We recently downsized, and I’ve realized just how much tighter knit our family has become. I truly believe it’s because we can’t all retreat to our corners of the house.
Instead, you must live and communicate with each other regularly. Which is why I say, “Go for it!” to anyone that is planning on building a smaller house.
So if you are curious as to how to go about building a smaller home, I’m going to give you a general overview of the process and things that you might want to consider. We didn’t build our smaller house but are now remodeling it because of some things that could’ve been done a little differently during the build.
If you’ve ever considered building a smaller house, then you’ll want to tune in to this article. It could be what gives you the courage to jump in with both feet.
Building a Smaller Home
Here is what you need to know about building a smaller house:
1. You Have Options
The first thing you need to realize is that smaller houses can be just as interesting as larger ones. A lot of people look at a smaller house and say, “But it’s so small!”
Well, yes, less square footage once would’ve meant a pretty boring and simple home. But that isn’t the case anymore.
As a matter of fact, you can find lots of smaller home plan ideas here.
So if you need some inspiration for a smaller home, take your time to browse through house plans and see if any of them fit what you’ve been looking for.
If not, maybe you can at least get some ideas that can be reworked to fit your needs.
2. Foundation Can Make All the Difference
As I mentioned, we recently moved to a much smaller home than what we previously lived in. The foundation is what sold the home for us.
Obviously, when building a home you need a foundation. You can choose between a slab, crawl space, or a basement. Our house has a basement which is what makes it feasible for our family.
So though the top floor is only 800 square feet, the basement adds another 400 square feet or so. This is still a small house, but the extra square footage made room to add some extra bedrooms which make this smaller home suited to our family.
What this means, is that you have to consider how to start with the build of your home. If you have children or plan on having any, then you may want to consider choosing a house plan that has a basement so you have room to expand.
But if you are past the age of kids and don’t have any grandchildren, then you may want to choose a less expensive foundation option. It all depends upon your need.
3. DIY or Hire It Done
The next big decision is whether or not you will build your home yourself or hire a contractor to do the work for you.
Again, this is a personal decision. If you have the know-how and the time, then yes, go for building your own home. That way you know everything is being done just the way you want it to be done.
But if you have no idea how to construct a home, then you may be better off to pay the extra money to have a general contractor.
However, this could also depend upon your budget. You’ll need to decide on what you can afford during this step of the process as well, and create a budget for your build. This will allow you to know what options you have.
But perhaps the best news is smaller houses are financeable through most financial institutions. So you shouldn’t have problems with a loan as long as you have the credit and money down.
As you can tell, this is a big step in the building process. So take your time, do some research, and follow the tips I provided from my home buying experience. I learned lots of lessons the hard way.
4. Roofing Makes a Difference
One thing I wish the person who built our house would’ve considered in a smaller home is vaulted ceilings. The pitch of the roof makes all of the difference when it comes to expanding the inside.
See, when we purchased our home, I would have liked to have added a loft over the living room. Our youngest son would’ve really enjoyed that.
But because of the roof height, it would cost way too much to fix that. So think about whether you’d ever want to expand upwards.
Also, vaulted ceilings can make a smaller home feel like it has more room.
However, you’ll also want to consider your roofing material as well. Here is a list of different roof types. See which ones fit your need and budget.
5. Lots of Windows and Doors
One thing I love about our home is the large number of windows and doors. Natural light is a great way to lighten up your home without added electricity cost.
Also, more light makes a smaller space feel much bigger.
So if you are concerned about a small home feeling cramped, then I highly recommend adding more windows to give lots of light. We also added storm doors to our home so I can leave the doors open and give even more light to our main living area.
These are all things you’ll want to take into consideration when building your own small home.
6. Inside Matters A Lot
The person that built our house was older and single. They didn’t really see the need for adding more storage or dressing up the inside. Lots of people feel this way. It is like they take on the attitude of, “It’s small so why does it matter?”
Well, when you go to live in it, the house needs to function as well as it possibly can.
Also, though the house is small, it is still your house and your investment. You need to do as much as you can to protect your investment. That way if you ever have to sell it, you should be able to get the best price possible for it.
So when building a smaller house, be sure to not waste any space inside. We are actually adding a walk-in closet to our home as I speak because there was wasted space in the stairwell to the basement. It drove my husband nuts, and the fact that we could have a larger closet was a great bonus.
But we are also updating other areas in the house. We already updated the appliances, but we also plan on updating the flooring as well. The reason is that if we ever end up selling, we want the house to be as nice as possible, so we don’t have any issues attracting buyers regardless of size.
And we learned from selling our last house, if you make the house nice both inside and out, people will overlook square footage or even the area that the home is located.
So consider how you can make your home as nice and functional as possible on the budget that you have. Even if you can’t afford to do it all when building, keep working towards that goal.
7. Porches are Your Friend
The home we purchased had no front porch and a smaller back porch. We are currently working on fixing that right now too. The reason is you only have so much square footage inside your home.
But porches can be a great additional living space that is just outdoors.
So on days that you feel like you and your family are just under each other’s feet, you can let the kids go to the front porch to play while you fix supper. It just gives everybody a nice place to relax outside of the square footage of the inside of the house.
8. It’s Electric…Boogie Oogie Oogie
I love small house living. The reason is that it is so much easier on your budget. I’m not paying to heat and cool wasted space that doesn’t get used all that much.
But it also makes having solar panels so much more affordable. We looked at going solar at our previous home, but where it was larger and used much more electricity to power it, it was going to be quite the investment.
Well, this house doesn’t use anywhere near the same amount of power.
So solar panels are something that has become much more affordable to use now.
All of this goes to say, that when you build a smaller home, you’ll need to consider how you want to power it. It won’t cost as much because of the lower amount of square footage so alternative methods of powering your home could be in the ‘affordable range’ for you now.
9. Keep Cool
Our smaller home has a ductless cooling system that is much less expensive than a typical HVAC unit. It has a little fan outside of our home, and the unit is on our wall. You can control it by remote and set the temperature you want.
However, we have no vents in our house, so you depend upon your fans to carry the cool air through your home. This is a feasible option for less square footage because it is less to cool.
Plus, it is a less expensive option to cool your home. We also have a window unit in our bedroom to keep it cooler because my husband and I hate being hot.
So this is another option for cooling a smaller square footage home because you could cool the whole house with a couple of window units. This is another inexpensive option to consider when building a home.
But if you have the money and like HVAC, then you could choose that as a cooling method for your home as well. I’ve always had HVAC up until this home. It is a nice option, but I honestly prefer what we are doing now because it is within our means to fix or replace if something goes wrong.
Where with HVAC units, most people have to take out a loan to replace them because of how expensive they are.
10. Warm Up
Heating a smaller home has fewer challenges as well because of less square footage. You can choose to use a ductless system, like what we have. They do both heating and cooling for a home.
However, you have to depend upon ceiling fans to transfer the heat around.
But you can also get window units that serve as heating units too. Having an Eden Pure heater is another great way of providing heat to your home as well.
Yet, you can also add a small fireplace or wood stove to heat the home with wood as well. We are actually going to add a wood stove this winter because our old house had one as a supplemental heating source, and I miss wood heat so much.
So as you can tell, you have lots of options for heating as well.
11. You Need Water
When building a smaller home, you’ll need to consider your water source. If you are building within city limits, then you’ll have to be tapped into city water most likely. That would be a question for your local town hall.
But if you aren’t within city limits, then you’ll want to consider digging a well. We have well water, and I love not having a water bill. The water is still good quality, and the only draw-back is that there is no added fluoride to the water.
So when you go to the dentist, they might want to do a fluoride application. But that is the only added effect of well water I’ve found.
12. Family Size
Finally, I know a lot of people think that all of this sounds great but their family could never fit in less square footage.
Well, I don’t mind telling you that we are a family of 5, and we fit just fine in a smaller home. We’ve had to learn how to make it with just one bathroom.
But beyond that, my kids have the basement and love having their own space. Then we all have living space upstairs as well.
Plus, I don’t spend all day every day constantly cleaning. Instead, I have a clean-up time each morning, and I get to enjoy our life the rest of the time.
So if you really want to live and build a smaller home, your family can find a way to create a smaller home that has room for everyone and functions as you need it to in order to accommodate your family size.
Well, you now know the things you need to take into consideration when building a smaller home.
But I’m curious, do you have any tips for someone looking to build a smaller home? Any tips on making it more functional?
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