According to Metrostudy, the average home size in the nation’s top 15 housing markets has declined over the past two years. The biggest dip was in the Charlotte, N.C. area, where average home size dropped by nearly 250 square feet. In Houston, Dallas and Austin, the average home size is now about 2 150 square feet, while in Minneapolis/St. Paul the number has shrunk to just 1,872.
These are all pricey markets, so the main impetus for downsizing is greater affordability. Empty-nesters and Millennial first-time buyers are willing to live in smaller houses if they're attractively priced and well-designed. BSB Design's upcoming Casita Square project in California will include detached homes in the 1 000 to 1 400 square foot range that sell for 150 000 $ to 175 000 $ - prices not seen in the Golden State for decades.
These houses are usually built on either small lots or by squeezing two houses on a single lot. "We often design two-story homes on small lots to maximize liveable space," says Kerrin West, president of Studio 81 International in the Sacramento area. In fast-growing Nashville, older homes are being replaced by two "tall skinnies" on one lot. Each house can only be as high as 1½ times the width, e.g., a 16-ft. wide home could be 24 feet high. Most are built six feet apart, but in some cases they're even closer.
For these zero-lot-line builds, it’s especially important to use proven fire-rated products in the exterior walls. LP® FlameBlock® Fire-Rated Sheathing combines flame-spread resistance and burn-through resistance in a single panel. It’s ICC-certified and offers a 30-minute Class A Flame Spread Rating and 15-minute thermal barrier protection. LP FlameBlock Fire-Rated Sheathing also speeds construction time and reduces labor costs because it eliminates a layer of gypsum.
The Metrostudy report makes it clear that fewer Americans want a 4 000 square foot home surrounded by acres of grass to mow. As homes get smaller and nearer each other, fire codes will continue to get more stringent. That's why more builders are choosing products like LP FlameBlock that have been rigorously tested and certified.
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