Americans may occasionally complain about sprawl and the growth of the suburbs, but part of the expansion of homes over the last few decades has actually been due to the expansion of the home. Animator Bård Edlund’s project for CNN Money, 40 Years of the American Home, visualizes changes in features and layout and the slow but steady increase in size and price for the average house, which starts at 1,525 square feet in 1973 and slowly balloons to 2,384 square feet by 2013, a 56% increase. Price, not surprisingly, follows a similar trajectory, rising from $64,600 in 1980 to $268,900 by 2013. In inflation-adjusted dollars, that’s a 32% increase.
I’m not quite sure why the history begins 40 years ago because you would find a similar trajectory going back into the early 1950s when the average new home was around 1,000 square feet.
The Curbed headline is interesting: “Today’s Average Home is a McMansion Compared to 40 Years Ago.” If we are just talking about square feet, this makes sense with a 56% increase. This is a pretty neutral – and therefore unusual – use of the term McMansion. But, if it is suggesting that homes are too big or luxurious today, that is another story.