Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cookie Cutter House Plans

I live in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis / St.Paul, where we have one of the largest Parade of Home tours in the country.  Every year I look through all of the Parade offerings to see if I can identify any new trends.

A couple of things have struck me;  1) how very similar many of these houseare and 2) this economy can not be a great environment for many home builders.   The question begs to be asked;  if you are by-and-large building the same house as your competition, how is your much sought after customer going to decide which house to purchase?    Right, pretty much on price alone.    This doesn't seem like a good business formula to me.

As an architect  I have worked with a number of builders that understand the benefits of  a creative and well thought out home design.   Builders such as this  are not afraid to separate themselves from the pack.  Now more than ever architects and builders need to examine whether their current business practices are serving them well.  Perhaps this is the time to consider doing something completely different because quite honestly the consumer has become much more savvy and selective!  They are going to demand smaller, efficient, better designed, and more economical homes.  Cookie cutter homes, clone homes, and yes even McMansion homes may always have a share of the market, but I believe if we don't as an industry, embrace and adapt to the ever changing building market, we will continue to see one business after another close their doors for good.  Now how sad is that?


  1. Amazes me how conservative most US house designs are. I used to wonder why many design/render demos just showed traditional designs, then realised they are new!

  2. New trends I'd like to see:
    1)a generous computer area (we have two to five computers set up at any one time.)
    2)a hobby area (my spouse plays classical guitar, refurbishes antique tools, and is building a motor. I paint. This is all in the house.)
    3)twin master suites (for empty-nesters, people who each want their own bathrooms, same-sex couples, etc.)
    4)a media room (for those of us who don't want the television anywhere we can hear or see it!)
    5) I want to commend you on putting the master bath doorway not facing the bed. (Sometimes couples get up at different hours, and you don't want to get awakened by the bathroom light shining on you when your spouse gets up at 5:30 and you don't have to get up till 7:30.)