Monthly Archives: November 2013

What is a Saltbox Colonial House Style?

What is a Saltbox Colonial House Style?

A variation of early Colonial or Cape Cod style houses, the practical and simple saltbox was often a single room deep.

Given that often a dozen or more people crowded into these early homes, colonists soon began looking for practical ways to expand living space. Adding a single-story lean-to shed to the back of a 1.5 or 2 story & one-room deep house was the most practical method of gaining more space.

The resulting shape of this new house was the shape of a wooden box used to store salt in Colonial times, that’s why we call them saltboxes.

In most saltboxes the lean-to addition was divided into three rooms: a central kitchen with its new fireplace and oven; a “birthing” or “borning” room – reserved for childbirth and the sick; and a pantry.

Sometimes a rear stair, located near the pantry, led up to a low-ceilinged storage space. The prominent center chimney or a pair of end chimneys also defines this style.

By the late 1600’s (1680 saw a lot of these built), the saltbox had become so popular that houses were being built with the lean-to as part of the original construction, with the roofline unbroken from the ridge to the rear wall.

The saltbox grew from the early stone ender to a comfortable three-bedroom house over a period of about thirty years as families grew in size and became wealthier.

Saltboxes are still being built (although their sloping roofline limits upstairs space) and buyers and sellers agree that this is one of the most practical home styles in all of New England.

Because of this, these homes sell quickly and at solid market prices and are considered a great investment.


For some great examples of Saltbox Colonial Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link
What is a Tudor House Style?

What is a Tudor House Style?

The Tudor Revival House Style (often called a Mock Tudor or Tudorbethan when describing 20th century American homes) was very popular in the early 1900’s up to the great depression. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Tudor Revival style was second only to the Colonial style in residential popularity. They continue to be built, but are usually too expensive to build at any scale but on estate-size homes.


These homes are easily identified by their distinctive features: complicated and steeply pitched roof-lines with front-facing cross gables; decorative (non-structural) half-timbering upper stories often infilled with herringbone brickwork, blocks, or stucco; patterned stonework or brickwork on the lower story with decorative trusses at the gable ends; large, really prominent stone or brick chimneys often topped with elaborate sculpted plinths; tall but narrow multi-pane casement windows (older ones often have diamond-shaped panes); uneven dormers; and last, a rounded covered entry or porch with tall, rounded door. In my opinion, the one truly distinctive feature is when the roof line itself curves from peak to cornice to suggest a medieval cottage.

They can be found throughout Metrowest, and because of the various highly-decorative and memorable features of Tudor homes, they have always been very expensive to build, so all Tudors and especially the newer ones are only found in the highest price range of their respective communities. The older homes are found mostly in Newton and Brookline. Newer homes are found throughout metrowest. They sell very well and appreciate directly with the market and are considered a good investment as long as you maintain them.

pinterest-sqFor some great examples of Tudor Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link

What is a Split-Level House Style?

What is a Split-Level House Style?

Split-Level houses were made popular in the 60’s and many are still built today. They are the one house style that most people associate with “Grandma’s House”. Depending on the ingenuity of the builder and the owners, splits are among the least expensive house styles that you can find in any town.

Realtors often confuse them with multi-level houses and raised ranches, but there should be no confusion, as there really is a distinct style that really determines a split. Here it is: If you have to go up a half-flight of exterior stairs and then once inside you are on a landing from which you have to decide to go up or down another half-flight of stairs, you’re in a split-level.

One car garages are often located beneath the sleeping spaces and depending on the size of the footprint two car garages are a nice upgraded feature.

The floor plans are universal, up a half-level you will find the kitchen, dining and living rooms to one side of the staircase and the bedrooms to the other side. Down a half-level you will find a family room, office, laundry, mechanical and storage, and garage.

Splits were originally built as inexpensive homes which maximized usable living space while minimizing foundation and roof costs. Because of this, the basements are usually very shallow, allowing the use of short windows above ground that introduced air flow and sunlight. And either a cause or an effect, they are often found in areas with high water tables and areas with bedrock close to the surface.

As a sweeping generality, in my initial meeting with buyers, split-levels are the one home style that most will eliminate from consideration.  And yet hundreds of them are sold each year due to their economical carrying costs, generally low prices, and great use of space.

For some great examples of Split-Level Style Homes click on the above Pinterest link

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