In all the years that my company and I designed and built custom homes for clients, there were fewer than a half dozen times that the final size of the project was actually equal to, or smaller than, what the prospective homebuyers had indicated as their target in the beginning.
I think most people try to be conservative when they start the process of determining how much space they will truly need (often not in alignment with what they secretly want), and they definitely seek a financially responsible outcome to all that wish-listing and planning. Along the way, the process simply reveals things they had failed to consider—or forgot to include—and the house size can balloon in response.
As a result, and despite our best efforts and their best intentions, the final design and completed project would frequently outgrow the original concept. This is not to imply that the outcome was detrimental—only an observation that this is the way of such things.
Recent reports of housing size in America indicate that following several years of shrinking square footage figures they are once again on the rise. There are a number of nuances in the statistics, many having to do with demographic details like the age, ethnicity, geographic location, educational level and income status of the buyer, but the biggest factor of all seems to be interest rates, because they have the greatest impact on the dollar limit that the consumer can spend. Human nature just seems to push us in the direction of maxing out.
Another indicator of this behavior is seen in the sales figures of automobiles and trucks. Current sales reports reflect renewed activity in the purchase of SUVs and full-size trucks—a direct reflection of fuel prices being lower than a year ago, when sales of these larger vehicles were stagnant—and those drivers who were buying vehicles were focusing heavily on fuel economy. The average consumer seems stubbornly resistant to overcoming their tendency to be reactive rather than proactive in this area, so we see the rollercoaster effect go on and on as gas prices rise and fall.
Ironically, bigger is not necessarily better, especially when it comes to major acquisitions like new vehicles or homes. If this was not the case, we would all be driving cargo vans and residing in barns.
No, size alone is not an indicator of value, a concept perhaps best ascribed to my friend, celebrated architect and author Sarah Susanka, who has arguably done more than any other single person to enlighten the American consumer to the true value equation derived from quality versus quantity. But her sage message does not pretend that the informed buyer will gravitate toward spending less than the most he or she can afford—rather that the genuine measure of housing value is not expressed in square feet.
See our May 2013 issue, Living Small, for a collection of small house floorplans.
Posted: 6/7/2013 10:23:47 AM by
Mary Kestner | with 0 comments