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What Is Good Square Footage For A House?

If you are just starting to think about building a new home, it’s likely that you aren’t quite sure how big it should be.  If you are like most people, you probably haven’t built a new home before and without experience it’s hard to know how many square feet you might need in your new home.

As an architect the thing that I have found to be most important about size is proportion and function.  I once lived in a house that had a nicely sized and proportioned living room, it was even verging on big, but it functioned poorly because it was impossible to fit furniture in a way that felt comfortable.  The room was all chopped up with doorways that were in the wrong spot and there were lots of crossing paths which limited the area for furniture.   If the function had been thought about it would have been a much nicer space.

What often happens is size is increased to compensate for lack of function. The best way I know of to test function is to see the furniture drawn on the floor plan.  For example, showing a bed in a bedroom can tell you if the layout means the only place for the bed is shoved up against a wall (which makes changing the bed a drag) or in the middle of the room, which is better.


Below are some target square footage sizes that are not too big, not too small.  Of course, it is possible to build something smaller or larger but I consider the sizes below to be a good benchmark.

How Much Square Footage Do I Need?

Studio or One Bedroom

1,000 square feet

Two Bedroom

1,600 square feet

Three Bedroom

2,200 square feet

Four Bedroom

2,800 square feet

Five Bedroom

3,400 square feet

Six Bedroom

4,000 square feet

Seven Bedroom

4,600 square feet

Sizes are based on numbers of bedrooms and targets are derived and adapted from the Department of Energy Zero Ready Energy Home Program.

According to the US census, the average size of a new home is 2,598 square feet, up from 1,660 square feet in 1973; an increase of almost 1,000 square feet.

Determining a good square footage for a house isn’t easy because all kinds of variables come into play.  With careful consideration of wants vs. needs, building a home that is more modest than mansion is within reach. A home doesn’t have to be big to feel luxurious, just well planned.

Question:  What are the wants vs. needs that you are considering in your new home?  Leave a comment below.