Oh no, the rooms look too small!

Why is it that putting up the framework makes the floor area of a house look smaller than it is? Now, I know the house can’t actually be that small because it takes up a huge chunk of the site, it just appears that way. So I asked a friend – Google, and found out that this is a common optical illusion that has many people freaking out over. One of the forum sites said that the illusion was due to comparing the outdoor space with that inside the house, it was also recommended that people didn’t visit the site too often when the build was going on – obviously most people don’t live next door to their build site.


Having no walls creates the optical illusion that the area within the house is smaller than it really is. Once the walls are clad this illusion will disappear however it can be disconcerting at the time.

I arrived home from Darwin last week and noticed that we now have something that passes as a building. The concrete walls have been core filled and most of the framework for the lower level is now in place. It was a great experience to walk around in the ‘rooms’; you get a better sense of what it will look like when finished. Handy Hubby and I were walking around going, ‘that’s a big window I’m glad we ordered tinted glass’ and ‘hmm, are we going to be able to fit a shower, hand basin and toilet into this space?’ – that was the downstairs bathroom. So some areas are looking oversized and others smaller than expected – hence my question to Google.

Earlier this week Handy Hubby and I are headed down to the door manufacturer to choose our front door. We decided to go to a specialist door manufacturer as we wanted something that would make a statement – it is the introduction to the rest of the house after all. Although the door won’t be required for a few weeks past experience has taught us that anything that can’t be ordered off the shelf can take a few weeks. Thankfully we took note of lessons learnt from the renovation as we’ve been advised the estimated time for manufacture and delivery is five weeks. This should work out just about perfect for the timing of the build.

The rear of the house showing the first floor framework going in.

So we are fast approaching the payment requirement for completion of the framing stage, closely followed by enclosed stage – these are two of the most expensive stages of the building work for us, and obviously the builder as well. I’ve found it essential to make sure that we have a good relationship with our banker and for them to be aware of impending deadlines for payment releases, this makes for less headaches for me when I am busy working away from home. We are paying for any additional ‘owner’ sourced items out of current income where possible. These include the front door, lighting, PC items for bathrooms and eventually the kitchen. This means we can feel comfortable in covering any budget blowouts that may arise within the building funds held by the bank, such as finding out we need a personal site pole for power to the lot – this was something new that I wasn’t aware of but when connecting power to a lot you have to avoid the power line crossing any neighbouring block. The only way to do this in our case is to install a personal power pole on the boundary of our block.

Currently we are at the fastest stage of the build process, well visually anyway. Over the next couple of weeks the framing will be completed, the flooring will be laid on the second level, the roof trusses up and the roofing and external cladding on. The concrete will also be laid in the garage as part of the framework rests on this. This means that on my return from my next work trip I should see a huge difference as well as being greeted with an invoice from the builder.

Anyone else have heart palpitations over the perceived size of the rooms in the building stage?

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6 thoughts on “Oh no, the rooms look too small!

  • August 21, 2015 at 7:42 am

    For me it actually seems to work the other way around. When I look at a building going up, it always looks way too small – like, how can that possibly be a HOUSE that will fit me and my family in? But once it is framed out and I can walk through the rooms, it seems far more spacious.

    I’ve only built one house – in 2004 – but that was most definitely my experience. I had contracted for a house that had 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (along with kitchen, dining and lounge) on the main level and another bedroom, office, family room and third bathroom in the lower level, where there also had to be room for utilities, laundry and storage areas. I visited the site every day after work and when they dug the foundation and started putting in the framework, it seemed impossible that all of that could fit in that tiny amount of framework. But somehow it did.

    Three years ago I built my chicken coop myself and had a similar experience. I had been looking forward to having a really big, over-sized coop, after getting by with a tiny one in my city backyard. But once I had the framing up, it didn’t seem nearly big enough! It is divided into two rooms, the bigger room being the coop itself and the smaller room being my feed/supplies storage area. Once I had the siding and roof on, and installed the poultry in it, I realized it really is quite roomy after all 🙂

    • August 21, 2015 at 8:13 am

      I noted a lot of people spoke about how small their house looked at the foundation stage as well. I think because you have basements over there in America, the confined area must make it look smaller at this stage. I’m glad the chooks have a good sized coop though, very important to have happy chickens, I’m trying to work out if I have room for a couple in the small backyard I will have left – maybe.

  • April 13, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    I didn’t know that it was common to think a room is smaller than it is during the building process. It’s interesting that the frames create an optical illusion like that. I hope that the rest of the construction with the flooring and roof trusses goes well. Thanks for sharing!

  • March 20, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    I did not know a smaller room in the process of building and your framework is very good. You have done some great Job-like concrete walls have been core filled and most of the framework for the lower level is now in place, this is a good thing. I think you don a great job in small places like kitchen, rooms, bathrooms This is the good symbol for an expert. I wish that the rest of the construction with the flooring and roof trusses goes well.

  • August 17, 2018 at 4:48 am

    We are building a 3400 sq ft home next door to where we live. Not sure if that’s good or bad. Currently looks like all the rooms are going to be very close. I also thought a room or two were left out. I wanted a large walk-in closet but it’s only 8 x 6 but looks a lot smaller. Feeling very disappointed with the space & layout.

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