Will There Ever Be Another Levittown?

Levittown, built in the 1950s, was one of the first mass-produced suburb developments in the USA, providing affordable housing largely due to a homogeneous design and economies of scale. 

Typical Levittown Homes of 1948

While it’s unlikely that another “Levittown” as such would be built today, large-scale housing developments still occur, but with adaptations to modern preferences, regulations, and economic realities. 

They tend to involve a more diverse range of housing options and amenities, with a focus on creating mixed-use spaces that integrate residential, commercial, and recreational areas.

Time to Think Small Again

Courtesy of US Modular Inc

While it is challenging to predict the future with complete accuracy, the concept of communities with smaller homes (around 1,000 sq ft) is indeed gaining some traction for various reasons, and it is possible that we might see such communities in the future. 

Auxiliary Dwelling Units (ADU) of 1,000 square feet or less could be built as Levittown-type communities in many states with some already applying codes to allow such communities to be built.

Smaller homes are more cost-effective to build and maintain, making them an attractive option for first-time homebuyers, downsizers, and low-income families. Many regions are experiencing housing affordability crises, and smaller homes can be a solution to providing more affordable housing options.

Courtesy of Wee House

ADUs require fewer materials to build and less energy to heat and cool, which makes them more environmentally sustainable. There is also a growing trend towards minimalist living, where people are choosing to live with fewer possessions and in smaller spaces to reduce their environmental footprint.

Why are some cities so eager to improve their ADU codes?

Well, for starters, most households in the United States are now 1 and 2-person households. Yet, most of our legacy housing stock, and even our new residential housing stock, is designed for families of 4 or 5 people. That may have made sense 70 years ago. But, things have changed.

1-2 person households now represent 62% of the country’s households. Only 38% of the nation’s households have more than 3 or more people in them.

Close to 2/3rds of the population in the US are living in 1-2 person households!

Year by year, 1-2 person households are forced to eat up the single family housing stock that was designed for nuclear families, not because they want or need to live in big homes, but because there simply aren’t enough houses built in residential areas designed for 1-2 person households.

750-square-foot apartments are relatively common in the United States, particularly in urban and suburban environments. An apartment of this size often falls in the category of a one-bedroom or a large studio apartment, offering enough space for a separate living room, a small dining area, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchen.

If 750 square foot apartments are acceptable as a zoning approved housing unit, why can’t 1,000 square foot ADUs be accepted as a single family homes in a community?

It’s Inevitable

It probably won’t happen soon but with our current and future housing crisis a growing problem for affordable housing for 1-2 person households, ADUs could in fact, bring on another era of Levittown communities.

Gary Fleisher

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Gary Fleisher

Gary Fleisher, “The Mod Coach”, has been entrenched in the offsite construction industry for most of his life. Having started his career in the lumber industry, Gary spent decades working with manufactured and modular home producers and homebuilders. For the past 15 years his blog and LinkedIn postings have introduced thousands to the benefits of factory-built construction and have served as a forum for industry professionals to share insights and perspectives. Gary lives in Hagerstown, MD with his wife, Peg.

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