Office of State Planning Coordination >> Delaware By Design


There a few different options when it comes to developing housing that is not single-family detached homes. These include:

Compact Single-Family Homes
These are defined as homes on lots smaller than 1/8 of an acre. Lot sizes are typically 50 by 100 feet or similar measurements. Greater street frontage allows for single car garages, or alleys can be used in narrower lot design.  Varying housing layout from wide to narrow homes adds to the individual identity of the units (Design Advisor, n.d.). Setbacks are typically 10 to 15 feet, with the living room in the front of the house. Reduced setbacks, front porches and upfront living rooms encourage a neighborhood feel and increase chances for interaction.  It is important to vary unit types with design features such as roof tops, porch locations, roof colors, and window bays. Color variation also adds to unique identities of properties. Altering site sizes and layouts makes it easier to create parks within developments. If only a couple of design models are available, it is recommended to vary height and rotation on corners to achieve visual variety and openness (Design Advisor, n.d.).
Example of a compact single-family home. Cannery Village, Milton

Private Home, Dover, DE Private Garage, Dover   Single-family homes with secondary units
Typically referred to as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), this style of compact housing adds units without changing the appearance of the home. With the rapid influx of people moving to the cities for work during WWII, the housing shortage was partially alleviated by the creation of ADUs.  Benefits include affordability, additional income and low maintenance. There are two primary ways of incorporating secondary units within single-family homes: 1) granny flats above garages or on the upper floor with a separate stair case, or 2) within the home at a grade. Typically units are located to the rear of lots. If a development has planned for secondary units from its onset, it is recommended that the units face some sort of common space since they do not face the street (Design Advisor, n.d.).

Multi-family units with single-family appearance
Often called the ‘big house’ concept, such units have the appearance of much larger homes. If entrances are properly positioned, it can be hard to tell how many units are within the structure. One of the best ways to incorporate big houses into developments is to mix them with single-family detached homes and commercial properties or apartments. Another popular and aesthetically pleasing option is a grand boulevard lined with big houses. Although giving the appearance of a high array of mansions, it quietly hides it secrets while still appearing quite extravagant (Design Advisor, n.d.). One of the greatest features of the big house concept is the allowance for open space. There are reduced construction and maintenance costs resulting from attached walls. The designs are easy to change to provide for different appearances from one structure to the next. By altering the location of windows, garages porches, and roof lines, every unit can be visually unique on the outside. The big house can also be a great infill project. Builders can use this concept to meet the required number of below market-rate units without sacrificing the appearance of the neighborhood. Neighbors are less likely to complain about this type of design, since it does not look like multi-family housing (Design Advisor, n.d.).
Wolf Creek, Dover, DE Wolf Creek, Dover

Row Homes
First established as a form of housing for middle-income factory workers, the row home has now become one of the most popular types of compact housing in our cities. Row homes offer numerous benefits ranging from reduced construction costs to greater land use efficiency due to shared common walls (Design Advisor, n.d.). In laying out row home neighborhoods, one might consider grouping homes in clusters rather than long rows to add to the visual appearance of the homes. If lot size is limited, screened porches in either the back or front add a feeling of privacy. It is highly recommended that alleys be used in row home developments.  Other design considerations are vital when planning row homes. They should not have a monotonous look; rather vary height, front door location, window placement, siding color, roof pitch, and setback depth to give each unit a unique identity (Design Advisor, n.d.).

Private Residences, Wilmington Private Residences, Wilmington, DE

Bayville Shores, Selbyville, DE Bayville Shores, Selbyville   Multi-family with walkup apartments
This type of housing, with proper design features, can be quite visually appealing. Grouping units maximizes open space.  Placing parking garages under the units eliminates the unsightliness of many vehicles (Design Advisor, n.d.). There are a number of design features that allow for the personalization of the units as well.  Color can be an easy and inexpensive way to add to the unique feel of the units. Individual entrances from the street add to a sense of ownership and allow for small patios or trellises. As in any compact housing development, mixed-use is recommended. Altering unit types, such as walk-up apartments and townhomes above apartments, creates a variety of building forms and adds to the personalization of large multi-family complexes. Similar to the compact housing types discussed, altering setback depth may be suggested (Design Advisor, n.d.).

Multi-family with elevators
Large-scale multi-family housing developments fit best in a context where there are jobs and public transit close by. Typically this type of development occurs in cities, and can be quite appealing a smaller city, especially for younger people or baby boomers looking to downsize. Design is especially important when planning for multiple units within one complex. The use of irregular shapes, such as building wings, allows for porches, patios, balconies, or bay windows. Likewise, units with street level entry can have landscaped stairs to add appeal. As with other types of compact housing, open space and landscaping is a key priority because each unit does not have private outdoor space (Design Advisor, n,d.). Careful consideration for tree placement should be given when considering setback distances. Recreation areas should be provided on-site and might be located in the center of the complex for use by all residents. In most cases, it might be wise to hide parking in the first floor or underground. If parking is not taking up the whole first floor, adding retail or offices adds to the character of the complex (Design Advisor, n.d.).

Washington Court Condos, Newark, DE Washington Court Condos, Newark

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Last Updated: Friday, 07-Nov-2014 09:21:40 EST
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