Author Topic: Excessive House Size in the U.S.  (Read 33858 times)

robartsd

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #100 on: January 25, 2016, 12:50:21 PM »
"Passing down" real estate may be a great idea, but it does get messy with multiple children, and long lifetimes.  Consider that if a parent lives until their 90s, their kids are 60's or 70's, grandkids in their 40's, great grandkids are teens...long time to wait to get a house.  And what if the parent changes their will?  I've had a lot of exposure to elderly folks who just got "ornery" as they aged, and changed things willy nilly.
Yes it would get messy with multiple children. The old aristocratic way was to have AN "heir" who inherrits the estate with others only getting a small inheritance if anything. I could see creating an entity to hold the real estate (perhaps other assets too) and having the resident rent (perhaps below market rate). Other heirs could still have claim to shares and collectively could control the property. I'd want it structured in a way that would encourage having descendents continue to live on the property, but have some means for a super majority to decided it should be sold.

Le Poisson

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #101 on: January 25, 2016, 12:57:00 PM »
"Passing down" real estate may be a great idea, but it does get messy with multiple children, and long lifetimes.  Consider that if a parent lives until their 90s, their kids are 60's or 70's, grandkids in their 40's, great grandkids are teens...long time to wait to get a house.  And what if the parent changes their will?  I've had a lot of exposure to elderly folks who just got "ornery" as they aged, and changed things willy nilly.
Yes it would get messy with multiple children. The old aristocratic way was to have AN "heir" who inherrits the estate with others only getting a small inheritance if anything. I could see creating an entity to hold the real estate (perhaps other assets too) and having the resident rent (perhaps below market rate). Other heirs could still have claim to shares and collectively could control the property. I'd want it structured in a way that would encourage having descendents continue to live on the property, but have some means for a super majority to decided it should be sold.

A girl at the office is Tamil, and her family is uniquely situated to do what is being proposed very nicely. The family has pooled resources and bought a large tract of land cooperatively. The acreage was subdivided as a neighbourhood development, and all of the family took an individual lot.

The girl I know is a civil eng. and her family (extended) includes tradespeople and lawyers, so they are able to complete most of the work themselves. The subdivision is laid out such that the elderly are in a central location where they can be cared for by others in the family, but everyone has their own home.

A portion of the land was subdivided, registered, and set aside as "phase 2" so that the next generation has land to build on when the time comes.  Because engineering and legal fees are minimal with the family cooperative, there is a load of extra cash being pumped into the houses. It is a very clever plan, but depends on everyone pulling together, and the whole family coming together to make the vision reality. I believe phase 1 has something like 30 lots.

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #102 on: January 25, 2016, 01:37:36 PM »
I love and get along with my family, but I'm happy the closest of them is 20+ min away by car.  I certainly don't want them next door. 

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #103 on: January 25, 2016, 01:45:31 PM »
I like a boxy colonial (two storey, four-room per floor, central hall) design. Its my dream house.

We lived in a very open viceroy, and it drove me nuts that everytime someone ran the blender, the whole house could hear it. Or if Momma hosted a guiding meeting, there was noplace for me to hide. Or if I was working on a project the dust and mess blew everywhere.

What we have now is a good compromise for us - an open, finished masement, but separate living room, dining room, family room and kitchen on the main floor. Perfect.

This is how Emily Dickinson's house in Amherst, MA is built. It's really lovely. Four rooms up and four down, plus a little side annex. It's also got windows on all four sides, so it's very bright and airy inside.

https://www.google.com/search?q=emily+dickinson+house&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjz0J_f6cXKAhWps4MKHU7DAoYQsAQIMg&biw=1536&bih=788#imgrc=ms8QRvUl4lCc_M%3A

Le Poisson

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #104 on: January 25, 2016, 02:00:50 PM »
I like a boxy colonial (two storey, four-room per floor, central hall) design. Its my dream house.

We lived in a very open viceroy, and it drove me nuts that everytime someone ran the blender, the whole house could hear it. Or if Momma hosted a guiding meeting, there was noplace for me to hide. Or if I was working on a project the dust and mess blew everywhere.

What we have now is a good compromise for us - an open, finished masement, but separate living room, dining room, family room and kitchen on the main floor. Perfect.

This is how Emily Dickinson's house in Amherst, MA is built. It's really lovely. Four rooms up and four down, plus a little side annex. It's also got windows on all four sides, so it's very bright and airy inside.

https://www.google.com/search?q=emily+dickinson+house&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjz0J_f6cXKAhWps4MKHU7DAoYQsAQIMg&biw=1536&bih=788#imgrc=ms8QRvUl4lCc_M%3A

Beautiful house - but probably excessively sized for my family ;)

I had a chance to buy one of these when I was looking for my first house. It had a turret on the front and a service staircase going back to front, crossing with the formal staircase in a big X up the middle of the house. I still kick myself for not having bought it back then. It needed a load of work, but today that house looks really nice.

robartsd

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #105 on: January 25, 2016, 02:11:31 PM »
I like a boxy colonial (two storey, four-room per floor, central hall) design. Its my dream house.
Do you mean American Foursquare?

Le Poisson

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #106 on: January 25, 2016, 02:21:32 PM »
I like a boxy colonial (two storey, four-room per floor, central hall) design. Its my dream house.
Do you mean American Foursquare?

No. The foursquare doesn't have a central hall that leads straight from front porch to back porch. Also, there were/are many interpretations of the foursquare design. A traditional centre hall colonial is a more rigid design.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/63824519694350380/ - sorry but pinterest was the first thing that came up.

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #107 on: January 25, 2016, 02:27:51 PM »
I like a boxy colonial (two storey, four-room per floor, central hall) design. Its my dream house.
Do you mean American Foursquare?

No. The foursquare doesn't have a central hall that leads straight from front porch to back porch. Also, there were/are many interpretations of the foursquare design. A traditional centre hall colonial is a more rigid design.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/63824519694350380/ - sorry but pinterest was the first thing that came up.



That's sorta what I grew up in, except the den and kitchen were adjoined and there was a table in the den where we ate most of our meals.  Living and dining room were seldom used, and a waste.  And in the kitchen and den (we called it a keeping room), there was only room for 1 couch and the informal table, meaning we could never sit the whole family of 4 comfortably unless someone sat in a chair at the table.  Big waste of space. 

Le Poisson

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #108 on: January 25, 2016, 02:36:38 PM »
Sorry your house wasn't up to snuff :)

The one I shoulda bought was stretched longer so that the rooms were all rectangular. The den and living room were separated by the heavy wood sliding doors mentioned previously in the thread, and the front corner of the house (in front of the living room fireplace) had a turret with built-in benches and upholstery.

There was no rear porch, but a service entry came into the kitchen.

Its funny, our current house has a lot of these rooms, albeit in a different configuration, and they all see a lot of use. We have more SFA than we need, but it would be hard to choose which room to give up because of how we use the space.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #109 on: January 25, 2016, 03:31:44 PM »
I've always fantasized about having a turret on my house. Of course I had to go and buy a 1-storey... building a turret would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #110 on: January 25, 2016, 03:39:27 PM »
I've always fantasized about having a turret on my house. Of course I had to go and buy a 1-storey... building a turret would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?

There's a house across the street from mine, same model, 50s/60s split level.  Someone along the way added a turret to it.  I joked with my wife that it basically looks like some redneck won $50k in the lotto, and said "I'm rich, I want to live in a castle!"  So they added a turret to their existing house, and it looks terrible.


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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #111 on: January 25, 2016, 03:55:21 PM »
I've always fantasized about having a turret on my house. Of course I had to go and buy a 1-storey... building a turret would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?

There's a house across the street from mine, same model, 50s/60s split level.  Someone along the way added a turret to it.  I joked with my wife that it basically looks like some redneck won $50k in the lotto, and said "I'm rich, I want to live in a castle!"  So they added a turret to their existing house, and it looks terrible.

See, I was thinking of something more along the lines of adding an octagon or hexagon, maybe 10" in diameter, to the outer corner where the closets meet in the kids' room. It would actually be 3/4 of the octagon, because it would take a nip out of the corner. I'd cut "secret" doors out of the back of each kid's closet for access... no external doors or windows obviously, because you can't have that in a castle, but you do need at least one secret door and passage or else it isn't badass. The secret doors wouldn't need to be full sized but they would need to blend reasonably well into the back of the closet.

Then on the outside of what used to be the house exterior, which is now a corner sticking into the octagon comprising the inside of the turret, I'd run a ladder up one side and perhaps also a firehouse pole if I was feeling ambitious.  At what would ordinarily be the second story, the second level would extend partially into what is now the roof, with HVAC and electrical access from there and a bit of a cupola enclosure much like a gazebo. It would have windows in all directions and thick padded seats that would lift up to reveal storage underneath. Maybe I'd even wire in a television or something.

From the exterior I'd finish the octagonal outside in the same kind of brick as I've already got, laid down on a concrete pad obviously, and with roofing to match. The top of the turret would actually be lower than the peak of my roof if I put the second story at the standard 8 foot height, because the rest of the house has 12 foot ceilings and a pitched roof.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #112 on: January 25, 2016, 04:34:20 PM »
I've always fantasized about having a turret on my house. Of course I had to go and buy a 1-storey... building a turret would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?

There's a house across the street from mine, same model, 50s/60s split level.  Someone along the way added a turret to it.  I joked with my wife that it basically looks like some redneck won $50k in the lotto, and said "I'm rich, I want to live in a castle!"  So they added a turret to their existing house, and it looks terrible.

See, I was thinking of something more along the lines of adding an octagon or hexagon, maybe 10" in diameter, to the outer corner where the closets meet in the kids' room. It would actually be 3/4 of the octagon, because it would take a nip out of the corner. I'd cut "secret" doors out of the back of each kid's closet for access... no external doors or windows obviously, because you can't have that in a castle, but you do need at least one secret door and passage or else it isn't badass. The secret doors wouldn't need to be full sized but they would need to blend reasonably well into the back of the closet.

Then on the outside of what used to be the house exterior, which is now a corner sticking into the octagon comprising the inside of the turret, I'd run a ladder up one side and perhaps also a firehouse pole if I was feeling ambitious.  At what would ordinarily be the second story, the second level would extend partially into what is now the roof, with HVAC and electrical access from there and a bit of a cupola enclosure much like a gazebo. It would have windows in all directions and thick padded seats that would lift up to reveal storage underneath. Maybe I'd even wire in a television or something.

From the exterior I'd finish the octagonal outside in the same kind of brick as I've already got, laid down on a concrete pad obviously, and with roofing to match. The top of the turret would actually be lower than the peak of my roof if I put the second story at the standard 8 foot height, because the rest of the house has 12 foot ceilings and a pitched roof.
That sounds fantastic!

Kitsune

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #113 on: January 26, 2016, 06:37:46 AM »
"Passing down" real estate may be a great idea, but it does get messy with multiple children, and long lifetimes.  Consider that if a parent lives until their 90s, their kids are 60's or 70's, grandkids in their 40's, great grandkids are teens...long time to wait to get a house.  And what if the parent changes their will?  I've had a lot of exposure to elderly folks who just got "ornery" as they aged, and changed things willy nilly.
Yes it would get messy with multiple children. The old aristocratic way was to have AN "heir" who inherrits the estate with others only getting a small inheritance if anything. I could see creating an entity to hold the real estate (perhaps other assets too) and having the resident rent (perhaps below market rate). Other heirs could still have claim to shares and collectively could control the property. I'd want it structured in a way that would encourage having descendents continue to live on the property, but have some means for a super majority to decided it should be sold.

My in-laws did something similar 3 generations ago. It works fine as long as everyone is connected to each other and to a common purpose.

3 generations in, and you wind up with agricultural property being owned in part by big-city bankers who have no respect for agriculture or manual labour (and by their extended family, who are doing the manual labour to keep the land going....) Yeah. 3 generations in: kind of a mess.

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #114 on: January 26, 2016, 09:00:06 AM »
"Passing down" real estate may be a great idea, but it does get messy with multiple children, and long lifetimes.  Consider that if a parent lives until their 90s, their kids are 60's or 70's, grandkids in their 40's, great grandkids are teens...long time to wait to get a house.  And what if the parent changes their will?  I've had a lot of exposure to elderly folks who just got "ornery" as they aged, and changed things willy nilly.
Yes it would get messy with multiple children. The old aristocratic way was to have AN "heir" who inherrits the estate with others only getting a small inheritance if anything. I could see creating an entity to hold the real estate (perhaps other assets too) and having the resident rent (perhaps below market rate). Other heirs could still have claim to shares and collectively could control the property. I'd want it structured in a way that would encourage having descendents continue to live on the property, but have some means for a super majority to decided it should be sold.

My in-laws did something similar 3 generations ago. It works fine as long as everyone is connected to each other and to a common purpose.

3 generations in, and you wind up with agricultural property being owned in part by big-city bankers who have no respect for agriculture or manual labour (and by their extended family, who are doing the manual labour to keep the land going....) Yeah. 3 generations in: kind of a mess.

OTOH, why should someone feel obligated to a life of manual labor just because that's what grandpa did? 

Apples

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #115 on: January 26, 2016, 11:33:34 AM »
It's not the excessive house size that bothers me, its the lack of permanence in residence.

Why is there so much geographic dispersal in families?  It seems the pattern is to move out to an apartment, get married, get a condo, get a small house, get a bigger house in a better school district when you have kids, get an even bigger house when you get the promotion, and sometime after your kids move out downsize to a retirement community.

A better option may be a bigger multi level multi generational house that can be passed down.  The only downside is this would rely on employment being mainly based in the geographic region for at least one group per successive generation, however if the family is able to keep its wealth in house they will be less likely to rely on outside employment.

If you're ever in Quincy Massachusetts, I recommend doing the John Adams tour there.  He moved up to a pretty sweet multi generational house that lasted 140 years before becoming a historical museum.  How many of you want to have a house so sweet that your great grandchildren and beyond will want to live there?  Not many, I bet.  We just don't have the connection to our own land like we used to.

In contrast, I teach at a university, and one of my Egyptian students said that the common thing they did when a family member wanted a place to live, was to add an extra floor on top of their parents pre-existing place. I really don't know how this would work after multiple generations though.

...and that's how the pyramids came to be!

No...pyramids were built to store grain.

To the bolded part...isn't that sort of what mother-in-law suites are like, except most of those end up in the basement or above the garage, depending on MIL's mobility? :p

Kitsune

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #116 on: January 26, 2016, 12:41:41 PM »
"Passing down" real estate may be a great idea, but it does get messy with multiple children, and long lifetimes.  Consider that if a parent lives until their 90s, their kids are 60's or 70's, grandkids in their 40's, great grandkids are teens...long time to wait to get a house.  And what if the parent changes their will?  I've had a lot of exposure to elderly folks who just got "ornery" as they aged, and changed things willy nilly.
Yes it would get messy with multiple children. The old aristocratic way was to have AN "heir" who inherrits the estate with others only getting a small inheritance if anything. I could see creating an entity to hold the real estate (perhaps other assets too) and having the resident rent (perhaps below market rate). Other heirs could still have claim to shares and collectively could control the property. I'd want it structured in a way that would encourage having descendents continue to live on the property, but have some means for a super majority to decided it should be sold.

My in-laws did something similar 3 generations ago. It works fine as long as everyone is connected to each other and to a common purpose.

3 generations in, and you wind up with agricultural property being owned in part by big-city bankers who have no respect for agriculture or manual labour (and by their extended family, who are doing the manual labour to keep the land going....) Yeah. 3 generations in: kind of a mess.

OTOH, why should someone feel obligated to a life of manual labor just because that's what grandpa did?

Oh, absolutely! What I meant was, if you have agricultural land that's owned by committee (5 children, each of their 3 children, and each of THEIR 2-3 children... 3 generations in, you're at 20+ people with a 'share' of ownership as their parents die and pass it on), you need to have a committe that understands the work involved (either to do it or delegate it, either option!) or who gets out of the way so it can get done. "Ownership" in name with no maintenance/work/understanding, and no mutual goals with the other people involved, doesn't tend to lead to much other than generalized frustration.

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #117 on: January 26, 2016, 01:25:23 PM »
"Passing down" real estate may be a great idea, but it does get messy with multiple children, and long lifetimes.  Consider that if a parent lives until their 90s, their kids are 60's or 70's, grandkids in their 40's, great grandkids are teens...long time to wait to get a house.  And what if the parent changes their will?  I've had a lot of exposure to elderly folks who just got "ornery" as they aged, and changed things willy nilly.
Yes it would get messy with multiple children. The old aristocratic way was to have AN "heir" who inherrits the estate with others only getting a small inheritance if anything. I could see creating an entity to hold the real estate (perhaps other assets too) and having the resident rent (perhaps below market rate). Other heirs could still have claim to shares and collectively could control the property. I'd want it structured in a way that would encourage having descendents continue to live on the property, but have some means for a super majority to decided it should be sold.

My in-laws did something similar 3 generations ago. It works fine as long as everyone is connected to each other and to a common purpose.

3 generations in, and you wind up with agricultural property being owned in part by big-city bankers who have no respect for agriculture or manual labour (and by their extended family, who are doing the manual labour to keep the land going....) Yeah. 3 generations in: kind of a mess.

OTOH, why should someone feel obligated to a life of manual labor just because that's what grandpa did?

Oh, absolutely! What I meant was, if you have agricultural land that's owned by committee (5 children, each of their 3 children, and each of THEIR 2-3 children... 3 generations in, you're at 20+ people with a 'share' of ownership as their parents die and pass it on), you need to have a committe that understands the work involved (either to do it or delegate it, either option!) or who gets out of the way so it can get done. "Ownership" in name with no maintenance/work/understanding, and no mutual goals with the other people involved, doesn't tend to lead to much other than generalized frustration.

I'm dreading our eventual joint ownership, with my wife's sisters, of their parents' vacation properties.  It's going to be a giant PITA with the differences in finances and ability/work ethic to maintain.  And that's immediate family.  If I had to live with my cousins, including the one with the multiple kids had as a teenager and the other that's a suspected meth head, well...no, I wouldn't.

robartsd

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #118 on: January 26, 2016, 01:51:35 PM »
Oh, absolutely! What I meant was, if you have agricultural land that's owned by committee (5 children, each of their 3 children, and each of THEIR 2-3 children... 3 generations in, you're at 20+ people with a 'share' of ownership as their parents die and pass it on), you need to have a committe that understands the work involved (either to do it or delegate it, either option!) or who gets out of the way so it can get done. "Ownership" in name with no maintenance/work/understanding, and no mutual goals with the other people involved, doesn't tend to lead to much other than generalized frustration.
I wouldn't want day-to-day opperation to be encumbered by committee decision making. I would also want whoever is managing and working the operation to be well compensated in addition to receiving their share of any profits. I imagine that there could easily be a group with ownership stake that is only interested in their personal profits; when setting up the entity to hold the estate, I'd want to consult with a lawyer about ways to make it difficult for them to take control away from those who are interested in maintaining the legacy.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #119 on: January 26, 2016, 02:46:19 PM »
If anyone would like to know why the rest of the world thinks Americans are a bunch of greedhead morons, I thoroughly recommend watching an episode or two of "House Hunters".

Someone left it on at the gym today. There was a house with four bedrooms, a "great room", a family room, and a large landing. The husband of the house hunting couple nixed it because there was no dedicate media room.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #120 on: January 26, 2016, 02:49:57 PM »
If anyone would like to know why the rest of the world thinks Americans are a bunch of greedhead morons, I thoroughly recommend watching an episode or two of "House Hunters".

Someone left it on at the gym today. There was a house with four bedrooms, a "great room", a family room, and a large landing. The husband of the house hunting couple nixed it because there was no dedicate media room.
Idjuts! Wall in one of the rooms, add wiring, lighting, etc, etc. That's your home theater room.
AVSForum.com FTW!

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #121 on: January 26, 2016, 02:54:48 PM »
If anyone would like to know why the rest of the world thinks Americans are a bunch of greedhead morons, I thoroughly recommend watching an episode or two of "House Hunters".

Someone left it on at the gym today. There was a house with four bedrooms, a "great room", a family room, and a large landing. The husband of the house hunting couple nixed it because there was no dedicate media room.

Withholding comment on this particular case, I don't really give a shit what "the rest of the world" thinks.  Americans, for better or worse, live in a large, spread out country, and generally have a pretty high amount of capital available to them.  Someone living in a small, old country with a much higher population density is not really in a position to judge given that they're not in the same circumstances. 

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #122 on: January 26, 2016, 04:24:14 PM »
Following! I'm enjoying the discussion. I've lived in places of various sizes (500sq ft-1100sq ft), and layout matters SO much. Can be wonderful or awful, depending!

I also hadn't even given much thought to the basement/attic sq footage. We essentially never have basements in Oregon (flooding + mold... terrible idea), and rarely are there attics.

robartsd

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #123 on: January 26, 2016, 05:29:25 PM »
Attics with useful space are rare in most new housing - roof framing is now usually trusses trucked to site rather than stick built on site. Basements are still common where the frost line is deep enought that you essentially have do most of the digging anyway just for footings but rare in new construction most other places.

MrsPete

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #124 on: January 26, 2016, 06:14:02 PM »
While doing a little research for a blog post, I decided to take a look at how house size in the U.S. has changed over history.  I was pretty astonished to find the following:

In 1970, the average size of a new, single-family home was 1,500 square-feet.  In 2004, that number grew to 2,349 square-feet. House size increased 156% over a time period that the number of births per woman decreased from 2.48 to 2.05 and the number of single-person households increased from approximately 17% to 27%.  In other words, we're "needing" more space for fewer people.

How crazy is that?  It just goes to show how we live in a society of excess.  We somehow got by in the 70's with 1,500 sq-ft houses and now it's the norm to need over 2,300 sq-ft?  Explains a lot as to why, as a whole, Americans are in so much debt.

Sources: NPR, World Bank, US Census
Look at it from another direction: 

The average person is buying "as much house as he can".  As families shrunk, the amount of money available for real estate increased.

Also, in those years working mothers became more common -- again meaning that the average family had more money available.  What better to spend it on than a bigger house?

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #125 on: January 26, 2016, 06:19:42 PM »
They are called duplexes or double houses. 
These are common in the small town where I grew up -- my grandparents used to own a couple.  Typically they're for young people just out of school or the working poor -- middle class folks really don't live in them here.  We also have triplexes and quadplexes.  I've considered building some as income properties.  I even drew up a floorplan:  2 bedrooms /1 bath on each side, modest living room, kitchen with large island that doubles as a dining table.

A friend tells me they're very common for middle class folks in the UK. 

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #126 on: January 26, 2016, 06:26:30 PM »

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #127 on: January 27, 2016, 09:46:11 AM »
If anyone would like to know why the rest of the world thinks Americans are a bunch of greedhead morons, I thoroughly recommend watching an episode or two of "House Hunters".

Someone left it on at the gym today. There was a house with four bedrooms, a "great room", a family room, and a large landing. The husband of the house hunting couple nixed it because there was no dedicate media room.

When having a big house isn't big enough... From the makers of House Hunters comes CASTLE HUNTERS.  Having a $1.7 million French castle is something we all can aspire to.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #128 on: February 03, 2016, 03:55:13 PM »
More space the better.

We recently bought a house. 1840sqft. Love it. We have no furniture, and we all this room. I can go for a walk in the living room in the morning.

Don't have to see people, not impacted by weather...its wonderful.

At $91 per sqft...I am not complaining.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #129 on: February 04, 2016, 05:06:51 AM »
It's not the excessive house size that bothers me, its the lack of permanence in residence.

Why is there so much geographic dispersal in families?  It seems the pattern is to move out to an apartment, get married, get a condo, get a small house, get a bigger house in a better school district when you have kids, get an even bigger house when you get the promotion, and sometime after your kids move out downsize to a retirement community.

A better option may be a bigger multi level multi generational house that can be passed down.  The only downside is this would rely on employment being mainly based in the geographic region for at least one group per successive generation, however if the family is able to keep its wealth in house they will be less likely to rely on outside employment.

If you're ever in Quincy Massachusetts, I recommend doing the John Adams tour there.  He moved up to a pretty sweet multi generational house that lasted 140 years before becoming a historical museum.  How many of you want to have a house so sweet that your great grandchildren and beyond will want to live there?  Not many, I bet.  We just don't have the connection to our own land like we used to.

I view this as a good thing and was talking to some immigrant coworkers of mine about this the other day.  There is a lot of freedom in America to be who you want to be and live where you want.  I think it's great that someone can chart their own path and move to another part of the country.  Who wants to be beholden and dependent on their parents or vice versa their entire life?  If you want to stay living with your parents then fine.  But I see it as a positive thing that I'm not forced to live with my parents and grandparents until the day they die and forced to live in whatever place someone years ago decided to put down roots. 

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #130 on: February 04, 2016, 07:03:12 AM »
We downsized from 1907 to 1144 a bit over a year ago and are still pretty stoked about our place, aside from the slightly cramped kitchen. We could have at least one kid and still feel pretty uncrowded, but we both have home offices so two would probably be a challenge.

A good friend of mine is downsizing too, from about 1400 to 1000. He's single, with just a dog and a girlfriend who stays over sometimes, so it's still plenty of room, but another friend of ours insisted that 1000SF wasn't even a house at all. I said, do you know the average home size from 1950? ;)

Same friend, ironically, bitched privately when his wife pushed him into "upgrading" from their perfectly good, newish, beautiful ~1500sf home to a much bigger, blander, more expensive one. He hates his government job and wants out; finding sufficient income to support their lifestyle is the primary obstacle. We Americans are nothing if not conflicted.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #131 on: February 04, 2016, 08:15:21 AM »
While doing a little research for a blog post, I decided to take a look at how house size in the U.S. has changed over history.  I was pretty astonished to find the following:

In 1970, the average size of a new, single-family home was 1,500 square-feet.  In 2004, that number grew to 2,349 square-feet. House size increased 156% over a time period that the number of births per woman decreased from 2.48 to 2.05 and the number of single-person households increased from approximately 17% to 27%. 

I couldn't see that anyone else pointed this out in the thread, but the home size increase is 56.6% in the OP, not 156%. 

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #132 on: February 04, 2016, 10:14:02 AM »
I have a 2000 sq ft house (2 adults + baby) and its adequate. I can see the appeal of a bigger place though. Having a dedicated office and/or 4th bedroom, a larger basement to allow for workout equipment, and a game room where people could hang out, play pool, darts, watch the game, etc would be great.


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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #133 on: February 04, 2016, 10:36:41 AM »
I have a 2000 sq ft house (2 adults + baby) and its adequate. I can see the appeal of a bigger place though. Having a dedicated office and/or 4th bedroom, a larger basement to allow for workout equipment, and a game room where people could hang out, play pool, darts, watch the game, etc would be great.

And that's where a basement comes into play.  We had an 1800 sq ft ranch, and that seemed about perfect for a family with 1-2 kids.  But then we also had a full basement, about 2/3rds of which was finished, and it was "overflow" for a home office, couple couches, a seldom-used handmedown pool table, etc.  It didn't feel wasteful because hey, it's a basement, who cares?  But we'd never set out to buy a 3600sq ft house with no basement, because that would seem massive and unnecessary, even if it was exactly as much space as we had.  Is that rational?  Maybe not, I dunno.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #134 on: February 04, 2016, 11:09:27 AM »
1) WHERE ELSE ARE WE GONNA STORE ALL OUR STUFF?! The self-storage space is already overflowing and the garage is taken up by the boat and jetskis! /s

2) In some markets (like Boston, apparently) luxury real estate has been surprisingly stable/profitable, even when the overall RE market was turbulent. I guess it is just now starting to cool off a bit, but there is a prevailing sense here that real estate is a sound investment, a sentiment reflected in news stories like this:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/12/31/how-hot-boston-real-estate-market-four-area-neighborhoods-make-nation-top/HVqokW4OnpVOWynbBegc4K/story.html

If people are willing to accept at face value that real estate will likely go up, should we be surprised if demand tends toward a bigger/more expensive house? We should also remember that not everyone shares a Mustachian perspective on what constitutes "affordable" or "adequately-sized".

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #135 on: February 05, 2016, 02:42:31 AM »
I have a 2000 sq ft house (2 adults + baby) and its adequate. I can see the appeal of a bigger place though. Having a dedicated office and/or 4th bedroom, a larger basement to allow for workout equipment, and a game room where people could hang out, play pool, darts, watch the game, etc would be great.

And that's where a basement comes into play.  We had an 1800 sq ft ranch, and that seemed about perfect for a family with 1-2 kids.  But then we also had a full basement, about 2/3rds of which was finished, and it was "overflow" for a home office, couple couches, a seldom-used handmedown pool table, etc.  It didn't feel wasteful because hey, it's a basement, who cares?  But we'd never set out to buy a 3600sq ft house with no basement, because that would seem massive and unnecessary, even if it was exactly as much space as we had.  Is that rational?  Maybe not, I dunno.

My math could be wrong as we don't do feet here in NZ, but I've just brought a 89sq m 3 bed house (so about 950sq feet) and it is plenty of space for 2 adults, and we plan to start a family here too.
I don't know what we would do with double the space!  I wouldn't say no to a extra 10sq m or so (as a separate study maybe).
We have a separate utility room, and a home gym in a little basement included in that space.

I have a workmate who is about to finish building a new home for his family ( 3 little kids), it is 440sq m (including garage) so that is over 4 times the size of my house. His place is crazy, but it is very common for new builds here to be 200-250sq m. Part of the reason is that land is so expensive that people feel they have to spend more on the house. Part also is design rules for certain developments, so you aren't allowed to put a little house in that is not following the character of the others in the development.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #136 on: February 05, 2016, 10:39:41 AM »
I have a 2000 sq ft house (2 adults + baby) and its adequate. I can see the appeal of a bigger place though. Having a dedicated office and/or 4th bedroom, a larger basement to allow for workout equipment, and a game room where people could hang out, play pool, darts, watch the game, etc would be great.
As long as we're just adding space for whatever sounds nice, let's throw in a man cave, a home theater, a knitting nook, a study, a breakfast room, and an indoor tennis court.

Or, you know, we could go outside and experience the world.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #137 on: February 05, 2016, 10:57:59 AM »
I have a 2000 sq ft house (2 adults + baby) and its adequate. I can see the appeal of a bigger place though. Having a dedicated office and/or 4th bedroom, a larger basement to allow for workout equipment, and a game room where people could hang out, play pool, darts, watch the game, etc would be great.
As long as we're just adding space for whatever sounds nice, let's throw in a man cave, a home theater, a knitting nook, a study, a breakfast room, and an indoor tennis court.

Or, you know, we could go outside and experience the world.

As discussed, that's location specific.  Come "experience the world" here in Chicagoland; it gets dark at 4PM and last night it was 23* when I walked the dog around the block.   Sure is a lot more fun to run my kid around inside in those conditions.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #138 on: February 05, 2016, 11:11:14 AM »
I'm against the mustachian grain on this one. We have ~2,000 sqft, and I wouldn't mind having more. (not enough to pay more for it though).

- I'd love a double garage rather than the tiny single we have, for a larger woodshop. Our garage is currently too full of saws, lumber and bikes to fit a car
- Bigger kitchen! Cooking is hard when you have one tiny work surface. Our kitchen layout is retarded though so blame the builder some.
- making a kid's playroom in the basement.
- More space for beer brewing equipment.
- Home office is great. May need to go if we have a 2nd child. Where would my soldering station go..?

Our livingroom, bedrooms etc are fine. It's more the extra space I'd want more of, mostly for silly projects like woodworking, brewing, cooking, gym, kid's playspace, etc. I don't think these things are excessively unmustachian. I want more space to do/make cool things in my house. And despite some bumps, a house generally are at least a decent investment. Not like it's a car..
« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 11:36:09 AM by Scandium »

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #139 on: February 05, 2016, 11:14:20 AM »
I'm against the mustachian grain on this one. We have ~2,000 sqft, and I wouldn't mind having more. (not enough to pay more for it though).

- I'd love a double garage rather than the tiny single we have, for a larger woodshop. Our garage is currently too full of saws, lumber and bikes to fit a car
- Bigger kitchen! Cooking is hard when you have one tiny work surface. Our kitchen layout is retarded though so blame the builder some.
- making a kid's playroom in the basement.
- More space for beer brewing equipment.
- Hope office is great. May need to go if we have a 2nd child.

Our livingroom, bedrooms etc are fine. It's more the extra space I'd want more of, mostly for silly projects like woodworking, brewing, cooking kid's playspace, etc. And where would my soldering station go..? I don't think these things are excessively unmustachian. I want more space to do/make cool things in my house. And despite some bumps, a house generally are at least a decent investment. Not like it's a car..

Serious question Scandium - what do you see as the advantage to paying for eh space and equipment over joining a woodworking club or taking classes at a community college? Same with brewing. I also have a woodshop in the garage, but I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that if I want to get any bigger, I'm joining the old farts woodworking association. I don't brew, so I can't speak to that.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #140 on: February 05, 2016, 11:17:18 AM »
As discussed, that's location specific.  Come "experience the world" here in Chicagoland; it gets dark at 4PM and last night it was 23* when I walked the dog around the block.   Sure is a lot more fun to run my kid around inside in those conditions.
I lived in St Louis and visited Chicago about twice a month for a year (LDR), so I get that, but it's a leap from "location-specific" to casually adding large amounts of square footage for every impulse addition to a home wishlist. Last I checked, MMM lives in a pretty harsh climate too.
I'm really just taking issue with 2000SF being "adequate" for a family of 3. Even in Alabama, nobody wants to be outside in the winter, but somehow the previous owners of my home raised two happy, healthy children in barely half that. They had plenty of money, but they only upsized when the third generation became frequent visitors.

If all our plans work out, and we move near my siblings/nieces/nephews with a shitpile of money, we might go from 1100+ up to 1500-1800 to accommodate family occasions. Beyond that, it's just too gorram much like work. Unless, you know, we're accidental multimillionaires post-FIRE and can afford a housekeeper. ;)

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #141 on: February 05, 2016, 11:22:48 AM »
I'm against the mustachian grain on this one. We have ~2,000 sqft, and I wouldn't mind having more. (not enough to pay more for it though).

- I'd love a double garage rather than the tiny single we have, for a larger woodshop. Our garage is currently too full of saws, lumber and bikes to fit a car
- Bigger kitchen! Cooking is hard when you have one tiny work surface. Our kitchen layout is retarded though so blame the builder some.
- making a kid's playroom in the basement.
- More space for beer brewing equipment.
- Hope office is great. May need to go if we have a 2nd child.

Our livingroom, bedrooms etc are fine. It's more the extra space I'd want more of, mostly for silly projects like woodworking, brewing, cooking kid's playspace, etc. And where would my soldering station go..? I don't think these things are excessively unmustachian. I want more space to do/make cool things in my house. And despite some bumps, a house generally are at least a decent investment. Not like it's a car..

Serious question Scandium - what do you see as the advantage to paying for eh space and equipment over joining a woodworking club or taking classes at a community college? Same with brewing. I also have a woodshop in the garage, but I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that if I want to get any bigger, I'm joining the old farts woodworking association. I don't brew, so I can't speak to that.

My woodworking (and auto/bike mechanic) equipment fits just fine in my 1500 ft2 + basement house, and my neighbor with a similar size house (sans basement) has no trouble brewing his beer on his back deck.

Scandium

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #142 on: February 05, 2016, 11:31:04 AM »
I'm against the mustachian grain on this one. We have ~2,000 sqft, and I wouldn't mind having more. (not enough to pay more for it though).

- I'd love a double garage rather than the tiny single we have, for a larger woodshop. Our garage is currently too full of saws, lumber and bikes to fit a car
- Bigger kitchen! Cooking is hard when you have one tiny work surface. Our kitchen layout is retarded though so blame the builder some.
- making a kid's playroom in the basement.
- More space for beer brewing equipment.
- Hope office is great. May need to go if we have a 2nd child.

Our livingroom, bedrooms etc are fine. It's more the extra space I'd want more of, mostly for silly projects like woodworking, brewing, cooking kid's playspace, etc. And where would my soldering station go..? I don't think these things are excessively unmustachian. I want more space to do/make cool things in my house. And despite some bumps, a house generally are at least a decent investment. Not like it's a car..

Serious question Scandium - what do you see as the advantage to paying for eh space and equipment over joining a woodworking club or taking classes at a community college? Same with brewing. I also have a woodshop in the garage, but I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that if I want to get any bigger, I'm joining the old farts woodworking association. I don't brew, so I can't speak to that.

Mainly; so I can do stuff on my own time, at my own pace. And not pay monthly for it. Plus a larger garage would be useful for other things. The woodworking club here was superserious old dudes, and cost something like $150/month, and is 45 min away. Brewing doesn't actually take much space, I'm set there now really. I just like to organize and build things:) You're right though, maybe I pay more for that freedom. There's a makerspace with 3D printers down the road that charge $130/month, or if I make a space in the basement I could build one with my kid for a $400 one time fee.

I don't think calling it "paying for it" is accurate though when it comes to houses. Yes with cars if you want one 2x the size you pay 2x the price, or something. But if I buy a house that's 20% large/pricier it will most likely sell for 20% more when I sell it again. So my extra cost is really only the higher price times the interest paid on that, which is not much these days. (Yes any higher upkeep and utilities in addition.)

So, if I can afford to pay a tiny bit more in interest to build up equity I get back when I eventually sell anyway, and get great joy out if the larger garage (or whatever) in the meantime, I don't think that's a bad deal. Obviously within reason.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 11:35:41 AM by Scandium »

Le Poisson

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #143 on: February 05, 2016, 11:33:20 AM »
I'm against the mustachian grain on this one. We have ~2,000 sqft, and I wouldn't mind having more. (not enough to pay more for it though).

- I'd love a double garage rather than the tiny single we have, for a larger woodshop. Our garage is currently too full of saws, lumber and bikes to fit a car
- Bigger kitchen! Cooking is hard when you have one tiny work surface. Our kitchen layout is retarded though so blame the builder some.
- making a kid's playroom in the basement.
- More space for beer brewing equipment.
- Hope office is great. May need to go if we have a 2nd child.

Our livingroom, bedrooms etc are fine. It's more the extra space I'd want more of, mostly for silly projects like woodworking, brewing, cooking kid's playspace, etc. And where would my soldering station go..? I don't think these things are excessively unmustachian. I want more space to do/make cool things in my house. And despite some bumps, a house generally are at least a decent investment. Not like it's a car..

Serious question Scandium - what do you see as the advantage to paying for eh space and equipment over joining a woodworking club or taking classes at a community college? Same with brewing. I also have a woodshop in the garage, but I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that if I want to get any bigger, I'm joining the old farts woodworking association. I don't brew, so I can't speak to that.

My woodworking (and auto/bike mechanic) equipment fits just fine in my 1500 ft2 + basement house, and my neighbor with a similar size house (sans basement) has no trouble brewing his beer on his back deck.

My WW equipment is in one bay of our garage set up sortof like a galley kitchen. I can understand the desire for more space though - if I were doing bookshelves or cabinets with a lot of sheet goods, I might have a hard time. Fortunately the way I have my equipment set up, I can open the garage door to put an outfeed table in the driveway for sheet goods, and I open the man door at the back of the garage to cut long stuff on the chop saw.

The second car's space is filled with our trailer, and its a pain to move in the winter, but it can pulled out for additional indoor space.

I am often amazed that I have lived in houses smaller than this garage - and enjoyed it.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #144 on: February 05, 2016, 11:40:02 AM »
I don't think this is one of those things where there's a rule, a maximum, etc. It's like most things here: the consensus is to advocate a mindful approach that results in a rational, cost-effective solution set for whatever problem is being solved. If you found the smartest way to get what you want in life, that's cool. If the most rational, cost-effective approach is owning 3000SF of living space, more power to you... it's just highly unlikely.

To me, keeping a historical perspective means I'm unlikely to ever build or buy a home in line with the current average, because people were happy for millennia without that much space. But I have no problem with people making a mindful decision to do so, as long as it's well-built, energy-efficient, and well-utilized. Have fun with that, really. :)

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #145 on: February 05, 2016, 12:06:18 PM »
If the most rational, cost-effective approach is owning 3000SF of living space, more power to you... it's just highly unlikely.

Personally, I think you are too hung up on size as an absolute metric, and I think for most people that's pretty far down the list of concerns.  Having shopped in 3-4 different distinct markets, rarely does absolute size drive price.  # beds/baths, size/layout of kitchen, LOCATION, fixtures/condition, age of home, specific location (busy street vs. quiet, etc), etc etc etc are all much bigger cost drivers than pure size.  When I bought my last house, we looked at houses from 1100sq ft to 2400sq ft, and ultimately landed on 1200/1700 (500 is a half basement) sq ft house.  The actual size had little to do with it, nor was the largest house the most expensive one we looked at or vice versa. 

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #146 on: February 05, 2016, 12:24:39 PM »
If the most rational, cost-effective approach is owning 3000SF of living space, more power to you... it's just highly unlikely.

Personally, I think you are too hung up on size as an absolute metric, and I think for most people that's pretty far down the list of concerns.  Having shopped in 3-4 different distinct markets, rarely does absolute size drive price.  # beds/baths, size/layout of kitchen, LOCATION, fixtures/condition, age of home, specific location (busy street vs. quiet, etc), etc etc etc are all much bigger cost drivers than pure size.  When I bought my last house, we looked at houses from 1100sq ft to 2400sq ft, and ultimately landed on 1200/1700 (500 is a half basement) sq ft house.  The actual size had little to do with it, nor was the largest house the most expensive one we looked at or vice versa.

Literally my entire point was to not be hung up on size as an absolute metric. I'm clearly having a difficult time expressing myself today, that or reading comprehension is at an abnormal low... ;)

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #147 on: February 05, 2016, 12:29:32 PM »
If the most rational, cost-effective approach is owning 3000SF of living space, more power to you... it's just highly unlikely.

Personally, I think you are too hung up on size as an absolute metric, and I think for most people that's pretty far down the list of concerns.  Having shopped in 3-4 different distinct markets, rarely does absolute size drive price.  # beds/baths, size/layout of kitchen, LOCATION, fixtures/condition, age of home, specific location (busy street vs. quiet, etc), etc etc etc are all much bigger cost drivers than pure size.  When I bought my last house, we looked at houses from 1100sq ft to 2400sq ft, and ultimately landed on 1200/1700 (500 is a half basement) sq ft house.  The actual size had little to do with it, nor was the largest house the most expensive one we looked at or vice versa.

Literally my entire point was to not be hung up on size as an absolute metric. I'm clearly having a difficult time expressing myself today, that or reading comprehension is at an abnormal low... ;)

Sure, you said "I don't think there is a rule or maximum" and then basically set one.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #148 on: February 05, 2016, 12:33:03 PM »
Sure, you said "I don't think there is a rule or maximum" and then basically set one.
I sure as hell didn't. I gave an example of an outlier that was unlikely to represent a careful and considered approach to meeting all of one's needs in a home.

I could name multiple factual reasons why something that size would be unlikely to be the most efficient solution for the majority of us, but I think I was clear that if it was, then that's great.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #149 on: February 07, 2016, 02:45:13 PM »
Several small houses builit around 1875. They vary from 550 to 800 sq feet. My own neighbrhoodmof 1880's houses include many 3500 - 4,000 sq ft houses, with some giant ones of 7,000- 9,000 thrown in.

I guess my point is that there have always been big and small houses.