If you live in Franklin, the photo below is familiar. However, these crapulent cardboard constructions may be on their way out sooner rather than later -- the question is, will local plan commissions and developers rise to the opportunity and prepare for the next wave?
There is some evidence that urban townhomes and infill housing are more popular, as rising gas prices increase the cost of commuting. Higher energy costs also affect heating and air conditioning, which may have the effect of discouraging homebuyers from purchasing large houses with soaring entryways and expansive family rooms. While the evidence is fragmentary—the current reduction in average new house sizes has more to do with the preponderance of first-time buyers than an overall shift in demand—it is clear that the long recessionary cold-shower will dampen the exuberance that characterized the boom years of 2000 to 2005. That will mean smaller houses closer together on smaller lots in inner suburbs, fewer McMansions, and fewer planned communities in the distant hinterland. An alternative scenario is that American optimism will prevail and it will be business as usual, as happened during the boom of the 1950s following the Great Depression, or during the period following the Energy Crisis of 1973, when car buyers, after a brief flirtation with Japanese compact cars, embraced minivans and SUVs. But I wouldn't count on it.