Among the many criticisms of suburban housing tracts is the fact that far too many neighborhoods consist of row after row of cookie-cutter houses. Go to any city in the country – perhaps Salt Lake City or Memphis – and drive around the suburbs. You are bound to see cookie-cutter houses without having to look too hard.
However, there is something else to consider. We generally refer to cookie-cutter houses as houses that offer the same exterior look and a similar or identical floor plan. But is that all there is to it? In other words, how cookie-cutter does a house have to be to qualify as such?
Cookie-Cutter but Not Identical
These questions are born of the realization that your typical single-family home has two or three bedrooms, a kitchen, some sort of family space, and one or two baths. The typical McMansion has three or four bedrooms, with one being the master suite, along with all of the other elements and a formal dining room.
We essentially have cookie-cutter houses that all have the same elements even though they are not identical. Unfortunately, you may have a buyer who cannot find what she wants because she cannot find a house without elements she doesn’t need. Her choices are to settle for what she can find or build something from the ground up.
Building is just what Salt Lake City’s Cody Derrick did. Derrick is the founder of CityHome Collective, a Salt Lake City real estate brokerage and interior design firm. One of the core principles of his company’s mission is to help clients find and/or create spaces that are meaningful to them.
Derrick was not able to find that sort of space when he was hunting for his own house. So instead, he purchased a former meth house and leveled it. Then he built his forever home exactly the way he wanted it. The home has only one bedroom. And rather than including en suite bathroom, he incorporated all the elements of the bath into the open space of the bedroom. Only the toilet has its own separate space.
Tiny Houses and Shipping Containers
In recent years there has been a push to transform how Americans view housing. We have seen this in a number of trends, like the tiny house trend for example. Your typical tiny house is anything but cookie-cutter. Tiny houses are generally custom-designed to meet the buyer’s needs. This is not to say that a manufacturer couldn’t come up with two or three cookie-cutter floor plans. It is just many buyers do not appreciate going that route.
Houses built from shipping containers is another trend that defies the cookie-cutter mindset. The true beauty of shipping container construction is that it is so versatile. You can orient and stack shipping containers in an endless number of ways, defying the very mindset of cookie-cutter construction.
Some of the most unique homes in the world are built out of used shipping containers. Their sizes and layouts vary. A single shipping container makes for a very nice tiny home while half-a-dozen arranged in a square create a very modern home with a built-in center courtyard.
A New Definition of Cookie-Cutter
All of this is to say that a new definition of cookie-cutter is emerging in the real estate space. Houses do not necessarily have to look identical on the outside to be cookie-cutter. Today’s cookie-cutter homes are those that follow the same basic principles single-family homes have followed for decades. The only way to avoid living in one is to build from the ground up or go with an entirely new paradigm.