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Thread: Why is it all big homes now?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Why is it all big homes now?

    I was reading on the industrial revolution and how the working class are so poor and living in slums and small bad row housing.No water or pipes or heat.

    And everyone so over worked and very and I mean very poor and long work times .And un-safe working conditions.

    And I thought people living in war time homes are small this is nothing.

    Well I'm confused why are homes so big in the Toronto area now than the war time homes ? Like did they find cheap ways to build more homes now than before?

    And yet the Toronto area population is really going up.You would think every year the homes would be getting smaller and smalller to = growth problem.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Kenneth Jackson's Crabgrass Frontier is a very good history of North American suburbanization - you'll find it answers your questions pretty comprehensively.

    But, just to throw a couple of reasons out there:

    * New transportation infrastructure opens access to cheaper land, allowing more money to be spent on construction and less on location.
    * Longer mortgage terms become the norm - banks will now let people spend 30 years paying for a house, rather than four or five.
    * Rampant government subsidies on mortgage, property tax, and transportation make buying larger houses on larger lots seem more affordable.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I used to wonder why people have such big houses nowadays. Until I lived three years in a small house with my family. Seems like wherever I go there is someone standing in my way.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I found that as a city becomes more prosperous, houses get larger while lot size gets smaller; land becomes more valuable, and it becomes difficult for a developer to make a profit building on large lots unless they build a house in the high six-digit or million-dollar price range.. Compare the size of a 1960s North York or Scarborough lot to a new lot in Markham. In the Buffalo area, lots in outlying areas are very large; land is cheap, and it's still possible for a developer to make a healthy profit by putting a middle-end house on a 1/3 or 1/2 acre lot.

    In growing markets, developers still build smaller entry-level houses, even though the price tags may be high in cities like LA and Denver. For example, in the growing Kansas City area, it's possible to buy a new 1,500 square foot house for $150,000. In Buffalo, just about every new house is high-end; there's almost nothing being built for the middle-market except suburban condominiums. A surplus of middle-end housing built during more prosperous times, along with filtration of older housing down to lower income groups (read some Anthony Downs), satisfies the middle-class and lower-middle-class market.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    What is the definition of too big, 5000sf for a family of four? Is their a quildline for the average american family (what ever that is anymore) as to what square footage of home they should have. I had always assumed that 1200 to 1800 was sufficent for the old school fam of 4 and that anything over that was really just a finger wagging excercise or just perhaps trying to keep up with the joness.

  6. #6
         
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    I guess it has to do with the culture. people want to live large as they say. there are people who don't have many kids who have these huge places to live. in some cases, it's a status symbol. like the MTV show "Cribs"
    the families with lots of kids can't afford the big houses but could really use the room. I guess that's how things are in life, filled with irony.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    IIRC, architect and small home proponent Sarah Susanka recommends +400 square feet per person - maximum - for a single family.

    Quote Originally posted by craines View post
    What is the definition of too big, 5000sf for a family of four? Is their a quildline for the average american family (what ever that is anymore) as to what square footage of home they should have. I had always assumed that 1200 to 1800 was sufficent for the old school fam of 4 and that anything over that was really just a finger wagging excercise or just perhaps trying to keep up with the joness.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Also, don't forget that in many munis, especially suburban ones in growing areas, it is *illegal* to build a smaller, 'starter' sized house. The local politicians only want 'quality' development and means setting their zoning laws with minimum lot and building sizes that are much larger than would otherwise be built without the restrictions.

    Mike

  9. #9
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I think a lot of it goes back to sprawl. When you live miles from anywhere and can't walk to anything, you want a larger house because you're trapped there more often. Then, if you decide to move to an urban area, you want something close to the size of your old house. It isn't until you realize that more of your time will be spent in public places (coffee shops, parks, etc) that you realize you don't need as large of a space. Just my personal opinion...

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    As I mentioned in another thread, nec209, you really really should get this book:

    Suburbia and Sprawl, William S. Saunders, Editor

    http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/S/saunders_sprawl.html

    It addresses a good 90 percent of the questions you have been posing about suburbia, sprawl and North America's current land development approach. The size of houses is addressed in one article that posits that architecture has, over time, become background noise - stage sets for us to present elements of a consumer society. This is abstracted not just to big box stores which the author calls essentially glorified billboards, but also to homes that are geared more and more toward the presentation and storage of, for lack of a better word, stuff.

    By the same token, it is also true that we have a lot of tools today for in-home use than in the past. Washers and Dryers were not accommodated in my 1907 house, so previous owners added on. The same for dishwashers - you add the unit, but maybe have to make up of for lost storage space elsewhere. Many households also use a computer for bill paying and general household use - this too needs to find a home whereas it wasn't even on the radar pre- or post-WWII. Add to that items I personally consider optional, but others maybe think are more essential like stereos and TVs and home theater systems, separate bedrooms for each child, etc. and the house is suddenly a monstrous beast. Two cars? How about that pair of jet skis? Stuff, stuff, stuff.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  11. #11
    Cyburbian MDGARD01's avatar
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    Actually from tax standpoint places like Atlanta actually
    encourage big lot buildings as a means to grow a tax base from the property taxes..Ive heard some cities and towns that have those min lots for new houses...
    big lot size=big house=big $ (taxes)

    I guess...

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    * New transportation infrastructure opens access to cheaper land, allowing more money to be spent on construction and less on location.
    Well with cars transportation is not problem but with out cars you have to walk so transportation is problem but I don't see how transportation will make land cheap.


    * Longer mortgage terms become the norm - banks will now let people spend 30 years paying for a house, rather than four or five.
    That is problem now and low interest rates.They say the interest rates are so low in the US it could collapse the economy in the US.

    * Rampant government subsidies on mortgage, property tax, and transportation make buying larger houses on larger lots seem more affordable.
    Wel government like the NDP or new left will subsidies the poor or government homes but not the liberal or conservative.


    Actually from tax standpoint places like Atlanta actually
    encourage big lot buildings as a means to grow a tax base from the property taxes..Ive heard some cities and towns that have those min lots for new houses...
    big lot size=big house=big $ (taxes)
    The bigger the lot the more taxes so city hall gets rich but the average poor guy gets homeless.

    It addresses a good 90 percent of the questions you have been posing about suburbia, sprawl and North America's current land development approach.

    Also understand with out the car you don't need a garage so may be that is why many of homes before ww2 did not have garage.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nec209 View post
    Well with cars transportation is not problem but with out cars you have to walk so transportation is problem but I don't see how transportation will make land cheap.
    Transportation doesn't make the land cheap, land farther away from an urban center is cheaper than land closer to it (in most cases), and building a highway to that land supports using it and chopping it up into huge lots and building big houses on it.

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