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Frequently Asked Questions


Building Not So Big

The Cost Factor

Lectures and Presentations


Home Professionals


The Not So Big House
      House Products
      Home Plan Availability
Creating the Not So Big House
      House Products
      Home Plan Availability
Inside the Not So Big House
      House Products
      Missing Text


What is a "Not So Big" house?
A Not So Big house is one that favors the quality of its space over the quantity. It is filled with special details that nurture the spirit, and is designed to accommodate the lifestyles of its occupants, expressing the way they really live. A Not So Big House isn't necessarily small. Rather, it is about a third smaller than you thought you needed, but just as expensive.

Does "Not So Big" mean "not so expensive?"
Unfortunately, no. Many people have mistakenly thought that building Not So Big would make the process cheaper, and have approached architects only to be severely disappointed when the architect tells them the truth about the cost of design and building. Understand that, when you decide to build Not So Big, you are trading in square footage for higher levels of detail and quality of space. You are not trading in your square footage for cash. However, the money that you spend on a Not So Big house will be an excellent investment, and the value to you or to any future owner will be that much more because of the quality of space.

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Is Sarah available for hire as an architect? Is she available for consultations on designs?
Sarah's main focus is writing and public speaking, so she rarely takes on new clients these days. However, if you are interested in hiring Sarah, send an email to info@notsobighouse.com with details about your project and she will take it into consideration.

How can I find an architect or other home professional in my area that is familiar with the principles in Sarah's books?
To find a home professional that is in tune with the Not So Big concepts, visit our home professionals directory at www.notsobighouse.com/directory.asp. We list all kinds of home professionals, including design build companies, builders, craftspeople, developers, interior designers, landscape architects and designers, architects, mortgage lenders, real estate agents, remodelers, residential designers, and structural engineers. These professionals register for the list specifically to make themselves visible and available to clients that want to build Not So Big, so it narrows your search by quite a bit. If you are seeking an architect, be sure to read the piece about the selection process before you proceed. There is also a very helpful questionnaire to help you in your interview process.

A second option is to contact your local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (or equivalent for your country) for a list of residential architects in your area. They may be able to recommend someone based on your needs.

For the American Institute of Architects, go to www.aia.org
For the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada, go to www.raic.org
For the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, go to www.architecture.com.au

I'd like to build a breakfast nook, and I saw a great article by Sarah on properly sizing one, but now I can't remember where I saw it. Can you tell me where I can find it?
The article you are looking for appeared in the 2004 Kitchens & Baths issue of Fine Homebuilding (issue 167) on page 124. You can purchase a back issue by going to www.tauntonstore.com/fine-homebuilding-back-issues.html on the Taunton Press site.

We have a Not So Big house and would like to furnish it, but the furniture stores that we've visited all have huge pieces that won't fit well in our house. Where can I find Not So Big furniture?
Look for a Scandinavian furniture store in your area or on the Internet. Scandinavian furniture tends to be smaller and very well made, which is very suitable for Not So Big houses. You can also find smaller scale furniture through Pottery Barn, Pier One Imports, Design Within Reach, Storehouse, Room and Board, IKEA, West Elm, and Crate and Barrel. For higher end options, look at Green Design Furniture (www.greendesigns.com), Natuzzi, and Thomas Moser (www.thomasmoser.com).

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I would like to sell my Not So Big house, and want to know how to get it appraised for what it's really worth, rather than just square footage. Any suggestions?
Try to find an appraiser who has worked with architecturally designed homes before. What most people don't know is that as long as AN appraiser will vouch for the value of the house, the bank will be happy. You may have to personally pay for a second appraisal, but the bank will then have something in hand to confirm to the purchasers of your loan that this is a good investment for them.

You can also use Sarah's books to help the appraisers understand the desirability of this product. It requires that they be willing to step outside their normal process and to understand that not all square feet are created equal--which is sometimes a difficult battle. So if you find major resistance with the appraiser you are working with, try a different appraiser. Appraisers that are used to architecturally designed houses will be much more likely to appraise the house in this more "creative" way.

Sarah's books have inspired me to want to build/remodel, but I don't have the money to bring my Not So Big house to fruition. What options are there for people like me?
If you have some money, but not enough to remodel/build to the extent that you desire, there are other easy, less expensive ways to transform your house into something more like home. Sarah's book, Not So Big Remodeling, focuses specifically on remodeling solutions for all budgets. In addition, her books, Not So Big Solutions for Your Home and More Not So Big Solutions for Your Home—collections of articles she originally wrote for Fine Homebuilding and Inspired House Magazines—offer several remodeling solutions that can be implemented separately and over time.

Even if you don't have money to spend on remodeling or building, there are many things you can do in how you engage in your everyday activities that can create the space that you desire. In this case, however, it is inner space that you are creating. Decluttering your life can help you to feel more whole, which is what many people are really seeking when they want a Not So Big house.

Sarah cited this Joseph Campbell quote in The Not So Big House:

"You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so where you do not know what is in the morning paper. A place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. At first you may think nothing's happening. But if you have a sacred space and take advantage of it and use it everyday, something will happen".

See if you can find a place in your existing house that can serve as a quiet and contemplative spot, where you can go to engage in a hobby perhaps, or to do something you've always wanted to but have never taken the time to learn. The key here is really to give yourself permission to spend some time with yourself, discovering what makes you tick. What isn't obvious initially, but becomes so over time, is that sacred space is never something outside us. It is our true self, and when you find peace within, the sacred is surrounding and supporting us always.

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I would like Sarah to come and speak to my community/organization/school. How do I go about making that happen?
To schedule a speaking engagement with Sarah Susanka, please fill out the Speaking Engagement Inquiry Form»

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I'd like to schedule a media interview with Sarah Susanka.
To schedule a media interview with Sarah, please contact Suzanne Fedoruk Herrick at 612-861-7807 or suzanne@fedorukinc.com. For further information about Sarah's media coverage, please visit the Media Center.

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I design/build/remodel/etc. using principles that are in line with the Not So Big concepts. Where can I get in touch with clients that want this kind of home?
You can register for our home professionals directory by going to www.notsobighouse.com/directory.asp. Choose between a basic listing, which lists your basic contact information, or a featured listing, which includes a description of your services, a hyperlink to your website, and higher placement on the list. Once your listing is up, be prepared to be contacted by clients who are well-versed in Not So Big concepts.

I am inspired by Sarah's career and am thinking of a career in residential architecture. What do you suggest I do to make that happen?
Sarah recommends that you search for an architecture school that has at least one or two classes in residential design. She herself attended University of Oregon's School of Architecture, and loved it. But there are many other programs out there worth looking into. You will often find that interior design programs have more of a residential curriculum. The problem is that they only focus on the inside of a house, whereas residential architecture is about the house as a whole. For this kind of education, you are better off getting an architecture degree and then learning everything you can about houses thereafter. It's much easier to learn good design skills first and then apply them to the building type of your choice, as without those design skills, you're going to be at a serious disadvantage whether you're designing houses, office buildings, or hospitals. In other words, once you've learned design, you can pretty much design anything you want.

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I have a project or projects that I think would be perfect for use in a Not So Big series book. How do I make this happen?
Go to www.notsobighouse.com/submissions/index.asp to see the current status of any calls for submissions that we are doing. If there is nothing in the works at this time, be sure to sign on to the e-mail list and mark that you are interested in being contacted for future calls for submissions. We'll send out an e-mail to everyone when we're looking for projects.

I'd like to volunteer to have Sarah design and build/remodel my home for use in one of her books. Where can I sign up?
Unfortunately, this is not how the process works. We solicit already completed projects from architects and designers around the country for use in the books. This not only saves the publisher and Sarah a lot of time and money, but also gives Sarah a wonderful variety of styles, geography, and budgets to write about, which means there is something for everyone in each of the books. In addition, Sarah's writing and speaking schedule does not allow time to dedicate to the design of private residences any more.

THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE - House Products

Where do I find a rocking chair like the one on page 19 of The Not So Big House?
The rocker is made by Ekornes (www.ekornes.com), which is a line available from stores that carry Scandinavian furniture. Unfortunately, it appears that Ekornes no longer makes the rocker, though they do make other recliners. If you find something similar, please let us know.

Do you have plans for the ships ladder shown on page 59 and 79 of The Not So Big House?
Yes. If you email us at info@notsobighouse.com, we will send you a pdf of the plans used to build Sarah's ships ladder from her St. Paul house. Any contractor should be able to build from these plans, but Sarah encourages you to check with your building inspector first.

THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE - Home Plan Availability
Unless listed below, the home plan is not available for sale

Sarah Susanka's House/The Not So Big House - page 2, 13, 19, 35, 41, 42, 44 (top), 48, 52 (bottom), 53, 59, 64-66, 67, 70-72 (bottom), 75 (top), 78 (bottom), 79 (top), 80, 83, 97 (top), 148, 186, 187, 190, 193
Plan available at www.houseplans.com

Page 8 (top), 36, 38, 87, 125
(Family Tradition)
Available soon. Please check back with us.

Page 8 (bottom)
(Gable House)
Plan available at www.rosschapin.com

The High End - page 15, 16, 167-171
(Maple Forest)
Available soon. Please check back with us.

The Economical House - page 47, 138-146
(Prairie Ingenuity)
Plan available at www.houseplans.com.

A House for a Couple with No Kids - page 52 (top), 102, 108-113
(A River Runs Below It)
Plan no longer available.

A House for a Family - Cover, page 28, 31, 58 (bottom), 114-123
Available soon. Please check back with us.

Page 134 (top) and 160
(Big Island Prairie House)
Plan available at www.houseplans.com.

Page 164, 172
(Prairie House)
Plan available at www.houseplans.com.

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Where do I find a platform bed such as the one on page 76 of Creating the Not So Big House?
That platform bed was manufactured by Ligne Roset and called the "Peter-Maly Bed". It does not appear to be available any more.

Where can I find barstools such as the ones on page 68 of Creating the Not So Big House?
Altura Furniture designed those barstools. You can contact Jeff at Altura Furniture at 503.288.2228 or check them out at www.Alturafurniture.com.

Where can I purchase a retractable shower curtain rod like the one shown on page 77 of Creating the Not So Big House?
The retractable shower curtain rod was something Jim Garramone designed and built to solve a particular problem in his house (A Jewel In the Suburbs). At this time, as far as we know, it is not available commercially, although most of the individual components are. Drawings showing how it works and if it would work in your house were published in Fine Homebuilding's Winter 2001 Annual Kitchens & Baths issue, No. 143, pages 18-19 in the Great Ideas section. Back issues can be purchased from Taunton Press by calling (800) 888-8286 or going to www.tauntonstore.com/fine-homebuilding-back-issues.html.

CREATING THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE - Home Plan Availability
Unless listed below, the home plan is not available for sale.

Sarah Susanka's House/The Not So Big House
Plan available at www.houseplans.com

A Timeless Classic (p22)
Plans not currently available.

The Essence of Home (p40)
Plan available at www.notsobighouse.com/plans/waycoolplans.asp (ECK-01)

A Farmhouse for Our Time (p60)
(Field of Dreams)
Plans not currently available.

Three Easy Pieces (p78)
Plans not currently available.

Affordable Comfort (p104)
(Gable House)
Plan available at www.rosschapin.com

Comfort, Pueblo-Style (p114)
Plans not currently available.

Playfully Sustainable (p132)
Plans not currently available.

One Phase at a Time (p142)
(A Sunny Place in the Forest)
View plan details and purchase plans»

Southern Comfort (p170)
Plans not currently available.

An Accessible House For One (p178)
Plan available at www.notsobighouse.com/plans/waycoolplans.asp (PRE-01)

A Place of Cool Remove (p186)
Plan available at www.notsobighouse.com/plans/waycoolplans.asp (TYL-01)

Elegant Simplicity (p196)
Plans not currently available.

A Cottage Community (p222)
Pears and Cherries Cottage
Plans available at www.rosschapin.com.
Plans available at www.rosschapin.com.

Creating the Dream House (p232)
Plans not currently available.

The Whole Nine Yards (p244)
Plans not currently available.

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I love the painting on the wall shown on page 18 of Inside the Not So Big House. Where can I get a copy of it?
The painting is one-of-a-kind, and prints are not available. It is very dear to the owners, so please do not contact them with requests to make prints or buy the painting from them. You can get in touch with the artist, Ed Stitt, through his website, www.edstitt.net to inquire about commissioning him to do a similar painting for you, or about purchasing his other works.

Where can I find the square shower curtain rod seen on page 120 of Inside the Not So Big House?
The architect of that house, Gail Wong, ordered the rod from American Drapery in Seattle, WA. It is a rod similar to those found in hospitals, and can be built into the drywall. There are several manufacturers of this type of rod, so you can find it by googling "hospital curtain rod", "ceiling track", or "cubicle track". One manufacturer is Kirsch. They call it "Architract Series 9046".


On page 120 of Inside the Not So Big House, there is a paragraph that is cut off in the middle and never continued. Where is the missing text?
In the first printing of Inside, though the intention was to eliminate the entire paragraph at the end of page 120 for lack of space, the first part was accidentally left in. In subsequent printings, this paragraph will be taken out, but to satisfy your curiosity, here is the full text:

If the family room shows what you can do with a space 10 ft. wide, then the window seat shows what's possible in 3 ft. In every way (except in not having a floor), the window seat is treated as a miniature room. It has its own set of windows, of course, but also a mini-library of bookshelves, seating for more than one, a wide sill with room for plants and a reading lamp, and a lowered ceiling framed with wide fir trim. Flanking the fireplace and open to the full length of the house, it's the perfect place for an afternoon nap or a cup of coffee on a rainy Seattle morning, snug but not the least bit cramped.

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