For the last 30 years or so, our homes have been growing. The square footage in the average home today is TWICE what it was during our parent’s grade school years and up until recently, this trend didn’t seem stoppable.
Then the bubble burst and we found out that we really didn’t need a 4,500 square foot home with amenities galore. The McMansion could be going the way of the mastodon as home buyers discover the joys of less maintenance, less cost, and more family togetherness.
Whether you’re considering building a new home or buying and existing smaller home, there are some distinct advantages. A smaller home might just be the home of your dreams.
1. A smaller home is cheaper up front. A smaller initial cost means less down payment, less points on your mortgage, and a smaller monthly payment for your budget. If you can swing it, putting more than 20 percent down might even get you a better interest rate and will certainly exempt you from private mortgage insurance, saving you a substantial amount.
2. A smaller home saves energy. So long as it’s properly constructed and insulated, a smaller home has less cubic footage to heat and cool, provided you don’t build one with 14 foot ceilings! Smaller homes have fewer windows (energy leaks), fewer exterior doors (energy leaks), and smaller HVAC systems to run which will help save energy.
3. A smaller home is expandable. So long as you plan for it (and sometimes even if you don’t), a smaller home can be expanded. If you think your parents may move in with you or you plan on growing your family, plan to build a smaller home with an addition mind.
4. A smaller home could leave more room for a garden. If you build a 1,200 square foot home rather than a 2,800 square foot home, you’ll have more space to grow vegetables and flowers!
5. A smaller home is cheaper to decorate. Do we really need a breakfast nook and a full-size dining room? How about a living room and a den? Every room you eliminate is one less room to heat, cool, and decorate.
6. A smaller home forces us to have a “home.” When there’s four people in a 4,500 square foot monster, each of them in a separate part of the house “doing their own thing,” there isn’t any family togetherness. I know. My home is no where near that size but the five of us seem to rarely be in the same room – together.
7. A smaller home gives you peace of mind. Half the size could mean half the price – and half the payment. If you lose your job, wouldn’t a 50 percent smaller house payment be nice?
8. A smaller home saves on maintenance and cleaning. They have fewer windows to wash, fewer gutters to clean, less semi-annual maintenance to do, and a smaller roof to one day replace. Your broom, mop and vacuum cleaner will last longer. You might not need that maid anymore.
9. A smaller home can be more durable. Since you’re constructing less square footage (and that is typically how a home builder prices his homes), you can afford to buy more durable materials (which are usually more expensive).
10. A smaller home eliminates the temptation to spend. If you don’t have anywhere to put all the stuff you’re tempted to buy, you might buy less!
11. A smaller home gets you outside more often. With less space, you’ll probably be more inclined to enjoy the outdoors more, giving you the motivation to exercise or just enjoy the sunshine and that garden I mentioned.
12. A smaller home is more customizable. If you’re spending less to construct the home, you may have more funds to install fancier counter-tops, nicer faucets, better cabinets, or premium flooring. You have less space, so you’ll buy less of those upgraded products anyway!
Have you considered scaling down to a smaller home?