Why are American and European houses built so differently?

14 views

Why are American and European houses built so differently?

In: 5

Different disasters in each place has meant different regulations have been built up. Also, very different climates mean different needs too. Plus, here’s way more land in most places in the US, so houses can sprawl in some places – you never really get that in Europe.

As in what part of Europe? Building in different European countries are built differently depending on local building requirements.

Where in America? It varies a lot.

The big factors are:

Space, the USA has more space so houses tend to be larger with more land. This also means they tend to build out rather than up.

Materials cost, wood is far cheaper in the USA, Europe either burnt most of it or used it to build ships a long time ago.

Natural disasters, in an earthquake zone you want a wooden house not a brick one. Wood will flex, brick will crack. Similarly you build differently in areas prone to hurricanes or tornadoes. None of these are significant risks in Europe

If you mean other things like garages too small for modern cars or putting the washing machine in the kitchen or bathroom etc… Those are a mixture of culture and tradition.

Strong traditions, heritage etc influences european house style quite a lot. America kind of mixed it all up and started fresh with zero tradition, for better and for worse.

Europe is a very diverse place in regards of architecture, building standards and weather and space requirements. USA also has a lot of variety between the states.

If you mean why the stereotypical German/Nordic/Dutch/etc house is generally much sturdier and “better built” than the stereotypical detached house in USA, there’s a few points.

One it depends a lot on area and the wealth of the region. Some states in USA do have pretty strict building standards – California, for example. The differences in wealth between cities, states and regions in USA are also very immense. For example, the GDP per capita in Massachusetts is twice that of Arkansas. True, there are large differences inside European countries too, but typically you have the same social security systems, same regulations, etc, inside a country anyway. So even if a poor German state (yes, Germany is a federation too!) has several times smaller GDP per capita than a rich German state, the regulations are still the same and the social benefits are mostly the same.

Two, there’s the general land pricing aspect. Land price in most of Europe is pretty high compared to USA. Materials tend to be more expensive, too. What this means overall is that it’s mostly the higher middle class and up that can afford detached homes near major cities. They also have more money to pay for more expensive houses. Meanwhile, in USA, it’s common for lower income people to still live in suburbs next to major cities. You can’t really do that in Europe very easily. Near cities, homes and land is very expensive. It’s mostly the better-to-do people who live in the suburbs right next to big cities, and they can afford better built houses to begin with.

And three, there are different weather and energy requirements. In the more temperate locations of USA, there just isn’t all that much attention given to proper insulation. Energy is cheap – or was, now it’s changing – and home owners rather save on the initial cost of the house, since hey, heating is – was – cheap. In northern Germany, Denmark, Scotland, wherenot, energy is comparatively more expensive and proper insulation is given more attention.

Culture and economics and some laws and regulations mostly.

For example in the US you mostly build single family homes out of wood and large apartment buildings and sky scrapers out of reinforced concrete and glass.

There is a middle that is missing in most places in North America to build multi-family homes. Things like duplexes, row houses, and brownstones with maybe half a dozen units are rare in much of the US and Canada. Lots of places in North America have actually laws that make it difficult to build anything but single family homes are large apartment homes. with everything in the middle missing.

This leads to the typical American dwelling being a single family home with a tiny yard and surrounded by other homes that are more or less the same with few public or commercial building mixed in like the stereotypical shop around the corner.

Lots of houses that need to be build as cheaply as possible and for that in the US wood is the primary medium to do so.

In Europe things can be different.

Laws are different, cultures are different, the price of stuff like wood and construction labor may be higher.

How exactly things are differs from country to country and region to region.

There is not as much Forrest left to cut down in most of Europe, so wood is more expensive and bricks can be cheaper.

So in much or Europe bricks tend to be the primary building material instead of lumber.

There also tends to be some history involved.

The street I live on has some timber framed houses from the 17the century, some modern brick houses and stuff made out of concrete and steel and internal walls of plaster. Within a short distance there are some residential duplexes out of brick and small apartment buildings out of concrete and some older brutalist residential towers made out of prefab concrete slabs, in the other direction you have homes from the eighteenhundreds that were build before such things as electricity and cars were common. There are also the remains of a medieval castle made out of stone nearby.

You get diversity simply from the build up over time.

Meanwhile you have many cities in North America where the majority of dwelling were build in living memory.

Technology also comes into it. Most of Europe has building styles that evolved to fit the climate. Homes that would be easier to heat in the winter and in hot regions places that would keep the cool easier.

In the US houses look more or less the same no matter how cold or hot the climate gets. you get some places like Santa Fe where they embrace the traditional Pueblo architecture, but much of that is aesthetics rather than functional and more of an exception that the rule.

In the US you can afford to build poorly insulated wooden homes without a basement or a chimney, thanks to gas heating and airt conditioning.

While ACs are becoming more common in Europe, most places still are designed to work without and even the ones that have them are similarity designed.

The culture may also be a huge factor. While tastes may differ the typical American dream or a small home with a tiny yard in the suburbs surrounded by hundreds of homes exactly like it and nothing else, would be a nightmare to many people from other cultures.

In the US wood is cheap, land is cheap, there isn’t as much history in most places and the culture favors a certain style of building homes. In Europe things are different from region to region, but mostly bricks and stone are cheaper. Regulations about building things can be more demanding, culture and economy is less focused on creating suburban hell-scapes and many other factors shape the way houses are build.