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Sunday, January 31, 2010

NY Times: Trend in Westport to Smaller Homes?

Today’s New York Times highlights what it says may be a growing trend in Westport and other communities—builders erecting smaller homes.WestportNow.com Image
A new house at 44 Long Lots Road at the corner of Long Lots Lane has 4,400 square feet and will sell for about $1.895 million. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

In a story in the Sunday real estate section, writer Lisa Prevost quotes builder Scott Buddenhagen as saying an example of this is a house he is building on Long Lots Lane. The house address is 44 Long Lots Road, at the corner of Long Lots Lane.

The 4,400-square foot structure will offer his usual custom architectural detailing and custom woodwork, the Times said.

It has a combined kitchen/family room area, four bedrooms, four baths, two powder rooms, a small library, a mud room and a large dining room. Even if people rarely use a formal dining room, Buddenhagen said, “they still envision that big holiday feast.”

He has listed the house for around $1.895 million.

“I’m not trying to make a cheap house,” Buddenhagen said. “I’m trying to make a more affordable, quality house.”

Added the Times: “A downsized house by Westport standards is still larger than the national average for new construction — about 2,480 square feet — but the shift is notable in a community that has lost hundreds of older houses to the bulldozer over the past decade to allow for residences that sizewise often resemble hotels.”WestportNow.com Image
Another example of a smaller Westport home under construction is this 3,000-square foot home at 7 Otter Trail. It is being built by a couple with two children. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The newspaper said some of the largest new houses in Westport — 9,000 square feet and up — have been sitting on the market for more than a year.

It cited a 13,000-square foot, 20-room colonial on Clapboard Hill Road which it said did sell a few months ago. But it said this was not until 18 months after its completion, at a sharply reduced $6.85 million.

Buyers are looking for less vast, more functional spaces, Judy Michaelis, an agent for Coldwell Banker who often works with builders, told the Times.
“People want to be a little cozier,” she said.

Longtime Westporter Michael Greenberg, who runs a design-build firm that specializes in high-end houses, said he was still designing some very large houses for clients.

Nevertheless, he thinks the market is slowly moving toward a time when “the new showplace will be, instead of about size, more like, ‘Look at my solar panels,’ ” the Times said.

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Posted 01/31/10 at 12:30 PM  Permalink



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A 4,000+ sq ft home is hardly cozy, unless, of course, you are living there with about 9 other people.  Houses from the early 1900’s and before, in many cases, can’t be built these days the cost - materials and labor - are tough to match now.  Quality in finishings and materials - that’s what makes a house worth more to me.  What was common in Victorian and turn of the century homes is considered exceptional now. Solid wood paneled doors, plaster moldings, coffered ceilings, fine wood staircases that could be left unpainted, real wood paneled walls, fabulous!

Posted by mary ruggiero on January 31, 2010 at 03:17 PM | #
 

I agree most homes built now in Westport are more then people need. Westports Historical charm is almost gone. What a shame!

Posted by Mike Moon on January 31, 2010 at 04:03 PM | #
 

I walked by that 4,400 sq. ft home today.  It’s huge.  If that’s what it means to scale down in Westport, we’ve still got a long way to go before we start to see houses that are built in reasonable proportion to the lots upon which they’re situated and that are reasonably scaled for the number of people inhabiting them.  (I’ve seen Westport houses as big as inns where only a mom, a dad, a baby or two and a nanny live.  What a waste of energy and natural resources!  Not that I’m blameless, of course.  My husband and I now live alone in the 2900 sq. ft. house where we raised our kids.  Believe me, except for during the holidays and when we have guests, we’ve got more room than we need.)

Posted by Prill Boyle on February 01, 2010 at 02:04 AM | #
 

This is a trend that was reported about 5-9 years ago in the Times: that homes in California and other high-end locations were starting to be smaller.  The PRICE would still be the same (i.e. high) but the quality was more important than the size.  Instead of a huge box, there would be wonderful moldings, a classic design (not Tudor, farmhouse and Victorian mixed in the same house) by a good architect, beautiful wood inside, a real fireplace, very well-thought-out traffic pattern, etc.  Westport has taken a while to start on this trend, but it’s great that we are now.  Maybe we’ll see smaller “pearls” that are special for the homeowner as well as for people driving by on the road.

Posted by Longtime Westporter on February 01, 2010 at 02:16 PM | #
 

that is truly frightening that you can call that 4,400 sq ft. house
cozy.  how delusional can one be.
i have lived in town for over 20 years.  my husband and i say the best thing we ever did was never move or add on to our house—about 1000 square feet where we raised 3 amazing boys.  they all shared and still do when they come home a room with single bed and bunk beds.  they were the kids that went away to college and were thrilled at the size and amenities of their dorm room - you mean this is my own dresser, my own closet?  and
today at ages 22, 21 and 19 you will not find three closer boys, brothers, friends.  There is alot to said about living in small house.  and i mean small.  not 4400 sq. feet.  today it is my husband and i and are two dogs.  we are loving it!  Families are
meant to be together.  and being together in proximity as a family is where it all begins.  maura marden

Posted by Maura Marden on February 02, 2010 at 01:50 AM | #