What about Americans who own multiple homes
American houses: living like in the USA
American houses radiate cosiness - with their large lattice windows, the many small dormers and the enormous verandas. They suggest a style of living that inspires people all over the world. In Germany, too, the wooden houses in the style of the United States are finding more and more fans who want to build American houses. The American dream home can be realized with small modifications.
American houses, German houses: the basis makes the difference
First of all: American houses also have several styles, from one-story bungalow buildings to skyscrapers, and also buildings that cannot really be ascribed to one style. In every state of the United States of America there is a different type of house: from solid to timber to log houses. Nevertheless, there is a basis that is common to all American houses and that is quite different from the houses in Germany.
Probably the biggest difference between a classic German single-family house and an American house, as we know it from the cinema or from various television series, is the material: the classic American houses, as can be found in many regions, are made of wood - in the so-called wooden frame construction. A technology that is based on the architectural style of the first half-timbered houses and is still used in Germany today, somewhat modified, for prefabricated houses. The American houses are not clad vertically with wood, like many prefabricated houses or wooden houses from Northern Europe, but with thin wooden slats that are laid horizontally. They can also be designed with a stone or plaster look.
Second major construction difference: American wooden houses usually have no foundation, i.e. no floor slab and no concrete cellar. A circumstance that German fans of American houses often dislike: Many who want to build an American house therefore opt for a mix of German and American building culture and place a solid German cellar made of concrete under the American dream made of wood.
American houses: what styles are there?
Victorian style (also called Queen Anne style): Elaborate balcony constructions as well as countless bay windows and turrets make up this style.
Townhouse style: The classic in town. Narrow and tall without a lot of decoration on the facade
Southern Villa: Stately residence with a large roof overhang, wraparound balcony and stone pillars.
Colonial House: Rectangular floor plan, at least two floors and a pointed gable roof give this style its name.
Cape Cod House: A house for living in the country - much like a British cottage. Cuboid and with several floors. A stone chimney usually sits enthroned on the steep gable roof.
Bungalow: One floor, square floor plan, attached garage to the right of the front door, flat roof - the classic among American houses.
What is the timber frame construction common to American homes?
As with a puzzle, for an American wooden house, first the outer parts of the house are set up. So first the wooden scaffolding for each wall is assembled and attached to the floor slab or the basement. The walls therefore support each other and are securely anchored. Sometimes just "blown away", as some critics claim, an American house will not be either. In addition, structural engineers calculate exactly how the wind and snow load is on the piece of earth on which the house is to stand, and make the corresponding specifications for fastening.
When the scaffolding is in place, panels are placed in between - and the wall is finished. In the rarest of cases, however, an American house has a completely square or cuboid floor plan. Usually there are bay windows or other forms of additions that make it architecturally interesting but make the construction of the ground floor walls a little more complicated. Nevertheless, according to several manufacturer and importer information from American houses, in most cases the ground floor is ready within a day.
On the second day of construction, the ceiling of the ground floor or the floor of the first floor is then attached to the walls - and the building of the house begins. The construction site is rainproof after 14 days, the shell is in place. With good care of the wood, American houses, like German solid houses, can be several hundred years old.
American houses: living on one floor
Basically, American houses are offered on the European market with a floor space of 80 square meters or more. A relatively large number of American houses have only one floor - but still 110 and more square meters. Except for the large verandas (called porches), some of which encompass the whole house. This bungalow style of building is particularly popular in Germany with very forward-looking, often somewhat older builders, as the ground-level construction means that they do not have to worry about stairs in the house or other possible obstacles in old age. All on one floor - this motto makes American homes attractive to seniors.
The floor plan of American homes
An American house, be it on one floor or on several, has a different floor plan than most European houses: On the one hand, a real American house has countless built-in cupboards that are used as a cloakroom, pantry, wardrobe or odds and ends. Walk-in closets are also included in the house construction from the outset. So you can subtract a few square meters for storage space from the basic square meters of an American house in order to arrive at the square meters that are really used for living and not for storage.
On the other hand, it is a must in American homes that the master bedroom has its own bathroom. The guest room also often has its own, albeit somewhat smaller, bathroom. The children share a third. In American houses, it is not uncommon to have four bedrooms and three bathrooms - plus possibly a guest toilet on the ground floor.
While the parents' "master" bedroom usually has more than 20 square meters, the children sleep on average on twelve square meters. A playroom or a play corner in the living area are therefore essential - as are work areas outside the room to do homework. Therefore, many American houses have studios.
In American houses, the living and kitchen areas are usually kept open, also towards the ceiling, and a fireplace gives the living room a cozy atmosphere. Often the fireplace is in the part of the living or dining area where guests are received. There is a separate corner for families to watch TV and relax on the sofa together. In addition to the main entrance door, most American houses have another, somewhat hidden way into the house - for example a door from the garage to the kitchen.
The exterior view of American houses
Not to be forgotten are the characteristic large verandas. They can be built around the whole house once or, classically, just in front of the front door - as a kind of larger canopy. Both variants have one thing in common: They have characteristic pillars to support the roof. Behind the house, with a house with a canopy variant, there is often a secluded terrace facing the garden, where the legendary Hollywood barbecue parties are celebrated in summer.
The dormers and gables of American houses are almost as characteristic as the verandas. Depending on the guidelines of the residential area - these can also be quite different within a city - Germans have to do without the dormers when building their American dream and install classic skylights. Even with the traditional American roof shingles, which are lighter and cheaper than bricks because they are mostly made of bitumen, the authorities in Germany can refuse their consent and require the builder to lay roof tiles. Since the shingles usually only last between five and ten years anyway, they are also one of the weak points of American houses. Other laws can also apply to roof pitch. If you want to build an American house, you should find out what you need to consider beforehand from the responsible building authority.
Of course, an American house also has a garage: whether a double or single garage, attached to the house or free-standing, it depends on the type of house, space and building laws.
In terms of color, the following applies to American houses: Anything you like is allowed. However, two to three colors that harmonize with each other should be selected: one for the wooden facade and the windows, one for the wooden shutters, and, optionally, one to highlight the corners and gables of the house. The color of the front door is either that of the wooden facade or that of the shops. Classic color combinations are light blue, dark blue and white or also white, gray and dark gray. The color of the veranda and the color of the terrace then correspond either to that of the wooden facade or that of the wooden shutters. The shingles or bricks should be kept dark in any case.
The interior design of American houses
Air, light and lots of space: there are the three main characteristics of an American home. Keyword: open space. Wooden doors with rotary knobs guaranteeing privacy are often only attached to the bathrooms and bedrooms, everything else is kept open.
Inside, American houses are often what one calls attention to detail: Fixed benches in the bay windows or generally under the windows are, for example, a classic that not only gives the room more cosiness and a favorite spot for book fans, but also cleverly creates more storage space. In addition to the built-in cupboards, there are often built-in shelves in the houses.
Well-known protagonists of the big Hollywood love films and cult TV series are also the large, sliding wooden windows with muntins, from which a teenager can either climb out to go to a party or a teenager climbs in to comply with the strict house rules regarding overnight visits escape. These windows do not open into the room or onto the veranda and cannot be tilted either. Instead, they are usually flanked by two wooden shutters painted in a striking color.
The insulation of the wooden walls can be an issue for German builders when it comes to interior construction - American houses are usually less insulated than German houses. In order to comply with the limit value guidelines of the Energy Saving Ordinance in Germany, additional insulation is usually required. Fire protection and sound insulation must also be observed. Anyone who decides to build an American house will receive advice on these arguments from the manufacturer or importer.
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