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.