Washington and its suburbs are filled with ramblers and ranch-style homes. They have new appeal to the young and the not so young. The Rambler or Ranch-style house is a classic domestic American architectural style that first appeared in the 1920’s, but became very popular in the post-war years of the 1940’s and 1950’s. There was abundant land and an exploding demand for affordable housing. The Baby Boomers needed to be housed. Some of the characteristics of the ranch or rambler is a low pitched room, generally rectangular or L-shaped, one level and frequently with an attached garage.
For the aging, and for the young, there’s the appeal of living on one story. Today’s average American house size has doubled over a 1950’s home when the average square footage was 1,000 sq. ft. vs. 2,392 sq. ft. in 2010. If there’s a need or expectation of more space, the rambler is still very worthy of considering and there are some very clever and versatile solutions to adding more space.
Paul Gaiser, AIA, and Director of Architecture at Landis Construction, has transformed dozen of ramblers by adding a second story to give expanded living area and in some instances has simultaneously changed the entire appearance of the house—all in one remodeling job. Paul points out that with building up there are fewer zoning issues, lower construction costs due to limited foundation work needed, less disruption to the first floor living space, and lower utility costs—all of which are good reasons to go up rather than out, if you want to expand. “Finding the right place to drop the stairs is the key to a successful plan”, says Paul.