Too Big, Boring, or Ugly: Tools to Combat Monotony, the Too-big House, and Teardowns

PAS Report 528

By Lane Kendig

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Cookie-cutter boxes line up like plastic houses on a Monopoly board. Brawny new construction shoulders into established neighborhoods. Monster houses crowd together in new subdivisions. Today's bigger, faster, cheaper home building methods are changing the character of communities, but there are ways to both preserve character and meet market demand.

This report offers planning and design tools to tame the too-big house, shake free of monotonous development, and negotiate the political minefield of teardowns.

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Page Count
Date Published
March 30, 2005
Adobe PDF

Table of Contents

1. Defining the Problem
Mass Production • Monotony • Monopoly-Set Houses • The Too-Big House • Teardowns

2. Monotony
Two Design Approaches for Addressing Monotony • The Primary Tools for Addressing Monotony • Elements of Design That Can Be Manipulated To Prevent Monotony • Evaluating Anti-Monotony Through Criteria • Lot Layout and Design • Other Techniques Used To Avoid Monotony

3. Monopoly-Set Houses
Roof-Wall Junctures • Modern Siding and Windows • False Fronts

4. The Too-Big House
Bulk Regulation Standards • The Not-So-Big-House

5. Teardowns
Economics Drive Teardowns • Predicting Teardowns • Regulating Teardowns • Additional Measures

6. Code Language
Regulations Addressing the Problems of Monotony and Monopoly-Set Housing • Long Grove, Illinois, Zoning Ordinance • New Castle County, Delaware, Land Development Code • Monopoly-Set Regulations