What Best Selling Plans Reveal About Consumer Preferences

By Boyce Thompson

Craftsman remains the most popular architectural style among pla

When it comes to what people want to buy, consumer surveys only go so far. A far better indicator is actual sales data. Which raises the question — What does an analysis of Houseplans’ best-selling plans tell us buyers are looking for in a home?

Updated traditional elevations
Despite all the attention lavished by the consumer press on contemporary design, most people — at least those buying home plans — are more interested in traditional homes, especially Craftsman and Cottage style designs. Several top-sellers, such as Plan 48-542, shown at the top of this post, emphasize natural materials but aren’t afraid to use them in unusual ways. 

Informal living arrangements
Most best-selling plans dispense with formal living and dining spaces in favor of informal open spaces that

combine kitchens, family rooms, and dining spaces as shown in Plan 888-13, above. Kitchens are often anchored by large islands — here’s a another good example, Plan 80-119, which actually has two islands --


that provide enough counter space for taking a meal or conversing with company.  

First-floor bedrooms
One-story homes predominate, a reflection of the aging American population.

Plan 48-476 is a good example in a contemporary style that has sold well, with an efficient 3 bedroom 2.5

bath of 2,557 sq. ft. all on one level. 

Even two-story homes often have a first-floor master bedroom, as

shown here in 3-bedroom 2.5 bath Farmhouse style Plan 901-11.

The master bedrooms in these homes are typically a manageable size. Interestingly, most of the best-sellers -


 - including Plan 48-476 and this one above, Plan 140-149, have walk-in closets separate from the bath.

Outdoor space
Desire for integrated outdoor space — whether a front porch, a lanai, or even a gazebo — is strong, as

shown in the extensive backyard-oriented covered porches of Plan 140-149. Also, witness the great integrated porches in this home, Plan 120-162

Outdoor space is not only a cost-efficient way to create living space, but including it from the beginning

rather than adding it later on creates a much better looking home.

Room to grow
Several best-sellers feature bonus rooms over the garage or in the attic that buyers could build out later as their income and family grows. This classic farmhouse Plan 137-252,


includes an optional rec room that could also become a suite for a boomerang child or in-law.

Easy to build
Most of the best-sellers are modest in size with square footage that ranges from 1600 to 2600 square feet. For example, see Plan 461-6 shown here. 

They tend to be easy to build, with simple geometric proportions and few bump-outs -- here's the front elevation of Plan 461-6.

And the rooflines make judicious use of gables and dormers. 

Place to work
Virtually all the top-sellers have space that could be used for an office, whether it's dedicated or not. In this

versatile Plan 48-542 the office space could be reconfigured as a second master by drawing in the powder and vestibule.

Boyce Thompson is the former Editorial Director of Builder Magazine, and the author of The New New Home.

March 20, 2015



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