News & Opinions
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Bigger Homes Are Not Better Homes
Jean Dimeo / BUILDER / September 26, 2013
The recovery brought with it larger new houses. Why?
During the recession, many Americans—reeling from downsized paychecks and declining home values—scaled back their super-sized lifestyles. Sales of giant SUVs and four-door pickup trucks fell, new-home sizes shrunk, recent graduates moved back home with mom and dad, and newlyweds stayed in rental apartments. How quickly we forget the recent past.
Commerce Department data shows that the average size of a new home was 2,647 square feet during the second quarter of 2013, eclipsing the record of 2,561 square feet set in the first quarter of 2009. The new-home average was 2,380 square feet in 2010, and it’s been climbing ever since.
While new houses are larger nationwide, they’ve expanded the most in Lancaster, S.C., Jacksonville, N.C., and Naples, Fla., according to data compiled by Metrostudy, the research arm of BUILDER. For example, the average size of a new house in Lancaster, a fast-growing suburb of Charlotte, was 3,321 square feet during the second quarter, up 39 percent since 2010.
I don’t think people need bigger houses; what they need are homes that are well designed to accommodate the way they live. They also need dwellings that are more energy- and water-efficient, helping families live more comfortably and affordably.