Courtesy Bassenian Lagoni Architects

Today’s post-recession buyer isn’t the same shopper we met during the boom. Attitudes about luxury have changed, and buyers at all price points are expecting greater value for less. As a result, new-home designs need to eliminate the excess and waste that crept in during the era of cheap money. In times of change, it’s human nature to resist the tide and try to stick with the familiar by value-engineering old plans. The intention is good, but the result is often smaller plans with all the same problems. A better response may be to think beyond the plan itself and start by challenging conventional wisdom about lot dimensions.

In this example, modifying the lot width from 55 to 60 feet changes the livability of the plan tremendously. A 45-foot-wide house that feels tight becomes a 50-foot-wide structure that lives in a contemporary way in a smaller footprint. Widening the floor plan and introducing a few more corners may increase your building costs by 15 percent to 20 percent per square foot, but can provide greater returns. A smaller product that costs the same as the old market home but achieves faster absorption and market acceptance is worth the investment in change.

The Old Way This 2,300-square-foot plan on a standard lot measuring 55 feet wide by 100 feet deep wastes square footage both inside and outside.
Courtesy Bassenian Lagoni Architects The Old Way This 2,300-square-foot plan on a standard lot measuring 55 feet wide by 100 feet deep wastes square footage both inside and outside.
The Old Way

  • An entry that spills directly into the living space feels apartment-like. And the floor space just beyond it is awkward and unusable.
  • The plan layout draws little connection to the rear yard. As a result, the yard is less likely to be used.
  • Long hallway circulation areas claim square footage that could be used more creatively.
  • A basic and relatively flat façade limits the home’s street impact. The entry fails to create a sense of arrival.
  • Changes in massing create a dedicated point of entry with sightlines to the rear yard. The entry court is separate from the main living space, yet connected.
Square Route A slightly shorter, wider lot (60 feet by 90 feet) allows for a smaller, 1,900-square-foot plan with open, yet well-defined communal spaces that flow together. An integrated patio connects seamlessly to the rear yard, allowing the home to make fuller use of the lot.
Courtesy Bassenian Lagoni Architects Square Route A slightly shorter, wider lot (60 feet by 90 feet) allows for a smaller, 1,900-square-foot plan with open, yet well-defined communal spaces that flow together. An integrated patio connects seamlessly to the rear yard, allowing the home to make fuller use of the lot.

Square Route

  • Circulation hallways are minimized and limited to the home’s private areas.
  • Direct access to this bath from the bedroom creates more privacy.
  • The main living space “grabs” part of the outdoors, creating a seamless transition from great room to patio to yard. The house itself has a smaller footprint, but makes more functional use of the entire lot.