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This Is A Snout House, The Mid-Size Crossover Of Homes

The design, like America itself, puts cars front and center

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Screenshot: Zillow/Jalopnik

These houses, where the most prominent element you see from the street is the garage, are often called snout houses because the garage pokes out like a big snout. From a design standpoint, they strike me as incredibly weird — like a house for a car with a couple rooms for the car’s caretakers in the back. They’re a little perverse, a mutation of the traditional home.They’re also one of two types of house being built in my area right now, the other being identical black and white Chip and Joanna Specials. So, I spend a lot of time looking at them, and thinking about how weird they look.

They don’t look weird because they’re houses with attached car storage, obviously the attached garage is pretty well-established. And, generally, I find carholes that have been converted into homes appealing. I wanted this place badly. It’s that most often, things look “good” when they look like they’re fit for a purpose. Sports cars look good when they look fast or powerful. Off-roaders look good to the extent that they look like they’d be good off-road. Things generally look weird or bad when their purpose is unclear. This has to be be why the snout house doesn’t work. It’s car storage being sort of disguised as a house.


That’s not to say it’s bad per se. The snout house provides the prospective home buyer with “house.” It’s utilitarian in that nice-enough “I’ve never really thought about it” sense that kind of defines the American suburban experience. But it looks weird because while it is clearly a utility-first design, it’s not purely utilitarian like a warehouse loft or even in the barndominium sense. It has moulding, board and batten siding, etc — the garage is obviously the main event, but attempts are made to mask the single mindedness.

I posted about this on Twitter the other night, and got a lot of “Car Guy” responses from people wondering why I hated the idea of a big garage. [Auh, auh, auh] I don’t have a problem with a big garage, I have in fact, arranged my life so that I can have a detached three car garage, a large shop with a lift and a ramshackle barn. I realize that this is not possible for a lot of people. A snout house may be your best option.


I also heard some comments that boiled down to, “Look, I made an aesthetic compromise here and I’m generally happy with the house overall.” That’s very hard to argue with. If it’s a question of utility vs style, a lot of people are going to do the math and figure out that they’re OK driving the same crossover the neighbors have or buying a snout house. It’s also, I think a sort of a question of ego — does your house need to express something special and interesting about you — the protagonist of reality — or is it just a place to watch TV at night?

Some really hate them, claiming that they promote isolation among neighbors and look goofy. There have even been efforts to ban them all together in some places. Others see them as an efficient way to pack a lot of house with their garages on a small amount of land while minimizing environmentally harmful driveways and providing room for trees, etc. And when you’re working with a small lot, building a more conventional house where the attached garage connects to the main house on the end, or at an “L” can cost you a lot of yard. As the dream of home ownership vanishes for most people, snout houses are generally, relatively affordable, comfortable homes that provide the kinds of features that people value. In car terms, they’re mid-size crossovers—not necessarily anyone’s dream, but packed with the kinds of features people want, cheapish, and basically fine.

Ultimately, I get why people buy them, I get why people hate them. But, the real question is, as always: What do the ultimate thought-leaders, Jalopnik readers think? Are these a symptom of terminal car-brain, or just a house that I need to stop thinking about?