Smaller luxury homes: “I’d rather have a 3,500-square-foot house and have it make sense.”

Two home builders in Tennessee explain that they are building smaller luxury homes:

The luxury homes being built by Castle Homes are smaller than just a few years ago, Looney said.

“Not 8,000 square feet. Now the average is 4,500 square feet,” he said.

The custom home Colclasure is completing in Green Hills has about 3,700 square feet, and the open design almost eliminates hallways.

“The days of the McMansion with 6,000 square feet and you live in 2,000, the days of people wanting those houses, are long gone,” Colclasure said. “I’d rather have a 3,500-square-foot house and have it make sense.”

This is a decent reduction in size: moving from 8,000 to 4,500 square feet is a 44% drop while going from 6,000 to 3,500 square feet is a 42% drop. At the same time, these are still large homes. Most new houses do not have 4,500 square feet and even 3,500 square foot homes are 1,100 square feet above the 2010 average. Is this enough of a size reduction to not have these homes labeled as environmentally unfriendly or McMansions?

I really want Colclasure to explain what he means by this final statement: what does it mean for a large house to “make sense”? Does that mean that the large houses of ten years ago don’t “make sense” even if today’s builders built those same homes? Does this mean that luxury homes now come with more features rather than just size? Does it mean that builders have grabbed onto the idea that they can’t just sell impressive size?

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