Hot new-home trends for 2011
Practicality is in, as homebuilders cater to buyers' changing wants and needs.
The housing market may be down, but it's not out. Houses continue to be built across the nation, especially homes aimed at first-time buyers. But the Great Recession has limited the bells and whistles that many people demanded under their new roof even four years ago. Would-be homebuyers want — and are getting — different things from "home sweet home" today.
From front porches to LED lights, here are the top six things experts say are trendy in new homes for 2011. How does next year's wish list compare to yours?
1. Smaller homes that 'live' the same
"One big trend is the smaller homes," says David Barista, editor-in-chief of Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines. In fact, the median size of new U.S. homes fell from 2,277 square feet in 2007 to 2,135 square feet in 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
"There's a couple drivers here," Barista says. "I don't think buyers are looking for that opulence of several years ago; they're looking for something more modest. (But) they still want the amenities and the spaces" in these smaller homes.
So he's not seeing the number of rooms in a home being cut; instead, the size of the rooms — and the overall home size — is shrinking 10% to 15%. That, of course, also brings down the price, which is key in a market in which new houses are competing against foreclosures.
Despite that shrinkage, Barista says homeowners still want nice touches such as quality faucets, higher-end appliances and granite countertops in that smaller kitchen.
2. The old front porch, revisited
Front and side porches are making a comeback, says Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, which performs a quarterly Home Design Trends Survey. One reason is simple: Front porches help create a sense of community, something that more traditional suburbs lack.
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But something else is driving the interest in front porches, Baker says. Thanks to the recession and the soft housing market, homebuilders have sharply curtailed their construction of big, self-standing communities of hundreds or even thousands of homes. Instead, they're doing more "in-fill," adding dollops of homes here and there among existing homes. Porches can help integrate these homes with the existing community, Baker says.
3. A ‘greener’ home
Not surprisingly, energy efficiency is one of the year's hottest trends.
Efficiency takes many forms, from builders adding insulation in the walls, to better windows with glazing and higher "R-value" — or insulation ability — to sealed ductwork that doesn't leak air, to Energy Star-rated appliances throughout the home. Some builders are even installing low-energy LED lights for accent lighting, Barista says.
"There is a premium that (builders are) paying for these products," Barista says, "but they're doing their best not to pass along all the cost to the consumers."
Ideal Homes is one of many builders now offering a guarantee on ongoing energy savings for homeowners for their new home. The builder "does the math" on the savings for buyers, estimating their savings as part of the sale process.
"Multiple large national builders, including Beazer Homes and Meritage Homes, are now offering energy-efficient homes, some as standard (no premium cost to the buyer) and many rated or certified through third-party programs," Barista says, such as Energy Star or the National Green Building Program.
The trend is less about consumer demand and more about builders needing to stay competitive, not only with other homebuilders but also with existing homes and foreclosures.
"They see 'green' as adding value to their products," Barista says.
4. No 'upstairs, downstairs' drama
Single-story homes remain popular, according to the AIA. Why? It's simple: As the baby boomers age, such homes are easier for older folks to navigate. They're also easier for aged friends or parents to visit, too.
5. The downscaled kitchen and bath
Our desire for big kitchens and bathrooms ballooned during the boom years, and homebuilders were happy to oblige. That's changing.
"Functionality is now preferred to more and larger kitchens and bathrooms within U.S. homes," Baker wrote earlier this year. "But since kitchens remain the nerve center of the home, doing more with less space is a key consideration."
The upshot: Practicality and multiple use rule. Making a kitchen a family space is a priority. Kitchens will have areas devoted to charging laptops, mobile phones and PDAs, Baker says.
In the bathroom, some of the bloom is off the rose. Adding linen closets and storage is in. Adding a doorless shower? Not so much.
6. A home that serves you well
"Buyers are looking for value and how features contribute to the efficiency of their lifestyle," says Stephen Melman, director of economic services for the National Association of Home Builders.
That's why "walk-in closets in master bedrooms and well-designed laundry rooms are likely candidates to repeat as most likely features for 2011," says Melman, whose association is performing a survey of the year's most requested items in homes. Those requests may not be dramatic, but they underscore how homeowners want their home to work easily for them.
And there you have next year's hot house. Get yourself a big master closet and a big front porch and start enjoying yourself in 2011.
The McMansion and the Dallas Style home are spreading like an unchecked virus over the USA, as builders dictate what is made, not home buyers.
People wanting bigger homes that they could not pay for are the main cause of the loss of the 'American Dream' They and the crooked banks and mortgage companies that influenced them to buy are the creators of the big downturn in the economy. Socialism will not work in America. It will not work because people want to guide their own future
and be rewarded for their own planning, be it homes or finance. They do not want government or unions dictating their living conditions. There is no 'free Ride' and until we all get back to this country's founders ideas there will be little or no future for people living here.
I enjoyed gary712's description of 2x6 walls with an r-48 insulative value. Not possible. R-60 blown insulation? What would that be, 2-1/2 feet thick? Oh, and the problem with blown insulation is that it blows back. Anywhere that you have a soffit vent, the insulation QUICKLY blows away from it leaving parts of your ceiling uninsulated. Etc., etc. I understand why you are having to get a different job.
JR Tamayo was a lot more realistic.
I am a subcontractor suffering from builders having to cut their prices to meet the needs of the owners. All of these new green items are wonderful, but it seems that the clients want them for nothing. Most are doctors, dentists, lawyers, or higher income clients that are asking contractors to cut their prices so we are in a bidding war. I still believe that you get what you pay for, and the simpler the better. It is interesting that my husband's labor is too high (electrician), but the owner can buy a light fixture or an appliance that is almost triple the amount we charge to put it in for them. I cannot bid out my body when it comes to medical care - I might be able to call around and ask prices, but then again you get what you pay for, and if you get references first - you realize that the best ones will be more costly. If you build a practical home with the future in mind, and choose a builder with a good reputation that has quality subcontractors - you cannot go wrong. If you choose one that is cheaper - you better start asking why, and don't make any changes while you build, because if you do - the price goes up in a hurry!!
I am a builder, of course there is not much building going on so for now I teach school, I built my house at the turn of the century, the house is about 2300 sq ft with a large front porch, with a porch swing and the porch is in use throughout the year. I would never have a house without one, if one wants or desires some feeling of privacy, all one has to do is put up a white picket fence in front and plant climbing roses, blueberries etc. I build energy efficient homes or I do not build them, I build them with 2x6 constructions with 1” foam sheathing over 7/16 sheathing. This provides a thermal break, I also use urethane spayed insulation foam in the wall cavities. No rain inside the walls
I use radiant floor heating, and heat the liquid glycol with a glorified heat pump, that is efficient and shuts off when the temperature drops on a clear night and comes on and replenishes the mass and storage tanks during the day. Depending on the roof construction I either use insulation spray, or blown in insulation to R-60 in the ceiling, and about an R-48 in the walls. The house is quiet and built strong, and has sold many new houses. I use all energy efficient appliances as well as heating systems because I believe that they pay for themselves over the life of the house. I also use a heat recovery ventilator to warm incoming air and to remove the moisture from the home. I use electricity to heat the house, the garage, and the shop some 5,000 sq ft. My heat/electricity in the middle of winter averages $140, and has very little cooling load. I have an open floor plan, a Cape Cod style, and all rooms are used and would have no problem selling it, however, why would I? It is a cost effective and comfortable place to live.
I am a spec designer/builder, and am dealing with Buyers who want homes much different than this article suggests. 1. The article states: "He's not seeing the number of rooms in a home being cut; instead, the size of the rooms." I am seeing Buyers that need less rooms, and want larger living areas which provide multiple functions, i.e. open floor plans. 2. "The old front porch, revisited." I find that people don't want to live in their front yards, but want the privacy and serenity of their back yards. 3. "A ‘greener’ home." Green equals dollar signs. Educated Buyers do a cost analysis of how many years of lower bills will it take to recoup a green building feature. Most are not cost effective. Green building is for people who can afford it. 4. "Single-story homes remain popular." ... yea, and require a bigger lot, create a larger footprint, and cost more per square foot. Besides, a multiple story house can provide additional architectural features, such as a balcony, a loft, spiral stairs, views, etc. 5. "Walk-in closets in master bedrooms and well-designed laundry rooms." Both are not efficient uses of space. Closets, accessible from the bedroom or bath, with sliding Shoji doors are both efficient and stylish. Same with stainless steel stackable washer/dryers, accessible from the kitchen or a hallway. I would even rephrase "Smaller homes that 'live' the same," to 'smaller homes that live better!'
I was laid off two years ago from a custom home builder in Wisconsin and have yet been able to find new employment in the field. I built a new home 5 years ago when the prices were inflated and like many Americans, cannot sell because I would take a big hit. I have noticed that the large volume builders in our area have been building their stock plans again and are selling them for about $40,000 to $50,000 less than just a few years ago. They are a bit smaller but they have also been using better materials on the outside to improve the curb appeal. I have also noticed that only the subdivisions that have discounted their lot prices are the ones that the builders choose.
I guess my point is that in my area, it seems as if the builder cuts cost on the lots and uses the same old plans they always have....they just make them smaller.
well i run a construction home building company in western Ma. and eastern N.Y. .
I sure do not see that around Here because there are no homes to build no matter what the price is. Wheather it green built or custom built.
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