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House Styles of Northern New Jersey

 

Northern Bergen County offers homes of many different styles, sizes and ages. The English and the Dutch first settled the area in colonial times, so homes of Western European influence predominate. Few antique homes have survived; the most common is the Dutch Colonial.

The completion of the West Shore Railroad in the second half of the 1800s encouraged the building of many Victorian era homes for use in the summer months by prosperous middle class families seeking to escape New York City’s hot summers. Many fine examples of Queen Anne, Shingle and Folk Victorians can be found even today.

After the George Washington Bridge was built in the 1930s, Bergen County developed rapidly. Homes in the Colonial Revival and Tudor Style were fashionable beginning in the 1920s, as were Cape Cods, both large and small. After World War II, Modern Style houses, the Ranch, Split-Level, Bi-Level and Contemporary, were popular choices for young families.

Homes built today of modern building materials borrow and mix and match details from every period and style. Included below are just a few examples of the varied housing styles available.

 

Most Common Home Styles

Cape Cod

A one-story or one-and-a-half story home.

Classic: Evolved from the English or Irish cottage. Centrally located chimney, window on either side flanks the door and typically has a steep roof.

Cape Cod Homes - Classic

Cape Cod

Colonial Cape: A larger home; typically has a formal dining room not found in smaller versions.

Cape Cod Homes - Colonial Cape

Colonial Cape

 

Colonials

A two-story home with a basement.

Dutch: Homes built of stone or brick, which feature gambrel roofs with overhanging eaves. Entry door splits into separately opening top and bottom halves.

Colonial Homes - Dutch

Dutch

Georgian, Federal and Adam: Symmetrical, boxy homes with door centrally located and flanked by equal number of windows. Windows were never paired, and could have shutters. Details and ornamentation differ.

Colonial Homes - Georgian, Federal and Adam

Georgian, Federal and Adam

Greek Revival: Symmetrical and boxy; details influenced by Greece and Rome. Entrance porch one or two stories high, supported by columns.

Colonial Homes - Greek Revival

Greek Revival

Colonial Revival: Interpretations of earlier designs. Paired windows, off center doors and porches are common; homes after 1950 generally include a garage. Includes the Side Hall Colonial (door is off center) and Center Hall Colonial (door is centered; living room and dining room are off foyer).

Colonial Homes - Colonial Revival

Colonial Revival

 

Tudor

Inspired by medieval building techniques, homes have a dominant brick or stone chimney, multi-paned casement windows and steeply pitched roofs. The first story is stone or brick; decorative half timbering accents the second floor.

Tudor Homes

Tudor

 

Victorian

First built in the latter half of the nineteenth century. New building techniques freed builders from the traditional “boxy” shape and factories produced elaborate decorative woodwork. Featured asymmetrical designs, porches, and lots of details (e.g. spindles, round shingles, railings, and brackets), so fanciful designs were common. We list only three:

Victorian Homes

Victorian

 

Queen Anne

Featured towers

Shingle: more restrained; covered with wooden shingles and few decorative details

Folk: simple homes built by local carpenters, embellished with details bought from factory.

French Provincial: features a steeply pitched, hipped roof and rounded arches over doors and windows.

 

Ranch

A one-story house with a low pitched roof.

Classic: façade may emphasize the horizontal lines or have detailing (e.g. shutters, paneled door, window boxes) that mimic colonial style homes.

Ranch Homes - Classic

Classic

Raised: two-story built on a concrete slab. Door on first floor with garage; living area up a full flight of stairs.

Ranch Homes - Raised

Raised

 

Split-Level

Multi-level with an attached garage; basement under living level only, rest of home on slab. multi-level with an attached garage; basement under living level only, rest of home on slab.

Standard: door is on the main living level, one level down is the family room or den and garage; up one level from the living area is the bedroom area.

Split-Level - Standard

Split-Level

Tri-level: additional bedrooms built over the living level.

Sugar Maple: door is on ground level with the garage and den; main living area is up one level and the bedrooms up another level.

Bi-level: a two-story home built on a concrete slab. Door is located between the first and second stories. One level up is the living area level; the lower level has a family room and garage. a two-story home built on a concrete slab. Door is located between the first and second stories. One level up is the living area level; the lower level has a family room and garage.

Split-Level Homes - Bi-level

Bi-level

Contemporary: Features low pitched roofs, large windows in unusual places and very little decorative detail.

Shed: has many steeply pitched roofs (looks like a number of buildings attached together) and wood siding applied vertically or diagonally.

 

Ownership

Most homes are owned fee simple, subject only to zoning ordinances of the town and county. Property size varies from about 5,000 square feet to over two acre lots for estates.

There are condominium communities offering both apartment and townhouse (attached homes/row houses) living.

The purchaser owns the living unit from the paint on the interior inward and a proportionate undivided interest in the common elements. The homeowners form an association that sets the rules and maintains the common elements (hallways, garage, pools, for example). A monthly maintenance fee is paid. The owner pays his/her mortgage, insurance, taxes and utilities separately.

Cooperative ownership is also found in Bergen County. A corporation made up of ‘tenant-shareholders’ holds the title to the land and building. Each purchaser of an apartment is offered shares in the corporation and a proprietary lease, which gives the purchaser the right to occupy his or her apartment. The tenant-shareholders contribute to the taxes, underlying mortgage payments, operating and maintenance expenses on a pro-rated basis. Those purchasers who wish to live in the building must submit an application to the Board of Directors for approval.