Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Small, Efficient and Beautiful

As if we needed to justify our reason for designing smaller homes, read Energy Source Builder #52 August 1997. Some of the tips included are:
  • Sharing spaces (do you really need an office AND media room AND guest bedroom?)
  • Remove formal spaces (that vestigial living room is not much more than a furniture museum)
  • Build furniture into rooms (probably should only be reserved for the Master Craftsman)
  • Provide ample storage (you don't need more square footage to live in, just more to store your consumerism)
  • Enhance trim and detail (turn that dinger into a zinger)
  • Bring the outdoors in (covered decks and porches cost a fraction of the house)
The article continues on to give calculations for figuring the perceptual space of a house. In theory, a home with more interior walls, lower ceilings and less outdoor spaces would feel smaller. While this concept can be agreed upon, we're not so sure about this idea. Given this theory, a single story geodesic dome with a 500sf footprint could easily double in perceived square footage based on vertical volume and design of the dome. Our preferred method for calculating perceived space is as follows:
  • Calculate square footage of the home;
  • Calculate square footage of anything sitting on your floor;
  • Double the second number;
  • Subtract it from the first number.
You may notice that the more crowded your home is, the smaller it feels. Want to increase your perceived square footage? Give away half of your stuff.

Some builders might argue that smaller houses use more materials per square foot, and therefore cost more per square foot to build. Sure, they're right. But will those builders be paying the utility bills that are based on volume after the home is occupied? You can bet not! Quite appropriately the builders are only concerned with making as much money as possible and small homes do not allow as big a profit.

Some plan collection websites have a page dedicated to small houses. Istockhouseplans entire webpage is dedicated to smaller homes.

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