Yards Getting Smaller as Homes Get Bigger

Americans have shown a clear preference for larger homes—even at the expense of the coveted backyard.
July 11, 2016, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Iriana Shiyan

"The Yard — once the birthright of suburban American families with two kids, a dog, and a station wagon — is more endangered than ever," according to a feature article by Keith O'Brien.

Th article begins with a detailed anecdote about the home of Scott Nguyen, who has repeatedly expanded the square footage of his home, and of the paved surfaces outside it, in Winchester, Massachusetts. Nguyen's neighbors responded to the modifications by appealing to the city's zoning board, which then declared the new yard a "parking lot," and called for its removal. Nguyen has sued the board in Middlesex Superior Court.

After telling that story, O'Brien turns to the trend exemplified by Nguyen's story around the country:

According to US Census data, the size of new American homes has been climbing steadily for the past 15 years — up about 21 percent, to more than 2,500 square feet of indoor living space.

Meanwhile outdoor space has been shrinking:

The typical lot of a new home sold in this country is about 400 square feet smaller today than it was just five years ago.

The article includes details about the municipalities where the battles over teardowns have played out in Massachusetts, as well as the developers making the market-driven decisions affecting the built environment. O'Brien also considers the consequences of these building trends on the residents of the United States.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, July 7, 2016 in The Boston Globe
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