Architects: Specialty rooms move from luxury to practicality

by WOHe

Washington, D.C. – September 15, 2010 – The troubled housing market has homeowners concerned about affordability with an increasing preference for functionality over extravagance in special function rooms and home features. There also continues to be a strong willingness to invest in energy efficient products and systems to help reduce utility costs. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey for the second quarter of 2010 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and function rooms in the home.

“As the overall economy has slowed in recent years home offices have become the new home theaters,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Homeowners are placing a far greater priority on specialty rooms that get the most use, as well as incorporating outdoor living elements within their lifestyles.”

View the full report.

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

2010 2009

Outside living rooms 41% n/a

Home offices 34% 43%

Mud rooms 17% 25%

Au pair / in-law suites 2% 7%

Hobby / game rooms -9% 9%

Home theaters -38% -19%

(% respond. report. popularity of room “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Products 2010 2009

Energy-efficient 77% 80%

Low maintenance 68% 72%

Tank-less water heaters 68% 70%

Water saving 57% 62%

Synthetic materials 55% 59%

Recycled materials 47% 47%

(% respond. report. popularity of products “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Systems / technologies 2010 2009

Energy management 50% 40%

Solar panels 49% 55%

Geothermal heating/cooling 47% 46%

Wireless 42% 46%

Back-up power generation 34% n/a

Water reclamation 33% 31%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Baker added, “High levels of adoption for certain products and systems have not yet taken off to a high degree, but residential architects are reporting that saturation rates are likely to rise substantially in the next few years as demand continues to rise and prices continue to fall.”

Special home features 2010 2009

Alt. insulation (e.g. panels; foam) 67% 68%

Extra insulation 65% 65%

Ramps / elevators 33% 37%

1st floor master bedroom 44% 48%

Easy-to-use features 32% 36%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Housing market business conditions

On the heels of recent quarters of business conditions pointing to a recovery in the housing market, there was a fall off in billings at residential architecture firms in the second quarter of 2010. The national billings index was 41, following a two-year high of 50 during last quarter. Inquiries for new projects also fell sharply from 62 to 41.

“This decrease was triggered by a general back tracking in the overall economy, but was also exacerbated by the home buyer tax credit that expired at the end of April,” Baker noted.

Specific construction segments 2010 2009

Kitchen / bath remodeling: 29% 25%

Additions / alterations: 22% 26%

First-time buyer / affordable home market: -24% -13%

Move-up home market: -32% -35%

Custom / luxury home market: -39% -45%

Townhouse / condo market: -51% -49%

Second home: -62% -70%

(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q2)

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