Sq. Footage: How to Choose the Right Size House


As you narrow your focus on what size house is the perfect fit for your family, consider this: Larger homes offer more bedrooms, bathrooms, living spaces and bonus rooms like a home gym, office, crafts room or game room. Smaller homes are more affordable to cool, heat, furnish and are easier to clean and maintain.

After acknowledging those tradeoffs and the explicit enticement of a more significant home, how much square footage do you desire?

Your choice is more likely to fit your lifestyle than the specs of varying-sized homes. New home buyers are usually quick to tell me how the house they’re living in isn’t entirely working for them, and then it’s fairly easy to figure out how to solve that concern.     


How Your Space is Utilized

Once you can discover a home that works for your needs, the focus can shift from size to functionality. For expanding families, schools and affordability are typical considerations and the idea that a home might be too big is rarely a concern. However, experienced homeowners usually are more specific about their square footage needs. For example, some of my clients that have owned several homes will tell me that they can’t live in anything under 2,500 square feet, and they know exactly what they want.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average size new home built in the United States grew 62 percent from 1,600 square feet in 1973 to 2,687 square feet in 2015, an increase of 1,027 square feet.


Bedroom vs. Living Space Ratio

Although there’s been a steady rise in square footage over the years, the design of a smaller home could be a better fit for a particular buyer than a bigger one. It all depends on the way the square footage is assembled. One crucial element to consider is the ratio between living space and bedroom square footage. The bedroom count is the primary driver for total square footage.

As a guideline, for every bedroom, you need to provide places for two people to sit in the living area and dining area. Another consideration is that living in a home should have an “away space” that welcomes the privacy from other family members. It will come in handy during those special times when three generations of a family come together to celebrate the holidays.    


Price-Conscientious Choices  

One apparent restraint for having increased square footage is the relatively higher cost of owning a more substantial dwelling. I have some clients that want what they want and are willing to pay for enough space to meet their desires, while others reconstruct their needs to fit the home size that works with their budget.

I’ll have some buyers say, “We want a 3,000-square foot house, and we want to have a home office and a gym.” Before you know it, their house is over 4,000 square feet. You can quickly do the math and decide if that extra space for a gym or theater room is worth it. It all depends on your personalized needs. In my experience, the room most often eliminated is the home gym because it takes up too much space, and it gets moved to the garage or basement.


Splurging on the Master Bedroom

Today’s new homes offer an impressive use of functional space and buyers are often surprised by how much square footage they can get for the money. This appreciation of space often finds buyers purchasing a larger residence than they had planned, and in some cases, I’ll even witness empty-nesters upsizing rather than downsizing. They look at it like they paid their dues, and now it’s time to splurge! A lot of the extra space in these type of residences are given to a more substantial master bedroom and bathroom complete with dual walk-in closets.