20 Reasons Why Smaller Is Better

From on February 11, 2009 in Green Remodeling

smalldeltabuilderskitchen2.jpg

I own a 4 bedroom, 2 bath home. Due to economic meltdown I’ll be downsizing soon to a 2 bedroom, 1 bath home - that’s half of what I’m living in now. I’m actually happier with the idea of living smaller. My $350 monthly electric bill will be reduced by half or more. My house cleaning time will be cut in half. To fit into a smaller home I’ll need to sell half of my belongings, which will make my load lighter (and I don’t use or need most of my ‘stuff’ anyway). The thing you need to ask yourself (and, trust me, I’ve asked myself this question) is how much house do you need to be happy? On that note I put together a list of 20 reasons why smaller is better.

Green Wednesday Smaller is better because…..

  1. You use less construction materials when building a small home. The U.S. National Association of Home Builders estimates the materials used in building a 2,082 square foot house to include 13,837 board-feet of framing lumber, 11,550 square feet of sheathing, and almost 17 tons of concrete.
  2. A smaller home needs less paint, carpet, drapes, etc.
  3. You use less land when building a small home.
  4. Reduced heating bill.
  5. Reduced air conditioning bill.
  6. Reduced lighting.
  7. You’ll accumulate less stuff, saving you money.
  8. Bigger homes have greater surface area, increasing heat loss and unwanted heat gain and generally need longer runs for ducting and hot water pipes, which amounts to a significant loss in conveyance of warm air, chilled air, and hot water.
  9. Lower mortgage payment.
  10. Lower property tax.
  11. Lower insurance premium.
  12. Less expensive to operate and maintain.
  13. Quality versus quantity – instead of buying more space, go smaller but ensure better/quality building.
  14. Easier to keep clean.
  15. Cheaper to furnish.
  16. Simpler living & less stress.
  17. More cash reserves in the bank.
  18. Exchange material desires for spiritual well-being.
  19. Smaller environmental footprint.
  20. Because they’re cozier, they get you outside more.

Back in the old days homes were smaller. In the 1950s the average size home was half the size that it is today. Over the years, the average family size has shrunk, so why have homes doubled in size?

Average household size has dropped from 3.67 members in 1940 to 2.62 in 2002, yet the average size of new houses increased from about 1,100 square feet in the 40’s to 2,340 in 2002. Using an ‘average’ as a basis, in the 1940s-50’s, houses were built with about 290 square feet per family member; however, in 2003 houses provided 893 square feet per family member. Here’s another example that demonstrates our hunger for “bigger & more:” back in the 60’s less than half (48%) of new single family homes had garages for two or more cars and, by 2002 that figure climbed to 82%. In the mid 70’s 20% of new single family homes had 2.5 or more bathrooms and in 2002 that number increased to 55%.

McMansions encourage excess and are basically glorified storage space for stuff. In many cases owning a huge house is a status symbol – keeping up with the Joneses. You really don’t need all those rooms and that double wide wasted hallway. Stick with the rooms you use the most (kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, family room) and cut the rest.

Photo: Small kitchen remodeled by CalFinder-certified Delta Builders.
Links:

Small house society

Tumbleweed Houses – see the 100 square foot houses

Article: Less is more

Greener buildings