Rob's Home and Garden Blog

What to Discuss With a Builder When Designing a Small Home

by Martha Reed

Having a new custom home built doesn't always mean a large house with several bedrooms and bathrooms, as many homeowners today are choosing to have smaller homes built for themselves, with fewer rooms overall, and more compact spaces. A smaller home means lower utility bills, and can work for someone into their retirement years, when the kids have grown up and left the home. Whatever your reason for thinking of having a small home built, note a few features to discuss with your builder, so you know you're happy with that home, no matter its overall size.


In many homes today, an oversized tub with a built-in spa has given way to a spacious walk-in shower area. This shower area will usually require less room than a tub, and it can be built with a shower seat, so that you can relax in the shower and not need a tub. A shower may also be safer for those who reach a particular age, and who have trouble stepping over a bathtub.


Bringing in ample sunlight is important for a small home, as this will keep a smaller space from seeming dark and cramped. Opt for a large picture window in the living room, and casement windows along exterior walls, as these mean less framework around the windows. Tube skylights can be added in smaller spaces that can't accommodate a full skylight. Give some thought as to how the windows in your new home will bring light to the space, and be sure you don't settle for standard, double-hung windows that do little to increase sunlight in the home's interior.


Many homes today are foregoing the formal dining room in favour of combined eating and living spaces, so that the kitchen flows into the family room. This is especially good for a small home, as not having a separate room for dining can make a home seem less boxy and more spacious. You might opt for a larger kitchen island that doubles as a breakfast nook and area for homework, and which then allows you to have just one additional space for dining.

Entertainment centre

You may want a built-in entertainment centre for your new home, and consider if your builder can add a small desk area in this cabinet. Many individuals don't need a huge tower computer for their home office, so a small ledge that works as a desk, along with a compact chair, can allow you the space you need for work, but which also fits your smaller home.