What if we reacted to obese houses the same way we reacted to obese people? And vice versa?

Imagine people suddenly starting to feel jealous of obese people because of all the extra fabric they get to wear.

And asking “When are you going to put on some weight?” the way we ask people in small houses, “When are you going to add on or buy a bigger house?”

In this scenario you could probably even get away with saying with a straight face that you’re working on developing your “dream body” without anyone thinking you’re hopelessly vain and shallow, the same way no one thinks twice when you say you’re building your “dream house.”

We’d see news reports about the obesity epidemic in the housing market and how the First Lady is going to take it up as a cause and encourage low square feet diets. We’d view square feet the same way we view calories.

But what makes a house obese?

Just like a person can be obese even though they only look overweight, the same would apply here. A modest-sized house could be flagged as obese. Oops.

There would be a BMI for houses – the SFPP (Square Feet Per Person). What would a healthy SFPP be? The 100k House blog says the SFPP in 1950 was 292 (the average house size was 983 square feet). Today the SFPP is 900 (the average house size is 2349). Oops.

By today’s standards, my family of 6 could live in a 5400 square foot house. Yikes! That would be way too big.

How about 600 as a healthy SFPP? That’s what The Ochlophobist recommends on his blog and I like his take on it:

Generally speaking, one should not need more than 600 square feet per person in a home. When a home is purchased, there should be a tax of $20,000 on every 600 square foot increment over the number of persons moving into the home. There should be no tax on homes and estates which are willed to one’s kin, though if that kin ever sells the house, they should have to pay the inheritance tax. We need this and more of such measures in order to keep people with 2 kids from moving all the time and building and living in obscenely large, cheaply constructed modern homes simply in order to show off the fact that they have money.

The six of us could have a 3600 square foot house in that scenario but even that would be too large.

In this 600 SFPP scenario, Michael Jordan’s new 28,000 square foot house would be fine as long as 466 people live in it. Or he pays the required $9.2 million tax if only he and the paramour du jour live in it.

This Chinese man’s tiny egg-shaped house (be sure to check out the slideshow of photos) would have an anorexic SFPP (I guess this means there would also be “housing disorders” in this scenario, the equivalent of eating disorders).

At any rate, the SFPP continues to increase, and is triple what it was in the 1950s,  but one has to wonder… has happiness has tripled along with it? Are we three times more likely to live better lives now?


Filed under: Cool Ideas


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