HOW MUCH HOUSE DO YOU NEED
The usage of space in a home and how to design a house according to your habits, not social conventions.
The usable area of a house
Anyone would like to own a home where to feel comfortable and at ease, to have enough space for him/her and his/her partner and children, a place to eat, sit and watch TV or relax on the porch. At first glance, the comfort of a home seems to be directly proportional to the usable area. In reality, however, if we look at our daily habits, we do not fully use even half of all the interior space we have at our disposal.
Speaking of the average area of a house, here is the situation in several countries around the world, according to this infographic where you can find more details.
Australia 189 sqm
USA 177 sqm
Canada 167 sqm
UK 148 sqm
France 146 sqm
Germany 138 sqm
Romania 133 sqm
Mexico 132 sqm
Spain 122 sqm
Brazil 120 sqm
How much space do we actually use?
A question answered by UCLA in Los Angeles, which conducted a study for 4 years (2014-2017) on 32 middle-class families in Los Angeles, where they analyzed how space is used in an ordinary 240 sqm house. The study did not take into account the upstairs bedrooms but emphasized how the interior space is used during ordinary weekdays and weekends.
After monitoring the members of "Family 11" every 10 minutes for a certain period of time, it was found that approx. 70% of the time is spent in areas such as the kitchen and the family room, while the rest of the house was virtually unused - a ”dead space”.
Of course, the habits and lifestyles differ from one country and culture to another, but the obvious question that emerges from this study for each of us is:
Compared to our habits, how much of the usable area of the house is really used?
Every square meter have cost
Usable area is often the determining factor when it comes to a home, especially when it comes to price. In the end, it all comes down to money. Here are some prices per sqm of homes in different European countries.
UK 29.179 €
Switzerland - 13.280 €
France - 12.796 €
Austria - 9.609 €
Sweeden - 6.991 €
Italy - 6.598 €
Germany - 5.907 €
Spain - 4.978 €
Romania - 1.701 €
However, the square meter costs not only to build or buy but also to maintain it month by month, for 30 years for example (monthly bills for heating, cooling, ventilation, etc.). The maintenance cost differs from one situation to another and varies depending on how efficient is the house in terms of energy performance, climate, the heating/cooling source, occupants' habits, and other factors.
But we have a better understanding of this matter by following a simple rule of thumb: we pay 100% for each additional usable square meter, which is used between 5-10% of the time.
Why do people want big houses?
There are several reasons, from the simple fact that we want to have enough space to feel free with no psychological restriction, or that we want to show a certain social status. We've found 5 most common reasons why people choose big homes:
More space means more prestige - architecture is an art and therefore the home one lives in says something about him, especially for people who like to show off.
Our children and their children may want to live with us and must have enough space - although the gap between generations is getting higher and “millennials” or “generation Z” certainly have other goals in life than living with their parents.
There are some individuals who like to have lots of people around them on different occasions and design their homes as such. Holidays with the family or a barbecue on the weekend require more space, which remains unused for the rest of the time.
It's good to have an extra bedroom for guests - indeed, an extra room is very useful, but how many annual visits do you have to have to be worth the investment.
We tend to gather the things we no longer use and put them aside for the eventuality of becoming useful in the future - and thus the need for extra space increases and at the same time the feeling of congestion in the house.
After all, a house must be designed to meet the needs of housing and has to be primarily a house, not storage space, guest house, or events venue. The house must first and foremost be a comfortable and pleasant home for the occupants, without being a monthly financial burden - whether we are talking about monthly bills or the mortgage loan.
Judging by the latest events, when we face unprecedented home isolation and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our homes have become not only homes but also offices and places where we spend our time permanently, day and night. In this context, it is very useful that the interior space to be easily reconfigurable and functional in both scenarios: sleeping and working.
How much house do you need?
A question that many architects seek the perfect answer to.. It differs a lot from one person to another and varies depending on habits, activity, education, social status and the list goes on. According to this study, an average person needs between 9.2 sqm and 37 sqm in a home to feel comfortable.
But here too, there is a "rule of thumb":
For each bedroom, you need space for 2 people in the living and dining room.
There are many questions that everyone must ask themselves before buying or building a house. First of all, how much time do you actually spend in that house every day and how much time do you go to work or travel on weekends? Do you spend your free time indoors watching TV or outdoors crafting around the house? The list can go on with many other questions about your habits and how you see yourself living with your family in the future, realistically speaking. It is important to refer to the future when we build/buy our home, but not to the very distant future, especially in those very dynamic days.
From our point of view, you don't need 200 sq m to live well, you can live just as comfortably in less. We started from this premise when we developed the NIDUS Concept - modular prefab homes - in which we've combined the prefabrication technology and the ease of assembly with enough interior space to ensure the necessary comfort for any individual, couple, or family. A spacious tiny home. Each NIDUS Home is a comfortable "nest", a welcoming home for anyone who wants to feel at home in any circumstance: very easy to build, with low environmental impact, energy-efficient, and low maintenance costs.