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Small-Home Virtues

| 1/2/2018 9:21:00 AM


According to generally accepted terms a small house is anywhere between 400 and 1000 square feet (s/f). Under 400 s/f it is a tiny house and anything above 1000 s/f is considered a large house. We have now lived in a small house for over 20 years. Our decision to go with a small house was carefully discussed and evaluated and (almost) all factors were weighed prior to making that decision. Our home has a total of 890 square feet.  

Choosing A Style Of Home:

We purchased our property long before we decided what type of house we wanted to build on that land. After careful consideration we chose the small ‘A-Frame’ house. Many considerations went into that choice but price was a major factor for us to achieve our early retirement. We have not once regretted our decision. Our prior homes have all been large and we knew we wanted/needed to downsize. The transition from a 2.5 bath, 3 bedroom house to a small house was uneventful and much easier than we thought it would be. We thought we had considered all factors when choosing this style house but it seems we overlooked one very obvious problem.

A-Frame Loss Of Space:

An A-Frame style house ends up losing room on the side walls because the roof is actually a wall and the slope of the roof takes away living space. This is a very obvious problem but we did not see it until later. Putting any furniture against the wall always leaves an area behind it that is not usable. While we would prefer to have all 890 s/f usable we have adapted and compensated for the exterior sloping walls fairly well. We therefore have about 760 s/f of functional or usable space when all calculations are considered. 

Paying For Unused Space:

That non-functional space still needs to be dusted, cleaned and heated so it does have some cost calculation in our s/f living area. Many years ago when living in Gainesville, FL I recall reading that a formal dining room cost about $1,400 per year to maintain. It requires heating, cooling, cleaning, prorated construction cost, property taxes, furnishings and when spread out over a year it adds up. The article was broken down for specific itemized cost and when taken in totality it was a cost I had not previously considered. Since we heat with a wood stove and have abundant firewood right on our property I don’t believe the loss of 130 square feet is much of a realistic cost calculation for us because of our lifestyle. If that room is only used one or two times a year that makes it an expensive addition to any home if you consider cost -vs- usability.

Living in a small house compels the occupants to utilize space sensibly. If we add a piece of furniture we need to eliminate something else to keep our home liveable and functional. We are always acutely aware of space and limitations. Hence one virtue of a small house is that you are forced to be minimalist whether you like it or not.

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