If you're reading this page you probably have an interest in small homes and that's a good thing because bigger isn't necessarily always better. That can be particularly true when it comes to your home too, as we'll see in a minute.
The main consideration when contemplating any type of new house plan is to be sure you're clear about your priorities. You'll want to think about how you and your family will live in the home and what it really needs so that you'll get the most satisfaction for your money.
Presuming you have clarity on that, let's take a look at some of the benefits of choosing a small house, despite society's perpetual mantra that "bigger is better".
Image Courtesy Architectural DesignsMaintenance on a smaller home is less costly and arguably easier than on a larger house. You may still have to replace your roof shingles someday but there will less square footage to pay for when you do. The same principle applies to painting the siding.
Operating costs, or what it costs to heat and cool your home is also less than what it is for a larger home. You simply have less space that has to be heated and/or cooled which means lower utility bills.
And since you're building new you can take advantage of more efficient building materials and techniques, along with choosing a plan that's designed to maximize the home's energy efficiency.
Perhaps that goes without saying but the culture of "big" that we're bombarded with is hard to avoid and it brings with it a high price tag. Of course you could build a very expensive small home based on the materials you choose, the location, etc. But on average, building small means you won't be house-poor and will have more flexibility in your financial life.
Classic 1-Story Bungalow - Courtesy Architectural Designs
Living in a smaller house doesn't mean it has to feel as though you're in a hamster cage. There are designs that make a small space feel larger and more spacious, if that's what you want. In some cases a combination of small and cozy along with spaces that give a sense of "expansiveness" is the trick to making a smaller house work well.
Here are some features and design elements to look for in a small house plan that can maximize it's space potential and make it a great place to live:
Keep in mind too that house plans can be modified. If you see a plan that shows a wall between the kitchen and the family room and you'd like them to be more open to one another, consider modifying the plan. Load-bearing walls require special attention but the point here is that just about any plan can be altered, usually for a small fee, giving you some design flexibility.
Image Courtesy Architectural DesignsLonger sight lines tend to make a home feel larger. A layout that lets you see down a hallway or through an adjacent room to the outside are examples of extending a sight line.
Focal points that draw the eye toward a feature farther away from some particular spot in your home have a similar effect. One example of this is locating a picture or a window at one end of a hallway or an adjacent room to attract the eye.
The opposite effect are sight lines obstructed by walls that make spaces feel smaller. This doesn't mean you need to look for a wide-open floor plan either. You can still achieve "separateness" between rooms but with a more open layout by using features like archways and columns that provide a measure of demarcation without the effect of a closed-off solid wall.
Shopping and buying home plans is easy to do these days simply by shopping online. Of all the sources that are out there, I recommend using ArchitecturalDesigns.com. They have thousands of plans, a great search and sort capability and the information on the site is clean and well laid out.
Below I've cited just a smidgeon of plans that I like which represent the variety that's available. The small house collection at Architectural Designs has a pretty wide selection to choose from in a number of different styles.
Here are just a few samples of floor plans for smaller homes. While they're considered "small", you'll see that they employ designs that make the most out of the footprint these homes occupy.
This particular cottage can accommodate 2 to 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms while coming in at 1480 square feet of finished floor space. The bonus is that a basement has the potential to add another 1024 feet of floor space. The covered porch makes a nice extension of the house into the outdoors and the walkout style of basement provides lots of daylight.
If a single level is more akin to your style, check out this ranch design at 1495 finished square feet. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths and benefits from a passive solar design angled to catch the majority of sunlight. As a bonus, with a full basement this house gains an additional 1505 square feet for the same footprint.
If you're interested in a really small home but one that doesn't appear to be the size of a matchbox, this plan has a finished square footage of 976 square feet. However on the second level there is a bonus space of 630 square feet and possibly another 976 square feet if you finish the basement. It's a 3 bedroom house but could possibly accommodate a 4th bedroom in the space above the garage in lieu of the optional family room. It's a small home but with varied possibilities.