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New Urbanism for Small Builders

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House Review

New Urbanism for Small Builders

New Urbanism opportunities are available for small-volume builders, and these plans help you get there

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer July 31, 2019
DTJ Design's Narrow Lot Plan 2 site plan is an example of New Urbanism
DTJ Design's Narrow Lot Plan 2 site plan
This article first appeared in the August 2019 issue of Pro Builder.

While New Urbanism embraces the pedestrian-oriented design philosophies prevalent before widespread use of automobiles, the campaign also advocates affordable and diverse housing. Many of the large-scale developments based on these design principles, however, don’t offer much opportunity for the smaller home builder

But in fact, there are often overlooked parcels in areas being revitalized under the guidelines of New Urbanism that provide opportunities for smaller-volume builders to join the movement. Our design team presents an array of New Urbanism-inspired concepts, ranging from three-level luxury homes to one-bedroom studios, to inspire and guide small-volume builders in their local markets.


ARCHITECT: DTJ Design, Seth Hart, shart@dtjdesign.com, 303.443.7533

PLAN SIZE: Width: 27 feet, Depth: 82 feet, Living area (house): 2,100 sf, Living area (ADU): 425 sf

This alley-loaded product features an optional accessory dwelling unit (ADU) over the garage for added flexibility and/or rental income, enabling greater attainability. The large front porches provide great outdoor living opportunities and promote social interaction.

The site plan (below) features paseos and pocket parks linked by walking paths, which enhance walkability, and clustered product types that create an eclectic, varied street scene.

Roads—purposefully designed to be narrow—create tension that slows traffic and creates a more appropriate residential scale reminiscent of historical city neighborhoods.


house review-DTJ-narrow lot-floor plans


0819 house review-DTJ-narrow lot-plan key 1   0819 house review-DTJ-narrow lot-plan key 2





house review-DTJ-narrow lot-site plan


house review-DTJ-narrow lot-elevation



ARCHITECT: Dahlin Group Architecture | Planning, marketing@dahlingroup.com, 925.251.7200

PLAN SIZE: Width: 22 feet, Depth: 49 feet, Living area: 2,259 sf

Replacing a defunct shopping center and breathing new life into an aging suburban neighborhood, Elevation is an infill, horizontal, mixed-use community that uses form-based design, recessed windows, color, and texture to create a timeless, fresh style. 

The small footprints are flexible and adaptable to many lifestyles, delivering first-floor bedroom suites that open to private courtyards; second-floor living spaces; and third-floor retreats. Placement of the plans within the site was also taken into consideration, with third floors alternatively expressed and pushed back to give each home its own character. 

Plan 2 flips the main living spaces to the second floor, offering three-story living within a compact footprint that’s flexible and adaptable to many lifestyle needs. 

house review-Dahlin-plan 2-elevation


house review-Dahlin-plan 2-plan key 1   house review-Dahlin-plan 2-plan key 2




house review-Dahlin-plan 2-elevation
Photo: Christopher Mayer



ARCHITECT: Donald F. Evans, AIA, The Evans Group, devans@theevansgroup.com, 407.650.8770

PLAN SIZE: Width: 46 feet, Depth: 34 feet, Living area: 2,324 sf

New configurations in single-family designs, such as the four-pack or quad cluster (site plan shown, below), are gaining acceptance with municipalities and buyers alike. Properly designed, they allow for plenty of green space (both private and public), front and back/side porches, two-car garages, and private driveways. Many municipalities are actually encouraging these configurations and supplying graphic examples and codes supporting their use. Meanwhile, buyers see the ability to purchase a detached home in a location that may otherwise be out of reach, while providing a coveted cul-de-sac neighborhood environment for block parties and kids’ play. 

Model A is an attainable 2,324-square-foot home with public space on the first floor and private space with all bedrooms upstairs. While the homes can be any style, simple traditional still has broad appeal among buyers. Don’t shy away from opportunities with different configurations.


Donald F. Evans Mayberry Quads site plan



house review-Evans-Mayberry-plans


house review-Evans-Mayberry-key


house review-Evans-Mayberry-elevation


ARCHITECT: Todd Hallett, AIA, CAPS, TK Design & Associates, 248.446.1960

PLAN SIZE: Width: 42 feet, 4 inches; Depth: 91 feet, 4 inches; Living area: 3,636 sf

New Urbanism is typically tied to very large developments with multilayered residential and commercial buildings built and developed by large-volume national or regional builders. Small builders, though, can take advantage of existing context to create a New Urbanist environment by building in locations that are pedestrian friendly, walkable, and connected. 

Small builders can develop infill pockets close to urban areas, but building near existing downtown areas is challenging and often requires narrow homes, as exemplified by this design.


house review-Hallett-Karen-plans


house review-Hallett-Karen-key

house review-Hallett-Karen-elevation

Web-exclusive content:


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

PLAN SIZE: Width: 45 feet, 7 inches; Depth: 47 feet, 8 inches; Living area: 725 sf

This compact duplex features one-bedroom studios with attached garages and side courtyards. The efficient footprint and square footage offer an economical starter home option for small building sites in a planned neighborhood or infill opportunity. 

Larry Garnett New Urbanism Front Street duplex plan


Larry Garnett New Urbanism Front Street second floor plan


The plan offers:

Open living/dining and kitchen areas

 A bedroom suite with a spacious walk-in closet and a bath with a large shower and stacked laundry

 A single-car attached garage with access to the rear lane

A private courtyard, which offers secluded outdoor living space and security for children and pets


Larry Garnett Front Street duplex elevation



Access a PDF of this article in Professional Builder's August 2019 digital edition 


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