The first true small house community builder has not yet (U.S. 2013) emerged. This would be a company that builds 400-1,000 square foot detached houses. And I’m not talking about building a few here and there. I’m talking about building neighborhoods and master planned communities exclusively for small houses.
I would imagine that local building codes that mandate minimum square footage requirements are the main obstacle. However, I would expect that large home builders have considerable influence on building code decisions since their economic impact is so huge. So I can’t imagine what their reluctance would be except profits or ignorance. I say ignorance because I believe there is a massive opportunity here that is being overlooked.
The facts are clear. The two largest and fastest-growing demographic groups in the U.S. and other countries are singles and seniors (baby boomers). If these two groups were given the option between living in a condo or a small house I’m sure they would pick the latter if the price was right.
How do you build a low-cost small house, make a profit, and attract buyers? I have no experience in the home building industry and I’m not an architect, but I do have an extensive background in marketing and product development. Here are my thoughts.
To create a low-cost small house that buyers scramble for, the design approach must look past current building styles, materials, and square footage minimums. A new standard needs to be created.
I believe this new standard will draw upon the way houses were designed before World War II. It will also take advantage of the latest technologies. And finally, it will serve the specific needs of singles, seniors, couples, and small families separately!
Not only would there be small houses designed exclusively for each of these four groups, but there would neighborhoods designed for them as well. Imagine it! There would be separate master planned communities or neighborhoods for singles, seniors, couples, and small families.
What might this new standard look like? It will look like nothing that currently exists in the new house market. It will be smaller than current day tract small houses, have fewer interior walls, and the spaces, furniture, and electronics will serve multiple purposes.
Who will be the innovative and courageous small house community builder who takes advantage of this opportunity?