August 16, 2009

Big houses, small houses.

A comparison of average new house sizes:




In square meters — or "metres" — sorry. Here's a conversion engine. The average American new home is 2303 square feet, as compared to the smallest, belonging to our former rulers, the British, 818. Ouch.

But let me say that I love small houses, when they are laid out well. Still, that average British house is really small.

39 comments:

MadisonMan said...

My house is 1700 sq feet. Plenty of room. We use every room every day. I'm not gonna spend money to heat space that I don't use.

I wonder how many people live in that 818-sq foot house in Britain. That seems tiny, but I've probably lived in smaller apartments.

Deb said...

818 square feet is about 200 square feet smaller than the one bedroom apartment I lived in at one time. That UK house probably costs a fortune, depending on location of course.

wedne - here a good wv for someone more clever than I am.

New York said...

To be fair, you would need to compare urban homes to urban, suburban to suburban etc.

But regardless, 113 m^2 is very small for the USA except maybe for a place in Manhattan.

When I finally got 100 m^2 it felt luxurious.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I was a home builder for 20 years. One our biggest hurdles in planning new subdivisions was local government imposing high minimum square footage requirements.

We routinely built homes with 1,200 to 1,800 square feet that were attractive, well-built, and very livable. When these homes were proposed as the type of dwellings that we would build in a proposed new subdivision, we were nearly always told that the minimums had to be 2,000 or 2,400 square feet if we wanted our subdivision approved.

The same reasons were offered by every local government: (1) We don't want the kind of people in our community who can afford only small homes (the neighbors' most frequent issue) and (2) We need more tax revenue; larger homes generate higher tax revenue.

Invariably, two weeks later, the mayor would complain that there wasn't enough "affordable" housing in his municipality.

Bi-curious George said...

You love small houses, but you actually live in an enormous one.

SteveR said...

Michael H., you are exactly right.

SteveR said...

Michael H., you are exactly right.

former law student said...

The new houses in which the baby boomers grew up were considerably smaller. Not counting the basement (per typical real estate practice) the 3 ba/1 bath house my grandparents bought in the early 50s was only 750 square feet. My Sixties-built house is 103 Quadratmeter as my cousins say. Small houses are easier to clean as well as cheaper to heat. They discourage one from accumulatig junk for which there is no room, besides

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Small houses ... discourage one from accumulatig junk for which there is no room, besides

Such as children.

I wonder how these numbers would look if done as square meters per occupant. ( I expect US homes would still be largest, but maybe not by as much. )

Bissage said...

I wanted a small, sensible house.

Mrs. Bissage wanted a big, impressive house.

So we compromised.

She got a house about 3,600 square feet, with an open foyer and cathedral ceilings.

I got to do her doggie-style facing every corner of every room in the house.

She got the better part of the deal.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

She got the better part of the deal.

Sounds to me like she got the short end of the stick.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I find it interesting that Austrailia is so close to the USA in home size.

Maybe there is a correlation between available space and home size?

Having been to England (where they pave old graveyards for car parks) I can see why they would have such a small average house size.

I agree that a small house well laid out is better than a mish-mashed larger home.

And Micheal H; i have seen some old subdivision requirements that a home of 'at least 1000 square feet and costing at least $2500 must be erected'. I guess that qualified as aa premium home 50 years ago.

WV: phileste- Wasn't he a '50's music producer?

Ralph L said...

The article says the survey of homeowners was done within an hour of London, so the sizes aren't really comparable to other whole countries.

My house started as two 16x18 rooms separated by a chimney & vestibule in 1874, then two 12x12's were added, possibly by my g-grandparents in the 80's before they built a big house next door in 1890. In 1921, my grandparents added a bathroom, bedroom, big central hallway, 2 sleeping porches, a screened kitchen porch & pantry, a huge 10x36 front porch, and moved the chimney 2 ft off center. In 1940, they moved it 20 feet to make room for a brick colonial. In 98-01, after it had been used for storage for 30 years, I gutted it and rebuilt the back fourth with 2nd bathroom, 3rd bedroom, and big carport.

It's about twice the space I need, but my father and grandfather were born in the house, so it was worth fixing up right. Most of the ceiling are 11' and the many windows are 3x6, so it feels bigger than it is. Also, my grandmother put my name on her best antiques when my father remarried, so I needed a place for them.

WV - epent
I epent too much on this house, and I ain't done yet.

former law student said...

Small houses ... discourage one from accumulatig junk for which there is no room, besides

Such as children.

? The Baby Boom was characterized by large families in small houses -- although many dads added on as their families grew, bunk beds and room-sharing were characteristic of the Baby Boom.

rhhardin said...

Japan is 94 sq meters.

They're smaller people though.

AllenS said...

In Japan, when the house is really small, they sleep standing up. Which is what I just learned by looking at the WV: irmatto, which is what sleeping standing up is called in Japan.

I love WV. Please, Professor, don't ever get rid of it.

NKVD said...

I have a small house, have owned large houses, too.

When I told my Japanese host the size of my house he was amazed. He lived in an apartment the size of my living room and kitchen. While I appreciate efficiency and compact design, give me some room to roam.

Heck, I have sheds bigger than Hashimoto-san's apartment. Nothin' personal, dude, but we have things to do, and need a space to do them.

And I have chainsaws with a larger engine displacement than their cars. Oh yeah, it's the American way!

WV - sydorte - my house has a sydorte that leads into the kitchen.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

Spent 6 weeks working in Hampshire (w/o my wife along) in 2001. Weekdays were hectic. We were bidding a Bespoke (love those Britishisms) SW job with the Britis MOD.

Anyway, I spent a weekend entertaining myself looking a new suburban Brit track homes. Bottom line

- high quality
- 2 story
- everything seemed 3/4 size
- appliances
- rooms
- hated the 2 tap sinks (I razed my Brit mates about them on Monday.

William said...

Do women associate larger houses with fecundity the way men consider a larger car a more impressive phallic symbol?.....wv: rexcrows. The wv program continues its mockery.

ironrailsironweights said...

The Baby Boom was characterized by large families in small houses -- although many dads added on as their families grew, bunk beds and room-sharing were characteristic of the Baby Boom.

Today we have smaller families yet (much) bigger houses. Go figure.

ironrailsironweights said...

Do women associate larger houses with fecundity the way men consider a larger car a more impressive phallic symbol?

Yes.

For men, a big SUV = the Washington Monument.

For women, a big house = Mammoth Cave.

As a result we see ... hey wait, maybe that's not such a good analogy. Never mind.

Peter

Dust Bunny Queen said...

We moved from a 900 square foot 1910 home into our 1600 square foot new home that we designed and built ourselves about 8 years ago. 2 bedrooms, two baths, laundry room and a great room ( bi level kitchen, living room, dining area) with 11 foot ceilings that is the size of our entire old house. Just right for two people.

Small homes require that you be very careful about organizing things because anything out of place will stand out like a sore thumb. Also keeps you from accumulating more and more 'stuff'.

Privacy and coordination of activity in a small home is also a pain. When we lived in the small home and my daughter was still living with us, it was difficult. We couldn't get away from each other, watch television at night without disturbing the others, listen to music or anything else. My daughter would have her teenage friends over and we would just go out so they could have some privacy and we could get some peace.

Robt C said...

I'm struck by the fact that the chart lists the *average* size homes. Depending on the standard deviation, there must be some reeeeely small places in the UK.

ricpic said...

I get to do her doggie-style facing every corner of every room in the house.

While pumping away Bissage couldn't help regret the lack of corner windows in this house. He knew he could never escape, that hope had died years ago, but that she had to insist they do it facing corners...no, NO, he was close to the breaking point. If he could only look out...was that so much to ask?!

John Thacker said...

Michael H.:

And then, of course, the mayor probably then blamed the lack of affordable housing on greedy developers like you.

The people who say they want higher density living are pretty deluded when they blame it on developers. Developers would love to build more densely; it's often more profitable to do so, because even if every house sells for less, you can fit more in a given area.

They should realize that it's their neighbors and the local regulations (especially zoning) that mandate large houses, and complain there.

John Thacker said...

hated the 2 tap sinks

Yes. Why oh why do the British STILL build homes with 2 faucet sinks?

ironrailsironweights said...

I got to do her doggie-style facing every corner of every room in the house.

Too dull, Reverse Cowgirl is much more stimulating.

Peter

John Lynch said...

This is why comparing home prices over time is apples and oranges. The original Levittsville tract homes were about 750 square feet. Now they are almost 3 times that.

Father Martin Fox said...

Wait, wait...

Americans have the largest, most spacious homes? But...but...I thought we were so miserable, while all the other developed countries so far ahead of us!

Oh. I see: it's our having large, roomy homes with lots of stuff that is what's so miserable about this benighted land--how much happier we would be in small, "cozy" homes; oh, if only our overlords would deliver us from this devastation!

Paul Zrimsek said...

Your house has to be pretty small to fit IN a street. Our houses are ON streets, so there's a lot more room.

VW=socal. 4,500 square feet's worth of negative equity.

Ralph L said...

Do women associate larger houses with fecundity?
Only when they've been thoroughly over-decorated. An empty house = an empty womb.

punging - the odd smell in the corners of Bissage's house.

Ann Althouse said...

"You love small houses, but you actually live in an enormous one. "

Do you see a contradiction there? I do not.

EDH said...

I got to do her doggie-style facing every corner of every room in the house.

Expect Bissage to be relegated to the "Dog House" for publishng that comment.

Jake said...

"Are you wahm enough?"...

Question for the ages. Why can't the British make windows that fit properly?

Ever driven around London and wondered why there are so may windows bricked up? The "glass tax". Worth remembering.

Closing thought. My sister, who lives in the Sologne, has a cook who thinks everyone in America lives like the people on "Dallas". Maybe she's not so wrong.

Jake said...

Oh, yes... and this is a fun blog.

http://tinyhouseblog.com/

Stephanie said...

Maybe it is just because we have an abundance of land and build houses proportional to the size of the lot. I have noticed that the denser the urban area the smaller the house. In the country, the farmhouse is built in proportion to the amount of land they need to use to turn a profit....

Nora said...

New houses in Britain being tiny is half the problem, they also have very low ceilings. My husband who is 5'10" could touch the ceiling with no effort. For this reason we bought Edwardian appartment with 11' ceilings.

I still miss my Glasgow flat ...

Kirk Parker said...

OK, Ralph L wins Best Comment for his wv definition!

(wv: readspa)