The average American home has ballooned over the years, growing in the Northeast from an average of around 1,600 square feet in 1973 to more than 2,600 square feet in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
But these days, small houses are in the spotlight. The tiny house movement, centered on mostly mobile spaces that are smaller than 400 square feet, is sweeping the country (see sidebar) and HGTV reality show “Tiny House Hunters” follows people looking to downsize.
We’ve rounded up several homes for sale in Nassau and Suffolk counties that are about 1,000 square feet or less — tiny by Long Island standards — and asked the sellers about the advantages that come with living small.
Size: 1,000 square feet
Property taxes: $9,212 ($7,839 with STAR exemption)
Seller Mike Bruscino, 60, and his wife, real estate agent Frances Bruscino, 58, raised their now-33-year-old son in the house, and he says the smaller space created more opportunities for family time. “We’d sit together on the couch in the evening to watch a show,” Mike Bruscino says. “The family that lives close stays close.”
Other: The three-bedroom, one-bathroom ranch is on a 50-by-100-foot lot. There are hardwood floors throughout, a kitchen with granite countertops and a whole-house water filter. The property has a detached 1 1⁄2-car garage.
Listing agent: Frances Bruscino, Century 21 American Homes, 516-302-8500
Size: 984 square feet
Property taxes: $6,310 ($5,344 with STAR exemption)
Matthew Straus, 44, says the small space has meant his kids, ages 5 and 7, haven’t accumulated tons of toys they never play with. “My wife bought angled shelves and we put the toys in that,” he says. “When that fills up, that’s it. No more toys.”
Other: The two-bedroom, one-bathroom Colonial on a 50-by-50-foot lot has a deep porch with views of Manhasset Bay.
Listing agents: Andrew Wu and Susan Cacioppo, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, 516-883-2900
Size: 868 square feet
Property taxes: $6,462 ($5,908 with STAR exemption)
Seller Kenneth Petrocca, 43, says he appreciates the fact that any maintenance is easier to tackle in a smaller home. “It’s one can of paint, a smaller amount of materials,” he says.
Other: This bungalow-style, two-bedroom home on a 40-by-100-foot lot comes with a mudroom. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances, and the bathroom has a Jacuzzi tub. The property has a detached garage with an attic.
Listing agent: Davorka Bender and Eva Boci, Sailing Home Realty Corp., 516-377-4760
Size: 925 square feet
Property taxes: $10,285 ($8,885 with STAR exemption)
Audrey Carroll, 66, grew up in the home at a time when small houses were the rule rather than the exception. “You were always outside, no matter what the temperature was,” she recalls. “You still had one television per household.”
Other: This two-bedroom, one-bathroom ranch has a living room with a wood-burning fireplace, plus a full basement and garage. It sits on a 40-by-100-foot lot.
Listing agent: Laura Fais, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 516-795-3456
Size: 1,000 square feet
Property taxes: $5,841
Cecily Jaffe bought the house 17 years ago when her daughter was in high school. She now lives alone. “It’s plenty of space for me,” says Jaffe, 69. “I didn’t think I needed a really big house.”
Other: This two-bedroom, 1 1⁄2-bathroom cottage is down the street from Peconic Bay. The living room comes with a fireplace, and the master bedroom has a sitting area.
Listing agent: Rose McKillop, Andrew Stype Realty, 631-298-8760
Size: 1,070 square feet
Property taxes: $12,470
Janet White, 77, and her husband, Peter, 74, use the house as an escape from the small apartment they rent in Manhattan’s West Village. They end up enjoying the outdoors much more, Janet White says.
Other: This cape has two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. It sits on Senix Creek off Moriches Bay, and the property with a bulkhead comes with a boat ramp and floating dock. The living and dining rooms have vaulted ceilings, and there’s a gas fireplace. The 50-by-308-foot lot comes with a two-car garage.
Listing agents: John W. Liberti and John Liberti, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 631-758-2552
Size: 1,000 square feet
Property taxes: $6,571 ($5,610 with STAR exemption)
Andrew Luberto, 38, who has lived in the home with his wife, Katherine, for more than five years, says he has prioritized his possessions, getting rid of items such as old college textbooks. “It’s amazing how much you can downsize,” Luberto says. “You think, ‘Am I really going to read about the Russian Revolution again?’ ”
Other: This ranch home with a long front porch fits three bedrooms and two full bathrooms in 1,000 square feet. It has wide-plank pine floors, and the updated kitchen has butcher block countertops.
Listing agent: Kevin Guthrie, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, 631-427-6600
Size: 700 square feet
Property taxes: $7,255 ($6,161 with STAR exemption)
Rhoda and James McManus, both 80, bought the home, part of an artists’ colony on the former Vanderbilt estate, in 1965 and have rented it out. The home has a loft-like upstairs bedroom that’s the size of the entire house.
Other: The home was built circa 1895 and sits on a 25-by-75-foot lot. The property has a large deck.
Listing agents: Joanne Sturchio and Norm Marcioch, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 631-589-8500
TINY HOME WORKSHOP
Think living in a 900-square-foot home would be a challenge? A true tiny house, part of a trendy new movement driven by skyrocketing housing prices and the desire to simplify, is generally 400 square feet or less and is often mobile, but with a stylish design.
“People really like tiny houses,” says Ross Beck, COO of the Sonoma, California-based Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which sells customizable designs and trailers. “They meet a lot of the values of having a smaller carbon footprint with a lower cost.”
Tumbleweed’s houses range in price from $60,000 to $80,000. Some come with small front porches, and the wood interiors can be customized, with options for built-in bookcases, sconces, skylights and electric or propane ranges.
The company is holding a two-day workshop on April 25 and 26 at the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott, 102-05 Ditmars Blvd., East Elmhurst. Presenters will talk about life in a tiny house, go over the construction process and discuss working with local building departments, which all have different regulations for mobile homes.
“In general, the tiny houses, if it’s an RV, they fall within building codes, but you have to talk to your local building department to find out how you’re able to live in them,” Beck says.
For more information on the workshop, visit tumbleweedhouses.com/products/new-york
— LISA CHAMOFF