Although the traditional English style of cottage is most typical in America, cottages can be built in a variety of styles depending upon location and the builder's tastes, ranging from Spanish house floor plan designs of the Southwest, which typically have single stories, stucco exteriors, and tile roofs; to Cape Cod cottages which are usually box-like, timber-framed structures two-stories high, with steep roofs to shed rain and snow.
Nowadays architectural soundness has acquired a new meaning, with the advent of sustainable designing. A dwelling sheathed in solar panels has a very different aesthetic than the usual suburban house. Multi-unit housing which eliminates the thermal bridges created by extensive glazing and concrete decks do not share the aesthetic of glass paneled high rise towers. Passive solar designs often borrow elements from local architectural styles to address local climactic conditions.
Exposed wooden or steel beams, flat roofs with large overhangs, and split levels to take advantage of the terrain, are also common accents associated with the contemporary style.
There was a time, quite recently in fact, when the most important attributes of buildings were their aesthetic qualities, fitness for the intended purpose, and structural integrity. However sustainability objectives - paying closer attention to the soundness of the architecture from the perspective of the environment - are quickly becoming the overriding factors in contemporary home plans.