Quality Beats Quantity Preaches Architect Susan Susanka

June 05, 2009

sarah_presentationsSome call her a visionary, a dreamer.  I call her an extremely bright and practical architect.  Susan Susanka’s idea of what a new home should be versus what it shouldn’t have been exceedingly clear for more than a decade.  Maybe you may have noticed that during the last building boom, the motto among new home builders (this was consumer driven really) was “bigger is better”.  Remember the once builder Kennedy Homes, “Big Homes, Less Money” slogan?  This wasn’t just a housing industry phenomenon, this is an American as apple pie credo for just about anything.  Have you looked at your SUV lately?

Susan Susanka sees things differently in how the American house should look and function.  The overall concept is one of function and practicallity:  build better, not bigger.  Much like the green building trends of today:  smaller, more energy efficient homes built with sustainable resources.  This philosophy is at odds with much of our society. In fact the exact opposite of most people’s view of a great house where undoubtedly “bigger is better”. 

Not so says Susanka, in fact, the trend of even the large production builder has begun to think and head in this direction for single family homes.  The trend to towards larger homes seemed to take the liveability and trade it for first impressions.  Massive room sizes and soaring ceilings certainly do impress, but is it a comfortable place to live in such a cavernous McMansion?  Some buyers, in fact, have approached Susanka with stories about how they built this type of huge, expensive home and were dissappointed in its livability.

Susan likes to emphasize quality over quantity. Specifically, spending more dollars on rich details than the amount of square feet.  Herein lies the crux of the problem.  People building a house have continually seeked comfort by adding rooms, enlarging spaces in the search for the “perfect home”.   Susan believes that comfort is found in smaller scale and beautiful details.   Stop focusing on the amount of square feet but on how custom built staircase, thick lavish mouldings, built-ins or true-divided light windows.  Details that draw many people to older homes from the turn of the century.

Susan Susanka first published her views on this subject back when these ideas were largely ignored. 
The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live, published in 2001, addresses how people tend to use / live in their homes.  The book contains floor plans and most importantly, her philosophy of living today.  Victims of Susanka include rooms such as the dining room and living room that so often end up being used once or twice a year and are otherwise showrooms the other 363 days.  The flex-space is a concept that helps maximize your home’s usability.

Tonight Susan will present to the Kansas Historic Preservation Conference Reception and Banquet in Topeka Kansas.  There she will address preservation experts to share ways to preserve and protect historic area homes in the area.

About The Author

Read All Stories By Mitch Levinson

Mitch Levinson is the author of “Internet Marketing: The Key to Increased New Home Sales” published by BuilderBooks. He is an Internet marketing expert with expertise in search engine optimization, website development, email marketing, social media and CRM consulting services. He is known for creating effective programs that can be tracked through analytics to prove effectiveness and ROI. Mitch is founder and president of MLC New Home Marketing and MLC FlatFee Realty, as well as managing partner of mRELEVANCE, LLC, a Marketing, Communication, Interactive agency with offices in Chicago and Atlanta. He currently leads the Chicago team. A Multi-Million Dollar Sales Producer who earned an MBA in Computer Information Systems and eCommerce, he brings a unique perspective and experience to the field of real estate communications. Mitch combines the two interests in order to help home builders and developers gain a competitive advantage through the Internet and technology. When he isn’t behind a computer, he enjoys participating in sports and coaching his kids’ teams. Mitch resides in Arlington Heights, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago, with his family, which includes two rambunctious labs. Visit my Google+ profile.

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