For These Homeowners, The Smaller The Better
"With rising energy costs and the scarcity of raw land, the era of the McMansion may slowly be coming to a close. In 2006 the average U.S. single-family home clocked in around 2,500 square feet, up nearly 50 percent from 28 years ago. And yet more residential architects report square footage in home design to be decreasing than increasing, according to a 2007 American Institute of Architects survey. That's only fitting as the size of the U.S. household continues to shrink: with 2.6 members under a roof today, the average has dropped two whole bodies in the last century. A handful of architects are betting that at least some of the singles, couples, and empty nesters who are clamoring for smaller, more efficient homes are ready for radical solutions, ranging from bread-box-size houses to entire neighborhoods tucked into what are often considered single lots.
"More people are looking at tiny homes as full-time residences," says Jay Shafer, owner of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, based in Sebastopol, California. "The way we live our lives has changed." Since 2000 the architect has been building homes as small as 70 square feet, many with green-certified lumber and gravity-fed plumbing. Just last year he toiled away on his designs solo; today he needs five full-time employees to help meet demand."