About a year ago work started on a new housing tract in a once-empty field across the road from my father’s house in Colorado. Walking around the newly built houses, I could not figure out the placement of rooms and entrances. There seemed to be pattern, but I could not figure what the pattern meant. Documented my puzzlement in the faceless set of photos.

This was the house that cracked the code.

house As the house on a corner, the scarcity of windows, and the main entrance that looks more like a side entrance - looks rather odd. Last night we took a walk that wandered through the same tract of houses - when suddenly the odd patterns made sense. The clue is to look at that same house when facing the garage, and imagine the house in a dense southern California development, with houses packed tightly on both sides.

house This follows the usual pattern for recent dense-suburban southern California homes. The garage is in front, occupying nearly the entire street-facing side of the house. The width of the house (viewed from the street) is scarcely wider than the garage, which allows crowding the greatest number of houses on one street. The front entrance is around the side of the garage, and scarcely visible from the street as the next house (typically) is only a few feet away.

My guess is the builder took existing plans meant for dense-suburban homes - probably plans they had from prior projects - and stretched the plans to add more square footage (to sell into a market for bigger houses). The development is named Stone Ridge (though on flat ground), and the above pictures most closely match the Iron Ridge floor plan.

Once I had figured out the pattern, deciphering the other houses was easy.

house Take this example. Note the narrow/useless “front porch”? The front of the house in the original plan was what is now the right side (in the photo). The room on the right was the garage. The useless front porch was originally the walkway from the front of the house to the “front” door. Push in a couple stretched-out rooms, and you have a house suitable for dropping into a dense-suburban development.

Note that the pictures are almost a year old, and none of the houses have sold since. Don’t know if the it’s due to the economy, or due to the random floorplans - but my guess is that even ordinary folk notice the odd layouts.

Update: December, 2010 Saw a bunch of hits on this article in August and November, got curious, found the builder’s website was gone, and the website for the tract is gone. Called my father and found that the builder had gone bankrupt, and all nine of the oddly-designed homes had sold (apparently at somewhat below local market prices). Wonder if the folk who bought the homes are passing around this article?