What Single-Family Designers Can Learn From Multifamily Projects

Frank Anton, vice chairman emeritus of Hanley Wood, recently wrote an interesting article urging single-family builders to look to multifamily developments for inspiration. He cited the fact that multifamily builders have done a better job of connecting with millennial buyers. That’s the primary reason why multifamily starts have quadrupled since 2009, while single-family starts haven’t even doubled.

Anton feels that single-family home sales will see a significant increase if architects offer designs featuring smaller square footage and one (or maybe no) garage. That's precisely what architect Jonathan Tate did in his creative design of a 975-square foot single-family home at 3106 St. Thomas Street in New Orleans.

"New Orleans has a lot of remnant lots because of the winding Mississippi River," says Tate. So he took what many would call a glorified alley and created a masterpiece. The new house has a width of just 10½ feet, yet it features one bedroom, 1½ baths and office space - a perfect starter home for an individual or couple looking for a detached house in the historic Irish Channel neighborhood.

The house on St. Thomas was the first project in Tate’s Starter Home urban housing program that aims to create more entry-level homes in cities across the nation. The program is financed and operated by Tate and his collaborating developer and builder. Archipreneur magazine noted that starter homes have historically been viewed as “monotonous, mass-produced, greenfield developments, but Tate’s Starter Home program takes a decidedly opposite approach of architectural particularity and urban integration.”

Tate says he uses engineered wood "all the time" - and feels that it can play a big role in building more of these urban infill starter homes. "Every city has anomalies that create opportunities for this type of house," he says.

Photo By: Will Crocker

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