Rapid Changes Foreseen for Home of the Future
The pace of change in the American home is expected to accelerate dramatically in the next several years, according to 60 NAHB interviews with some 500 architects, designers, manufacturers and marketing experts asking them about what they expect to be prevalent in average and upscale homes in 2015.
The big news is that single-family homes are expected to end the growth spurt that has persisted, with some cyclical interruptions, since 1973. “We don’t think the size will rise anymore,” Gopal Ahluwalia, NAHB’s vice president for research, told an audience at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. earlier this month.
The high cost of housing has forced consumers to start making trade-offs, and higher quality is trumping additional space, Ahluwalia said. The new single-family homes that were completed during the first three quarters of last year had floor areas averaging 2,459 square-feet, he said, up from about 1,500 square feet in 1973.
The consensus of the professionals who were polled by NAHB was that home size would slip into the 2,300 to 2,500-square-foot range by 2015.
However, compounding the picture are projected changes in the composition of the U.S. population that favor ethnic groups who tend to have larger households. Compared to a 2.8% increase in the white population between 2000 and 2010 and a 2.4% increase by that group from 2010 to 2020, Hispanics are poised to grow by 34.1% and 25.1%, respectively, during those periods, and Asians by 33.3% and 26.3%. In 2015, Census Bureau projections show an average 2.46 persons per white household, compared to 3.36-person Hispanic homes and 3.45 in Asian domiciles.
What they have been losing in square footage, however, home buyers have been getting back in volume, and higher ceilings are here to stay, according to the survey findings.
Forty percent of those participating in the research said they expected changes in homes to be more significant or greater in the next decade than they were in the past 10 years and 41% indicated that they would be about the same. Among the issues they said would bring these changes were accessibility for the aging baby-boom population, technological advancement, green construction materials and environmental concerns.
The Demise of the Living Room
The experts said that 65% of average homes and 56% of upscale homes (defined as those with at least 4,000 square feet) would be two stories or more. According to Census data, 55% of the homes built in 2005 had two or more stories. Noting that two-story construction is less expensive than one-story on a square-foot basis, Ahluwalia observed that “as housing prices go up, the share of two-story homes goes up.”
Ahluwalia, who has been predicting the demise of the formal living room for the past several years, said that “living rooms are on the chopping block, and 40% of homes built last year didn’t have one.” Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said that the living room would shrink as a share of total floor area in the average home over the next 10 years, a trend that is not as clear in upscale homes.
In further research on the fate of the living room, 55% said it would vanish in the average home and 31% said it would evolve into a parlor/retreat/library or music room. Only 13% expected it to stay the same. However, only 4% said that the living room would disappear entirely from the upscale home, 67% said that it would be put to other uses and 28% said it would stay just as it is.
The room in the average house most likely to gain in its share of square footage is the family room, according to 67%. In the upscale home, 72% said the family room was on the rise, and 68% identified the kitchen.
Among other findings of the "Home of the Future" study:
- Ranking items or features that would be important in the average home in the next 10 years, participants identified the family room (90%), low-maintenance exteriors (83%), design (78%), the location of the home (75%) and two-car garages (73%). For upscale homes, design was the most important (98%), followed by the family room (97%), home location (96%), home office (94%) and security (93%).
- Getting steadily higher over the course of the past 10 years, ceilings on the first floor of the average home are expected to be mostly 9 feet and some may even be 10. For luxury homes, a 10-foot ceiling will be standard on the entry level, ranging up to 12, and a 9-foot ceiling will be standard on the second floor.
- Ranking important amenities and products in the kitchens of regular homes were: counter space (76%), cabinet space (74%), a double sink (72%), table space for eating (70%) and the floor area (65%). Well-appointed kitchens will play a more critical role for upscale homes, with the need for: cabinet space, quality of appliances, floor area and counter space (all 96%); and a double sink, walk-in pantry and flooring (94%).
- Important bathroom features in the home of the future will be a double vanity (64%), both a shower stall and a tub in the master bath (61%), large mirrors (57%), a linen closet (45%) and size (40%). All those features are important in the upscale home, except much more so.
- Only 13% said that two master bedroom suites would be important for the average home of the future, compared to 62% who said they would be significant for the luxury home.
- Just 18% said that outside kitchens would be significant for the typical home, compared to 66% for upscale housing. Outside kitchen features of the upscale home will include: grills (76%), sinks (65%), cooking islands (60%), refrigerators (58%) and beer dispensers/wine coolers (47%). Important outside room features in upscale housing will be: decking/patio covers/enclosures (78%), outdoor audio/TV equipment (74%), outdoor lighting (73%), outdoor fireplaces (70%), pools/spas (60%), decorative water features (57%), built-in patio heating (31%) and portable patio heating (27%).
- The average 2015 home is expected to have two full and one half to three full and one half bathrooms, and the upscale home will range from three full and one half to four full and two half bathrooms.
- Eighty-one percent said that they expected to see an increase in the number of features offered as standard in the upscale home of the future; and 68% expected to see such an increase in the average home.
- Although exteriors vary regionally, the exterior materials most likely to be used were: vinyl (57%), fiber cement (53%) and brick (50%) on the average house and stone (97%), brick (83%), stucco (76%) and fiber cement (61%) on the upscale home.
- Standard outdoor features will be a front porch (70%), patio (61%), deck (42%) and rear porch (24%) in the typical home and front porch and rear porch (79%), patio (76%) and deck (61%) in the luxury home.
- Sixty-one percent predicted that stairs in the average house will remain in the foyer, but 39% said they would move to the back or the side of the house. Fifty-six percent said they expected the stairs to move to the back or side in upscale homes, which have more living space to make the maneuver. Among comments, it was noted that stairs would become more functional than decorative and that upscale homes will have two sets.
- Greeting average home owners in 2015 will be single 36-inch or 42-inch front doors, without side lights, according to research participants. Upscale buyers will come home to a 42-inch-wide single door with side lights or a double door with or without side lights.
- Respondents said that the industry will be recognizing the power of mood lighting; there will be a definite trend towards recessed lighting; upscale homes will have chandeliers in the dining room and entry foyer; recessed cans will be more commonly used in the kitchen, media room and finished basements; and some unique hanging fixtures will be designed as artwork.
- The trend in interior color will move away from white in response to heightened interest in colors, especially those that are bolder.
- Sixty-six percent said that the average 2015 home would have a fiber optic network, and 87% said that this feature would be found in upscale homes.
- Among electronic features that will be standard in the average home by 2015, participants identified: programmable thermostats (78%), structured wiring systems (61%) and multi-line phone systems (59%). Upscale homes, by comparison, are expected to include just about every electronic feature that is available: multi-zone-controlled HVAC (88%); multi-room audio (87%); whole home control/automation system (86%); monitored burglar alarm system (81%); programmable thermostat, structured wiring system and instant hot water in bathrooms and kitchens (each 80%); a monitored burglar/fire/toxic gas alarm system (77%); a lighting control system (75%) and much more.
- Among trends in the average home over the next 10 years: the toilet in the master bathroom will have a separate enclosure (68%) and there will be greater use of universal design (56%). In upscale homes, 87% said that the master bedroom bath will have multiple shower heads, a trend that will percolate down through the market as the cost of this product declines. In addition to trends found in regular homes, also on the upscale trend list are: two-car garages will increase from 20-feet by 20-feet to 24-feet by 24-feet (84%) and most garage doors will increase from 7 by 9 feet to 8 by 10.
- Included in trends in regular home neighborhoods and communities: dedicated open space (94%), higher density and smaller lots (91%), more mixed-use facilities (84%), walking and jogging trails (78%) and more recreation (73%).
- Participants noted several trends in green building in the average home: an increased demand for energy-efficient appliances and mechanical equipment (98%); greater use of water- or energy-conserving devises (89%), energy-efficient windows (89%), more green and sustainable products (75%) and builders seeking green certification (66%).
For a corresponding story in this issue of NBN on trends in housing by the editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, click here.