We’ve covered the trend of smaller houses on this blog. Whether it’s an economic reality or a broader symptom of a changing society remains to be seen. As a custom builder, I’m primarily concerned with what will best meet my clients’ lifestyles. Most builders refer to this as “right sizing.”
While I maintain that it’s important to be aware of the general trends in the real estate market, those trends shouldn’t dictate all of the decisions in the home building process. If anything, let the trends be present in some of the finishes that you may decide to remodel many years down the line. The basic footprint and square footage of your home needs to meet your needs – even when some elements buck the mainstream.
In my experience, the most successful approach is to first design for an individual’s vision, then incorporate elements of the “trend” that will allow for multiple uses of a single space, and a stronger resale value. For example, if a home owner values a library, I would recommend adding a closet to the space. The closet instantly makes the room multi-use – as a library and perhaps a toy room or a hobby room. Should the family grow or the should the home go on the market, a room with a closet can be marketed as a bedroom – and valued at a higher rate.
Even in the details, a homeowner should expect guidance and advice from their builder. Whether your bent is to have form follow function, or vice versa, a quality builder should play at least a minor role as devil’s advocate. This does not mean you need to argue your way to your dream home: far from it. It means that a reputable builder will be upfront if they identify potential problems in flow, functionality or livability in your vision.
Finding the Right Size
So how do you establish what size of home you need. The first step is easy enough: assess the home you’re currently in. Is it too big to heat and cool affordably? Is it too small to entertain the way you like? Do you really wish you had a complete guest wing? Are you downsizing for easy maintenance?
The second step is brainstorming multi-use rooms. If you only use your formal dining room once a year, but that event is important – can we add built-ins that turn the room into a craft room or office the rest of the year? Perhaps we add an extra large walk-in closet to a guest bedroom so you can store workout gear in the closet when you have visitors? Do you currently have a dedicated office that sits empty while you work on your laptop at the kitchen counter? Let’s add a small desk to the pantry or kitchen area and free up the office space to save money in square footage costs.
Here’s the fun part
Courtesy of HousingZone.com and designer Larry Garnett, here are five layouts for homes of varying sizes and styles. While I don’t suggest you consider them to be turnkey, they can serve as inspiration for right sizing your custom home.
Winter is the best time to start planning for 2013 building. Give me a call to discuss your ideas and we can begin creating your custom home with a Woodhouse designer or your architect of choice.