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House Types


Section 2 together with Sections 3 and 4 explains the basic principles of good house design. This section shows how houses can be classified and described by their structural configuration. This is known as the house “type.”

The following sections discuss circulation within the house by dividing the house into three zones and showing their relationship to each other. Each room will be discussed in terms of how to design it so that each room best serves its special purpose.

A well-designed house must be carefully planned by an architect whose services should be utilized whenever possible. Ideally, each house should be designed for the individual owner by an architect who is familiar with both the site and owner’s needs and tastes. When this isn't possible, a set of architect-designed stock plans, prepared for the kind of lot available, should be used. These plans must be studied carefully to be able to select one that will produce a home that will fill the family’s needs and appeal to its esthetic tastes. Of course, an owner, builder or broker can design a house. These people, however, generally aren't trained to consider all the elements that make up good design and the result usually is mediocre.

Nine basic types of houses make up the vast majority of new homes and many older homes.

The discussion of good design begins with an illustration of each of the basic types of houses and comments on each type’s inherent advantages and disadvantages.

The most common type being built today in most areas is the one story ranch-style house. Prior to the 1960s, the one and one-half story Cape Cod style was the national favorite since the 1920s. From then back to pre-Revolutionary days, the two-story Colonial style was the most popular house. Much newer on the scene is the split-level that started as a solution to a sloping lot, caught on in popularity after World War II and was built in vast numbers on level lots. Its popularity is fading, however, and it's being replaced by the split-entry or bi-level type that first was built in the Northeast and now can be found in the West and South.

There is a great deal of confusion in the real estate industry on how to describe and classify houses. The words type and style are used inter changeably and with little uniformity. The CTS System, which is described in detail in Section A, is a proposed solution to this problem. On the following pages are pictures of each of the basic house types (Figures 2.1 through 2.10, below), their advantages, disadvantages and common problems. The CTS System identification information is shown on each page, the narrative form first, followed by the abbreviation and computer code.


FIGURE 2.1 One-Story, Ranch, Rambler (1 Story - 1)

Advantages

  • Gloriously lacks stair-climbing, which is especially appealing to invalids, elderly people and mothers with small children.
  • Adapts itself to indoor-outdoor style of living.
  • Porches, patios, terraces and planters can be designed for any room.
  • Roof can be low-pitched for no headroom is required above the ceiling.
  • Entire exterior is easy to maintain for the whole house can be reached from the ground or with a short ladder (for screen and storm-window jobs, painting, fixing roof, cleaning gutters, etc.)
  • Low height simplifies construction.
  • High acceptance of design results in good resale value.

Disadvantages

  • Difficult to entertain without waking up the children for noise tends to be transmitted from living and service areas to bedroom areas.
  • Children tend to play at parent’s heels.
  • Requires a larger lot.
  • Of all types of houses, requires the largest ratio of walls, slab, basement or crawl area, foundation and roof to total living area and , therefore, is costly to build for equivalent square footage, compared to other types of houses.
  • In smaller models, difficult to maintain privacy in bedroom areas.
  • More costly to heat and cool than a two-story house with the same living area.

Common Problems

  • If the basement is built several feet off the ground, the house looks poor, discourages indoor-outdoor living and the stairs create a safety hazard.
  • Poor interior design may negate many potential advantages.


FIGURE 2.2 One and One-Half Story (1 1/2 Story - 2)

Advantages

  • Second-floor rooms can be completed as needed.
  • Heating cost is low because of the small perimeter compared to the en closed living area.

Disadvantages

  • Second-floor rooms often are small and cramped.
  • Second-floor window area often is limited without expensive dormers.
  • Ceilings on second floor are low.
  • Second floor often is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • Stair-climbing is necessary.

Common Problems

  • Insufficient insulation under the roof.
  • Insufficient ventilation for the second floor.
  • No provision to heat the second floor or the heating plant is too small to heat the second floor when finished.
  • No water pipes or waste lines are roughed into the second floor for a future bathroom.


FIGURE 2.3 Two-Story (2 Story - 3)

Advantages

  • First-floor rooms and sleeping areas are separated.
  • When built on a small lot, permits maximum living space.
  • Economical to build because of the small ratio of exterior wall, roof and foundation to the total living area.
  • Many people feel there is more privacy and safety when the bedrooms are on the second floor.
  • Because of its roots in American history and its long association with gracious living, it still strongly appeals to many people.

Disadvantages

  • Continuous need for climbing stairs.
  • Space used for stairs is wasted.
  • Upstairs bedrooms and playrooms don't have direct access to the outside.
  • Most designs are difficult to expand.

Common Problems

Poor stairway location.


FIGURE 2.4 Two and One-Half Story (2 1/2 Story - 4)

Advantages

  • First-floor rooms and sleeping areas are separated.
  • When built on a small lot, permits maximum living space.
  • Economical to build because of the small ratio of exterior wall, roof and foundation to the total living area.
  • Many people feel there is more privacy and safety when the bedrooms are on the second floor.
  • Because of its roots in American history and its long association with gracious living, it still strongly appeals to many people.
  • Attic space is usable for sleeping room, recreation and storage.

Disadvantages

  • Continuous need for climbing stairs.
  • Space used for stairs is wasted.
  • Upstairs bedrooms and playrooms don't have direct access to the outside.
  • Most designs are difficult to expand.
  • Expensive to heat.

Common Problems

  • Poor stairway location.
  • Poor light, heat and ventilation in the attic rooms.


FIGURE 2.5 Three or More Stories (3 Story - 5)

Advantages

  • Often allows more than one family to occupy the house.
  • When built on a small lot, permits maximum space.
  • If occupied by a single family, provides many extra sleeping, recreational and storage rooms.
  • If occupied as a multiple-family, provides separate floor or floors for each family.

Disadvantages

  • Continuous need to climb the stairs to reach the upper stories.
  • Space used for stairs is wasted.
  • Upstairs rooms don't have direct access to the outside.
  • Common Problems
  • Living units are too small or poorly laid out.
  • Noise is transmitted between the floors.
  • Difficult to heat evenly.


FIGURE 2.6 Bi-Level, Raised Ranch, Split Entry, Split Foyer (BiLev or R Ranch or Spit Ent or Spit Foy - 6)

Advantages

  • By raising the basement out of the ground several feet, greater window depth results, which provides better light to the basement and makes it usable as a living space.
  • Layout usually keeps the traffic out of the living room.

Disadvantages

  • Half of the living space is in the basement, which may be cold and damp.
  • Exposed exterior of the basement wall often is unattractive.
  • Rear porch often is at an awkward level.
  • May be a fad design that will lose popularity.
  • On entering the house, some stair-climbing is required to get anywhere (poor for invalids).

Common Problems

Difficult to keep the basement rooms at even temperatures unless insulation and waterproofing are of top quality.


FIGURE 2.7 Split-Levels—Side to Side, Back to Front, Front to Back (Spit Lev - 7)

Advantages


FIGURE 2.7b

  • Good design for a sloping lot.
  • Cost per square foot of the finished living space is lower than a ranch.
  • Each functional area of the house is separated on a different level and the design lends itself to good interior circulation.
  • The distance from one level to another is less than in a two-story house.

Disadvantages

  • When built on a level tot, a poor indoor-outdoor relationship develops and many stairs are needed.
  • It is necessary to climb up and down stairs to go from one interior zone to another.
  • Bedrooms on an upper level often are hot from the heat rising through the house.
  • Looks poor on a level lot.

Common Problems

It is difficult to design a good small split-level house; they work out much better when they are at least 1,500 square feet. It is more difficult to construct the frame of this type of house than it's for a one- or two story house.


FIGURE 2.8 Mansion (Mansion - 8)

Advantages

  • Many extra rooms for recreation, entertaining, guests and servant quarters.
  • May enhance the social prestige of the owner or occupant.
  • A vehicle for gracious living for those who can afford it.

Disadvantages

  • Expensive to physically maintain.
  • High taxes.
  • High Utility costs.
  • Difficult to keep clean.
  • May have more rooms than are needed.

Common Problems

  • If old, tends to need constant repairs.
  • Harder to sell.

It is hard to define precisely what a mansion is, but the term commonly is used to describe a house of considerable size or pretension.


FIGURE 2.9 Hillside Ranch

Advantages

  • Good design for a sloping lot.
  • Basement can be finished into a living area at a lower cost than adding additional first-floor space.
  • Convenient direct access from the basement to the outside.
  • House is attractive from the front.

Disadvantages

  • Finished living space in the basement may be cold or damp.
  • Tends to be unattractive when viewed from the rear.
  • When the basement is finished, there is a loss of storage space.
  • House often is designed so that the only service entrance is through the basement and up the stairs in the kitchen.

Common Problems

Difficult to keep the basement warm and dry unless the foundation has been constructed carefully with adequate drains, no cracks and ample insulation.


FIGURE 2.10 Other House Types

Illustrated

Cellar or Foundation House

Cliffside House

Town House with English Basement

Not Illustrated

Barn

Tree House

Grass and Sod House

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