This post shows the main component of my Belgian villages project, the houses and farm buildings. Paintings by the Netherlands "genre" painters such as Teniers and the Breughels provided rich inspiration. I also took account of contemporary images of the battlefields of 1815 and their models in the Siborne diorama.
There are a handful of things worth understanding when you look at models, images, or real examples of "vernacular architecture", ie the buildings no architect ever planned. Firstly they had to be constructed from materials available free and very close by, because transport was difficult and expensive. Where timber was plentiful you got log buildings with shingle roofs. Where there was suitable stone, that was used. Where neither was handy it came down to some version of mud walls and thatched roofs (as it still does in the poorest parts of the world of course).
Secondly, there was slow change over the centuries as techniques developed and some acquired a little more wealth, culminating in rapid change when the Industrial Revolution provided cheap transportation by canal and railway.
Most importantly there was what I call a "hierarchy of building materials", by which I mean that older and poorer buildings used the cheapest and most local techniques, but better, newer, more durable or more ornamental methods precisely reflected the social status of the owner. So for example a landless labourer might live in a dwelling made of mud and straw, his yeoman neighbour in solid timber framing, the prosperous landlord in brick and the church be built of stone. The equivalent hierarchy of roofing materials would be thatch to clay tiles and thence to slates or sheet metal coverings. So here's how this played out in central Belgium: