New Homes Getting Smaller

In a reversal of the “McMansion” trend of years past, new homes are being built with less square footage — but make up for it with smart energy efficient design.

“Home buyers are finding that they would prefer to spend their housing budget on lower energy costs and features, rather than sacrificing that quality for more space,” said Central MS energy rater and home builder Gary Smith.  This sentiment was mirrored in the 2007-2008 Consumer Preferences Survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in which 58 percent of respondents answered that they would prefer a smaller house with high-end amenities rather than a larger home with fewer amenities.

In 2008, this was reflected in average home sizes that went from 2,629 square feet in the second quarter down to 2,373 square feet in the fourth quarter. Going forward, eighty-eight percent of builders have expressed their plans to build smaller houses than in the past, according to data provided by NAHB’s economics and housing policy group.

This new trend has been attributed to several factors.  Baby boomers are becoming empty-nesters and are looking to downsize from the large house they previously needed to accommodate their family.  The recent recession has also caused people to tighten their belts and make financial decisions that are reasonable for their economic situations.  Home buyers are also becoming more environmentally aware and are looking for ways to lower the cost of home ownership.

Whatever the reason, home builders are adapting to the needs of their consumers. “Because builders are expected to deliver the same quality product in a smaller package, it’s forcing them to be creative in how they design the layout of the house so that the home owner feels comfortable and sees their home as the perfect fit for them,” said Smith.

Some ways in which builders are addressing this challenge are by increasing the ceiling height, installing ENERGY STAR appliances, offering more energy efficient windows, and incorporating an open floor plan that makes the home appear larger and more spacious.

It is also important for builders and home buyers to sit down and do a serious evaluation of what features are most important to their lifestyle wants and needs.  The builder can then design the floor plan to accommodate these requirements so that the home owner has the space that they need, rather than more space than is necessary.

You can find a builder in your area to help you create the home of your dreams no matter what size. Contact The Home Builders Association of Jackson online at or call 601-362-6501. Gary Smith is president of Energy Rated Homes of Mississippi and can be reached online at or by calling 601-856-6102.

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