Question For You All...

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EJ
Posts: 240
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 8:24 pm

Question For You All...

Post by EJ »

Is there a market for well designed, Not-So-Big type houses? My dad and I have been throwing around some ideas as to whether people really are looking for something more than a McMansion. Better quality space, not pure square footage.



It would be a house priced to sell to a family of four and takes out the unused, unneccessary bits of the McMansions (formal living room, formal dining room) and makes the kitchen the focal point of the house. Open floor plan, modest bedrooms (do we really need huge bedrooms?) and adequate, if not excessive, storage space.



Are Mr. and Mrs America ready for such an idea? Would they buy it? The house would look something more conventional than a Wright usonian, perhaps more Prairie.



I'd love to hear what you all think.
"It all goes to show the danger of entrusting anything spiritual to the clergy" - FLLW, on the Chicago Theological Seminary's plans to tear down the Robie House in 1957

dkottum
Posts: 427
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:52 pm
Location: Battle Lake, MN

Post by dkottum »

It would be a drastic change in American thinking, no doubt better for the family. Imagine buying a home that you can really love, and plan to live in forever, instead of an investment that meets the needs of everyone else. Not likely to occur near large metro areas where a government-corporate complex is leading nearly everyone around by the noses. But there is still a lot of America free, and I believe rural economics would contibute to the idea.



FLLW provided the design theories that makes the concept of a small, beautiful, and functional home desireable. It should not be a Usonian or Prairie, but of its own time and place. There are architects who can do this, and many who cannot.



There are American families with an independent nature, who love economic freedom and the idea of raising their own children, that may love the idea. There is a huge number of retirees that no longer need the big house, and may enjoy the simplicity and beauty of life in such a house.



I think it is possible, if there was education and leadership. Now imagine if Taliesin would assume that role. Then perhaps it would have a genuine purpose and future beyond archives and history, just as FLLW intended.



Doug Kottum, Battle Lake, MN

Collinst3
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:23 pm
Location: Lebanon, OH

Post by Collinst3 »

I am the owner of a marketing consultancy who also lives in a wright-inspired home in the middle of a sea of very large homes. The first question anyone asks about a home is "how big is it?" not "how well is it designed or how much detail does it contain". Our home is half or more the size of the other homes--yet cost as much or more to build.



I do some marketing work for a former Taliesin Fellow and its hard work. Its hard to find poeple looking for what he can offer.



Your premise of a not so big house I think would have a greater chance of success where space is at at a premium such as in urban settings. The concept of building a home that is 1/3 the size you need at the same cost just runs contrary to how the large track home builders have trained the American people. People are always wanting to get more square footage for less. (People see our home and say "what, no whirlpool tub?)



Bottom line--from a purely business perspective--going contrary to any general market trend takes big bucks. (Having a well-published series of books help) Teaching people new tricks is expensive and oftentimes not successful. Pick a region where people are more enlightened or where the space is a premium.



I would look at the not-so-big-house web site and call some non-competing builders that are listed and see what has worked and what has not. Right now--more research is your best friend.

Guest

Re: Question For You All...

Post by Guest »

EJ wrote:Is there a market for well designed, Not-So-Big type houses? My dad and I have been throwing around some ideas as to whether people really are looking for something more than a McMansion. Better quality space, not pure square footage.



It would be a house priced to sell to a family of four and takes out the unused, unneccessary bits of the McMansions (formal living room, formal dining room) and makes the kitchen the focal point of the house. Open floor plan, modest bedrooms (do we really need huge bedrooms?) and adequate, if not excessive, storage space.



Are Mr. and Mrs America ready for such an idea? Would they buy it? The house would look something more conventional than a Wright usonian, perhaps more Prairie.



I'd love to hear what you all think.


I live in an upper middle class area. There are many tear downs. Some of the new house are OK to good, and the others are great if you love brick and lots of pointy roofs.



A local builder has chosen to build smaller craftsman/prairie style homes that are nice. Maybe 2500 to 3000 sf. By comparison, the others are 3500+ sf. His homes sell.



Would a modern usonian sell here? I believe it would given good design and construction.



Good luck.

flwright
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 6:32 pm
Location: Saint John, New Brunswick

Post by flwright »

If you know anything of Sarah Susanka's series of books, "The Not-So-Big House," she has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of her immensly popular books all based on this theory of building not-so-big. Somebody must be buying them, therefore, I generally believe that there are lots of people who are receptive to the idea. As Collinst3 says, however, the general public has been "trained" to want size versus quality, so when it actually comes down to building a home, rarely does anybody actually apply anything that these books talk about.



It is an interesting paradox, but how does one capitalize on this book's popularity to turn the tide and further the theory of building not-so-big? That is the important question.
Morgan

Guest

Post by Guest »

The answer to your question already exists. It is Taliesin Architect 1997 Life Dream house. It is the exact design you are looking for. The only problem is folks have been building it with vinyl siding and other low expense features that cheapen the design. I saw the original LDH in person and when built right it is truly a beautiful high quality house that will sell quickly.



http://www.life.com/Life/dreamhouse/tal ... iesin.html

pharding
Posts: 2253
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: River Forest, Illinois
Contact:

Precedents for Well Designed Housing in the Market Place

Post by pharding »

Precedents for well designed housing in the market place exist. In order to deliver cost effective, well designed houses as described in the original post by EJ, one needs the following:



1. Multiple well designed houses using a common kit of parts that will induce an economy of means.



2. An enlightened, well educated developer that is willing to rethink tired, clich
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

KevinW
Posts: 1282
Joined: Sun Feb 06, 2005 6:41 pm

the market

Post by KevinW »

Paul mentioned the Eichler tracts here in Northern California. These nice modest homes, of simple materials, are in my opinion the perfect California home. The indoor outdoor lifestyle that our great weather affords was the emphasis of their design, on a practical scale, and budget. You really got a lot in a small home, privacy, function, style, honesty. Now since is has become hip to own an Eichler, this generation of owners have begun stripping them of what they originally stood for. Firstly, the real estate people in their infinite wisdom suggest painting over original mahogany wall finishes, because, of course NOBODY will buy it if its dark and gloomy. Soon the simple functional kitchen with its many built ins, and plastic laminate finishes and vinyl floors get "improvements". Corian, ceramic tiles, and traditional cabinets soon appear. Operable casement windows, get replaced with single hungs, or fixed. The radiant heat in the winter and open windows in the summer are replaced with central air.

Eichlers are, depending on the location here, are priced between $500,000 and 1.4 Million dollars.....
KevinW

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