The article (though fortunately not the poster/infographic) mentions the "Victorian" style. Victorian is an era during which multiple housing styles were popular -- Queen Anne, Stick, Shingle, etc.
The stylized drawings, especially in the infographic, really obscure the characteristics of some of the styles. The Italianate drawing, for example, barely resembles the real thing.
Finally, the article and sources fail to mention that few houses truly represent one specific style. Typically, only architect-designed homes (built by the rich-n-famous) or kit homes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kit_houses_in_North_America) would really fit a specific style. Lots of homes of that era are best described as "vernacular" and combine elements of multiple styles. You then end up classifying it based on the predominant features. For example, I live in a home built in the 1890s that has a mix of Queen Anne, shingle, and stick elements. Though, my last home was a spot-on American Foursquare.
Nicely, the article references the McAlester book. It is the best resource I've found for classifying old houses. I have the older edition, authored by Virginia and Lee so I can't speak to the contents of the new edition. If you want some "old house porn" check out the Painted Lady series of books, too.
I too reccommend the McAlesters' Field Guide. Her 850 page successor text (w/ styles after 1940) is on my short list of 'to buy' books.
I'm in what I can best describe as a single story "National gable + front wing" tract house from the 40s, and feel that the design is very pragmatic and boring. These types of houses are very common in the Bay Area suburbs, particularly in the East Bay. Those were built en masse during during the war and have a surprising degree of craftsmanship and material quality.
I muse about one day owning one of those ordinate Victorian houses, but at the same time dread all work and red tape that can come with them (Which goes against my idea of homeownership). A buddy of mine has one and says it would cost ~35k to replace the drafty windows because the city requires an approved type/style/installer (it's a historic home).
Typically not only do you have expensive standards to meet, but you also need to satisfy the desires of boards who are very happy to spend your money to scratch whatever itch they have.
Yes and if you do happen to end up in one, do your research and find out how official the "historic district" is.
A friend of mine bought a house and was getting (for lack of a better term) hassled by the "historic society" because they didn't like renovations he was doing (paint color, new windows, etc). Turns out there's no official status to the group at all. They just formed a group about 20 years ago and lie / bully people into complying with whatever they consider to be "historic".
I'm still fond of the Tudor style, but alas it does seem impractical.
One of the reasons is that many architects after the war considered it to be fascistic to build anything with ornaments on the outside. You can still buy new clothes in old fashion style and new books using old fashioned typography, but you can't buy a new flat in an old style flat.
Some architects today say we are living in the age of modernism, not the baroque or roccoco, and therefore should not build old style buildings. Art history was not intended to be used to dictate which style to use when designing anything. Architects seems to abuse art historic terms to get their way.
And good luck finding someone capable of fitting it all together such that it's still perfectly tight after 100+ years of winters and summers with no AC and poor heat. If such a person still exists I'm sure they charge a fortune.
It will have been "maintained" by people of varying skills, desires, tastes, budgets, etc over its lifetime. Many of the repairs I've had to do in my old house have involved undoing or fixing the previous owner's poor work.
The flip side, our house is over 100 years old and has most of its original windows. Other than some painting, glazing, and caulking they're fine & pretty weathertight. It has 12" wide floor joists ... I could park a car in the living room. And it has glorious architectural details not found in (or poorly imitated in) modern homes.
The inventory of old homes will never be larger than what we have now. Every year, old homes are lost to fire, flood, tear down, and insensitive remuddlings. If you're not willing to live in and love an old house for what it is, please, buy a new home.
Yup absolutely. Thankfully current owners of historic homes in the Bay Area often look for buyers who will appreciate the building and not want to tear it down. There's a house in Atherton which was the original ranch house in the early 20th century there. The owners refuse to sell it to anyone who wants to demolish it (buyers likely have to sign something), and it's been on the market for many many years now for that reason.
Just knowing all the skill that went into making the old features out of wood has been lost is sad/ disappointing.
Since they are fake and have no purpose other than being ornamental they are prone to being the wrong size and just look really, really off. If you're going to make them ornamental they should look like they could be functional.
Fake shutters that are the wrong size/location really grind my gears as well.
Or it could be an inconsistent mash-up of systems from different eras, with some knob-and-tube wiring still exposed in the basement, no insulation in the walls and a half-hearted roll of fiberglass in the attic, and Baron von Frankenstein's heating system. That would be bad.
On the other hand, "high cost of remodeling" is bunk unless you have an Historical Preservation Society glaring at you. All normal remodeling is expensive in every house. It's just that an HPS can make it much more expensive, and constrain you not to do things you want.
Yes, some of the renovations were due to age and/or lack of maintenance over time. But there's no shortage of horror stories associated with problems in recently-constructed houses as well.
This is so true in Boston. A lot of HPSs specify that you can't change the exterior facing portion of a building, even if you make every effort to keep the appearance while, e.g. adding 4 inches of styrofoam for insulation behind the siding, or if the changes you make are historically correct, e.g. 4 inches of styrofoam + stucco on top of brick walls. They don't particularly care about the interior, so often your only choice if you want to insulate is to insulate on the interior, which, ironically, reduces the building's durability.
We've brought everything up to code and anyone walking into the house says it looks beautiful but it's been a huge expense and time consuming doing 95% of the work ourselves.
My anecdotal experience:
The very old houses will require expensive systems upgrades - heating, plumbing, electricity, etc. But the quality of the craftsmanship is unbelievably good. It was built to last, whereas the newer 1960s home and my sister's 2000s-era condo was made with lots of cheap crap that has its own replacement burden.
Renovations vary in quality, too. Our downstairs bathroom was renovated in the 60s with cheap, ugly materials. The windows were replaced 15 years ago around the house using a second-tier brand, and they squeal loudly when they are opened. But another owner did a kitchen renovation 10 years ago using high-quality materials that have stood up quite well.
The owners prior to them, though, were amazing. Their renovations were solid, beautiful, and extensive. The contrast between any work done by them and work done by the most recent owners is painfully obvious.
On the more extreme side I've seen homes completely rotted by owners, requiring over a year of in-depth repairs to bring the house back to life. It's very sad to see.
It's all about taking care of the property.
The contractor basically said the parts that were hundreds of years old would be around for another couple hundred years, but the stuff that was - 20-50 years old had all sore of issues...
Avoiding older homes because they are old isn't great advice. Avoiding homes that are falling apart is better advice (for most people, not all) but not all old homes are falling apart and not all newer homes are well built and will be falling apart in 10 years or sooner.
Most older homes (that are still standing) are well built, having been built to last, and some have been well maintained and upgraded over the years. The best quality houses I've ever lived in were over a century old. The worst quality house I've ever lived in was 40 years old and was the only "modern" house I've ever lived in and every single corner was cut building the thing.
Older homes often have some great architectural features that you can't find today, you aren't going to find a 20 year old home with an ornate hand carved mahogany staircase, for example. A lot of it comes down to personal preference and what you are used to.
The water never tastes funny.
My friends moved into a (rented) older, turn of the century, home that was poorly maintained and it's a garbage place to live. But it isn't like that's not obvious when you tour the place. My other friends bought a house built in the 1700s and it's the most well-built house I've ever seen. It has its quirks but its well-maintained and has most of the modern features you'd expect. It's also very well isolated.
Problem with newer homes, especially McMansions, is many are poor construction that aren't meant to last. They went up fast and cheap. This doesn't apply to all new construction, of course, but there was rush to build during the housing bubble. Corners were cut. Some houses were meant to look just good enough to sell, not to last a century.
Neighborhood is more important and theres not always a choice of a new home in many neighborhoods. For example, when we bought our house we had no choice but to buy old construction unless we wanted to change our neighborhood preference. Then we'd have to buy a McMansion on the outskirts of town away from everything except other McMansions. We'd be unable to walk anywhere, much further drive from work, much further drive to pretty much anywhere, and we'd have to buy double the amount of home than we'd prefer to buy.
If it's an established neighborhood you're going to get established homes!
But saying "avoid old homes" as generic advice to everyone is terrible advice. It's all tradeoffs and personal preference and also quality of the specific home. A well-built, well-maintained home is still a well-built, well-maintained home.
Many only know how to parrot "factoids" they've heard somewhere. "Don't buy and living in 100 year old houses" is one such example. Maybe they just don't like that older homes are cheaper and they are trying to maximize their commission.
Examples: http://www.rhein-ruhr-region.de/info/wp-content/uploads/wett... or https://birgitrehse.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/planufer-1.j...
It's a shame: while I certainly enjoy Art Deco, I miss the incredible design and ambiance of the Art Nouvea neighborhoods in St. Petersburg and Barcelona. I've never found anything with quite that feel in other cities, especially in the US...
Art Nouveau was not well fitted for large buildings: it was expensive to build and wasn't easily replicable. Even in Europe, large buildings on Art Nouveau are scarce and were more a proof of concept than a standard way of building. Casa Milá in Barcelona is probably the most relevant example and for sure a must-see.
It's interesting to see that everyone wants to life in them here, but nobody would attempt to build like it again. Even the most luxurious new apartments may have floor-to-ceiling windows on all sides, but the ceilings are at 3m instead of 4.5m+.
May be the costs of the solid walls and increased heat loss, or it'd just feel tacky to have ornaments of ivy and topless women on the front of a new building.
Having friends living in apartments in such high ceilings (in my city, Kraków, there's lots of those old buildings, so even poorest students often get to live in them), the number one complaint is heating - warm air rises and accumulates under the ceiling, so you have to heat a lot to even feel it at floor level.
If you have the chance, Budapest is full of art nouveau buildings.
Have in mind that Art Nouveau is a pretty wide and heterogeneous movement, and not all of it is of the "flowery" nature.
Art Nouveau, no doubt about that.
> or the relevance of the third image
That's the inside of 'the first true Art Nouveau building', the Tassel Hotel. Unesco world heritage and all that.
- some of the windows actually match (and are even symmetrically aligned)
- the garage takes up less that half of the house's front face
- the columns next to the door are neither too tall nor too skinny
McMansion on the lower left: http://99percentinvisible.org/app/uploads/2016/08/american-v...
Something makes me think that the author has never seen a Tuscan villa, because that "six secondary masses" house is clearly a villa-inspired home. And villas are often non-symmetrical, out of proportion, full of secondary masses, and certainly do not follow the rule of thirds. Part of their entire appeal is that they appear to be several small buildings connected together after they were built.
I don't have anything either for or against McMansions, but after reading that first link I'm not convinced that the author knows what makes McMansions "bad" either. In the second link some of the houses in "the 10s" look exactly like German manors. Compare the second "10" picture with this one: http://www.castlesandmanorhouses.com/photos/bodelschwingh..j...
Is that 13th century German manor a "McMansion" too?
Look, you'd really have to read the blog before making comments on it. Always a good idea. First read - in this case, all of it! - and then talk about it. Please. The blog explains very well how to recognise a McMansion and it really isn't that hard.
As for why McMansions are bad, there are plenty of explanations given in this blog (areas hard to reach, cheap materials, wasted space, water damage after a short time, etc...). Just look at this one image, plenty of reasons: http://99percentinvisible.org/app/uploads/2016/10/18-mc-esch... (dust collection areas, unsafe fireplace, etc.)
McMansion builders are not doing thoughtful design with some sort of aesthetic vision, though. They're slapping together the cheapest materials they can find, as quickly as possible to make the highest profit. That's why it ends up looking bad. They didn't use 5 different kind of windows because they had some design vision that requires it. They used 5 different kinds of windows because the contractor said "Hey, I've got a bunch of different windows left over from other jobs, let's use them here so we don't have to buy new ones."
As it stands, it's a McMansion of an article. A lot of things thrown together without any rhyme or reason, sold to people who don't know any better, and marketed as the epitome of high culture. It did nothing to further my understanding of what is a good house and what is a bad house except "if you cut it in half, you have two identical halves... most of the time... but not always".
I understand why McMansions suck, and I can use the same reasons to say the same thing about the McMansion Hell articles. They're full of "this is bad" without any "this is why" attached. And a lot of the "this is bad" stuff appears on houses that are definitively not McMansions (like villas and 13th century manors).
I guess each individual post is disjointed. they aren't meant to stand alone but be part of a collective.
Ironically the house being awful results as a side effect in being very expensive to build, so from a conspicuous consumption standpoint its simultaneously hard to avoid noticing none of the windows match at the same time as its noticed clearly no one got a Federal style bulk discount on those windows, or the floor plan and roof line being, well, insane, was likely very expensive to build. You might have to live in an ugly house, but everyone will know you have money. Oh the fed dropped interest rates again so we have an extra $100K to spend, well, if you already have five dormers why not seven and toss in some columns on the side door entrance?
And I remember it a decade+ later because it pissed me off quite a bit that hardcoded into the game software was the value judgement that a mcmansion was superior to my designs for log cabins and castles. What do you mean my sims characters will suicide if I don't put a bay window in my log cabin, this game which had promise is such BS. Well maybe I didn't expect much from the "Katy Perry Sweet Treats" add on but I expected better of the original.
There are aesthetic value judgements built into sim games like Dwarf Fortress but they're weird enough that they don't feel as constraining.
People were wasting time building useless things in computers a long time before minecraft, after all.
In the South the front door is used much more often, because it gets hot, not so much cold.
The side door, or door leading to the garage, is probably the most used exterior door in an American home. And ideally that's where a mudroom would be.
I liked the visual guide to American house styles! I can imagine a same sort of guide to European housing. Dutch, German, French or UK housing developments are usually quite easy to distuinghuish from each other, even when they're from the same period.
Adding some info: in South America (Brazil at least) front door opens also to the living room. On architectural theory
it's common to correlate this trend with the 'less hierarchical' way of being of these countries.
In Europe this hardly ever happen and in cold countries is even common to have 2 halls behind the front door on single houses: the first not heated (the ganek in Polish) and then another hall, this one heated.
The "direct access into the living room"-thing got imported over here in Eastern Europe (well, Romania, from where I'm from) in a lot of new residential apartments. Which is quite unusual, because now you're watching TV and doing all your housy stuff in the same room as your dirty shoes. This is more noticeable in winter, when there's all that slush on our city streets which you're bringing into your home.
Don't take what you see on TV as a typical American home, those are sound stages that are laid out to be most convenient to film.
What we call California Bungalows can share all of those general elements while being in different aesthetic styles such as Tudor or Spanish Mission. Basically, Craftsman would be a subset of the larger California Bungalow style.
I am thinking of building a new house instead of buying a used one. This is most likely going to be my biggest investment ever. I am looking at lands in upstate New York/New Jersey region, basically a region with 3 months of frost weather. I am not really a big fan of wooden houses. I have read all sorts of material online how wood is cheap, suitable of expansion/contraction weather, and contractors are cheap who build wood frames. But part of me just wants a durable concrete house.
I was thinking of getting a slab or raised slab concrete foundation with concrete pillars (non cylindrical) protruding upwards that would make up entire foundations of the house. Instead of wooden frames I can go for steel frames (new kid on the block). Then for the rest of the stuff, I can use wood and combination of other materials.
It would be nice hear someone else' similar experience and/or suggestions.
Don't sell wood short though--contractors can build crappy wood houses, but they can build crappy concrete houses too, and a good wood framed house loses nothing to concrete, except maybe sound insulation and resistance to damage. In your region, as long as you make your house airtight (through taped sheathing, liquid or taped membrane, or airtight drywall) and keep at least 33% of the insulation value outside of the sheathing you should be good.
laminated wood products (osb, etc) are pretty strong
At least in Firefox that's what I did.
It doesn't seem to be on the poster though, which is odd.