Author Topic: Excessive House Size in the U.S.  (Read 34522 times)

MrsDinero

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #50 on: January 19, 2016, 08:48:10 AM »
I never really gave much thought to the open floor-plan being a factor, but now that you mention it, I think it definitely contributes. I can't stand super open houses because I feel as though I cannot escape everybody.
I'll hazard a guess. Part of the increased perceived need is due to the popularity in recent decades of the 'open floor plan', type of house. These houses allow you basically zero privacy, and so living/dining/kitchens get blown out of proportion just to let people get further away from each other.
Of course, part of it is the increased space we need to store junk. When you have a computer and TV and multiple game systems in the bedroom, you need space.
Also, with modern building systems, adding square feet on a new lot is relatively cheap. If the lot size is the same, why not build 2500 feet instead of 1500, since the cost isn't all that much different?
Add in cheap loans...


I dislike open floor plan from a heating/cooling perspective.  I prefer to have smaller rooms that I can block off and regulate if I'm not using them. 

I know a lot of people who love to live in large homes so that everyone gets their own space and their own bathroom.  I guess it makes for less fighting.   


partgypsy

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #51 on: January 19, 2016, 09:41:01 AM »
I find this topic pretty interesting. Some more stats, pulled from this article, I particularly like this quote "Sharing bathrooms? That’s for people in 3rd-world countries!":



Our house was built in the 1920s: It's a ~750 sq ft detached single family home, that's probably unheard of now, but it was a normal when our neighborhood was populated. We quite like it here (two people, two dogs, and one baby) and find that the layout is designed surprisingly functionally; this might have been a matter of neccessity given the size of the house. Strangely we lived in an apartment that was just slightly smaller, but we found it more annoying. Layout matters a lot.

I would love to see a layout of this house. I lived in a 2 bed 1 bath house that was around 900 square feet. The biggest problem was the way too small kitchen (the kitchen and bathroom were built from the original back porch). But I am intrigued by useful layouts for small living spaces.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #52 on: January 19, 2016, 09:56:29 AM »
I'm guessing that house size correlates to temperature range - at least in N America.
People try not to build major metropolises at -40, so these places have low population density and so cheap land.

Tell that to Calgary, Winnipeg, or Edmonton.  :P
Still sprawling suburbs with abundant cheap land compared to Manhattan/London/Vancouver etc

andy85

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #53 on: January 19, 2016, 10:04:05 AM »
My 3 bed, 1 bath house is 925sq ft. I'm single, but do live with a roommate. Honestly, we could drop one of the rooms and still be fine. It's perfect for me. Granted my garage is ~600sqft :)

I could see myself in anything from 750sqft to 1500sqft.


Prairie Stash

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #54 on: January 19, 2016, 11:54:48 AM »
I'm guessing that house size correlates to temperature range - at least in N America.
People try not to build major metropolises at -40, so these places have low population density and so cheap land.

Tell that to Calgary, Winnipeg, or Edmonton.  :P
Its cheap to build an igloo, its just snow.

slugline

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #55 on: January 19, 2016, 01:14:01 PM »
I've been thinking that a contributing factor to ballooning house sizes is suburban sprawl over the past several decades:
(1) Builders have to entice buyers by giving them "more for their money" versus what they might buy in the city center, and lower land prices enable this.
(2) Once you move out to a far-flung suburb, there are fewer "third space" establishments like pubs, clubs, barber shops, etc. to hang out in. So when your work/school day is done, you're more prone to spend more time at home. So that abundant home space becomes more valuable than if you were in the city and had a variety of interactive locales to find right outside your door.

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #56 on: January 19, 2016, 02:43:46 PM »
I've been thinking that a contributing factor to ballooning house sizes is suburban sprawl over the past several decades:
(1) Builders have to entice buyers by giving them "more for their money" versus what they might buy in the city center, and lower land prices enable this.

This, plus people who are building houses versus buying existing inventory are generally doing so on a larger budget versus the average home buyer, and thus will naturally build a bigger/more extravagant house. 

Villanelle

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #57 on: January 19, 2016, 03:27:48 PM »
I've been thinking that a contributing factor to ballooning house sizes is suburban sprawl over the past several decades:
(1) Builders have to entice buyers by giving them "more for their money" versus what they might buy in the city center, and lower land prices enable this.
(2) Once you move out to a far-flung suburb, there are fewer "third space" establishments like pubs, clubs, barber shops, etc. to hang out in. So when your work/school day is done, you're more prone to spend more time at home. So that abundant home space becomes more valuable than if you were in the city and had a variety of interactive locales to find right outside your door.

I think this is a great point.  When you are in the middle of nowhere, you can't skip over to a local coffee shop, and for the price of a cup of coffee (and not at Starbuck's prices), sit for 3 hours to work on your novel.  You can't walk in to a local pub, filled with other locals, and have that act as a surrogate living room.  And for that matter, you can't walk to the corner grocery store every night to buy ingredients for dinner, so you feel the need for a larger pantry to you can stock up.

I don't know if this directly correlates to size, but it also seems that so many people want a bespoke or nearly bespoke home.  Maybe my perception is exaggerated by my obsession with home shows (I love my house porn!), but people walk in to a house and LOVE IT!, except this wall must go; and the backsplash, while new, isn't what they would have chose, and they'll need to add an extra bath so their kids don't have to share; and the attic needs to be finished to add a master suite; and all the light fixtures must go.

We moved a lot when I was a kid and there was never any of that.  Maybe it is *because* we moved a lot, but my parents choose houses that seemed to work, even if they weren't perfect, and we lived with them as-is, awkward walls, unfinished basements, bright red carpet, and all.  There was not the expectation that the homes be perfect for us, only that they met our needs.  "Off the rack" was just fine.  The only significant home change I ever remember was adding a wood burning stove to a rental house in PA, and that was to keep heating costs down.  (I have no idea of the owner helped with the cost.)

dudde_devaru

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #58 on: January 19, 2016, 03:40:12 PM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

CindyBS

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #59 on: January 19, 2016, 04:06:43 PM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

They are called duplexes or double houses.  There are literally thousands of them in the city I lived in, and I lived in a side by side version with roommates in my early 20's and the owners lived in the other half.  Unlike apartments, they typically have basements, attics,  and porches, yards, garages (shared) - so like a full house.  They typically cost more than equivalent sized apartments and the renter typically has to pay all utilities.  In the midwest where I live, the heat bill does add a not insignificant cost onto the overall rental costs.   

You'd probably have better luck finding one in the older cities/neighborhoods of your region. 

Jack

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #60 on: January 19, 2016, 04:15:41 PM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

They are called duplexes or double houses.  There are literally thousands of them in the city I lived in, and I lived in a side by side version with roommates in my early 20's and the owners lived in the other half.  Unlike apartments, they typically have basements, attics,  and porches, yards, garages (shared) - so like a full house.  They typically cost more than equivalent sized apartments and the renter typically has to pay all utilities.  In the midwest where I live, the heat bill does add a not insignificant cost onto the overall rental costs.   

You'd probably have better luck finding one in the older cities/neighborhoods of your region.

Also, in some areas (e.g. Atlanta) side-by-side duplexes might be much more common than up/down ones. (This is especially true for symmetrical ones that have been designed from the start as duplexes, as opposed to single-family houses that got chopped up after the fact. The latter are perhaps more likely to be up/down, but less likely to have the same design in both units.)

mm1970

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #61 on: January 19, 2016, 04:22:46 PM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?
Duplexes in  my husband's home town of Schenectady NY. Their first home was a duplex.

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #62 on: January 19, 2016, 04:27:00 PM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

There are lots of pros and cons to living right next door to your tenant.  Consider all of them carefully. 

Cassie

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #63 on: January 19, 2016, 04:31:21 PM »
I have lived all over the country and what you get such as basement, etc really varies. In the WEst very few have basements. Many of the new home developments have huge homes but many also have some that start at 1200 sq ft.  The 1400 sq ft house we have is perfect size. Easy to keep clean, etc. However, we have a 1 car garage and a big shed in the backyard.  We did open up our kitchen to our dining room which makes it feel good since the kitchen was small. 

music lover

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #64 on: January 19, 2016, 04:52:53 PM »
I'm guessing that house size correlates to temperature range - at least in N America.
People try not to build major metropolises at -40, so these places have low population density and so cheap land.
Heating is more expensive, but people didn't start developing suburbs in these places until fuel was cheap in the C20.
In europe these places would mostly have large multi-generation farmhouses, which became single family homes when everyone moved tot he city.

Heating is far cheaper than cooling. I heat my house for $400 the entire year in one of the coldest cities in North America...-35 with a -50 wind chill is normal and we go 6 months without ever rising above freezing.

Jack

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #65 on: January 19, 2016, 05:12:18 PM »
Heating is far cheaper than cooling. I heat my house for $400 the entire year in one of the coldest cities in North America...-35 with a -50 wind chill is normal and we go 6 months without ever rising above freezing.

What kind of heat do you have?

CindyBS

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #66 on: January 19, 2016, 07:27:09 PM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

There are lots of pros and cons to living right next door to your tenant.  Consider all of them carefully.

I know a few family situations where the duplex setting has worked well.   One is 2 sisters who co-own the house and each live in a half, the other is a family with an elderly father.  He lives in the downstairs and is available to help out a little with some childcare, but is a widowwer and needs a little help here and there.  The family lives on the top floor.

We are considering purchasing a duplex when the kids move out.  I have a son with Asperger's and other disabilities, so it may be a good transition space for him before a final launch to adulthood (he will be able to live independently).  We were thinking we would charge him below market rent, but enough to cover at least the property taxes.  After he moves out, we were thinking of using it for Air BnB.  We could decide how much money we want to generate, rent out only enough nights to cover it, and then travel without worrying about leaving tenants behind in our house. 

FLA

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #67 on: January 19, 2016, 07:46:11 PM »
I never really gave much thought to the open floor-plan being a factor, but now that you mention it, I think it definitely contributes. I can't stand super open houses because I feel as though I cannot escape everybody.

I don't like them for that reason and because they are usually ginormous spaces with really high ceilings so to look like a real family room, DR, kitchen, the furniture has to be sized big or it looks awful.  I hate high ceilings, they feel cold to me, not cozy.

UGH, I'm quoting myself again, sorry!  I do that all the time on here

Making Cookies

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #68 on: January 21, 2016, 01:25:31 PM »
High ceilings are nice in hotter climates. We get more hot weather than cold and if a room is designed right, the heat is above you/heat rises. Of course the room needs to be vented correctly. Also tall windows are worthwhile. Open the top half and the heat finds it own way outside.

So many of the modern home styles almost require A/C in the summer.

A friend had a big house. In the hotter months they sat in the big room and in the winter they had a former dining room that they used for a TV/sitting room. Was easy to warm with french doors separating it from the rest of the cooler house. Side benefit - a modest TV was plenty big in a smallish room. 

GrowingTheGreen

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #69 on: January 22, 2016, 07:25:37 AM »
"Excessive" is subjective.

House size has grown in relation to amount of disposable income.  For over 40 years we, in the US, have been told our home was an investment, being in debt is great because one pays less in taxes (which were obviously invented by the Devil) and house prices always goes up.  Most of them (not us mustachian people) believe it.

We have a lot of space (land).  Land is relatively inexpensive.  We build rooms for our clothing instead of using wardrobes.  We do this because we have a lot of clothing because we have a lot of disposable income because we don't save.

BUT...............  let' discuss the cost of our "mansions".  The average cost per square foot new residential construction on the lower east coast for a vinyl clad house (not brick, stone, or wood) is $100 per sf.

What is your construction cost?  For those on the metric scale a square meter is roughly ten and one half square feet.

I really like your thoughts on how debt, large amounts of land, and group-think play into this. Really brings the discussion full-circle to the benefits of a mustachian lifestyle.

snacky

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #70 on: January 22, 2016, 07:50:43 AM »
I live in a 120 year old house, less than 1200 square feet. three people with diverse interests and habits. in summer it feels huge, but I spend all my time in the yard or on the porch. In winter i can't go outside for more than a few minutes, and the house feels tiny and I want to burn it down and run away. unfortunately winter is 6+ months of the year, so...

recently I was in Cuba, where all the houses I saw were very similar in size and shape, maybe 500 sq ft? and everyone seems ok with it, as they spend all their time outside.

I really think that the amount of time spent indoors is the factor that predicts how much space people need in their home. If I were to join the colony on mars I would count on big areas for hydroponics, storage, mechanics being accessible to reduce the inevitable cabin fever that would set in and never, ever relent.

probably I should not live on mars.

infogoon

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #71 on: January 22, 2016, 08:06:43 AM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

Just about every house on my street is either a three bedroom single family or an upper/lower duplex like the one you're describing (although they tend to be 3 bedroom / 1 bath rather than 2/2). They're very common in cities in the Northeastern US.

Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #72 on: January 22, 2016, 08:08:04 AM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

Just about every house on my street is either a three bedroom single family or an upper/lower duplex like the one you're describing (although they tend to be 3 bedroom / 1 bath rather than 2/2). They're very common in cities in the Northeastern US.

Tons in Chicagoland too, but I see 3-flats more often, with three apartments, not two.

bzzzt

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #73 on: January 22, 2016, 12:46:25 PM »
My family (wife, son, dog, and I) lives in a 1040 sq. ft., late '50s, 3BR/1BA house with no basement, but a 24'x24' attached garage (HUGE garage for late '50s).

Most of our friends and family think it's a small house, but it works out great for us with both parents working. Easy to clean, maintain, and there is, literally, less stuff that breaks.

I know my wife would love more storage and kitchen space, but it forces us cull our possessions yearly and get rid of things we don't/won't use anymore. The only thing more stupid than paying for a storage unit is paying PITI for room to store shit you won't ever use again.

My neighbor is still the original owner. Same house but a detached garage. She and her husband raised six girls in that house!

I have an acquaintance from HS on FB that once posted "Everyone should have 500 sq. ft. for each person or pet! Anything less is crazy!" Part of me wanted to reply "That's why you're always broke" but I bit my tongue...

BDWW

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #74 on: January 22, 2016, 01:49:47 PM »
Yes, when describing my house, I say "2BR, 1BA, 1100 sf, no garage".  I'm in So Cal.  If I'm talking to someone who isn't from here, I add "no attic, no basement".

Similar here.  I'm in South Florida, and we're in about 1250 sq ft, no attic, no garage, no basement, 3 BR, 2BA, 2 adults, 3 kids.  Ah, but one very large pool (19x35), and a backyard that is a kids' heaven--mud pit, swing set, treehouse, zipline.

Who mentioned furniture?  So true!  It was hard to find couches that fit in our house.  Took some doing.

Who mentioned open floor plan being a cause for larger homes?  I agree!  Our 1952 home is divided into smaller rooms, but people often tell me how big it seems b/c they walk through a front room, a kitchen, and a back room before getting to the backyard, where their kids play.  And the right size furniture makes the rooms seem bigger than they are.

Hmm, haven't considered this. I'm assuming garages are included when their attached there? Here, garages are almost never included in sqft listings, especially. If I included my shop my already non-mustachian home would definitely be way up in the McMansion territory.
Typically, basements are included, but qualified as in "2000 sqft finished, plus unfinished basement".

slugline

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #75 on: January 22, 2016, 01:52:04 PM »
I have an acquaintance from HS on FB that once posted "Everyone should have 500 sq. ft. for each person or pet! Anything less is crazy!" Part of me wanted to reply "That's why you're always broke" but I bit my tongue...

You'd be able to build the litter box to end all litter boxes.

Le Poisson

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #76 on: January 22, 2016, 02:13:51 PM »
My very most favourite house ever was a 1930's clapboard house that was often mistaken for the neighbour's garage. Its teh white one: https://goo.gl/maps/Kmqp4i5j7jF2

When we bought it, the house needed a new roof, and we replaced the exterior insulbrick with new claps, added some insulation, updated the electric, and plumbing, etc. We got it cheap because the previous owner had committed suicide in it, and no one would touch the place.

Now that house would fit into our master bedroom. I miss living small. Of course in the interim our family has grown and our careers changed. No way that place would work for us today.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #77 on: January 22, 2016, 02:52:53 PM »
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.

Cassie

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #78 on: January 22, 2016, 02:58:52 PM »
I think people want to be free to move to experience life in different parts of the country. That certainly has been true for us. No way would I want to be limited to the town I grew up in for a free house.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #79 on: January 22, 2016, 03:16:47 PM »
Yes, when describing my house, I say "2BR, 1BA, 1100 sf, no garage".  I'm in So Cal.  If I'm talking to someone who isn't from here, I add "no attic, no basement".

Similar here.  I'm in South Florida, and we're in about 1250 sq ft, no attic, no garage, no basement, 3 BR, 2BA, 2 adults, 3 kids.  Ah, but one very large pool (19x35), and a backyard that is a kid's heaven--mud pit, swing set, treehouse, zipline.

Who mentioned furniture?  So true!  It was hard to find couches that fit in our house.  Took some doing.

Who mentioned open floor plan being a cause for larger homes?  I agree!  Our 1952 home is divided into smaller rooms, but people often tell me how big it seems b/c they walk through a front room, a kitchen, and a back room before getting to the backyard, where their kids play.  And the right size furniture makes the rooms seem bigger than they are.

Hmm, haven't considered this. I'm assuming garages are included when their attached there? Here, garages are almost never included in sqft listings, especially. If I included my shop my already non-mustachian home would definitely be way up in the McMansion territory.
Typically, basements are included, but qualified as in "2000 sqft finished, plus unfinished basement".

To answer the bolded question above, no.  Garages are not included in listings here, nor are unfinished attics (no basements in my area at all).  The point is that people who have garages, basements, or attics have more space, storage or otherwise, than those of us without those "extra" places.  But often folks think that those extra spaces don't count just because they're not listed.  Yet of course it is extra space.  So someone who has a 2000 sq ft house PLUS and attic PLUS a garage PLUS a basement, and who thinks that they don't have enough room, is kidding themselves.  IMHO. 

robartsd

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #80 on: January 22, 2016, 03:39:49 PM »
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 feel similarly.

My dream home is one where extended family (~2 dozen people) can gather for Thanksgiving (dine together in one room, spaces to hang out before/after meal, kitchen large enough for three cooks to not get in each other's way too much), can accomedate a elderly/disabled family member who cannot completely care for self but not needing nursing home level care, has a large garden to grow most of the produce eaten in the house and a pantry to store the preserves in. I also want this close enough to a city center to cycle commute (~5-10 miles each way). What I don't want is a large bedroom, walk in closet, and full bath for each member of the family. TV's, computers, game consoles, etc. can all stay in public areas of the house. Wardrobes should provide enough appropriate clothing that you don't need to do small loads of laundry to have what you need, but not much more than that. It would be nice if to also have a modest small home adjacent to the big family home which could support multigeneraltional use.

mm1970

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #81 on: January 22, 2016, 05:40:56 PM »
Yes, when describing my house, I say "2BR, 1BA, 1100 sf, no garage".  I'm in So Cal.  If I'm talking to someone who isn't from here, I add "no attic, no basement".

Similar here.  I'm in South Florida, and we're in about 1250 sq ft, no attic, no garage, no basement, 3 BR, 2BA, 2 adults, 3 kids.  Ah, but one very large pool (19x35), and a backyard that is a kid's heaven--mud pit, swing set, treehouse, zipline.

Who mentioned furniture?  So true!  It was hard to find couches that fit in our house.  Took some doing.

Who mentioned open floor plan being a cause for larger homes?  I agree!  Our 1952 home is divided into smaller rooms, but people often tell me how big it seems b/c they walk through a front room, a kitchen, and a back room before getting to the backyard, where their kids play.  And the right size furniture makes the rooms seem bigger than they are.

Hmm, haven't considered this. I'm assuming garages are included when their attached there? Here, garages are almost never included in sqft listings, especially. If I included my shop my already non-mustachian home would definitely be way up in the McMansion territory.
Typically, basements are included, but qualified as in "2000 sqft finished, plus unfinished basement".

To answer the bolded question above, no.  Garages are not included in listings here, nor are unfinished attics (no basements in my area at all).  The point is that people who have garages, basements, or attics have more space, storage or otherwise, than those of us without those "extra" places.  But often folks think that those extra spaces don't count just because they're not listed.  Yet of course it is extra space.  So someone who has a 2000 sq ft house PLUS and attic PLUS a garage PLUS a basement, and who thinks that they don't have enough room, is kidding themselves.  IMHO.

And here-

Most houses, even the older 2BR, 1BA, have attached or detached garages, but ours does not.

On the East coast, many houses have attics and basements, but we don't have those often out here, especially basements.

So, no storage (we store our christmas decorations under the front porch)

Some folks assume that a house is better, spacewise, than a condo - but ours is not.

CanuckExpat

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #82 on: January 23, 2016, 02:26:16 AM »
An interesting article talking about how since the 1940's and 1950's, there has been a missing middle in American housing, partially caused by preference, partially caused by zoning, partially caused by the economics of development (mixed with zoning):

Quote
“the missing middle” in American housing: not a big subdivision, not a high-rise apartment tower, but a middle option in terms of scale and density...

We used to build lots of in-between housing in this country: rowhouses, duplexes, apartment courts. In other countries, the middle is still the default..But the United States stopped building this way decades ago.

The result is huge unmet demand from people whom our bifurcated housing supply doesn’t serve. Young families are priced out of new single-family homes, which now have a median size of a whopping 2,453 feet, but can’t squeeze into studio or one-bedroom apartments. Older adults want to downsize and economize without giving up their own front door or a patch of garden.

If we had a richer variety of housing options, we might be able to solve a number of problems. First, it would give Americans more choices about where and how to live. Many people — especially growing demographic groups like single people and couples without children — would be relieved to say no to the large houses and luxe condos currently being offered them, and find a home or neighborhood they prefer. Restoring the missing middle would also increase the supply of housing in tight markets, putting the brakes on rising rents.

faramund

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #83 on: January 23, 2016, 02:47:00 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.

Less

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #84 on: January 24, 2016, 06:08:20 PM »
The multi generational thing is interesting. I know it would be a nightmare for consents here in NZ. Not sure you how you would manage the exponential growth of families with multiple children though.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #85 on: January 24, 2016, 06:28:31 PM »
here in NZ. Not sure you how you would manage the exponential growth of families with multiple children though.
Invade Australia - they have lots of room

 

deborah

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #86 on: January 24, 2016, 08:36:05 PM »
here in NZ. Not sure you how you would manage the exponential growth of families with multiple children though.
Invade Australia - they have lots of room

 
Which desert would you like? The Great Sandy, Stuart Stony, Simpson, Great Victoria, Tanami, or one of the smaller deserts?

nobodyspecial

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #87 on: January 24, 2016, 08:41:26 PM »
here in NZ. Not sure you how you would manage the exponential growth of families with multiple children though.
Invade Australia - they have lots of room
Which desert would you like? The Great Sandy, Stuart Stony, Simpson, Great Victoria, Tanami, or one of the smaller deserts?
Which has least spiders, scorpions, snakes, land sharks, vampire kangaroos etc etc  ?

deborah

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #88 on: January 24, 2016, 08:58:02 PM »
here in NZ. Not sure you how you would manage the exponential growth of families with multiple children though.
Invade Australia - they have lots of room
Which desert would you like? The Great Sandy, Stuart Stony, Simpson, Great Victoria, Tanami, or one of the smaller deserts?
Which has least spiders, scorpions, snakes, land sharks, vampire kangaroos etc etc  ?
Sharks??? In a desert? Never heard of vampire kangaroos. You forgot about the flies.
There aren't many houses in any of these places (or people), and most of them are small.

nobodyspecial

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #89 on: January 24, 2016, 09:19:45 PM »
Sharks??? In a desert?
Australian sharks = could be anywhere. They don't even need laser beams

Quote
Never heard of vampire kangaroos.
Most people who encounter them don't tell........

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #90 on: January 24, 2016, 09:39:40 PM »
I do think the basement thing is interesting.  When a someone in the mid-west says she has a 1500sqft house, I know that often means it's actually 2000 sqft  of finished space plus the equivalent of another 2 car garage worth of unfinished storage.  In SoCal, 1500sqft is 1500sqft.

One of the nice things about owning a house (as opposed to an apartment with the same nominal square footage) is that you often have marginal space for storing stuff. I don't have a basement in which to stash the contents of a Costco trip or a chest freezer, so both of those are in my dining room, etc. Everything is kind of out in the open in an apartment in a way I dislike.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #91 on: January 24, 2016, 10:42:38 PM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

This is the dominant housing style in Schenectady. Two three bedroom 1200 square foot apartments, one on to of the other. Four porches. Two side by side doors on the front porch. Locals call then flats, to differentiate them from apartments. They have a lovely big front room, too. We lived in one for ten months and were very happy.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #92 on: January 25, 2016, 09:54:55 AM »
The multi generational thing is interesting. I know it would be a nightmare for consents here in NZ. Not sure you how you would manage the exponential growth of families with multiple children though.

I've been thinking about buying the house next door to my parents in case it gets too crowded.  The Kennedy Compound was three houses.  If you have your money grow exponentially at a faster rate than your family, then adding another house and  fence might make sense.

mm1970

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #93 on: January 25, 2016, 10:30:04 AM »
All I want is a 2 floor property. First and second floor both having same design. 2bed/2bath, dining area, kitchen, balcony, closet space. AND the second floor should have a separate staircase/entrance to it.
I wish to rent the first floor and stay in the second floor. So that, my house payments will be almost payed off by the rent!

However, I have never seen such a property! Anyone has an answer to it?

This is the dominant housing style in Schenectady. Two three bedroom 1200 square foot apartments, one on to of the other. Four porches. Two side by side doors on the front porch. Locals call then flats, to differentiate them from apartments. They have a lovely big front room, too. We lived in one for ten months and were very happy.
Ha!  I posted the same above.  (My hubby grew up there, his parents' first house was a duplex just like that).

mm1970

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #94 on: January 25, 2016, 10:45:14 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 don't know, I suppose that only about 50% of people live within 50 miles of where they grew up?  I think I read that statistic somewhere.

Part of it is the "American Way", individualism, make your own way, bootstraps, etc.

We moved away from home.

Even looking at family though -
Hubby's grandparents - maternal side were in Europe.  Maternal grandma lived in a condo in a elderly community.  That was sold when she died.
Paternal side, when grandfather died, house was sold and grandma went into a home.  She was there well over a decade before she died.
Parents are divorced.  I'm sure the family home will be sold eventually, when MIL dies, which hopefully won't be at least 20 years (I expect her to live until her 90's).
Family cabin on a lake will go to the 2 kids.  However, SIL, who lives in the area, just bought their own.  It got to be too hard to deal with FIL.  SIL and family wants to go whenever they want.  After the divorce, FIL moved in over the summer. It caused strife.  I suppose that super-long term, there will just be two.  One for SIL and family, one for her kids.  We don't live there, but we enjoy visiting.
SIL and family own their own home.  Both homes (hers and MIL) are very large, so I simply don't see that co-housing would work. Though SIL purposely built her house in a way that her parents could move in when they got older, if necessary.  That was before the divorce.

My family -
My dad lived in my family home until he died.  House sold, split 7 ways.
My step-dad lived at home until he married my mom in his 40s.  My mom is gone now.  He owns a camp, a house, and a lot of land.  He is deeding some of the land over to my sister (the stuff that is near where her house is.  He deeded her that land too.)  This is rural though. So while there's not shared housing, I guess there is shared land.

In my experience, there are 2 problems with multi-generational housing that can be passed down:
1.  Family members that don't stay where they grew up.
2.  Larger families.  My mom is one of 7, dad one of 9, step dad one of 6, I am one of 9.  Good luck passing anything down like that.  At least in my home town, family members tended to BUY the houses (my cousin bought my grandpa's house, my other cousin bought grandma's house.  Some stranger and convicted child molester - ran off with a 14 year old girl - bought my dad's house, ugh!)

Even smaller families it is tough.
My local friend M's parents are divorced.  For awhile M moved back home (in her 30's), to help out her mom. She also paid to convert part of the garage to a bedroom to live in.  Friends said "great, you can inherit a house!"  But how?  M has a brother too, they all cannot live in a 3BR house.  While M's mother is ill, and in her early 70's, she could live another 20 years.

M's brother lived with their grandfather (mother's father), just down the street.  M's brother and wife and 2 daughters lived there, and cared for the grandfather who was in a wheelchair. For a very long time.  What happens when grandfather dies?  The house is left to the children, including those who have nothing to do with the family (5 or 6 kids?).  What happens to M's brother?  In the end, they were able to buy out the rest of the family, but I don't know the details. 

"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.

iris lily

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #95 on: January 25, 2016, 10:51:22 AM »
I never really gave much thought to the open floor-plan being a factor, but now that you mention it, I think it definitely contributes. I can't stand super open houses because I feel as though I cannot escape everybody.
I'll hazard a guess. Part of the increased perceived need is due to the popularity in recent decades of the 'open floor plan', type of house. These houses allow you basically zero privacy, and so living/dining/kitchens get blown out of proportion just to let people get further away from each other.
Of course, part of it is the increased space we need to store junk. When you harve a computer and TV and multiple game systems in the bedroom, you need space.
Also, with modern building systems, adding square feet on a new lot is relatively cheap. If the lot size is the same, why not build 2500 feet instead of 1500, since the cost isn't all that much different?
Add in cheap loans...

Funny theory, and I wonder when the "open concept" plan will trend down.

Our victorian house is modest size at 1900 sq feet house And our first floor is kinda open because when we bought it the dividing doorways between living room and dining area were already gone. While I am glad d it, I also,hate it whenpeople modernize the big gorgeous houses in my neighborhood and get rid of the huge old sliding doors. It soesnt happen often, but it does happen.


Chris22

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #96 on: January 25, 2016, 11:19:54 AM »
I never really gave much thought to the open floor-plan being a factor, but now that you mention it, I think it definitely contributes. I can't stand super open houses because I feel as though I cannot escape everybody.
I'll hazard a guess. Part of the increased perceived need is due to the popularity in recent decades of the 'open floor plan', type of house. These houses allow you basically zero privacy, and so living/dining/kitchens get blown out of proportion just to let people get further away from each other.
Of course, part of it is the increased space we need to store junk. When you harve a computer and TV and multiple game systems in the bedroom, you need space.
Also, with modern building systems, adding square feet on a new lot is relatively cheap. If the lot size is the same, why not build 2500 feet instead of 1500, since the cost isn't all that much different?
Add in cheap loans...

Funny theory, and I wonder when the "open concept" plan will trend down.

Hopefully never.  I grew up in a traditional Colonial style with lots of small choppy rooms, and hated it.  My first house was a nice open-concept ranch and was perfect for a small young family (can watch the kids, cook dinner, keep an eye on the game, all at the same time!).  Now we're in an older split level that someone went 50% open concept on, blew out one wall between the kitchen and dining room, but there is still a wall between kitchen and living room (where we spend most of our time) and it's tough for one person to prepare meals and the other to entertain the kid or watch TV or whatever.  And no hope of catching the end of the game while you do dishes. 

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #97 on: January 25, 2016, 11:36:53 AM »
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.

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #98 on: January 25, 2016, 11:52:38 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!

MgoSam

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Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
« Reply #99 on: January 25, 2016, 12:31:38 PM »
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.