When it comes to their homes, Americans are looking for greater accessibility, fewer steps, a single-floor design and more informal space with an open layout. Those findings were among the results of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) first-ever Home Design Trends Survey.
AIA’s survey highlights an increasing demand for easier mobility
within the home, reflecting an aging U.S. population and the Baby
Boomer generation approaching retirement, it says. It also shows
that, overall, business is good. Fueled by a strong housing market,
architecture firms working in the residential sector have reported
favorable business conditions, with 44 percent of respondents indicating
that their overall billings increased by more than five percent
in the first quarter of 2005, while only 10 percent reported declines
in billings from the fourth quarter of 2004.
“Our data demonstrate that the remodeling market, for both
additions/alterations and kitchen/bath renovations, were the strongest
sectors in the residential market for the first quarter of 2005,”
said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD., Honorary AIA. “Additionally,
the condominium and townhouse market was nearly as strong, with
over half of firms reporting improving conditions for these units.
We have found that the primary drivers in this particular market
are young adults and empty-nesters who are interested in moving
into urban neighborhoods.”
Move-up homes (newly constructed homes designed to appeal to households
trading up to a more expensive home), custom/luxury homes and second/vacation
homes were rated as reasonably strong sectors. Each of these sectors
had two to three times as many firms rating them as improving as
compared to the those rating them as weakening. The only sector
not showing strong improvement was the entry level/affordable home
More than 40 percent of firms working on residential projects report
the square footage of homes still is increasing. In many cases,
the volume of homes is increasing. More than half of firms say ceiling
heights are increasing, as is the popularity of two-story entryways
and vaulted ceilings.
Baker also stated, “There has been a significant shift in consumer
preference from formal living and dining rooms toward more informal
spaces‚ featuring an open space layout of family rooms, dens
and activity rooms.”
• Informal space: 66 percent of firms reported that
“informal space” is increasing, along with a trend toward
an open space layout in the home.
• Accessibility: 62 percent of firms reported that homes
are becoming more accessible with features such as wider hallways,
fewer steps and the growing popularity of single-floor design.
• Home layout: 49 percent of firms reported that finished
basements and attics are increasing in popularity as owners of older
homes are looking to increase living space.
• Outdoors: 48 percent of firms reported upscale landscaping
is on the increase, as is the popularity of outdoor living space
with features such as decks, porches and patios.
• Home size: 40 percent of firms reported square footage
of homes is still increasing, while only 13 percent report declines.
• Amenities: 30 percent of firms reported the increase
in other outdoor amenities including swimming pools, tennis courts
BUSINESS BEST IN SOUTH
Firms in all regions of the country reported positive business conditions,
with those in the South experiencing the greatest gains and those
in the Midwest lagging behind the other regions. What’s more,
there are no signs of a slowdown. More than half of the firms responding
report that inquiries for new work also increased during the first
quarter of the year.
Another contributing factor to the continued health of the housing
market is the backlog of projects that firms have reported. The
average project backlog of work under contract necessary to keep
an entire staff fully employed is five to five-and-a-half months.
This figure is especially significant due to the relatively short
design period and tight schedules of many residential projects.
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel
of 600 architecture firms that concentrate their practices in the
residential sector. Future surveys will cover home features (special
function rooms and special features in homes), emerging design trends
(design of communities, use of technology in the home, new residential
products) and kitchen and bath features and products.
Since 1857, the AIA, Washington, DC, has represented the professional
interests of America’s architects. As AIA members, nearly 75,000
licensed architects, emerging professionals and allied partners
express their commitment to excellence in design and livability
in the nation’s buildings and communities. Members adhere to
a code of ethics and professional conduct that assures the client,
the public and colleagues of an AIA-member architect’s dedication
to the highest standards in professional practice.
Percent Reporting Improving
* Minus indicates the percent report segment as
Source: American Institute of Architects
CONDITIONS BY REGION
U.S. Total 44
Percent of Respondents Reporting
Increased Billings 1Q 2005
Source: American Institute of Architects