Starter Home Designs for All Ages

These single-family detached designs help serve a critical market segment, no matter the age of the buyer

By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer | June 26, 2019
Starter Home plan 1 aerial view
Starter Home – Plan 1 by Richard Handlen, EDI International

Providing homes for first-time buyers continues to be one of our greatest challenges. It’s also perhaps the most critical. While smaller, usually less-expensive starter homes historically help enable younger buyers enter the housing market, the designs presented this month also appeal to older buyers looking to downsize and achieve more affordable living options.

Certainly, the challenge to build cost-effective starter homes (detached or not) becomes greater every day as land prices steadily rise and the labor shortage continues to impact production and costs. For those builders interested in exploring this important market segment, these innovative and cost-efficient detached home designs offer solutions that are both beautiful and functional.




ARCHITECT: Richard Handlen, AIA, LEED AP, EDI International,, 415.362.2880

PLAN SIZE: Width: 42 feet; Depth: 50 feet; Living area: 1,865 sf

(See lead image, above.)

We often think of first-timers as a young couple with kids or with plans for them, resulting in designs with a family focus and the flexibility to expand as needed.


House review-starter home plan 1-Handlen-plan


House review-starter home plan 1-Handlen-plan key 1 .  

House review-Starter Home plan 1-plan key 2




House review-Starter Home plan 1-elevation photo





ARCHITECT: Donald F. Evans, AIA, The Evans Group,, 407.650.8770

PLAN SIZE: Width: 28 feet; Depth: 82 feet; Living area: 2,017 sf; with guest flat: 2,404 sf


This base home has four bedrooms and three baths with a large gathering room, separate dining room, and kitchen. The optional flat over the two-car garage adds 387 square feet for guests, renters, or a home office. Two upstairs bedrooms are perfect for sharing, each with two large walk-in closets, and one bedroom can easily flex into kids’ space. 

The outdoor living area starts at the covered front porch, with a porte cochere entrance from the driveway, and includes a large sports court at the rear of the lot, a patio space, and a private garden. 


House review-Canton Park-Evans Group-elevation


House review-Canton Park-Evans Group-plan first floor



House review-Canton Park-Evans Group-plan second floor

House review-Canton Park-Evans Group-plan key





DESIGNER: Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD,, 254.205.2597

PLAN SIZE: Width: 34 feet, 8 inches; Depth: 59 feet, 8 inches; Living area: 1,600 sf


This Craftsman-inspired home offers any-age buyer an open, single-level floor plan with a two-car garage. Although the layout as shown places the garage along a rear lane, it can easily be adjusted to face either the side or the front. The spacious front porch and optional side courtyard provide outdoor living options


House review-Camelot Plan 1-Garnett-elevation



House review-Camelot-Larry Garnett-plan  House review-Camelot Plan 1-Garnett-plan key




See the final two projects in the print version.


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