22 December 2018
UK, US Houses – Similarities and Differences
Besides a common language, the United Kingdom and the United States have another common trait. They include urbanised population centres that require efficient, precise home design. Residents of the UK and the US live in homes designed primarily according to available space and climate.
Certain home design styles are common, but there are key differences in design and residential drafting services due to weather and space factors.
Firstly, what are the commonalities of architectural home design among the two nations?
Fundamentally – design styles. Most of these design styles developed in the UK for independent or semi-detached houses over the decades and were adopted in the US simultaneously or at a later date. They are, in brief:
Looks similar to dolls houses, with intricate trim, sash windows, bay windows, 2-3 stories, asymmetrical shape, a steep Mansard roof (also called a French roof or curb roof, a four-sided gambrel-style hip roof with two slopes on each side, the lower slope with dormer windows, at a steeper angle than the upper slope), wrap-around porches, bright colours
Thatched roof, exposed timber frames, casement windows (diamond-shaped glass panels with lead castings), masonry chimneys, elaborate doorways
Dutch gables, Palladian parapets, depressed arches, constructed with the more expensive stone and brick, rather than timber
Elegant, with symmetrical facades, elaborate decorations, many featured Greek motifs
Homes with timber hoods over the front door, windows with glazing bars, terracotta tiles and panels, red brick houses, similar to old farmhouses
Colourful and ornate, with carvings and patterns, timber framing, pebble-dash, hanging tiles, white painted timber porches and balconies, introduction of electricity, so interiors became light and bright
Homes with pebble-dashed walls, recessed porches, mock timber framing, hipped roofs and curved bay windows
Open interiors that celebrated sunlight, with flat roofs, plain white walls and many had Egyptian-style motifs
Due to the scarcity of materials following World War II, houses were mass produced in factories, transported and assembled on site, with concrete columns, metal tubing, smaller windows and plain glass
Affordable terraced homes, with traditional hanging tiles, weatherboarding, central heating, a garage
90s New Build
In the 1990s, many wanted traditional homes, with mock timber framing, rendered walls and terracotta tiles
Currently, modernist architecture is popular, with eco-friendly designs, priority on sunlight with solar panels, energy efficiency, with open plan interiors, exposed steelwork and lots of glass
In the UK, houses on the same street look almost identical from the outside. They are usually semi-detached, or two houses joined together, with a gap before the next two houses. Another architectural style of houses are terraced houses, or a row of houses all joined together.
Houses in the UK are generally small, sometimes just 4 metres wide. There have been one-bedroom terraced cottages that were less than 3 metres in width.
In the US, most of the houses have a modernist style, which covers futurism, post-modern and new classical styles. Glass, steel and reinforced concrete are used. Facades avoid unnecessary detail and the designs are simple, highlighting the use of modern materials. Buildings are low and there is greater interaction with interior and exterior spaces, more use of natural light, shade and glass.
When it comes to differences between UK and US homes, they are as follows:
- UK – It is illegal to have a power outlet within 3 metres of a shower or bath.
- US – Building codes require a power outlet to be within 3 feet of the bathroom sink.
- UK – 0.5% of homes are air-conditioned
- US – 87% of homes are air-conditioned
- UK – Letterboxes are built into the front door.
- US – Mailboxes are built separately from the house.
- UK – There are typically separate faucets for hot and cold water.
- US – There is a single faucet for hot and cold water.
- UK – Houses don’t generally have built-in or walk-in closets. When people move, they usually take their wardrobes with them.
- US – Most houses have built-in or walk-in closets, a standard requirement.
- UK – Houses are much smaller, averaging 1,063 sq. ft.
- US – Houses average 2,330 sq. ft.
Type of Homes:
- UK – Semi-detached duplexes account for 27% of all homes, the single majority
- US – Single-family detached homes account for 80% of all homes
- UK – All-in-one washers and driers are typical.
- US – Most homes have separate washers and driers.
- UK – It is uncommon for sinks to have food disposal.
- US – Almost all homes have kitchen sinks with their own food disposal system.
Differences within houses dictate architectural home design for both countries.
High-quality preconstruction design deliverables, such as architectural working drawings, residential design drawings, architectural CAD drafting, architectural CAD modelling and BIM modelling services, are essential to fine tune home design. These services require architects well versed in American AIA (American Institute of Architects) and British RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) rules and regulations. Firms providing residential construction drawings, which include foundation drawings, floor plans, roof plans, structural and roof framings, elevations, sections, interior elevations, options and typical details, must have sound knowledge of timber-frame, traditional and steel frame homes.