Residential

Home Trends: The Shift to Smaller Homes

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With baby boomers down­siz­ing and mil­len­ni­als looking for quality over quantity, the demand for smaller homes with great features is growing. While the tiny house’ craze may be all the rage online and on TV, many home­own­ers are simply looking for a place to call home that requires less upkeep, while still being welcoming to family and guests.

Why Smaller Homes?

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According to the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Realtors, boomers and mil­len­ni­als make up more than two-thirds of home­buy­ers. They both represent sig­nif­i­cant and active demo­graph­ics in the home­build­ing market, but they are both approach­ing the purchase of a new home with very specific needs in mind.

For boomers, it’s about reducing the load. After raising families and pursuing careers, baby boomers are getting close to or already deep into retire­ment. They want to travel and take up new hobbies. They want to declutter. They don’t want to vacuum and dust the dining room that only gets used at Thanks­giv­ing when their adult children are back in town.

For mil­len­ni­als, it’s about prudent spending. Mil­len­ni­als entered adulthood at a time of greater economic uncer­tain­ty than many of their pre­de­ces­sors. They’re having fewer children and don’t see homes as the status symbols that their parents did. Mil­len­ni­als want value for money, but they’d rather spend it on a smaller home with unique details.

Smaller Floor Plans, Same Functionality

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Losing square feet doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean losing func­tion­al­i­ty in a home. It’s about under­stand­ing how modern home­own­ers use the space, and what features aren’t pri­or­i­tized the way they were in the past. 

A study published by UCLA in 2018 found that the spaces most commonly used in the average home were the kitchen and the family room or den. While that doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean that everyone will be happy in a space the same size as an Airstream trailer, when selecting a floor plan, home­own­ers need to put some real thought into what areas they will actually use.

The first casualty in down­siz­ing a floor plan often seems to be the dining room. Whether it’s because families are too scattered, with parents at work and children in extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties, to sit down and eat together, or because attitudes to dining have become more casual, many homes now have a dining room that only gets touched for holiday meals a few times a year.

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After the dining room, formal living rooms are the next to go. Not that people don’t want to gather together socially, but the era of separate living and family rooms is over. Likewise, mil­len­ni­al home­buy­ers cook less than previous gen­er­a­tions, so the amount of square footage dedicated to kitchens can be reduced.

This shouldn’t be cause for alarm for archi­tects and builders. Rather, it’s a chance for some serious cre­ativ­i­ty for open-concept multi-func­tion­al spaces, where enter­tain­ing, cooking and social­iz­ing are all done together. Archi­tects and designers can add unique touches including big windows, glass panels and room dividers.

Smaller Is Better

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Homes with smaller floor plans have many advan­tages for home­own­ers. In addition to less time required for day-to-day upkeep, smaller homes are more cost-effective from beginning to end. They’re less expensive to build, will result in fewer costs for long-term main­te­nance and have lower recurring costs, like heat and other utilities. By using materials like the Bautex Wall System, builders can further help reduce con­struc­tion, main­te­nance and energy costs. 

And smaller floor plans don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean cookie-cutter layouts. There is a lot of room for variety. Walls can be knocked down to create dis­tinc­tive great rooms or what would have been a living room can be repur­posed as a home theater. A reduced floor plan can also be enhanced with great outdoor space like a patio or wrap-around porch.

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When selecting a floorplan for a smaller home, home­own­ers should build a needs and wants’ list. Maybe they’re regular enter­tain­ers and that dining room is necessary after all, but the den and home office can be combined into one space. And while open concepts are very popular, it’s important to consider how much storage space will be needed as well. 

A smaller home is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to simplify and declutter, while still pri­or­i­tiz­ing the features that will make the home enjoyable for years to come. Even a small home is a big invest­ment, and a carefully con­sid­ered design will result in a cozy space that the new home­own­ers can’t wait to share.

For more infor­ma­tion on trends in home­build­ing, please visit the Bautex Systems blog or our Facebook page.