did you know you have a brick house?!” He totally fooled us for a split second – and then we realized he was only messing with us. Arugh!

A photo looking upwards at the front renovated front porch of a Chicago two flat building, via Yellow Brick Home.
Boo to you, faux brick!

From Start to… Progress

It’s so satisfying to see photos from April, when we purchased the house, to September when the tree was down and front porch construction was about to begin. Things got real in October when the front porch came down and the big blue tarp went up. Now, it’s December and the tarp is nearly gone! We hope to be installing new windows in the very near future (spoiler: they were delivered this week). Is this what progress looks like? We think so!

A composite of four images showing progress to the front of a framed chicago two flat building from April, September, October and December, via Yellow Brick Home

What’s Next?

This whole-house-at-once renovation process is unlike anything we’ve ever tackled before, but we’ve been absolutely loving it! Next up for the exterior are completing the stair railings and roof- which, by the way, we’ll be doing black shingles! Meanwhile, the interior work that will be handled by our GC is nearing completion. We’ve got one more mechanical inspection to pass, then insulation goes in and drywall goes up!

Our eyes are firmly planted on 2020, when the keys to the project are handed over to us and the real fun begins. Our plan is to enjoy the heck out of the holidays and recharge our batteries, because things are about to get real real.

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  • Hannah B12.9.19 - 9:13 AM

    The unifying roof is so incredibly cute! Great decision :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.9.19 - 10:36 AM

      Thank you! This was a stressful decision, but we’re really happy with where we landed.ReplyCancel

  • meredith12.9.19 - 1:23 PM

    I love seeing the side-by-side progress shots! It feels quick as a reader but I’m sure your perspective is just a bit different. :)ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa12.9.19 - 3:50 PM


  • Vanessa12.9.19 - 3:58 PM

    Also, I am curious – what is under the faux-brick?ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.9.19 - 4:26 PM

      We’re not sure yet, but we’re going to find out!ReplyCancel

      • Ryan12.9.19 - 5:20 PM

        I’m so excited! I know it can be a can of worms to take off the vinyl siding but i know the house will really shine with a more historically accurate siding profile, maybe some shingle siding in the gable?ReplyCancel

  • Emily R12.9.19 - 5:32 PM

    Do you guys have historic pictures of the house to reference? I feel like bringing it back to its original intent is always the best route. There’s nothing better than classic architecture. ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.10.19 - 8:21 AM

      We’d love to as well! There were already a few major structural changes that were done before us that would make it too costly (for us) to do that, so we’re doing the best we can within the budget we have.ReplyCancel

  • Karen12.9.19 - 8:30 PM

    What are window pans? ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.10.19 - 8:20 AM

      See how the roof meets up to those two windows on the second floor? That creates a window pan, which is something we had to determine (the pitch, how high, etc)!ReplyCancel

  • Shauna Mooney12.10.19 - 3:41 PM

    Simple and symmetrical!? SHYEAH! I dig it. If y’all ever wanted to get into the nerdy details of how you juggle these projects/different homes from a financing, math and tax standpoint, I’d be very interested. (What kind of loans do you get? Do you refinance when they’re finished? Is there an LLC specifically for your rentals or is it all under the umbrella of YBH? Those sort of things.)  I’ve been knee deep in Bigger Pockets blog and podcast and am going to dip my toe into real estate starting in 2020. I love hearing about people who I think of as being much more creative/right brained handling these details. (If you don’t want to share I totally get it…just keep the cute doggo pics a comin’!! ;) ) ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.10.19 - 3:55 PM

      All GREAT questions and so many of those things we’ve had to learn along the way, hire lawyers and consult our accountant for! Thanks for the post idea. Would anyone else be interested in this??ReplyCancel

      • Jacqueline12.13.19 - 7:41 PM

        Yes!! I’d love to know more. I occasionally look at properties that I can imagine would be great if fixed up. I have no experience with real estate/investment properties.ReplyCancel

      • Julie P12.23.19 - 11:35 PM

        YES!! Big YES!!ReplyCancel


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