Build Your Own House

House Too Small?

Summary: New homes under construction often look smaller than they really are. Check your blueprints or home plan against an existing comparable home or an existing comparable room area and then you won't worry.

Hi Carl,

We have stakes in the ground outlining where the foundation for our new home is to be dug.

Why does this outline of the foundation's perimeter look so small?

Is that how it is supposed to look?

It doesn't look like the rooms on my plans will fit in this small space.

I’m concerned!


Hi C.M.,

You may be experiencing what most everyone experiences with house size, even those who build houses for a living. It is called, “spatial relations”.

That is, nothing looks spatially the same in a different medium or form. It can scare the daylights out of you when so much money and planning is at stake.

I once looked at the footings for a 3 car garage and said, no way! Once framed however, it looked huge.

But, to ease your mind and to be safe, look at your plans again and make sure you are happy with the room sizes.

Remember from my book, that when a home designer indicates the width or length of a room, they are usually measuring from the outside surface of exterior walls to the center of an interior wall.

NO deduction is made for the thickness of walls! This is the way it has always been done.

But ideally, a home plan or blueprint, should give you both inside room dimensions as well as the overall dimensions. Some designers don’t give you both.

If you look on this floor plan you’ll see both. Note how for example, that bedroom #2 has inside dimensions of 13'X 15'6'', yet the outside dimensions of this wall show not 15' 6'', but 17' 0'' because NO deduction is made for the thickness of exterior walls.

The 13' dimension is also longer, but I can’t tell from the plans what exactly that should be.

If you are unsure as to whether a room on your house plan is large enough, find a room of about the same size in an existing house. Visit either a new house, a house under construction, or an existing house for sale and evaluate room sizes. There should be one or more of these “open houses” near you any given weekend.

Buy a laser tape measure (About $30). They make the job of measuring rooms inconspicuous as well as easy (only takes one person to use it). Why wonder “how big is this room?” Zap it with your laser tape!
You probably have nothing to worry about C.M., it probably is “spatial relations”, but checking your plans again should ease your mind.

Hope this helps.
Carl Heldmann