Whatever your reasons are – limited budget, concern for the environment, a way to reduce the ecological footprint, no big yard to maintain, or simply a preference for a smaller home - get ready for the opportunity to be imaginative and creative.
Even with a tailored floor plan you can check all the boxes: comfortable, stylish, attractive, pleasing, eco-friendly, and these days, with the potential to be a Smart Home – on a small lot. So, think of endless possibilities – instead of restrictions - and make it the dream home you have always envisioned.
The key is an efficient use of space and intelligent building within a smaller footprint.
It’s interesting to note that in 2013, Arthur Nelson – in his book Reshaping Metropolitan America – wrote that “the growth in demand for new housing over the next 30 years will consist primarily of demand for smaller homes on smaller lots…” suggesting a general trend away from larger homes on larger lots and toward more efficient and sustainable use of land in large cities.
Almost 10 years later, we are witnessing a move toward this trend of more efficient and sustainable use of land in many major metropolitan areas, among them Los Angeles, Portland, OR, and Seattle.
Join us as we look at the potential of homes built on small lots, how they give homeowners functionality, efficiency, affordability, comfort, and all the “bells and whistles” of house plans on bigger properties.
Built on a lot just a little over 28 feet wide and 60 feet deep, this charming Craftsman-style home has a very welcoming front porch that opens into a Great Room with a fireplace. The home has 1,300 square feet of living space, three bedrooms, two baths, and a screened rear porch. (Plan 142-1041)
What is a Small Lot Home?
Mostly found in urban areas and cities that do not have enough room to build wide, small lot homes typically measure about 50 feet or less in width and extend to about 85 feet or less in-depth (The Plan Collection Narrow Lot Home Plans). With creative designs and intelligent building, a small lot home can provide owners with all the amenities and features without extra expenses related to the foundation and the roof.
Some homes may have deeper measurements that allow homeowners to pack all their “must-haves” in a one-story home. For properties that are not wide enough, the key is to build up. Consider a two-story plan for efficient use of available space – situating the social/entertaining areas and half-bath on the first floor; and bedrooms and bathrooms on the second level. In some instances, you can have a split bedroom layout, with the master suite on the main floor.
A 924-square-foot Contemporary style home – on a 30-foot wide and 21-foot-deep lot – is packed with curb appeal and a smart open floor design. The two-story home includes a covered front porch, a Great Room, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. The split bedroom layout features a second-floor master that has access to a spacious upper deck. (Plan #126-1853)
Advantages of a Small Lot Home
Why should you consider a house on a small lot? Let us explore some benefits:
1. Cost-effectiveness and money savings — From a lower sales price to closing costs, lower mortgage payments, and cheaper utilities, a house on a small lot is more affordable and gives homeowners better cash flow and more room in the budget for leisure activities and other expenses. Some homeowners use the savings to invest or on high-end furnishings, fixtures, and other décor accents.
2. Energy-efficiency— A home with a smaller footprint is more environmentally friendly. With fewer bedrooms, appliances, and lights, the home requires less electricity to keep it comfortable and temperature-controlled – which equals lower bills.
According to 2018 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a home under 1,500 square feet saves $290 to $730 per year, compared to the average home’s energy costs.
Average of all homes - $1,856
1,000-1,499 square feet - $1,569
Less than 1,000 square feet – 1,126
3. Easy to clean and maintain — Since it takes less time to clean a smaller home, regular upkeep is easier, and gives the homeowner/family extra time for hobbies and other recreational activities.
Can you maintain this beautifully landscaped front yard of a stunning Contemporary Ranch style home on a regular basis? Don’t be daunted… because the property’s exterior measures just 50-feet wide, the yard cleaning and upkeep will be easier and more cost-effective. So, enjoy browsing through this home with an open floor layout, vaulted Great Room, three bedrooms, two baths, and a rear patio. (Plan #141-1323)
4. Repair and improvement projects are less expensive for smaller homes — The cost for floor and roof repairs or replacements depends on the square footage. So, there are considerable savings for a smaller home plan.
5. A small lot home can establish/build relationships — not only among family members who get “lost” in their rooms and private spaces in a bigger home but also with their neighbors.
Think of urban areas and the proximity of the lots to each other. In this scenario, it is more likely to meet and greet neighbors on a regular basis – and form friendships.
6. Less clutter — since there is less furniture and other “stuff” to crowd the space. With a smaller home, you buy/keep only what you really need and want.
If you like the minimalistic vibe in your home -with fewer furnishings in the living room for an uncluttered look – look at this Great Room of a 1,320 square-foot Ranch home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. A love seat, cushioned chair, area rug, coffee table, side stands with lamps, and foldable stools complete the design. (Plan #123-1102)
7. The smaller home is cheaper to customize and furnish — Just because a home has less square footage doesn’t mean, that you throw design and style out the window. You can still have your dream home – customized and fully furnished inside and outside – according to your taste and lifestyle.
The master bedroom in a 1,015-square Ranch home has all the amenities you find in bigger homes. There’s a large side window that allows a lot of natural light in the space, a barn door that opens into the master bath, a tall plant, a night table, and a chandelier tailored for the room. (Plan #123-1102)
Disadvantages of a Small Lot Home
However, as much as there are obvious benefits, there are also disadvantages to think about. Among them:
1. Entertaining and a range of outside activities can be a challenge in a smaller lot home. While the width of the lot may not be a problem, a property that goes only 85 feet or less may allow only garage space and not the luxury of a patio with an outside kitchen/dining area.
2. There is not enough sleeping space for overnight guests/relatives. If you have a two-or-three-bedroom home and two kids, it will take a bit of an open mind for the kids and guests when it comes to sleeping arrangements. Keep an open mind… it’s temporary.
3. Related to lack of sleeping space … there is very little property to work with when the need arises to expand the home for more children or elderly parents.
4. Lack of storage room – No matter how you declutter and get rid of unnecessary items, the issue of storage will always come up. So, just don’t buy a boat or motorbikes that you can’t keep in the garage.
If buying a home is a goal, it’s important to look at the big picture. While there are some disadvantages, you must weigh the pros and cons; and then decide whether a small lot home fits your lifestyle and more importantly, your budget.
Stop putting off your dream of owning a home. An affordable one on a smaller lot that you can customize and design to fit your lifestyle is within reach. Think about it and all the exciting possibilities!
Footnote: The lead image in this article is a 1,320 square-foot charming Ranch home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. For more details on this home built on a 30-foot wide and 49-foot wide property and its many amenities, go to (Plan #123-1102)