What is the name for this house style?
January 26, 2017 8:56 AM   Subscribe

What is the name for this style of house? This is the predominant style of new single-family residential construction in my area, but I don't know what to call this type of house.

I know people will say "ranch house" and I'm seeing that as a descriptor from realtors as well, but to me these are really different stylistically than traditional mid-century ranch houses, and I would like to know if there's a better term or descriptor out there that I can use.

The major difference between the mid-century ranch and these houses is the placement of the garage. Traditional ranches are rectangular boxes with the garage in line with the rest of the house. From the street, these houses look L-shaped, sometimes dramatically so, as the garage sticks out a lot from the rest of the house. Typically there is a large gable over the garage that makes the garage look even more prominent, while the front door is set back on the main part of the house and usually looks dark or shaded.
The roof shapes are different as well. Traditional ranch houses have plain hipped roofs or maybe a low-pitched roof with gables on the side of the house. These houses have giant front gables used mostly as decoration, with (like I said) a giant one over the garage and maybe another on the other side of the house to balance things a bit. (And maybe 3-5 more gables! Gables in gables! Gables highlighting decorative windows! All the gables!) The rest of the roof is hipped but the eaves are much wider than on traditional ranch houses. The house outside is usually greige siding with some brick or stone accent in the front, though there are definitely all-brick versions.

Similar to mid-century ranch houses, these are generally modest homes, one-story or one-story with a walk-out basement. Two-story houses in the same neighborhood rarely have the L-shaped prominent garage (maybe it's less prominent because there's no gable over the top?) so often look more colonial. The newer ones often have a lot of Craftsman details. From the back, the house might just look like a plain greige ranch-house box, but it could also be J-shaped or T-shaped, especially if on a slab, and then some have more gables on the back.

Inside, the house plans usually involve a vaulted living room ceiling. The newer houses have open-concept layouts, but the older ones generally separate the kitchen/eating area from the living room. Sometimes you see them with formal dining rooms, but there is rarely a formal living area too.

These have become THE most common new single-family home style in my town over the last couple of decades. Entire neighborhoods exist with just these houses in every direction, all a little different but mostly the same. I'm not a big of this style, and it irritates me to call these ranch houses when they are clearly (CLEARLY!!) very different from the traditional mid-century ranch houses (which I do like).

Help please! Responses that include pedantic detail (and corrections on my descriptions above) are absolutely welcomed.
posted by aabbbiee to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'd call it Modern Suburban Ranch.

Honestly, I'd call it a Tract Home.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:04 AM on January 26, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I've seen them called "snout houses" because of the prominent garage, but that probably isn't the formal terminology you're looking for.
posted by jon1270 at 9:14 AM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: No, that's very helpful as a search term!

Tract housing dates back to the beginnings of post-war sprawl, so it includes the traditional ranch houses as well. I'm looking for more descriptors of this type of tract house.
posted by aabbbiee at 9:25 AM on January 26, 2017

Best answer: I don't know if there's a name for that specific style of garage-front ranch house, but "neo-eclectic" is the term I've heard for the general gable-party incoherent-mashup house style.

McMansion Hell, especially its 101 section, goes into detail about what makes this style of architecture so irritating. Its focus is larger houses but many of the rules still apply to smaller ones.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:27 AM on January 26, 2017 [22 favorites]

How about a rambler?
posted by tman99 at 9:29 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

You need McMansion hell and this guide linked from that blog.

According to the guide it's "contemporary," but I've also seen it called New American.
posted by AV at 9:34 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh my god Metroid Baby, those are The Best Links. A rare favorite goes to you.

"Snout house" and "gable party", yuk yuk.

more jargon:
Lawyer Foyers
Garage Mahals
posted by intermod at 9:36 AM on January 26, 2017 [8 favorites]

Does anyone know something like Metroid Baby's 101 section, but that has structural layouts?

We're shopping on mostly old homes, but it's tough to know what you can change and what you're stuck with on the inside.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 10:10 AM on January 26, 2017

Part of what you're seeing is the rise of pre-fabricated housing, where builders/clients are picking basic designs and then altering details and having the housing materials shipped pre-cut and allocated from a pre-fab housing builder, and sent to the site where they are basically assembled like the world's fanciest IKEA bookcase. It creates a sameness, even where details like window shapes differ, especially if a suburb has been developed as a whole so the builder is trying to create a cohesive image. If you've got a dominant pre-fabricator in your region, it's likely that those designs are a big part of their catalogue.

That doesn't necessarily help with the naming of it, but it might explain the sameness of it.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:13 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Metroid Baby, you are awesome. McMansion Hell is a time-suck of epic proportions and I for one am duly grateful.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 10:14 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not a ranch, even though they might have a few similar features.

General Characteristics
Spreading, horizontal orientation
Hipped or gabled roof often with wide eaves
Logical, open floor plan in a rectangular, L-, or U-shaped configuration
Minimal ornamentation
Good quality construction using natural materials
Attached garages
New design elements such as sliding glass doors, large plate glass picture windows, and Formica countertops

I'd add usually low-slung/one-story to that list. This page has a bunch of links to actual ranch house floor plans from the 50s
posted by Room 641-A at 10:35 AM on January 26, 2017

Response by poster: "Neo-eclectic snout house" seems to hit the nail on the head for me, term-wise, though I think "snout house" is probably derogatory and unlikely to show up in realtor descriptions of the future.

I'm actually an avid fan of McMansion Hell myself, and have been reading The Field Guide to American Houses that she recommends, but these houses are both too new and too modest to be covered in detail by these sources so far. "Contemporary" is kind of a catch-all term, and these houses are so specific and so ubiquitous in nature that a better descriptor should exist. "Neo-eclectic snout house" works!
posted by aabbbiee at 10:42 AM on January 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Please, use "snout house" every chance you get. Sure, it's a derogatory term, but it's also a perfect descriptor, right? The garage is essentially the most significant feature of the building when viewed from the street, i.e., it's "plain as the nose on your face", so to speak.

The cars'—virtually always plural—owners live in that attachment to the garage. You might catch a glimpse of them ducking into that recessed front door—unfortunately, there's no porch to hang out on.

So, go right ahead and ridicule the design until it disappears. It's for the good of humanity.
posted by she's not there at 2:38 PM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: My longtime nickname for them is "ass-faced house" so "snout house" is quite pleasant, really
posted by aabbbiee at 2:40 PM on January 26, 2017 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I feel like my last comment comes off too snobby and elitist about these houses, so I need to clarify that I am a former owner of a snout house. I coined the above nickname while I lived in it. A lot of my snarkiness comes from the residual anger I feel about that house, because it was poorly constructed, I spent a lot of money fixing issues with it, and I lost a good deal of money when it finally sold. Because of the construction issues I experienced, it disappoints me to see so many of these houses pop up all over the place in my town, because I don't think they will age well.
BUT I have many friends and family who live happily in these homes. The houses are modest in size and price for young families, while retirees are often drawn to them for the accessibility.
I now live in a 1962 raised ranch that I love, but it definitely has fewer conveniences than the snout house. I also note that my current neighborhood, for all its mature trees, has no sidewalks and dark windy streets, while the snout house neighborhood had wide sidewalks and lots of visibility that I miss.
As far as community spirit, you get what you give there. There are a lot of reasons why people and families don't have the time or inclination to be part of the community no matter where they live. I have found good people everywhere I've lived!
posted by aabbbiee at 7:49 AM on January 27, 2017

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