Housing Downturn and Growing Interest in Containing Energy Costs Result in Smaller Home Size and Volume Print E-mail
Friday, 03 July 2009 05:40

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Strong preference for outdoor living options and accessibility

Due to the economic recession and a renewed interest in lowering utility costs, there has been a growing demand for smaller sized homes in recent years. There has also been an adjustment in the volume of living space with a preference for lower ceilings and a diminished interest in two-story foyers.

Property upgrades, however, are extremely popular with households trying to maximize their usable space with finished attics and basements, outdoor living enhancements and blended indoor / outdoor features. Accessibility within the home continues to be a concern, especially for an aging U.S. population. Business conditions for residential architects remain weak, but appear to be stabilizing with the first uptick in billings since the second quarter of 2007. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey that focused specifically on overall home layout and use in the first quarter of 2009.

“The era of the ‘McMansion’ could well be over as home sizes have been trending downward recently, with a significantly higher number of architects reporting demand for smaller homes this year,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “And as the housing boom has passed there seems to be a renewed interest in investing in properties to make homes more livable, as opposed to real estate that can be resold quickly for a profit.

Overall home layout and size trends

“Adding decks, porches and patios are all part of the outdoor living enhancement trend,” added Baker. “But that also extends to more formal outdoor ‘rooms,’ cooking areas and blended indoor / outdoor features.”


Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q1 2009 (any score above 50 is positive)
· Billings: 24
· Inquiries for new projects: 35

Baker continued, “Business conditions at residential architecture firms really began to deteriorate in the middle of 2008. While still very weak, we are beginning to see a slight reversal in home design and improvement activity. ”

Specific residential segments (index score computed as % of respondents reporting improving minus % weakening conditions)

· Kitchen and bath remodeling: 28
· Additions / alterations: 26
· First-time buyer / affordable home market: -27
· Move-up home market: -44
· Townhouse / condo market: -51
· Custom / luxury home market: -52
· Second / vacation home market: -77

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Last Updated on Friday, 03 July 2009 05:53
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