Good-Bye McMansion, Hello Tiny House?



Original Post Date: August 21, 2010

By: Emily Peck

How big is your ideal home?

Does somewhere between 1,400 and 2,600 square feet sound right? That was the answer given by more than half of those who responded to a recent survey from real-estate site

Trulia points to this information plus data from the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Census, among others, and wonders Is the McMansion Era Over?

It increasingly seems like that’s the case. As we’ve written before, the American love affair with massive and mass-produced luxury homes is fast coming to a close. The average home size peaked at 2,521 square feet in 2007. (WSJ reporter Kelly Evans noticed home sizes shrinking in the second quarter of 2007.) Home size came in flat in 2008 and fell in 2009 as builders built smaller, less ornate homes priced lower to compete with foreclosures.

In a WSJ story in November, Michael Phillips looked at the luxury home business and found that many builders were scaling back, “struggling to distinguish among what home buyers need, what they what they want and what they can live without — Jacuzzi by Jacuzzi, butler’s pantry by butler’s pantry.”

One builder in the article spent months trying to figure out what features luxury home buyers are willing to give up. What’s out: Jacuzzi tubs, curved staircases and two-story foyers. Must-haves:  a downstairs powder room, a garage that fits at least two cars, granite countertops in the kitchen and four bedrooms.

Yep, four bedrooms. Clearly, Americans still want their space.  We don’t expect a great mass of people to join the Tiny House movement anytime soon and live in an 89-square-foot structure like this guy.

This Kyoto home featured in today’s WSJ is just 640 square feet. There are no closets, no television and guests sit on the floor and the family of four who lives there shares a sleeping room. Sound appealing?

Readers, what size is your ideal home?