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Americans Move to Smaller Homes

2/10/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: trends, home trends, small homes, energy-efficient homes

At Natural Home, we have a soft spot for smaller homes. From the 240-square-foot house we featured in our first year to the superbly designed small house in our current issue, we love to show how well you can live in less than 1,000 square feet. And now, it’s official: Smaller homes are the new trend in housing.

little blue house
Americans want smaller homes. Photo By M.V. Jantzen/Courtesy Flickr. 

Average single-family home size declined from 2,520 square feet in 2008 to 2,480 square feet in 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders. While that decline may not seem massive, keep in mind that housing sizes have grown continuously for 30 years.

Square footage isn’t the only thing that’s shrinking. Last year, homes with three or more bathrooms dropped from 28 percent to 24 percent for the first time since 1992, and homes with four or more bedrooms fell from 40 percent to 32 percent.

A survey of builders suggests that smaller homes will continue to be a trend in 2010. The majority of builders told NAHB that they will build lower-priced (95 percent), smaller (96 percent) homes. Better yet, the majority of builders said they would focus on making homes energy efficient by including such features as low-E windows, programmable thermostats, insulated front doors and energy-efficient lighting. As homes become more energy efficient, some homes features, such as energy hogging cavernous foyers, will fall by the wayside.

Builders aren’t the only ones onboard with smaller, more energy efficient homes. A Better Homes and Gardens survey found that most homebuyers also want energy-efficient homes. Of those surveyed, 66 percent wanted a more efficiently designed home, 65 percent wanted to incorporate natural light, 76 percent wanted efficient HVAC systems and 79 wanted Energy Star-qualified appliances.

Homeowners are also focusing more on functionality as a way to save space. Instead of a formal dining room, they’re opting for a home office. Instead of an opulent master bedroom modeled after a hotel suite, homeowners are spending their money on the kitchen or a family room—spaces where everyone can gather.

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