Houses get squarer; home offices vanish

Builders are adjusting to the new economy by constructing more rectangular homes. On the interior, look for two master suites and 'pocket offices.'

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Apr 3, 2012 11:36AM

Family room & open kitchen (© Look PhotographyBeat/SuperStock)If you're looking for a new home this year, you can expect it to look a little different from the new homes of a few years ago.


Uneven roof lines have been replaced by a single roof elevation, and the bump-outs and lump-outs have given way to a more rectangular home design, which is cheaper to build.


Separate home offices and dens are gone. In their place are "pocket offices" in or near the great room or kitchen, which is seen as the hub of family activity, the National Association of Home Builders says.


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More homes are being built with two master suites, with at least one on the ground floor, or attached auxiliary living units to create space for multigenerational living.

And if you move into a condominium, you may find a communal office space as well as a pool and clubroom, as amenities grow to compensate for smaller living spaces.

These are among the trends identified by the NAHB, which is celebrating New Homes Month in April. In the current economic climate, the challenge for builders is to accommodate changing tastes and shrinking budgets.

Already, builders in some areas have discovered that they can build "big box" McMansions for less than $100 per square foot.


A few other trends, according to the NAHB:

  • Washers and dryers in the master bedroom closet.
  • Two windows meeting at the corner of rooms (a common architectural detail in some homes of the 1940s and '50s).

What do you think? Are you ready to give up a separate den or home office for a "pocket office" near the kitchen or pantry? Would you accept a smaller condo unit in a complex that included more common areas?

May 1, 2012 12:36PM
I just moved into a home built in the 1940s so it has the 1940s windows mentioned and we are moving the washer and dryer to the master bath/closet area. However, one feature of the house that attracted me most was a large third bedroom that is perfect for my home office. I work at home and a large dedicated home office is essential. I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Apr 18, 2012 5:20PM
Sorry, as a younger buyer I want a larger enclosed office space to keep small children out and allow privacy. A small pocket office is fine for web surfing teenagers, but not for people who truly work. I see wasted space in new homes with unimaginative architecture and it looks cheap. I don't want to invest in cheap gimicky design without space and function. I like a separate mud room/ laundry space as well. Home builders are out of touch with what people need and more focused on how to maximize their profits. I for one, love space to garden and hate neighborhoods of large houses on tiny lots, where you can hear your neighbors talking- might as well have an apartment! I like a master bedroom that can accomidate a king size bed  with room for dressers, night stands and decoration without bumping into things. This isn't Japan, you know, and some of us are not buying into that mentality that we need to live on top of one another.
Apr 4, 2012 10:57AM
As long as I am truly working I want that separate room.  Third bedroom doubling as office works.m
Apr 4, 2012 8:11AM
We still use our combination home office / den a lot.  We would incluse this room if we were building a new home.
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