A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

She isn’t wearing anything: an adventure in a smaller home

As I am working on an article at my office desk, I hear my wife call out yet again: “Look, look, she isn’t wearing anything!” Alright, I am a male of the species in the end, so I stop my work to turn around to see what my wife is referring to. I give myself credit that I did not look the first few time, but I do not see anything at all. “Oh, you missed it. You should’ve seen it, she was almost nude.” I put my head down onto my desk in exasperation. How I am going to finish while these exclamation continue.

My family does not live in such a big house, so we have our rooms perform double duty. My daytime office becomes the family room at night. The dining room serves for special projects, when we are not eating. The living room becomes laundry central when no friends have dropped by. In the scene above from the other night, I was working at my desk as my wife watched her favorite Latin stars on a video channel. I could be making an argument against the idea of rooms serving more than one function with that scenario, but I like having her around when I am working. I could do without some of the outbursts, but the conversation is nice.

I was driving through a neighborhood in transition this morning. The older homes, which were a little bigger in square footage than mine, are being replaced with units that fill up the lot. I have seen these behemoths from the inside, and they certainly are gorgeous. My son considers them the ultimate in living. Oh, what a twelve year old will think. Space abounds, but the amount of energy used for such creatures is incredible. Yes, they are made with many energy saving features, but appliances left on still use energy. If my wife and I were in separate rooms, would we not use the lights in both rooms? Would we not need the lights in the hallways between us? Would we not need more air conditioning for all of that space?

When I asked one family why they wanted more space, now that their son was moving out, the reply came that they wanted to have the biggest home on the block. I think at the heart of the matter, this honest answer is why these spacious homes are being built. It is not just keeping up with the Jonses; it is surpassing them. I enjoy my yard too much to give it over to a space that I will not use.

I offer this thought to you, so that you might consider how spaces in your home can be converted into dual use spaces. If you are planning on buying or constructing a home, give a thought to the costs that will come with unused space. American homes are now averaging at 2400 square feet, which is quite a lot if you look at it, but there are places where new homes are now averaging 6400 square feet. Maybe this economic downturn will remind us that we do not need to surpass the Jonses; we do not even need to have what they have; we just need to find contentment on our own.


1 Comment»

  Jan wrote @

You have stated the real problem with the love of these McMansions so well. This is something we all need to think about carefully.

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