The Wall Street journal recently had an article on The Risks of Buying a Home that is Too Big. It elicited a big – DUH – in the comments because their reasons were the obvious ones… more expensive to build, heat, furnish, maintain, and higher property taxes. What they didn’t explore was how to determine what the right size home is for you, your family, location, and budget. There are five major factors to consider in choosing the right sized house.
1. Who is going to live in the house most of the time? This is one of the key elements, a family of 5 will probably need more room that a family of 2 or 3. The larger family may need more bedrooms, a larger laundry room, and maybe a separate kid friendly space for playing. If the house is for a retired couple who are home most of the day, there might be a call for separate offices or hobby spaces. It is essential to spend time thinking about how the family will live in the house and what spaces are needed to enhance family harmony.
2. How and how often do you entertain? Houseguests two or three times a month require a different amount of space than a houseguest once or twice a year. Large dinner parties require space for guests to both mingle and sit down to eat.
3. How much stuff do you have? Unless you channel your inner Marie Kondō and get rid all of your possessions, most people have a fair amount of stuff. Categorize like items for storage and determine how they will be stored. We once included 500 square feet of storage just for the Christmas decorations for a client. The size of your furniture, area rugs and artwork will also determine the sizes of the spaces.
4. What is your budget? If you need more spaces than comfortably fit within your budget, it is best to see if rooms can be multi-functional. A once a year guest room can easily double as an office the other 51 weeks of the year.
5. What is the average size house in the neighborhood? We occasionally have clients who say “ I will move out of this house feet first and it is up to my heirs to worry about selling it.” That is the rare view; most homeowners do not want their house to be the biggest or most expensive in the neighborhood because of resale.
It is also important to realize that other than the working rooms of kitchens, baths and utility rooms, all other rooms are flexible in their function to fit your needs and lifestyle.