SMYRNA, Ga. — For the first time in four decades in the luxury-home business, executives at John Wieland builders are thinking the unthinkable: Maybe houses in the South don’t really need a fireplace.They’re also wondering whether new homes require 4,700 square feet of living space. Or private theaters with 100-inch screens. Or super-size-me foyers.As they draw up blueprints for the house of the post-recession future, builders are struggling to distinguish among what home buyers need, what they want and what they can live without — Jacuzzi by Jacuzzi, butler’s pantry by butler’s pantry.More often than not, builders say, post-crash buyers of new homes want smaller and simpler. The average new single-family house peaked at 2,507 square feet in 2007 and has since slipped to 2,392 square feet, according to Census Bureau data.”You have to keep taking things out until you hit a critical point where people reject your product,” said Jeff Kingsfield, senior vice president of sales at Smyrna-based John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods.
By Michael M. Philips, Nov. 13, 09 WSJ

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