The home building industry has been on the rise since 2011. According to a recent news release issued by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), house prices rose nearly 6 percent during 2012. The NAHB attributes this growth to the demand for multi-family homes, which saw a 273 percent gain between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2012. The single-family market, on the other hand, was at 44 percent of its normal production in the fourth quarter of 2012; however, the NAHB expects the building of single-family homes to increase by 22 percent in 2013 and an additional 30 percent in 2014.
As single-family homes continue their growth, designers are seeing a notable trend emerging: the rising demand for small house plans, or homes of 1,800 square feet or smaller. Smaller homes offer affordability, energy efficiency and the ability to fit onto smaller lots – all of which have proven increasingly appealing (and in some cases necessary) to homebuyers. Families are looking for small house plans as a way to maintain lower mortgage and maintenance costs, scale down, live simply and realize the American dream without compromising quality.
Small House Plans: A Brief Timeline
1990s: About 28 percent of house plans sold during this decade were for homes that ranged between 2,001 and 2,500 square feet. Giving the larger homes competition at 22 percent were house plans for dwellings between 1,500 and 2,000 square feet. Only about 4 percent of the stock home plans sold were for houses that were 1,500 square feet or less.
2000s: Plans for homes between 1,500 to 2,000 square feet and 2,001 and 2,500 square feet saw a dramatic drop during the first decade of the new millennium, with a 20-23 percent decline in sales. On the other hand, plans for 1,500-square-foot and smaller dwellings rose by 9.4 percent.
2010 to present: Small house plan sales achieved near-record highs, as sales for homes under 1,500
Popular Small House Plan Styles
The current small-house movement, with its 1,800 to 2,000-square-foot dwellings, is quite different from the mini-mansions home shoppers previously sought. Today’s aspiring homeowners find that small home plans fit their budgets and needs just as well (if not better) than purchasing a larger home. The most popular small home styles include:
Contemporary: Contemporary homes have a modern style of architectural design that integrates large windows, asymmetrical shapes, open spaces and creative roof lines. The appeal of contemporary small house plans is in the ability to incorporate diverse building materials and features while minimizing costs and maximizing space.
Craftsman: Homebuyers are showing a renewed interest in the Craftsman-style home for the handcrafted appearance of its elements, such as glass, metalwork and wood accents. These house plans provide a simpler alternative to other extravagant home styles, offering a blend of elegance and practicality.
Cottage: This house style is an update and upgrade of the old English countryside home. These small home plans use dormers, exterior stone accents, gabled roofs and multi-paned windows.
How Demand for Small Homes Influences Design
Keeping it square. By virtue, square forms are less expensive and simpler to construct because there are fewer jogs, more open spaces, smaller surface areas and less complicated shapes.
Incorporating multi-purpose spaces. Many homeowners want a house in which they can stay put and grow. This means they seek house plans that can accommodate their changing needs, from converting an extra bedroom into a nursery to being able to keep the golf clubs next to the car in the garage.
Prioritizing natural light. Past home designs sometimes incorporated multiple windows along a wall for aesthetic effect. Today’s homeowners recognize that one big window lets as much natural light but is less expensive to build.