People living large, as in homes, seems to


People living large, as in homes, seems to be on the decline

There are signs that Americans' obsession with living larger is starting to wane.

"We are seeing a flattening of the size for the first time in six years," Gopal Ahluwalia, head of research for the National Association of Home Builders, said at last month's homebuilders show in Las Vegas.

Last year, the average home built in America was 2,310 square feet, down slightly from 2,332 in 2001. The average home is still more than 50 percent larger than in the 1970s.

"The square footage of the new houses will stay around the present level of about 2,300 square feet," Ahluwalia said. "But the volume of the house is likely to increase because of the higher ceilings."

Buyers also want more garage space and different garage layouts.

"Many builders are pushing the garage back, and the front porch becomes the dominant element on the house," said Joan McCloskey of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. "Architects are talking about getting over the McMansions. They want something that is easier to live in."

Architect Carson Looney of Memphis, Tenn., says, "We are trying to avoid a fashion statement that literally only lasts for a moment. We are trying to produce a product that ages very well over decades, as opposed to just the moment."

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