The “Not So Big” philosophy of home building works for home buyers on many levels: financial, social and personal. Sarah Susanka, architect and author of the Not So Big series of books, talked recently at a 365GreenExpo online event. She advocates a “quality, not quantity” way of thinking. With the new economy and need for sustainability, this message is resonating with home buyers and builders, including developer New American Homes and its waterfront community of Newport Cove, located near Antioch on the Chain O’ Lakes. (See Newport’s Moonriver model, pictured below.)
Affordability, according to Susanka, can be as simple as taking inventory of what you really need. Will you use it? If not, forget it. Think food, shelter and security. Rather than increasing costly square footage, put money into enhancing the quality of space. Builders can make less feel like more using varied ceiling heights, open floor plan and details. What’s needed is not size, but a custom-designed personal space that enhances the quality of life. A sense of home, sought by so many, can be defined and, thus, afforded.
Environmental awareness can reduce home costs and protect the eco-system. Susanka says that 20 percent of all carbon emissions come from existing housing stock. “Leaky” houses have an enormous environmental impact. She suggests homeowners have an energy audit conducted to lower utility bills and reduce emissions. Well-built new houses, using the latest in building technology, attend to these factors so owners won’t have to spend time and money retrofitting.
But, beauty matters, too. A house may be efficient and affordable, but if it’s not pleasing, it’s not sustainable. Its owners won’t care enough about it to care for it. When a home offers a sanctuary for its occupants, it can give more than it takes. It is a place to grow.
Finally, the Not So Big concept does not require that you build a small house, only that you build efficient space. In an upcoming post we’ll talk about the benefits of a Not So Big community.