by Lauren Busser Direct from the Designers Contributing Writer
For decades the size of the American house plan has been trending upwards but a changing economic climate combined with concern for the environment has seen the American home begin to trend in a different direction; towards smaller, more manageable homes.
In 1973 the average size of the American home was 1,660 square feet and continued to trend upwards till it peaked at 2,521 square feet in 2007. The scales began to tip in the last several years with the average new home being 2,392 square feet in 2010. This trend is expected to continue downward with homes shrinking by an additional 10 percent by 2015.
It’s not just averages that are showing this trend; 9 out of 10 builders are reporting being asked to build smaller homes and one third of Americans report that their ideal home would be under 2,000 square feet.
So what exactly is driving this? Some might think that “bigger is better.” Of course that may be the case if your family is growing or if you simply prefer and can afford a larger home. Obviously a larger home will cost more to build, own and maintain. Purchasing a larger house will often come with higher insurance premiums, property taxes, utility bills and other recurring expenses that may increase in the future.
When you take all of that into account it is easy to see why smaller house plans have lately become more popular. Small house plans are energy efficient, easier to clean, and less expensive to insure, operate and maintain. Even if it costs the same for you to buy or build a larger home you'll spend less on extra, possibly wasted space and be able to use that money for higher quality materials, furnishings, and architectural details.
Small homes also encourage people to avoid clutter. The less space you have the more you are required to choose purchases more carefully. Since it is harder to deal with excess there is less of a desire to acquire it simply to occupy an empty spot in a room. The less superfluous stuff you have makes a smaller home quicker to clean and generally keep tidy. You'll tend to avoid 'dust collectors.'
It goes without saying that smaller house plans tend to be more eco-friendly. This is because they occupy less space and require fewer resources to build and maintain. For someone who makes energy-efficiency a priority, a smaller home is the obvious choice. The average annual cost to heat and cool a 2,200 square foot home is $1,386 compared to a 4,400 square foot home at $2,772. That's some real savings.
Small house plans are also perfect for any budget-conscious consumer. A small house plan will cost less to build but also any repair bills down the line will be smaller. Roofing, painting, deck and patio maintenance—when your house shrinks so do the bills.
So when it comes to the size of your home, smaller is definitely not a bad thing and shouldn't be thought of as a compromise. If you want a place to call your own that is eco-friendly and easy to maintain, a small home may be the perfect solution. Remember that though your home may be small you won't have to give up a thing. Many of today’s small house plans feel just like reduced versions of large houses, using open floor plans that maximize space and efficiency, making a smaller home just as comfy to live in as a large one.