Builders know from sales history which of their homes buyers prefer. They can access databases to find out which of their competitors’ homes buyers prefer. But that kind of analysis only reveals what buyers may choose from what’s available.
When consumers buy house plans, like Hanley Wood’s 10 best sellers shown on the following pages, they act out a dream. They betray a longing for timeless elevations, informal living, and luxurious master suites. They dream strongly enough that they pay money to buy the plan.
Builder’s parent company, Hanley Wood, is the largest purveyor of house plans in the United States. Each year we examine their best-selling plans to identify consumer trends. Interestingly, this year’s most popular plans, which average 3,075 square feet, are a little larger than the average house plan, 2,584 square feet, bought by consumers last year.
These top sellers read much bigger than they actually are. Nearly all of them feature porches, often multiple porches, typically with large windows that provide expansive views out the back of the house. These porches often read like rooms, with fireplaces, garden tubs, and more.
These top sellers are also long on first-floor, bedroom suites with sitting areas, a feature that builders may find expensive to provide in land-constrained markets. An aging population looking to avoid stairs partly explains this preference as well, along with the fact that many house plans are built in Sunbelt states. Morning kitchens and large master bathrooms were also recurring features.
We previously looked at best-selling builder house plans, which were characterized by simple roof lines and geometric footprints. These best-selling plans to consumers are longer on curb appeal, though several would be disarmingly inexpensive to build.
10. Luxury Living on a Single Level Fillmore Design Group
3,310 Square Feet
With its stately stone exteriors, this buttoned-down, one-story country manor would look at home in nearly any market, which may account for its popularity. An impressive, though not oversized, timber-framed entrance makes a strong first impression. It leads into a gallery flanked by a formal dining room and a great room with a window wall overlooking the rear patio. A huge master bedroom includes a sitting area and a walk-in closet that’s as large as the master bathroom. The gallery leads to a three-bedroom wing. The plan features an attached two-car garage, and a detached garage and workshop accessed through a covered breezeway.
9. Graceful Details Frank Betz Associates
2,246 Square Feet
Here’s a classic design from Frank Betz Associates, a firm that understands the needs of production builders as well as dream home buyers. The plan packs a lot of features into 2246 square feet, including four potential bedrooms, an oversized master suite, and an optional bonus room on the second floor over the garage. The home’s otherwise geometric building footprint is punctuated by a bayed turret that houses a sunny master suite with tray ceilings and a canted bay sitting area. The plan features a vaulted great room that spills into a large, light-filled kitchen area with nook. As with many Betz plans, interior walls are kept to a minimum.
8. European Charm, American FunctionalityCarmichael & Dame
4,629 Square Feet
The biggest among the top 10 best-sellers, this home would be right at home in an upscale subdivision of new California homes. A series of distinctive stone archways lead first to a garden courtyard then to the front door, with views through the back of the home. A big portion of the four-bedroom plan is devoted to family living space in the back—with a family room, kitchen, and breakfast room that function as one big space. It would be great for parties as well. If the home draws inspiration from European styles, it includes the latest American accouterments as well--a game room, a planning center, a chef’s kitchen, and an oversized utility room.
7. Farmhouse for the Ages
2,090 Square Feet
There’s a timeless appeal to this 2,090-square-foot farmhouse, with a porch that wraps all the way around the house. The garage almost looks like an attached barn. The classic rural elevation gives way to a modern floor plan, with a kitchen that flows into to a great room, and a large master bedroom wing complete with sitting area. A sun terrace and spa are located off the master bedroom. The formal dining room in this relatively open plan is defined by a low wall and by graceful archways set off by decorative columns. The kitchen includes a central island counter and a snack bar; it adjoins a laundry area.
6. The Eastern Shore Cottage
William E. Poole Designs Inc.
2,151 Square Feet
Who doesn't dream of vacations enjoyed by the beach in a home like this one from legendary house plan designer William E. Poole? The Eastern Shore experience in this classic three-bedroom cottage home begins with a large screened front porch that leads to a foyer, with views through a vaulted great room to the backyard beyond. A more traditional, enclosed kitchen connects to a breakfast area that in turn opens to a great room. The plan keeps a formal dining room. The second floor features a recreation room with an additional bedroom and lots of storage space under the eaves.
5. Old World Charmer
Fillmore Design Group
2,720 Square Feet
The epicenter of this European one-story home is an imposing great room with a central fireplace on a raised stone hearth. It is flanked by a U-shaped island kitchen and a breakfast nook. The home’s old world charm extends into the master suite, which features a sitting area, built-in bookshelves, a whirlpool tub, a separate shower, a dual-sink vanity, a compartmented toilet, and a walk-in closet. Two additional family bedrooms share a full bath. A three-car garage completes the plan.
4. The Outdoor Connection
Designs by Todd W. Reed
4,012 Square Feet
This plan accentuates connections between indoor and outdoor living. The master bedroom has private access to a small rear porch. A study connects via French doors to the front porch. Living and keeping rooms in the back of the plan both spill out to a screened rear porch. There’s even a private rear porch off the breakfast nook. The plan is ideal for a family that wants spaces to congregate and for privacy. Inside, the kitchen—equipped with plenty of counter space and storage—flows into a charming hearth-warmed keeping room with French doors. Three upstairs bedrooms have their own baths; two enjoy walk-in closets.
3. Loads of Luxury
4,376 Square Feet
This stately, 4,376-square-foot plan features a two-story foyer, a columned dining room, and a personal library complete with built-in desks. The main-level master suite is the real showstopper: it includes an L-shaped walk-in closet, a garden tub, a sitting area, and a morning kitchen. Three family bedrooms upstairs each have a full bath and ample closet space. In addition to the bedrooms, the option of a game room/billiards room provides plenty of space for casual entertainment. A three-car garage completes this plan.
2. Big Value Proposition
Donald A. Gardner Architects
2,097 Square Feet
This classic one-story, great-room plan from Don Gardner packs a ton of living space into a mere 2,097 square feet. A Craftsman elevation with stone and wood siding provides rustic curb appeal. The home features an impressive view from the front door, through a vaulted great room, to a screened porch in the rear. Cathedral ceilings grace the great room, breakfast room, and study. Interior columns announce the great room, with a fireplace and surrounding built-ins. Two bedrooms share a full bath. The master bedroom includes two, full walk-in closets. The plan includes a breakfast nook, a study that could also serve as a fourth bedroom, and a formal dining room.
1. Outdoor Living to the Max
3,126 Square Feet
With numerous sprawling porches, an outdoor fireplace, and a breezeway, this 3,126-square-foot, one-story home is all about outdoor living. The open floor plan with wrapping porches provides many opportunities to enjoy calming views. Off the back of the house, a large covered porch with an outdoor fireplace provides a comfortable way to enjoy the outdoors. An open and airy kitchen leads onto a screened porch. Picture windows, a light-infused breakfast nook, and a vaulted lodge room continue the pastoral theme throughout the interior. The house features a vaulted foyer and dramatic dining room, which leads into the lodge room, complete with a stone fireplace and a vaulted ceiling.