New York Times: McMansions on the Outs!
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In this article by Fred A. Bernstein (registration required) appearing in the New York Times on 2 October 2005 a trend towards smaller, better quality houses is discussed. The findings are based on data collected by the National Association of Home Builders. A rising popularity of Modernist Homes is also described.
After more than 30 years of steady increase, the size of the typical American house appears to be leveling off, according to statistics gathered by the Census Bureau.
"The Generation X-ers who are becoming home buyers right now want more amenities - and they are willing to trade away space to get them," said Jerry Howard, vice president and chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders.
Sandy Kennedy, a real estate agent, said the house she and her husband, John, are building in Cheshire, Conn., will be around 3,500 square feet, which is larger than the national average but smaller than many homes in the area. "We could afford more, but we want to limit ourselves to spaces we'll really use," she said. "We're looking more at quality than quantity of space."
In a 2004 nationwide survey, the association asked homeowners: "For the same amount of money, which of the following would you choose: a bigger house with fewer amenities, or a smaller house with high quality products and amenities?" Only 37 percent of the 2,900 randomly selected respondents wanted the bigger house. Sixty-three percent said they would prefer the smaller house with more amenities.
It may also be that, in the way skirts get shorter and ties narrower, housing styles change. For decades, houses with historical details - often rendered in a kind of fake stucco - have been in fashion. Ornaments reminiscent of Versailles or Buckingham Palace require extensive facades.
But those looks appear to be losing some ground to a style that harks back only to the mid-20th century, with flat roofs, generous overhangs and large glass walls.