With our recent turn in the economy, one of the most notable changes to the housing market is that people are beginning to build smaller, and this is a very good trend. Although the change in floor plans is may be due to the inability to obtain those larger loans that we had been accustomed to, this is a wonderful opportunity. This gives you the chance to take a hard look at just how much space do you really need to be happy in your new home?
An excellent book to read about utilizing spaces to the full potential is “The Not So Big House” by Sarah Susanka (www.notsobighouse.com). Her books challenge you to look at your house that you are currently living in and how you use it. One of her most earth shaking points to me upon my first reading years ago, was to think about your day yesterday and what rooms you used in your house. Do you have rooms that you never entered or were not used by anyone in your house yesterday? How about all last week? Last month? If you have spaces in your house designed for a single use that only get used once a month or heaven forbid only once or twice a year, then you need to do some adjusting in your thinking before you build or purchase your next house.
An average family in the 1950’s consisted of 3.7 people and resided in a house that was just under 1000 s.f. Today, family size has shrunk to 2.6 people while the average house size has increased to over 2400 s.f. Larger houses require lots more material to construct and much more energy to heat and cool. So rather than considering a larger home or adding on to the one you have, maybe you can take some ideas from Susanka and make some of the existing spaces that you have serve more than one function and spend your money on making what you have more energy efficient.
The biggest underutilized rooms in traditional houses are the dedicated living room and dining room. These should be spaces that you use every day. I grew up in a house where the living and dining room were behind closed doors and never were ventured into by any of us even though they were warm, inviting sunny locations. Instead plan your new house or remodel your old one to incorporate open floor plans that can serve multiple uses while having small nooks here and there for quiet studying or playing areas for the kids.
Too often we think of our homes not meeting our needs, when we simply need to adjust how we utilize the space we already have. Instead of spending your money on more space, spend it on quality and make the smaller space more polished by adding nicer features. Trim and make it function better by making it a super high efficiency home. When thinking of remodeling for specialized spaces for high efficiency, think about EarthCraft which helps you streamline the energy saving upgrades in your home. Saying something is green is one thing, proving that it functions well is something completely different. EarthCraft certification provides you with inspection and testing services that prove that your house performing at a level above all the rest. Put your money into saving yourself money. That’s a construction project that makes cents!