Architectural slang: a house with a protruding garage.

An attached garage is a necessary and desirable achitectural feature for many house buyers. But forward-facing, dominant garages are often criticized:


  • They obliterate other, more unique and interesting architectural features.

  • A tremendous, jutting garage often makes it difficult for visitors to immediately locate the front door (see trick-or-treat test).

  • They discourage neighborhood interaction; huge garages squeeze out front yards and porches. Studies have been done and apparently snout-house streets have much lower neighborhood bustle.

  • They discourage or re-route casual pedestrian activity - nobody wants to stroll or bicycle down an ugly street if there is a nicer one nearby.

  • Snout-house streets are measurably less safe - there are more deep corners for nabsters to hide in, and less neighborhood activity to deter muggings and whatnot.

  • People just hate them. Visual preference surveys have consistently shown that snout houses aren’t widely appealing. Wiki says the snout house looks “like a storage shed with an attached house.” Almost anything that might take its place - a windowed wall, a tree, or a front porch - is better to look at than a big blank car box.

Between 1989 and 2002, the number of American snout houses tripled, from ten to thirty percent. In 1999, Portland realized seven out of every ten of its houses were built on this less-than-desirable design, and its city commission voted unanimously to begin regulating snout houses. The city now has an ordinance which limits the percentage of facade which can be devoted to the garage. One commissioner said, "You can still build an ugly house in Portland, but now you just have to work at it a lot harder." Many other cities have since followed Portland’s lead.



really interesting blog post: A Little Urbanity: “Talking Properties” - http://littleurbanity.blogspot.com/2005/03/talking-properties.html

Regulating Snout Houses - http://user.gru.net/domz/snout.htm

relevant Q&A with Jason Wittenberg, a Minneapolis planner - http://www.planning.org/zoningpractice/askauthor/02/askauthor0902.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snout_house

Searching Google Images for “snout house,” with the quote marks, will bring up three excellent examples.

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