The housing market has shifted. People are making different choices about their lifestyles than 10 years ago. Homeowners now have the courage to design their house how they want it and only build the spaces they know they will use. The focus has changed from the quantity of space to the quality of design.
People are realizing that they are not sacrificing space by building a smaller house. They are just reprioritizing their wants and needs. A house that is 1,800 square feet can have a lot more character than a 5,000-square-foot home. So many suburbs are filled with mansions, and many of those homeowners aren’t as happy as they thought they would be. These mansions feel too big and there are so many wasted rooms that they seem cold and uninviting. And the cost of utilities is only going to rise! When we design a high performance home, we are not worried what fuel prices will do over the coming decades. A house that requires a lower amount of energy to sustain it is going to allow its residents to fare better than one requiring more. We know that solar panels and other alternative energy can seem expensive, but if we focus on energy efficiency and quality and not size, we can achieve our goals. And over the life cycle of the home, we will actually save money on our utilities, rather than paying more and more to heat our big homes.
Homeowners are designing houses that are more than square footage, where each room is used every day. There are more and more couples that lived years together as a family of four or five. Now that their children are grown and moved out, they have more space than they know what to do with. Baby boomers are building homes with less square footage, but much higher quality. They have realized that they want to live comfortably and have a high quality home to spend the rest of their lives in. By making their homes smaller, they can have the quality and the efficiency they desire.
Many clients think they want it all – a big house, great craftsmanship, and energy efficiency. The three variables — quality, quantity, and cost — rule the decision making process. Cost seems the most obvious of the three: How much are you willing to spend to accomplish your dream? Some people assume that they need a house of a certain size, because all the houses they’ve seen and liked are that size. But through thoughtful decision making, many realize this is not true and determine that it is quality, not quantity, that will ultimately satisfy their needs.
David Carpenter is the owner of Hope Construction, a general contracting and construction management firm with an emphasis on sustainable building. He can be reached at 928-527-3159.