Over the years I’ve designed and drawn many different styles of homes for clients. I’ve had the honor of making plans for stately Colonial Manors, Cottages, Modern Contemporary, Federal Style, Mediterranean, etc., but the most versatile of all these layouts is the American Ranch Style home.
Conceived in the US in the 1920s, and patterned after the Midwestern homes use by ranchers and farmers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Hence the name: “Rancher”. The Rancher was also known as the “Tract House” because this was the style of choice for developers creating large sub divisions. Thousands of these homes were built in subdivisions across the nation. If you’ve ever watched the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart at Christmas time, about 45 minutes into the move you’ll see a whole bunch of these Ranch styles in the back ground.
Simpler because of its single story design, the Ranch House can be made into a large rectangle with a long central hallway. But the house can also be built in a “T” or “C” shaped configuration, a “L”, and even an “E” or even a double “E” layout. This gives this design an ability to adapt to the needs of the family living in it and fit the terrain, no matter what the topography of the lot it’s built on.
The foundations or basements are also a simple matter for these homes. That’s because we have the simple rectangular design. With a rectangular layout, there’s always an easy way to support the floor system with all the piers or post evenly spaced.
Roofs on this style also can vary in shape. The most common roof for the main rectangle of the home is the simple gable, hip, half hip, or even a flat roof. But if the other appendages are added, you can have multiple roofs in whatever direction the homes extensions happen to go. I’ve seen some built with angled appendages at 30 to 45 degrees.
But the design even lends itself to more class by adding a steep roof pitch that another ½ story can be added to the house making it a story and a half. From that steep roof, dormers can be placed to add even more beauty to the home. One of the prettiest Ranchers I’ve ever seen had this steep roof configuration with a large center dormer and smaller dormers on each side of the large one. It was also decorated out with many of the classic brick work, columns, and trims of the colonial homes. It was a sight to behold and the owner was very proud.