The Trick-or-Treat Test

Happy Halloween! Tonight, the streets will be crawling with adorable goblins, witches and zombies (okay, some are genuinely frightening)!  At the Patterson residence, our tradition involves me dressing up as a witch and putting on my best “wicked witch from the west” voice as I ask the kids, “Would you would like some candy?” I must have been pretty convincing because some kids wouldn’t even make it up porch. One such youngster was in my car pool and rode with me every morning to school – true story! Yet even with the promise of candy, some houses (or residents like me) are just too scary.

House-Forward, Garage-Back

What makes for a Halloween-friendly house? One that is well lit with a couple of cleverly carved pumpkins, of course! Architecturally speaking, a pedestrian-friendly design starts with house forward and garage back. Add a front porch and you’re in business! These houses look inviting all days of the year and not just on Halloween. 

As for the porch size, I strive for at least 6’ of clear width – enough for a couple of chairs or a porch swing. Keep in mind, if you have massive Craftsman columns with 2’ thick stone piers, you might add a little extra depth to the porch. As for the width, this should follow the width of the house – the wider the house, the wider the porch. I recommend a minimum of 8’ for a 30’ wide house; 10’ to 12’ on a 40’ wide house and so on. If the door is off to one side, then it is possible to get seating on the porch that doesn’t block the path of travel. Sabal Homes' Camelia model in Summerville, SC comes to mind. Who wouldn't want to go trick-or-treating here? 

Putting the garage in front of the house just isn't as welcoming – especially cloaked in the darkness of Halloween night. Of course, house-forward and garage-back can be extremely challenging in some building envelops. However, with a little extra planning, it is possible to achieve, even with 30’ of width, as demonstrated by this charming design for Providence Homes

Charming 30' wide house by Providence Homes

Charming 30' wide house by Providence Homes

Forget about putting the front door on the side of the house. This only works on a corner lot and the front door faces the side street. My rule is that the front door should always be visible from the street, not on the side and not tucked around the corner. Houses that are pedestrian and trick-or-treat friendly will always sell faster than those that are not. It also makes for a better streetscape and community. 

I hope you enjoy Halloween night. I’m looking forward to establishing my Halloween tradition in my new house and neighborhood. I hope I will once again hear the kids on the street say, “that’s the witches house!”