Small time: Cottages are a cohesive element in the master plan for New Town in St. Charles, Mo., a community designed by DPZ and built by Whittaker Homes.

Photos: Whittaker Homes

Small time: Cottages are a cohesive element in the master plan for New Town in St. Charles, Mo., a community designed by DPZ and built by Whittaker Homes.

Small, modestly priced new homes are gaining popularity points, and it’s easy to understand why. Tighter lending standards have left buyers able to afford less. The threat of higher energy prices and concerns about global warming have tempered their willingness to pay for conditioned space they don’t use. Teardown ordinances in desirable neighborhoods are capping heights and floor-area ratios as a pest control measure against McMansions. And the average American household is shrinking as more homeowners enter their retirement years, get divorced, delay having kids, or choose not to marry. Census data released last month indicates that singles living alone account for 27 percent of all U.S. households.

But placing the new small home in the right context is important, in that the surrounding neighborhood often must make up for whatever wiggle room the house gives up on the inside. Builder looks at four settings where small detached, single-family homes are in tune with their environments and thriving.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Charleston, SC, Greensboro, NC.