Living in San Francisco, or any major city for that matter, requires certain compromises. Some of these compromises are based on economics (it costs a lot to live here, period) and some of these are based on how the city was built (most of our buildings are separated from the ones next door by 1/2 an inch, and no, that’s not a typo). In order to afford living in such a fabulous city, either as a homeowner or as a tenant, a lot of people will skimp on the size of their place.
But 90 square feet of living space? Seriously? (OK, this
shoe box apartment is in New York, but still.)
Assume that living in a 90-square-foot
closet apartment is an extreme example of compromise in order to live where you want to live, and let’s look at some other information about the size of American homes. Get a load of these statistics from an article in Yes! Magazine:
According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a new single-family American residence in 1950 was 983 square feet. Today, it is nearly 2500 square feet. As home sizes ballooned over that time, family size shrank. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 1950, an average American family consisted of 3.8 people; today’s average family contains 2.6 people.
Yes, the Yes! author has a distinct bias against McMansions, but he raises some interesting points about the size of the average American home. Do we really need 6,000 square feet for a family of three or four? Or even five or six? His solution is new limits on the size of homes:
First things first: I propose that the design/build community set a maximum house size. Homes exceeding a certain size just wouldn’t be built or purchased.
Secondly, I recommend that the size-per-person should range from 200 to 800 square feet, depending on the depth of green design for the first three people in a household. When more than three people reside in a house, an additional 400 square-feet-per-person could be used.
This system mandates that no house exceed 4400 square feetâ€”ever. Such a structure is still huge; but using the chart as a guide, it must provide shelter for eight or more people in order to meet sustainability guidelines.
These ideas are no doubt controversial and will make people who swear that they’ll never be pried out of their McMansions curse the tree-hugging hippie who wrote the article, but I think it makes sense to consider alternatives to the ginormous homes set far from city centers, that require lots and lots of driving to do basic day-to-day stuff — like getting to work, going to school, and grocery shopping.
What do you think?