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4 Single-Family Build-to-Rent Home Designs Offering Comfort and Construction Efficiency

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House Review

4 Single-Family Build-to-Rent Home Designs Offering Comfort and Construction Efficiency

Single-family rentals are popular. Take a look at these detached-home design ideas for the single-family build-to-rent market, one of the fastest-growing segments of single-family construction

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer February 12, 2024
Rendering showing an exterior view of the 55+ Cottages design for single-family build-for-rent homes
The 55+ Cottages designed by Larry Garnett (scroll down to see more) include side yards for pets, among other sought-after features popular with renters. | Rendering: Larry Garnett
This article first appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of Pro Builder.

Interest in and production of new single-family rental homes has steadily increased during the past few years, fueled most recently by housing price inflation and rising mortgage rates. Now there are entire neighborhoods of single-family build-to-rent (SFB2R) homes that provide an alternative for folks who would rather live in a detached home than a multifamily community. 

While SFB2R communities are certainly appealing, often offering a full slate of amenities akin to for-sale projects, smaller-scale opportunities also are emerging for single renters seeking compact homes with a small, private yard for outdoor living and for their pets. 

In addition, more communities are allowing homeowners to build secondary living structures on their properties to offer as affordable “cottage” rentals or as independent living options for family members.


Single-Family Build-to-Rent for the 55-Plus Market: 55+ Cottages

DESIGNER: Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, larrygarnett@larrygarnettdesigns.com, 254.205.2597

DIMENSIONS: Width: 24 feet / Depth: 40 feet / Total built area: 960 sf

Renderings: Larry Garnett

Developed as a 55-plus neighborhood, these single-bedroom cottages also appeal to younger individuals seeking detached rental housing.

The open floor plan includes an alcove with a built-in desk, file storage, and shelves, and each cottage has a private side yard ideal for pets. Residents are provided with a secure 6-by-12-foot storage space adjacent to the resident parking area. Inset parking along the street allows guests to enter the courtyard through a wrought-iron gate. 

Rendering showing exteriors of the 55+ Cottages single-family build-to-rent design by Larry Garnett


Rendering showing site plan of the 55+ Cottages single-family build-to-rent design by Larry Garnett


A  Common courtyard

  Private side yards ideal for pet owners

C   Individual storage for each resident

 Front porches overlooking common courtyard provide outdoor living space

E   Study alcove with built-in desk

Floor plans of the 55+ Cottages single-family build-to-rent design by Larry Garnett



Premium Single-Family Build-to-Rent Living: Westview 

DESIGNER: Scott Gardner, scott@gmdcarolinas.com, 919-320-3022 / Donnie McGrath, GMD Design Group, donnie@gmddesigngroup.com, 770.375.7351

DIMENSIONS: Width: 40 feet / Depth: 64 feet / Living area: 1,639 sf

This home was designed for a premium home-rental experience. The focus is an outdoor living space that wraps around the home’s main living areas, providing multiple access points to the outdoors. The layout also puts distance between the secondary bedrooms and the owner’s suite to reduce noise transfer and offer greater privacy.

Rendering showing exteriors of GMD Design Group's Westview single-family build-to-rent design


Floor plan of GMD Design Group's Westview single-family build-to-rent home design


Large entry porch

Entry and dining space with views to the rear yard

Secondary bedrooms separated from owner’s suite

D  Open kitchen, family, and dining spaces

E  Walk-in pantry, drop zone, and home office alcove

Large, covered wraparound outdoor space

G  Owner’s suite at rear of home overlooking the yard



Cost-Effective and Competitive Single-Family Build-to-Rent: Cottage Plan 

DESIGNER: Gregg Taylerson, DTJ Design, gtaylerson@dtjdesign.com, 303.443.7533

DIMENSIONS: Width: 18 feet / Depth: 32 feet / Living area: 576 sf

Build-to-rent housing is one of the fastest growing segments in the single-family construction market. 

Increasing property taxes and lack of affordability, as well as less home maintenance and the ability to live more “mobile,” make B2R appealing for all demographics.

The primary challenge is applying cost-effective construction techniques while offering a quality product that’s competitive in the market. The techniques below, especially when applied at scale, can help achieve an efficient yet pleasing design.

Rendering showing the exteriors of DTJ Design's Cottage Plan single-family build-to-rent design


Simple foundation shape reduces concrete

Exterior dimensions in 2-foot increments create less material waste

Consistent bathroom layouts and appliance offerings

Consistent window sizes and minimal window counts, particularly on side elevations, as well as standardized interior door sizes and removal of closet doors

Familiar, simple-yet-elegant elevation styles and roof forms create variety while reducing costs and maintenance


Floor plan for DTJ Design's Cottage Plan, a single-family build-to-rent design


Applying Lean Design to Single-Family Build-to-Rent: The Aubrey

ARCHITECT: Todd Hallett, AIA, TK Design & Associates, thallett@tkhomedesign.com, 248.446.1960

DIMENSIONS: Width: 30 feet / Depth: 30 feet / Living area: 1,000 sf

Build-to-rent designs must be both efficient to build and functional. Cost is a major factor in determining feasibility. Lean design is a great tool for achieving cost savings without sacrificing aesthetics or construction quality.

Exterior rendering of The Aubrey, a single-family build-to-rent design by TK Design Associates


A  Squares are by far the most cost-efficient building shape

B  Don’t overlook storage—a valued amenity for this market

C  An open floor plan makes the home feel larger

A balcony that is the width of the building is a cost-effective way to extend living space


Floor plans for The Aubrey, a single-family build-to-rent design by TK Design Associates
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