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Around the Internet => Antimustachian Wall of Shame and Comedy => Topic started by: GrowingTheGreen on January 16, 2016, 10:11:12 AM

Title: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GrowingTheGreen on January 16, 2016, 10:11:12 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%.  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
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: ender on January 16, 2016, 11:31:13 AM
BUT I WANT MORE THINGS
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GrowingTheGreen on January 16, 2016, 11:40:29 AM
And more space to store my things!

A family member made an interesting hypothesis: Americans need more square footage to park their increasingly larger hind quarters. If you graphed house square-footage divided by average American weight, it would be constant with respect to time.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: deborah on January 16, 2016, 02:06:13 PM
Well, we have you all beat in Australia! (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Percapita.gif)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: cats on January 16, 2016, 02:17:42 PM
A few years back we visited my father's elderly cousins in St. Louis.  They lived in a 3 bedroom house that they had bought when they first started a family (so, probably 1950s if I remember the ages of their children correctly).  The two children's bedrooms were about the same size as some walk-in closets I've seen in more modern homes.  I'm pretty sure they only had one bathroom.  And as for separate rooms for different kinds of sitting around/recreating, nope.  They had a kitchen and then a dining/living room area and that was it.  No "bonus" room, basement home entertainment center, none of that.  The place was very neat and tidy and it didn't feel "too small" at all, but I definitely remember being struck by how small it was compared to many homes I had been in up to that time.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: FLA on January 16, 2016, 02:24:47 PM
I prefer less sq ft.  I went from a 2000 sq ft townhouse to a 2000 sq ft ranch but combined 2 households.  Even with the 4 of us here it feels too big, we added an office and a family room/guest room in the basement.   

my next downsizing move will be to a small condo or a one BR apt
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GrowingTheGreen on January 16, 2016, 02:37:56 PM
Well, we have you all beat in Australia! (http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Percapita.gif)

That graph is way cool. I had no idea Russians didn't use much space per person.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: deborah on January 16, 2016, 03:55:43 PM
Well, we have you all beat in Australia!

That graph is way cool. I had no idea Russians didn't use much space per person.
It comes from http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/how-big-is-a-house - which is a pretty good post in my opinion. You might like the other graphs as well.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Tom Bri on January 16, 2016, 04:31:25 PM
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...
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: The Guru on January 16, 2016, 04:31:48 PM
In fairness, the people are 50% larger now too.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Villanelle on January 16, 2016, 04:40:47 PM
I always thought 2000sqft would be about my ideal.  Due to a temporary living situation, DH and I are currently in a roughly 1000-1100sqft place and I'm so glad we've had this experience.  While I still find one toilet to be a major issue (I "need" that extra half bath!), I think that it this place had a garage for some extra storage, we'd be pretty comfortable like this long term.  I'd not have really accepted that had we not tried it, and I'd never have tried it if I'd needed to make a longer term commitment to it. 

Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: nobodyspecial on January 16, 2016, 06:15:59 PM
Well, we have you all beat in Australia!
Well you have an entire continent and about a dozen people.
And of course you need enough bathrooms so that if you see a spider in one of them you can just brick up the door and leave it alone.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: deborah on January 16, 2016, 06:35:54 PM
Well, we have you all beat in Australia!
Well you have an entire continent and about a dozen people.
And of course you need enough bathrooms so that if you see a spider in one of them you can just brick up the door and leave it alone.

A toilet takes up a lot less room than an extra 12 sqm per person compared with the USA - that's a reasonable sized bedroom!
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GrowingTheGreen on January 16, 2016, 06:46:32 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'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...
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: tobitonic on January 16, 2016, 08:30:48 PM
In fairness, the people are 50% larger now too.

I LOLed.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Kitsune on January 17, 2016, 08:27:25 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...

Having just built a home this year:
- The difference between finishing the basement (800 square feet added onto the house: extra bathroom, walls, vinyl tiles, etc - giving us a bathroom, family room, and 2 extra bedrooms or offices) was an extra 8K. Considering what it costs to build a house in the first place... why WOULDN'T you add on the space, if you can use it productively? Especially considering that, if you sell the house, the added value of that extra space is way more than what it costs to build it?
- The open-concept first floor is amazing for a lot of things, but does mean we need a 'retreat' space (especially while working from home: you CANNOT work in the same room as a toddler. Or at least we can't.) For our family, the design works, but damn does it make me glad we added on the space in the basement.

Interesting fact, though: when calculating the square footage of a house, most places don't include the basement, even if it's finished. So, technically, our house would be 1600 square feet, which seems so nice and compact, right? Except we're talking about 3 floors, 2.5 bathrooms, and 4-5 bedrooms, depending on if you're including the office). I hear about 4000sf houses and I just have no idea how you'd use all that space.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: enb123 on January 17, 2016, 08:33:41 AM
We moved from an 1800 sq ft. house to a 1500 sq. foot house last year.  The new place is still huge.  Down the road from me is a neighborhood of McMansions, which stand in stark contrast to my street, which is all 1950s era houses.  I can't imagine why anyone would want one - they're too big for the lots they're on, a nuisance to clean by yourself (and probably many of their owners don't), and more costly in every way.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: RetiredAt63 on January 17, 2016, 08:44:19 AM
Canadians need those big houses - we hibernate all winter (except when we are outside having fun in the snow).  And of course the house needs to have a hot tub (to thaw out in after playing in the snow) and a huge hall closet (for all the winter coats and boots and skis and snowshoes) and a big TV room with a wet bar (to watch the Scotties and the Brier with all your buds) and of course all the kids need their own bedrooms with room for the desk and computer and Wii and all that.  Right?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: music lover on January 17, 2016, 08:50:37 AM
Canadians need those big houses - we hibernate all winter (except when we are outside having fun in the snow).  And of course the house needs to have a hot tub (to thaw out in after playing in the snow) and a huge hall closet (for all the winter coats and boots and skis and snowshoes) and a big TV room with a wet bar (to watch the Scotties and the Brier with all your buds) and of course all the kids need their own bedrooms with room for the desk and computer and Wii and all that.  Right?

Basements are great if you're in a band. I have just under 1000 square feet (3 bedrooms, 1 bath), but also have usable finished space in the basement of about 800 square feet which has 2 band set-ups (drums, amps, PA, etc.) at opposite ends, and a pool table. I'm in the process of planning a bathroom for the basement.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: With This Herring on January 17, 2016, 09:48:30 AM
What would interest me is a graph (by country) of sq. ft. per capita (or your area unit of choice!) compared to annual temperature change cost by area.  Ideally the cost would be expressed in terms of some good that commonly used in all countries (loaves of bread?), as currency value can get a bit distorted.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: ender on January 17, 2016, 01:20:00 PM
We moved from an 1800 sq ft. house to a 1500 sq. foot house last year.  The new place is still huge.  Down the road from me is a neighborhood of McMansions, which stand in stark contrast to my street, which is all 1950s era houses.  I can't imagine why anyone would want one - they're too big for the lots they're on, a nuisance to clean by yourself (and probably many of their owners don't), and more costly in every way.

I think too a lot of it has to do with how useful the space is.

If you have a formal dining room and a  sitting/living room that never gets used, and each are about 250 square feet, that's a lot of extra space that is useless.

Some square feet are definitely more useful than other square feet.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Making Cookies on January 17, 2016, 02:53:28 PM
Anyone shopped for furniture lately? Some of the couch sets are HUGE and would completely fill a family room in a modest sized home.

We've lived in a 35x35 1940s home, an 1100 sq ft 70s home, and now a ~1600 sq ft home.

Each have been comfortable if carefully furnished.

Our smallish house is easily overwhelmed by any projects and company.

I think where a person lives makes a difference. I would not afford to heat and cool a McMansion in the more extreme temps of the continent. In other places the weather is much more mild and not as big a concern. Also - would not want to go the major metro commutes some people do just to have a bit of land near a major city - so we don't live in a major city. ;)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Zehirah on January 17, 2016, 06:05:44 PM
Interesting fact, though: when calculating the square footage of a house, most places don't include the basement, even if it's finished. So, technically, our house would be 1600 square feet, which seems so nice and compact, right? Except we're talking about 3 floors, 2.5 bathrooms, and 4-5 bedrooms, depending on if you're including the office).

Given that we don't generally have basements here in Australia, I wonder how the graph would change if basements WERE included? 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Less on January 17, 2016, 06:11:13 PM
And more space to store my things!

A family member made an interesting hypothesis: Americans need more square footage to park their increasingly larger hind quarters. If you graphed house square-footage divided by average American weight, it would be constant with respect to time.

can this be done as the projected floor area of the person/the total floor area of the house. there is a fantastic info-graphic jut waiting to be developed.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Lski'stash on January 17, 2016, 06:11:56 PM
This is really just more of a mustache an gripe on the subject. My husband and I are trying to downsize and move closer to our works. Currently, we live in a 2400 sq. foot home, and are looking for more of a 1500 sq. ft. The smaller starter homes are really hard to find in the newer neighborhoods that we are looking in that are close to our works:(
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mamagoose on January 17, 2016, 06:19:41 PM
We're a family of 3 in 2050 sf + a 2-car garage (workshop), it's 4 beds 3 baths, with a family room + a living room. Yes, it feels ENORMOUS but when we bought it, we thought we'd have 3 kids - now we're content with just one. My home office is in one of the bedrooms, the other is a guest, plus the master plus the baby room. The "living room" turned into a playroom. I sometimes go nuts when I think about all these extra rooms, and how our home would be perfect for us if the previous owners had never done the master suite addition and left it as a 3/2. When I look on realtor.com in our neighborhood for the right-sized home for us (about 1300 sf, plus a garage) everything is in very, very poor shape. The quality of homes in our neighborhood tends to be polarized - you have the old dumpy homes that have been trashed by decades of renters, and then the new McMansions popping up in their place. I miss the days when everything I owned fit into my car.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GrowingTheGreen on January 17, 2016, 06:43:41 PM
And more space to store my things!

A family member made an interesting hypothesis: Americans need more square footage to park their increasingly larger hind quarters. If you graphed house square-footage divided by average American weight, it would be constant with respect to time.

can this be done as the projected floor area of the person/the total floor area of the house. there is a fantastic info-graphic jut waiting to be developed.

I'll start working on it this week. Or atleast something similar.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: CanuckExpat on January 17, 2016, 09:04:04 PM
I find this topic pretty interesting. Some more stats, pulled from this article (http://www.mymoneyblog.com/save-money-on-housing-live-well-in-less-space.html), I particularly like this quote "Sharing bathrooms? That’s for people in 3rd-world countries!":
(http://www.mymoneyblog.com/images/0704/persons.gif)
(http://www.mymoneyblog.com/images/0903/mcman1.jpg)

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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Villanelle on January 17, 2016, 10:01:12 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: rockstache on January 18, 2016, 07:30:34 AM

I find this topic pretty interesting. Some more stats, pulled from this article (http://www.mymoneyblog.com/save-money-on-housing-live-well-in-less-space.html), I particularly like this quote "Sharing bathrooms? That’s for people in 3rd-world countries!":
(http://www.mymoneyblog.com/images/0704/persons.gif)
(http://www.mymoneyblog.com/images/0903/mcman1.jpg)

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.

+1 on the layout mattering a lot. We currently live in 635 square feet and it is plenty of space but designed so poorly that we just can't wait until the day we can move. The kitchen is an absolute nightmare and came with only 4 square feet of counter space. We have added a little bit, but we rent, so we didn't want to put too much of our own money into it. I could definitely live in this much space again if only it was designed properly.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Dictionary Time on January 18, 2016, 08:22:52 AM
Well, we were at 26 sq m per person, but our oldest went off to college so now we're at 32. Moving on up!

Also, I see things like this and I wonder about the people that moan that we have it so much worse off now than in the past. "2 incomes just aren't enough anymore" and the middle class is screwed. People seem to have enough money to buy these bigger houses and eat out more than they cook. Hmm...
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Kitsune on January 18, 2016, 09:32:06 AM
Well, we were at 26 sq m per person, but our oldest went off to college so now we're at 32. Moving on up!

Also, I see things like this and I wonder about the people that moan that we have it so much worse off now than in the past. "2 incomes just aren't enough anymore" and the middle class is screwed. People seem to have enough money to buy these bigger houses and eat out more than they cook. Hmm...

On one hand: yeah, absolutely. The standards of living regarding what is considered 'essential' for a middle-class family now vs in the 1950s is a huge change : restaurant dinners, dry cleaning, salon haircuts - or, hell, professional haircuts for ANY children, buying most fruits and vegetables, no preserving, no growing anything, hiring out housecleaning - or buying most household supplies, for that matter, the quantity of clothes deemed 'essential', most gym classes, cell phones and internet, multiple paid-for classes for children under 5, childcare, etc... It's a never-ending stream of expenses that has grown to be 'normal', and, frankly, that can suck up all additional income a family makes (bias statement: you will pry my cell phone and internet out of my cold dead hands, and we do have swimming lessons for out toddler... because we live next to a lake and would like her to know how to float and not drown, and also they're affordable and tax-deductible. For the rest of the list? We're pretty damned close to 1950s levels of spending (or, rather, not-spending).

On the other hand: we looked at the cost difference between building the house we wound up building (technically 1700 square feet according to the plan, but add on an extra 700-ish square feet of finished basement and wow do we have a huge house...) and building a smaller house. Difference for us: an extra 40$/month on our mortgage payment. Difference to the resale value of the house: about 45K, at a conservative estimate from our real estate friend... and this is in addition to the use and value we get out of it while we're living here. (Could we have done without? Sure, but once we have our next kid - hopefully within a year, depending on how quickly I get knocked up - we couldn't successfully work from home wihtout the extra space, and we'd be spending more than 40$/month on commuting expenses, sooo... )

TL;DR: I think the size of houses affects budgets, absolutely. But I think the 'extras' affect budget way more. It's pretty easy (especially for a family) to spend 300-400$/month on restaurants, 200-300 on sports and classes, 100-200$ on clothes (doesn't seem like that much, but it adds up so quickly)... add a few haircuts for the family, maintenance on an extra car, and the 'extra' money spent on not preserving/eating in season/doing one's own household maintenance, and then add daycare expenses on top of that... and there's a full post-tax salary, right there.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: bobechs on January 18, 2016, 09:40:29 AM
What would interest me is a graph (by country) of sq. ft. per capita (or your area unit of choice!) compared to annual temperature change cost by area.  Ideally the cost would be expressed in terms of some good that commonly used in all countries (loaves of bread?), as currency value can get a bit distorted.

Surprised you have never heard of the Big Mac Index:  http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index  .

But absolutely baffled at "annual temperature change cost by area"

What in the name of sweet baby jesus are those words supposed to mean in that order??
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GrOW on January 18, 2016, 09:50:54 AM
This is really just more of a mustache an gripe on the subject. My husband and I are trying to downsize and move closer to our works. Currently, we live in a 2400 sq. foot home, and are looking for more of a 1500 sq. ft. The smaller starter homes are really hard to find in the newer neighborhoods that we are looking in that are close to our works:(

Same here. Our area has two types of newer construction - 3k+ sqft McMansions and senior living communities. And no, we are not in Florida or Arizona. So we crossed off new construction.

Sub 2k sqft ranch homes do exist but they are usually just a handful in each subdivision in our area. Low supply and growing demand means.....you got it, higher cost per sqft and rising faster than the rest of the market. Ugh.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker on January 18, 2016, 09:53:44 AM
What would interest me is a graph (by country) of sq. ft. per capita (or your area unit of choice!) compared to annual temperature change cost by area.  Ideally the cost would be expressed in terms of some good that commonly used in all countries (loaves of bread?), as currency value can get a bit distorted.

Surprised you have never heard of the Big Mac Index:  http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index  .

But absolutely baffled at "annual temperature change cost by area"

What in the name of sweet baby jesus are those words supposed to mean in that order??

My first guess would be the heating and cooling costs per year for some arbitrarily-sized building, assuming an average level of insulation and an average number of south-facing windows.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: astvilla on January 18, 2016, 10:47:40 AM
This is one of the principal reasons cited by the Tiny House Movement (big fan follower, but don't ascribe to as I lack the construction/house skills). 

Bigger homes, less people per home. WHY?

I am starting to see some changes in this.  More young people prefer NYC living, or smaller spaces in condos, apartments, townhouses as opposed to single family homes with big lots and big sq footage.  People are wondering what the purpose is of new homes with yards.  Plus immigrants (big source of people moving into my town) don't understand the concept of cutting grass, raking leaves, they find it bizarre and stupid (who can argue that?).  So almost all the new construction of living space has been townhomes or apartments, very few single family homes built b/c little land, not as profitable, and people don't want it. 

All the better, less consumption, better environment, more people save...win win for everyone.  Except contractors.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 on January 18, 2016, 10:48:46 AM
Canadians need those big houses - we hibernate all winter (except when we are outside having fun in the snow).  And of course the house needs to have a hot tub (to thaw out in after playing in the snow) and a huge hall closet (for all the winter coats and boots and skis and snowshoes) and a big TV room with a wet bar (to watch the Scotties and the Brier with all your buds) and of course all the kids need their own bedrooms with room for the desk and computer and Wii and all that.  Right?
Yes.  My SIL has a house 3x the size of ours.  Her basement is bigger than our whole house. But they live in the northeast.  That is a space for their noisy teenagers to go.

I live in So Cal.  I can kick mine into the backyard
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Making Cookies on January 18, 2016, 11:49:37 AM
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/18/weve-hit-peak-home-furnishings-says-ikea-boss-consumerism
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: With This Herring on January 18, 2016, 11:54:16 AM
What would interest me is a graph (by country) of sq. ft. per capita (or your area unit of choice!) compared to annual temperature change cost by area.  Ideally the cost would be expressed in terms of some good that commonly used in all countries (loaves of bread?), as currency value can get a bit distorted.

Surprised you have never heard of the Big Mac Index:  http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index  .

But absolutely baffled at "annual temperature change cost by area"

What in the name of sweet baby jesus are those words supposed to mean in that order??

My first guess would be the heating and cooling costs per year for some arbitrarily-sized building, assuming an average level of insulation and an average number of south-facing windows.

Bobechs - I have indeed heard of the Big Mac index.  It is an interesting idea, but in some areas a Big Mac is going to be considered cheap, while in other areas it might be what those fancy rich people eat.  As your article states, it was originally intended as a joke.  Perhaps something like a "base meal" (whatever the local most common/least expensive meal is in that area) might be a better unit of measurement.  So, in some areas that would be a bowl of rice, in others a bowl of beans and rice, and in others a loaf of bread or maaaybe a Big Mac.

TheGrimSqueaker - You have hit it.  :) 

My phrasing was poor, but I was thinking of total cost to heat and/or cool a standard building per square foot per year.  I didn't want to just say "heating cost" and exclude cooling costs, so I chose "temperature change costs."

So, in country A it might cost 0.5 base meals to heat 1 square foot of dwelling space per year (and the base meal might be just rice).  In country B it might be 3 base meals to cool most of the year (but heat part of the year) 1 square foot (and the base meal might be fish with veggies).  Then we would need to know what the average per capita dwelling size square feet is in country A vs. country B vs. country C, etc.  I'm thinking a scatterplot would be the best way to view this information.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: nobodyspecial on January 18, 2016, 12:04:47 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.
 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: going2ER on January 18, 2016, 12:24:48 PM
Don't forget too, that we also need storage units for all the stuff that will no longer fit in our large homes. I wasn't able to find numbers, but I have heard that the number of self storage units in the US has exploded over the past several decades, I'm sure it is the same for Canada. So not only do we need more space where we are living we must also rent more space at a separate location.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: golden1 on January 18, 2016, 01:46:59 PM
I live in a 1960 built multi-level home that is 1800 square feet.  It is really plenty of space.  My town has become popular in the last 15 years since I moved there and tons of houses like mine are being torn down and rebuilt into 4000 sqft plus monstrosities.  If I wanted to find a sub 3000 sqft house in my town I'd probably have to buy a condo.  Who wants to heat and clean all that space? 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Logic_Lady on January 18, 2016, 02:28:04 PM
Well, we were at 26 sq m per person, but our oldest went off to college so now we're at 32. Moving on up!

Also, I see things like this and I wonder about the people that moan that we have it so much worse off now than in the past. "2 incomes just aren't enough anymore" and the middle class is screwed. People seem to have enough money to buy these bigger houses and eat out more than they cook. Hmm...

On one hand: yeah, absolutely. The standards of living regarding what is considered 'essential' for a middle-class family now vs in the 1950s is a huge change : restaurant dinners, dry cleaning, salon haircuts - or, hell, professional haircuts for ANY children, buying most fruits and vegetables, no preserving, no growing anything, hiring out housecleaning - or buying most household supplies, for that matter, the quantity of clothes deemed 'essential', most gym classes, cell phones and internet, multiple paid-for classes for children under 5, childcare, etc... It's a never-ending stream of expenses that has grown to be 'normal', and, frankly, that can suck up all additional income a family makes (bias statement: you will pry my cell phone and internet out of my cold dead hands, and we do have swimming lessons for out toddler... because we live next to a lake and would like her to know how to float and not drown, and also they're affordable and tax-deductible. For the rest of the list? We're pretty damned close to 1950s levels of spending (or, rather, not-spending).

On the other hand: we looked at the cost difference between building the house we wound up building (technically 1700 square feet according to the plan, but add on an extra 700-ish square feet of finished basement and wow do we have a huge house...) and building a smaller house. Difference for us: an extra 40$/month on our mortgage payment. Difference to the resale value of the house: about 45K, at a conservative estimate from our real estate friend... and this is in addition to the use and value we get out of it while we're living here. (Could we have done without? Sure, but once we have our next kid - hopefully within a year, depending on how quickly I get knocked up - we couldn't successfully work from home wihtout the extra space, and we'd be spending more than 40$/month on commuting expenses, sooo... )

TL;DR: I think the size of houses affects budgets, absolutely. But I think the 'extras' affect budget way more. It's pretty easy (especially for a family) to spend 300-400$/month on restaurants, 200-300 on sports and classes, 100-200$ on clothes (doesn't seem like that much, but it adds up so quickly)... add a few haircuts for the family, maintenance on an extra car, and the 'extra' money spent on not preserving/eating in season/doing one's own household maintenance, and then add daycare expenses on top of that... and there's a full post-tax salary, right there.

But one "essential" 1950s middle-class expense, that is not so essential now, was a stay-at-home wife.  Many of the things you describe (child-care, haircuts, food preparation, making/mending clothes, growing and preserving food) would have been done by a housewife. So families might not have had as many expenses sucking up extra income, but they also didn't have as much income to begin with because only one person was working. Depending on the particular work schedule, it is difficult if not impossible for a working person to do all of the things a stay-at-home spouse can do.

I agree that these expenses can be excessive, and many people spend way too much on "necessities" like the latest gadget. But I don't think we can really compare modern expenses to 1950s expenses without taking the increasing participation of women in the workforce into account.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 on January 18, 2016, 02:56:15 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.
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".
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Kitsune on January 18, 2016, 03:22:36 PM
Well, we were at 26 sq m per person, but our oldest went off to college so now we're at 32. Moving on up!

Also, I see things like this and I wonder about the people that moan that we have it so much worse off now than in the past. "2 incomes just aren't enough anymore" and the middle class is screwed. People seem to have enough money to buy these bigger houses and eat out more than they cook. Hmm...

On one hand: yeah, absolutely. The standards of living regarding what is considered 'essential' for a middle-class family now vs in the 1950s is a huge change : restaurant dinners, dry cleaning, salon haircuts - or, hell, professional haircuts for ANY children, buying most fruits and vegetables, no preserving, no growing anything, hiring out housecleaning - or buying most household supplies, for that matter, the quantity of clothes deemed 'essential', most gym classes, cell phones and internet, multiple paid-for classes for children under 5, childcare, etc... It's a never-ending stream of expenses that has grown to be 'normal', and, frankly, that can suck up all additional income a family makes (bias statement: you will pry my cell phone and internet out of my cold dead hands, and we do have swimming lessons for out toddler... because we live next to a lake and would like her to know how to float and not drown, and also they're affordable and tax-deductible. For the rest of the list? We're pretty damned close to 1950s levels of spending (or, rather, not-spending).

On the other hand: we looked at the cost difference between building the house we wound up building (technically 1700 square feet according to the plan, but add on an extra 700-ish square feet of finished basement and wow do we have a huge house...) and building a smaller house. Difference for us: an extra 40$/month on our mortgage payment. Difference to the resale value of the house: about 45K, at a conservative estimate from our real estate friend... and this is in addition to the use and value we get out of it while we're living here. (Could we have done without? Sure, but once we have our next kid - hopefully within a year, depending on how quickly I get knocked up - we couldn't successfully work from home wihtout the extra space, and we'd be spending more than 40$/month on commuting expenses, sooo... )

TL;DR: I think the size of houses affects budgets, absolutely. But I think the 'extras' affect budget way more. It's pretty easy (especially for a family) to spend 300-400$/month on restaurants, 200-300 on sports and classes, 100-200$ on clothes (doesn't seem like that much, but it adds up so quickly)... add a few haircuts for the family, maintenance on an extra car, and the 'extra' money spent on not preserving/eating in season/doing one's own household maintenance, and then add daycare expenses on top of that... and there's a full post-tax salary, right there.

But one "essential" 1950s middle-class expense, that is not so essential now, was a stay-at-home wife.  Many of the things you describe (child-care, haircuts, food preparation, making/mending clothes, growing and preserving food) would have been done by a housewife. So families might not have had as many expenses sucking up extra income, but they also didn't have as much income to begin with because only one person was working. Depending on the particular work schedule, it is difficult if not impossible for a working person to do all of the things a stay-at-home spouse can do.

I agree that these expenses can be excessive, and many people spend way too much on "necessities" like the latest gadget. But I don't think we can really compare modern expenses to 1950s expenses without taking the increasing participation of women in the workforce into account.

Oh, absolutely,  in that those things all need to get done via the medium of time or money, and so a stay-at-home spouse is a huge asset to the family workload. But my point was: for the people who say that having a stay-at-home spouse is "impossible these days", that's just not true... It can be done, just not with the same level of outsourcing. Aka: you can pick whether you have spare time or spare money, but very rarely both.

And if you want both time and money, you need to marry someone who does half the work so that you're both left with some free time in the end, because you can't expect two incomes AND the woman handling all the household tasks, that's just utter bs.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Drifterrider on January 19, 2016, 07:20:23 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.



Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: TVRodriguez on January 19, 2016, 07:47:46 AM
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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Jack on January 19, 2016, 08:10:02 AM
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.

My built in 1948/cheaply-renovated in 2001 1500 ft2 house cost me $77/ft2 in 2009. New construction in my neighborhood (mostly teardown/rebuilds) sells for $150-200/ft2. That's for slightly upscale finishes (fiber-cement siding (maybe with brick or stone accents or front wall), fancy granite-counter kitchen, hardwood floors in common areas but probably not in the bedrooms, etc.).

(That's good, because I could probably sell my house for $150/ft2 without putting anywhere near $73/ft2 of work into it!)

I've seen houses similar to mine that were renovated to turn them into open-concept, and I like them. In fact, my house is "half-open-concept:" the front half is mostly as it was in 1948, but the back half is open, and I'd love to take down the remaining wall in the front to open it up completely. (I haven't yet, because it's load-bearing and it'd be a major project.) I can see how it might make the house feel smaller, though. I think the key is to define the spaces with things like columns, archways / very wide door-like openings, kitchen island/peninsulas, different ceiling heights, etc. so that you still get the feeling of openness, but also have the suggestion of separate rooms.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zhelud on January 19, 2016, 08:27:01 AM
My sister and her husband, who live in a house that is at least 4x the size of our little 1500-foot colonial, just rebuilt their stand-alone garage into a new 2-story structure that is the same size as our house.  (and now they are wondering why the neighbors are complaining)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GuitarStv on January 19, 2016, 08:35:39 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
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: MrsDinero 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.   

Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: partgypsy on January 19, 2016, 09:41:01 AM
I find this topic pretty interesting. Some more stats, pulled from this article (http://www.mymoneyblog.com/save-money-on-housing-live-well-in-less-space.html), I particularly like this quote "Sharing bathrooms? That’s for people in 3rd-world countries!":
(http://www.mymoneyblog.com/images/0704/persons.gif)
(http://www.mymoneyblog.com/images/0903/mcman1.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: nobodyspecial 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
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: andy85 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.

Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Prairie Stash 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: slugline 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Villanelle 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.)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: dudde_devaru 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?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: CindyBS 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Jack 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.)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Cassie 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: music lover 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Jack 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?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: CindyBS 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: FLA 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
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Making Cookies 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: GrowingTheGreen 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: snacky 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: infogoon 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: bzzzt 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...
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: BDWW 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".
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: slugline 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: RFAAOATB 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Cassie 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: TVRodriguez 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: robartsd 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: CanuckExpat 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 (https://nextcity.org/features/view/cities-affordable-housing-design-solution-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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: faramund 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Less 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: nobodyspecial 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

 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: deborah 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?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: nobodyspecial 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  ?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: deborah 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: nobodyspecial 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........
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: serpentstooth 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: serpentstooth 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: RFAAOATB 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 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).
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: iris lily 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.

Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: The Guru 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!
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: MgoSam 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: robartsd 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: serpentstooth 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
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: robartsd 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Foursquare)?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.

(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/10/63/0f/10630f600278987f552146f4f2676708.jpg)

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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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.

Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: deborah 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!
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Kitsune 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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? 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Apples 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
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Kitsune 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: robartsd 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: infogoon 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: jinga nation 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!
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Bracken_Joy 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: robartsd 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: MrsPete 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?
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: MrsPete 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: MrsPete on January 26, 2016, 06:26:30 PM
Do you mean American Foursquare (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Foursquare)?
Also called a Five Over Four. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: RFAAOATB 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSGOe_w9z4k).  Having a $1.7 million French castle is something we all can aspire to.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: xclonexclonex 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Think 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zephyr911 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Robot 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%. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Tjat 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.

Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Vertical Mode 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".
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: appleblossom 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zephyr911 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Scandium 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..
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zephyr911 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. ;)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Jack 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Scandium 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Le Poisson 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zephyr911 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. :)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zephyr911 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... ;)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zephyr911 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: iris lily 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.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Cassie on February 07, 2016, 05:06:17 PM
Some of the old mansions were huge for rich families that had live in servants, etc.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: zephyr911 on February 07, 2016, 05:21:08 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.
Right, but the median size and thus the total resource demand have increased dramatically. Thus the OP.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Making Cookies on February 07, 2016, 06:23:32 PM
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..

I'm right there with you. Was working today to put away tools after a small rennovation. Would be nice to have a larger work space where I could stage my tools, materials and build things like cabinets. We have a smallish double car garage but it has tools and an old car restoration ongoing inside it.

Am considering a second detached garage that is 30x40. A friend has one this size and it would be perfect for all the hobbies.

Before this seems like a bad idea consider that it has the potential to be a side gig that pays for itself and the garage itself. Property prices are pretty cheap here (flyover country) compared to the coasts.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: chrisdurheim on February 07, 2016, 06:34:13 PM
We've got 2 adults, 3 young kids (all girls - 5, 3, and 3) in 1850 square feet right now and we're continuously on the lookout for a smaller place.  We've got all 3 kids in one room and they love it.  Not to say there's never fighting, but they really enjoy sharing the space.

We're working on updates throughout and at times we've been down to essentially a 2 bed 1 bath house with 1100 sq feet and were able to make it work no problem for weeks at a time. In the end, there's a lot to be said for trying things out before you become convinced that you "couldn't possibly" handle living a different way.

It's hard to find smaller homes in our community but tough to move as well - we love our church, the local pizza place, the school district, and have great friends nearby, but most of the houses are our size or bigger (in some cases significantly).

We just keep crossing our fingers that something will pop up on zillow that meets the criteria.  We're not afraid of fixing something up but the right opportunity just hasn't come up yet.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker on February 07, 2016, 10:35:16 PM
Some of the old mansions were huge for rich families that had live in servants, etc.

Yes, and there was way more human labor involved in just getting by and taking care of things like transportation: horses don't feed themselves. Add to that multiple generations living under one roof complete with maiden great-aunts, differently abled persons who were born with birth defects that are now correctable, or blinded or crippled by childhood diseases like scarlet fever or polio. Storage was also important, because in the more remote parts of the country, if people lived year-round on a country estate there was also a legitimate need to stockpile food and other resources during the winter.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: TVRodriguez on February 08, 2016, 10:46:28 AM
Am considering a second detached garage that is 30x40.

That is literally almost the size of my entire one-story house. 

But carry on!  Whatever floats your boat.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 on February 08, 2016, 11:03:21 AM
Am considering a second detached garage that is 30x40.

That is literally almost the size of my entire one-story house. 

But carry on!  Whatever floats your boat.

It's a lot cheaper, especially with no insulation/HVAC/water/sewer.  My family has one, ~22/x40, it was less than $30k to build and it's overbuilt by a fair margin.  It would be a dream to own an outbuilding like that (I'd use it to store and work on cars) but unfortunately I can't afford a lot big enough to build it in an area in which I want to live.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 on February 08, 2016, 11:13:32 AM
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.

We've got that variety here too (though Earthquakes have culled the older homes).

The large, 3000 sf homes were for the wealthy. They are beautiful old homes with views of the ocean, but they also were homes with servants.
The smaller 800 sf homes were for the lower middle class, or working class.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 on February 08, 2016, 11:17:26 AM
Am considering a second detached garage that is 30x40.

That is literally almost the size of my entire one-story house. 

But carry on!  Whatever floats your boat.

Ha ha funny, I never considered that.

But yeah, that's 1200 sf?  My house is 1146 sf.

The hard part, for me, is the hobbies.  The kitchen table (which is in the living/dining room) is my sewing table.  And the eating table, coloring table, homework table.  By the time it's cleared off enough for me to sew, my time is up, or it's time to eat.  It makes hobbies difficult when you cannot have them "staged".  There was a time when I had things "staged" and I could just whip out my machine and sew for 10 minutes.  Or pick up my crocheting for 10 minutes.  Or coloring.

But with more people in the house and more stuff, I have to tuck it away.  Out of sight, out of mind.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Cassie on February 08, 2016, 11:54:33 AM
Yes if you look at the stats house size for everyone has increased even though families are smaller. WE bought a 1400 sq ft 1950 ranch when we retired. In 1970 someone built a dining room and master bedroom off the back. Before that was done I don't know where people put their kitchen table to eat. The kitchen is a long galley and the living room is too small to function as both rooms. One bedroom is so small that I turned it into a walk in closet. Before the addition the house was only 900 sq ft. That would be fine if there was somewhere to put a table to eat. We wouldn't have bought the house without the addition.   
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Chris22 on February 08, 2016, 01:56:30 PM
Yes if you look at the stats house size for everyone has increased even though families are smaller. WE bought a 1400 sq ft 1950 ranch when we retired. In 1970 someone built a dining room and master bedroom off the back. Before that was done I don't know where people put their kitchen table to eat. The kitchen is a long galley and the living room is too small to function as both rooms. One bedroom is so small that I turned it into a walk in closet. Before the addition the house was only 900 sq ft. That would be fine if there was somewhere to put a table to eat. We wouldn't have bought the house without the addition.

We looked at a house like that.  ~900 sq ft.  Nice 10x20 living room, kitchen off of that, then 3 reasonable bedrooms.  Nicely done basement.  Problem was, they had a very small (~3ft in diameter) round table in a corner of the kitchen, and nowhere else to put a bigger one.  Would have been fine for 1-2 people, but no way for a family of 3-4 to eat at the same table for any meals.  We thought about a bigger table in the living room, but it would've taken up the whole thing basically.  Just silly. 
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 on February 08, 2016, 02:18:34 PM
Yes if you look at the stats house size for everyone has increased even though families are smaller. WE bought a 1400 sq ft 1950 ranch when we retired. In 1970 someone built a dining room and master bedroom off the back. Before that was done I don't know where people put their kitchen table to eat. The kitchen is a long galley and the living room is too small to function as both rooms. One bedroom is so small that I turned it into a walk in closet. Before the addition the house was only 900 sq ft. That would be fine if there was somewhere to put a table to eat. We wouldn't have bought the house without the addition.

We looked at a house like that.  ~900 sq ft.  Nice 10x20 living room, kitchen off of that, then 3 reasonable bedrooms.  Nicely done basement.  Problem was, they had a very small (~3ft in diameter) round table in a corner of the kitchen, and nowhere else to put a bigger one.  Would have been fine for 1-2 people, but no way for a family of 3-4 to eat at the same table for any meals.  We thought about a bigger table in the living room, but it would've taken up the whole thing basically.  Just silly.
My stepdad's house is like that.  A small round table in the MIDDLE of the kitchen, and no way to eat at it, except 2 people.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: ender on February 08, 2016, 06:44:51 PM
Am considering a second detached garage that is 30x40.

That is literally almost the size of my entire one-story house. 

But carry on!  Whatever floats your boat.

Ha ha funny, I never considered that.

But yeah, that's 1200 sf?  My house is 1146 sf.

The hard part, for me, is the hobbies.  The kitchen table (which is in the living/dining room) is my sewing table.  And the eating table, coloring table, homework table.  By the time it's cleared off enough for me to sew, my time is up, or it's time to eat.  It makes hobbies difficult when you cannot have them "staged".  There was a time when I had things "staged" and I could just whip out my machine and sew for 10 minutes.  Or pick up my crocheting for 10 minutes.  Or coloring.

But with more people in the house and more stuff, I have to tuck it away.  Out of sight, out of mind.

This is the main reason my wife and I are looking to find a bigger place.

We both have hobbies and the setup/teardown time is so demoralizing. Be nice to have a craft/hobby room.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Ebrat on February 08, 2016, 07:29:54 PM
I just can't relate to the desire for more space.  Our last house was just over 1200 sq ft and felt too big.  Current is a little under 1000, and plenty of space for 2 people.  We could definitely go smaller.  I can see it being slightly different if we had kids (though I lived in some similarly-sized--or maybe smaller--houses as a kid).
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: faramund on February 08, 2016, 08:21:53 PM
I just can't relate to the desire for more space.  Our last house was just over 1200 sq ft and felt too big.  Current is a little under 1000, and plenty of space for 2 people.  We could definitely go smaller.  I can see it being slightly different if we had kids (though I lived in some similarly-sized--or maybe smaller--houses as a kid).

I think you've put your thumb on it. When it was just my wife and me, we didn't really go for big places. But with kids, I really appreciate the space more, but its not so much space as distance. I like to read or use a computer in a quiet place. So if the kids can be up one end of the house listening to music/TV, yelling at someone while playing League of Legends - its nice to have as much distance and preferably many closed doors between me and them.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Making Cookies on February 09, 2016, 10:42:49 AM
It's a lot cheaper, especially with no insulation/HVAC/water/sewer.  My family has one, ~22/x40, it was less than $30k to build and it's overbuilt by a fair margin.  It would be a dream to own an outbuilding like that (I'd use it to store and work on cars) but unfortunately I can't afford a lot big enough to build it in an area in which I want to live.

Friend put one up here for $14K and then slowly added insulation and an office at one corner with a used wood stove. Had the slab poured and the basic frame put up for him, he did the details.

We're chewing on whether we want to build a detached garage on our current lot or wait and move a bit further into the country. I'd love to have several acres. Our commute only be slightly longer (~7 miles to ~10 miles, mere minutes). Easy to get around here b/c the town is small.

I think the building I'd put up with be $20K. Prob not the 30x40 I want now. More like 25x30.

Decisions, decisions. ;)
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Making Cookies on February 09, 2016, 02:22:19 PM
We both have hobbies and the setup/teardown time is so demoralizing. Be nice to have a craft/hobby room.

THAT! Yeah, it's like having a hobby in a closet. All this time spent just getting the tools/supplies out, and then all the cleaning up and putting away so your normal daily activities aren't hindered. Where do you put the half-completed project if you can't roll it up or fold it up? Hard to rollup a canoe or antique car... ;)

Covered/screened porch & more garage space. Makes a smaller home much more livable assuming your lot can accommodate this.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: bzzzt on February 09, 2016, 04:55:54 PM
I think the building I'd put up with be $20K. Prob not the 30x40 I want now. More like 25x30.

Decisions, decisions. ;)

If you're a car guy and plan on working on more than one car at a time (major project + repair/minor project), wait for a least 25x40. I have a 24x24 garage/workshop and by the time you have 24"-30" benches/shelving and room to work weld, it's a one-car.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: mm1970 on February 09, 2016, 05:17:41 PM
I just can't relate to the desire for more space.  Our last house was just over 1200 sq ft and felt too big.  Current is a little under 1000, and plenty of space for 2 people.  We could definitely go smaller.  I can see it being slightly different if we had kids (though I lived in some similarly-sized--or maybe smaller--houses as a kid).
Does it help if I tell you that I have two boys, age 9 and 3?

It's really hard to conceive of how small a house can be with four people, two of them very loud boys.  With toys.  And the paper.  OH the school paper.

My house felt plenty big when it was just the 2 of us.
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Ebrat on February 09, 2016, 08:08:14 PM
I just can't relate to the desire for more space.  Our last house was just over 1200 sq ft and felt too big.  Current is a little under 1000, and plenty of space for 2 people.  We could definitely go smaller.  I can see it being slightly different if we had kids (though I lived in some similarly-sized--or maybe smaller--houses as a kid).
Does it help if I tell you that I have two boys, age 9 and 3?

It's really hard to conceive of how small a house can be with four people, two of them very loud boys.  With toys.  And the paper.  OH the school paper.

My house felt plenty big when it was just the 2 of us.

Thinking of my nieces and nephews, I can imagine!  Our small space living arrangements when I was a kid were probably helped by the fact that I was a quiet kid whose main hobby was reading.  But we did manage well in some pretty tiny spaces.  My parents might have a different memory of the situation though...
Title: Re: Excessive House Size in the U.S.
Post by: Making Cookies on February 10, 2016, 08:48:10 AM
I think the building I'd put up with be $20K. Prob not the 30x40 I want now. More like 25x30.

Decisions, decisions. ;)

If you're a car guy and plan on working on more than one car at a time (major project + repair/minor project), wait for a least 25x40. I have a 24x24 garage/workshop and by the time you have 24"-30" benches/shelving and room to work weld, it's a one-car.

That is precisely the situation I have right now. 24x24 with workbenches 2x, floor stand drill press, table saw, air compressor, MIG welder, etc. Leaves me with space for the vehicle I'm working on but not enough space to work on the vehicle!

Am in the process of working to get it outside and back inside easily (no suspension currently) so I can multi-task the space. Also can't paint in the garage or sandblast.