Our families told us that we needed a house bigger than 2000 square feet (185.8 square meters)–that we would regret not having more space for a future family. We heard from multiple people that we were thinking too small and not long term. I am confident that we will not regret making our house under 2000 sq ft! We did opt for a full basement, so we have some extra storage space and space for the tv to hide. But the main floor of our house is a comfortable 1920 sq ft. It’s bigger than what I originally wanted (1600) and certainly bigger than the super cute tiny homes I love looking at but couldn’t never live in. But I think we gained some space in places I will enjoy a little extra room (like the walk-in shower or the mudroom off of the kitchen). Here are 5 reasons you should consider building smaller than you think you need.
How big was the house that your parents grew up in? No, not the one YOU grew up in, your parents. Was it smaller than what you currently have? Was it smaller than what you think would be possible? Obviously, there will be exceptions, but chances are high that your parents grew up in a smaller house than you did. And their childhood home would probably be, by today’s standards, too small for that many people. Smaller bedrooms, smaller kitchens, smaller television (cough cough). COVID-19 has taught me a lot of things—why people sanitize shopping carts (I never used to be one of “those” people…. I am now one of THOSE people!!), how to grow (or not grow) herbs, how much milk two people go through in a month (too much…), and how AMAZING uninterrupted and unscheduled time is. I have spent more time outside. More time reading. More time cooking. More time learning (go ahead, ask me how a septic system works). And the slower, more old-fashioned, less stressful life is exactly what I want for my future (minus all the hand sanitizer). Smaller houses promote closer families and slower times. I think Andy Griffith would approve. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t quote a song right now…. “I miss Mayberry. Sittin’ on the porch drinkin’ ice cold Cherry Coke watching the world go by.”
If you a building a house and debating which floorplan to go with, a smaller house allows you put your budget into the finishings and features of your house. Your builder has most likely given you a price that includes all the basics but none of the fancy upgrades. If you choose the bigger floorplan, you will run out of budget to pick the upgrades you want. If you are custom, or semi-custom, building instead of building in a neighborhood, you likely discussed upgrades at the beginning of the budget discussion and you’ve already thought about them. But let me the first to tell you that stuff still comes up! We have already made changes to our purchase contract by means of a $650 septic system upgrade (told you I learned about them!) to the next larger size and an extra egress window in the basement to the tune of about $800. These were things we didn’t think about until after signing the contract or things we didn’t even know about [Ohio building code says a 1500 gallon septic is acceptable for a 3 bedroom home, but a 4-5 bedroom home needs a 2000 gallon septic. If we ever add bedrooms to the basement (to utilize those egress windows), we wouldn’t have been able to count them without replacing the entire septic system! $650 now is well worth that flexibility!!] Think about things like flooring, cabinetry, countertops, trim, windows, doors, extra outlets—these things all add up when you start making changes to the basic options included. You can always build cheap now and upgrade later, but we are trying to avoid HAVING to do anything so we can enjoy doing the things we want to do in the house.
Although this wasn’t a factor that played into our decision to build a smaller house, smaller houses have less of an environmental impact. They use less lumber to build, they use less fuel and electricity to maintain, they create less light pollution at night, and they are filled with fewer manufactured things. It’s a great reason to think smaller!
Smaller square footage equals a smaller mortgage payment. Unless you are blessed enough to have your house paid off, you face the reality of a monthly mortgage payment. Different areas of the country and state and city all have different costs associated with them, but generally, if you are looking in the same general area for a house, you will get more house for more money. Adding square footage (especially if you are building a single-story home) only adds more cost. Keep that money in your savings account or pay off your mortgage sooner! Opt for a smaller monthly payment whenever possible!
A bigger house means you have more to clean. Houses are kind of like Mary Poppins’ bag. The bigger they are, the more you can magically fit in them! So this not only means you are cleaning more rooms that are filled with more furniture that are decorated with more tchotchkes, but you are also cleaning more dishes (because you have more cabinet space) and you are cleaning more clothes (because you have more closet space) and you are cleaning more linens (because you have more space for ALL. THE. BLANKETS.) and you are cleaning more gardening equipment (because you have more garage space) and you are cleaning around more boxes of stuff that you might as well keep (because you have more storage space). It keeps going. Smaller houses are so much easier to clean and maintain. That is why it’s my number one reason to build smaller. Less time cleaning is more time doing fun stuff. And in my case, less scrubbing/wiping/mopping/sorting/washing/organizing means less pain. These tasks are not usually easy for me to complete. Some days, washing a sink full of dishes is enough to completely exhaust me. Scrubbing two bathrooms makes my hands hurt for hours—I don’t need 3 to clean! Lifting heavy loads of laundry sometimes isn’t possible, so having a laundry room within pushing/rolling distance is going to be life changing. We all have to deal with cleaning tasks as a part of life. Help yourself out and make those tasks naturally smaller so you can enjoy more time with your family and friends!
So, whether you are debating on going tiny or just thinking about how many square feet you actually need, consider a smaller house! I personally think you’ll love it!