Monday, July 25, 2005

Why Americans Build Big Houses

Pick up an interesting snippet from the Washington Post, via The Week, which I subscribe to. It says that US houses have grown by 55% in floor area in the past 35 years. Today average US house size is 2330ft2, which means, if my maths is right, that in 1970 it was 1500ft2. Jeez: that's just an enormous figure for an average house size. I think the UK figure is around 800ft2, a third of the US size. I know that everything is bigger in the US, but that's a gob-smacking statistic. It's as though the obesity crisis has grown to encompass housing.

Larger houses may sound fine and dandy but they do nothing at all for energy efficiency: in fact, energy usage is closely correlated to floor area. I sometimes come across people asking me about building "in a sustainable way" or advice "on building an eco house." The answer is short and simple. Build small. Live light. Don't collect piles of rubbish that need extensions just to house. I suspect that this, more than anything else, is behind the huge explosion in US house sizes: they have to have someplace to fit all that junk that they keep importing from China. Mark Brinkley


Blogger Nefesh said...

I live in the United States. I'm originally from Canada. I just wanted to say that I think you've got it spot on, mate. It could have been no more eloquently stated; keep up the good work.

8:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Energy efficiency isn't the first thing on the American people's mind, but last time I looked it wasn't making headlines in the UK either. If you can, why wouldn't you build a big house? It's not the fault of the Americans is they have a lot of spending money.

12:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Energy efficiency, Americans having lots more cash than most, I think recent world financial events have put a large dent in that situation.. ... Anyway my point here was to say that i have been making exhaustive research in preparation for the building of a zero energy house. it will be quite large: 12 meter footprint 3 floors + basement. I have decided on a fairly unique composite construction technique consisting of 200mm polystyrene outer wall core sandwiched between reinforced concrete: sprayed 50mm water proofed outside and 100mm shuttered & poured inside. I will also be having a basement which will be totally water proof. all power heat will be solar / earth-pump / passive absorption. If all goes well I will end up with a bill free practically maintenance free house.

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