Thursday, December 15, 2005

Another Reason to Hate the Ranch House

The Southern Pine Council is recommending that new houses be built with raised floors like they used to be constructed before the pre-war building boom. Needless to say, I never like the ranch house due to its penchant for being pedestrian and lack of craftsmanship.

The popularity of the ranch house is due in part because of the cost savings involved by substituting materials cost for labor cost as a result of the changing labor market immediately after World War II. Rule of thumb is that labor cost is twice that of materials cost. When developers needed to build thousands of housing units in a short period of time and for families on a limited budget, the ranch house built on a concrete slab became the construction method of choice for many decades. The ranch style further grew in popularity as it became a symbol of middle-class upward mobility and the raised cottage came to symbolize the old neighborhood.

Now we're seeing a resurgence of the raised cottage in upper-scaled neighborhoods with the resurgance of the popularity of the Craftsman style. Although I don't expect to see new Craftsman style developments popping up around the city, I do encourage developers to study the local Creole cottages. While not possessing the level of craftsmanship present in the Craftsman cottage, builders need to be sensitive to materials, proportions and details. With a little more work and attention to detail, these Creole cottages that were dammaged or destroyed by Hurrican Katrina can be recreated to bring back the charm that once existed in these New Orleans neighborhoods.

1 comment:

ben said...

Your Creole cottage link pointed to a floorplan identical to that of a house I lived in during high school, but that was hundreds of miles from NOLA. Are there similar designs prevalent in the Midwest that go by a different name, or am I looking at an odd example of diffusion?