Resources & Research

Volume I: This Used to Be Normal

What’s old is new again—and a beloved chapter in architectural history can be a part of our strategy for tackling Michigan’s shortage of homes. To that end, the League offered This Used to Be Normal: Pattern Book Homes for 21st Century Michigan, released in September 2022.

This guide includes two 95% complete construction plan sets:

“Oh, I love that house!”

Traditional neighborhoods around the state are full of homes from catalogs designed by companies like Sears Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and Michigan-based Aladdin Homes. These housing solutions from the early twentieth century both addressed the housing needs of a booming economy and established a Great Lakes vernacular residential architecture. Built by individual homeowners and small developers working from common plan sets, they brought high-quality design into reach for the middle class.

Many of these homes included more than one dwelling, providing flexibility for multi-generational families or rental income.

Some of these same approaches can help keep home construction costs in reach today.

Volume I of Pattern Book Homes outlines the role these beloved historic pattern book homes have played in our communities, and outlines techniques for building a new generation of them. These plans offer recognizable Michigan architectural traditions with current building codes and accessibility considerations and are designed to fit on a 50 × 100-foot lot in an existing neighborhood context. Additionally, the guide outlines zoning and regulatory updates that communities can make to streamline the use of these plans as part of their local housing and community stability strategies.

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