Tract housing (also known as cookie-cutter housing) is a style of housing development in which multiple identical or nearly-identical homes are built to create a community. Tract housing developments may encompass dozens of square miles. Tract housing developments are typically found in North American suburbs that were modeled on the "Levittown" concept.
Tract housing development only makes use of a few designs, and labor costs are reduced because workers only need to learn the skills and movements of constructing a limited variety of home designs. In addition, as all homes in the development will be built at the same time, the cost of purchasing and transporting building supplies may be reduced due to economies of scale. Components such as roof trusses, plumbing trees, and stair systems are often fabricated in factories and installed on site. This allows contractors to reduce prices, which in turn can make homes more affordable (and more accessible to a larger percentage of the population) and may also allow contractors to reap higher profits.
Early tract homes were often identical, but more recently built tract homes no longer look identical from the exterior.
The concept of tract housing is occasionally mocked in American popular culture as the basis of a sterile and dispiriting suburbia. Nonetheless, the use of tract housing in new American suburban developments continues to dominate.
Laura spends her days in her tract housing community with her young son while her husband goes off to work. She leaves only to run trivial errands like buying flour or getting a haircut. On the surface they are living the American Dream; she is nevertheless deeply unhappy.