Pros and Cons of Buying a New Orleans Shotgun Home
The New Orleans shotgun is an iconic image of our local architecture. The style, which offers fabulous cross ventilation due to the design, originated in the early 1800s. Well before the dawn of air conditioning, the ability to have a breeze blow from one end of the house to the other (and side to side, as well) was crucial to surviving our hot and humid summers.
Over the years, the shotgun developed a bit of a reputation for being the housing choice of poor people, and fell out of favor with builders. Today, that’s all turned around. No longer is the moniker “shotgun” is a negative, because many of these homes have been rearranged and renovated to remove the original layout.
In a traditional shotgun, rooms are located one behind the other, forcing residents to walk through each room to get to the next. Indoor plumbing was not a given when many of these homes were built, so bathrooms were often added to the very back of the house, behind the kitchen, which was traditionally the last room.
The pros of a New Orleans shotgun
- Sitting on narrow lots, there’s not a lot of yard maintenance to be found when owning a shotgun, since the house takes up the majority of the land.
- You get to be close and intimate with everyone in your household, mostly because you’re walking through their bedroom to get the kitchen or bathroom.
- The flexible arrangement of rooms means you can create as many bedrooms as you have rooms if need be. Or use a bedroom for an office. Since many of them don’t have closets, each bedroom can be used however you see fit.
The cons of a New Orleans shotgun
- You get to be close and intimate with everyone in your household… Seriously, you have to really like your friends or have a great decorator to be comfortable letting guests traipse through your bedroom to get to the kitchen or bath.
- They are harder to rent and/or sell. One of the first questions we get from prospective tenants is “is it a shotgun layout?”. That traditional floor plan is a harder sell today, when people value their privacy much more than they did in days gone by.
- Long houses on narrow lots can mean that the house takes up most of the land – leaving you without much of a backyard.
- Off street parking is rare. If you’re a person that needs to know you’ve got at least one parking spot, a shotgun may not be the best choice for your home.
Things to watch during your home search
Listing agents are the ones who determine how a house is listed in the MLS. Don’t discount every home listed as shotgun until you’ve seen the photos. It’s highly likely that the configuration has changed over the years into something else.
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