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.