Florida’s architectural styles, like Floridians themselves, represent a vast range of backgrounds and influences. And each architectural style, as well as the era in which it was built, comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Energy efficiency, storm protection, pest control, and overall strength and durability can be affected by a home’s architectural style, how well that style was executed and maintained, and with what materials.
One of my jobs as a home inspector is to know what I’m looking for in each type of architecture—whether it’s the way 1950s ranch homes respond to shifting foundations, how a Cracker wood-frame cottages resist termites, or how Mediterranean Revival roofs endure heavy rains.
Spanish- and Mediterranean Revival styles, led by early 20th-century architect Addison Mizner, are very popular in this area. One thing to be wary of with these styles is the roof. Mediterranean roofs traditionally use clay tiles, which can be excellent but may also be susceptible to cracks caused by footfalls or wind-blown debris.
Or a Spanish-style home may have a flat roof beyond a beautiful adobe façade. Flat roofs can be great for energy efficiency but terrible if rainwater doesn’t drain. You don’t want a pool sitting on your roof after every storm.
Wood-frame Cracker cottages were historically built above ground, a clever way to keep destructive termites away (so long as the wooden floors have been properly maintained).
Ranch homes, especially popular here in the 1950s and 60s, were built on concrete slabs, which can shift and crack in Florida’s soft sand—especially evident when the home’s original terrazzo floors have been maintained rather than covered over. Sometimes these cracks are fine; other times, not so much.
When you’re purchasing a home in Florida, you want to know what you’re getting and how well it can survive in this environment. Hiring a local home inspector who’s familiar with the area’s architecture and its environment can help protect you from nasty surprises in the future.