Although the housing market has tightened there are many that see the historic low interests rates, low construction costs and improved energy efficient products as creating a tremendous value for potential home owners.
Residential Design and Build Magazine surveyed architects across the country. Interestingly the families that are taking advantage of this time in history have different priorities and are changing design trends. Gone are the days of media rooms, excise/fitness, hoppy, workshops and guest wings. Today’s buyers are more interested in designs that emphasize practicality, informality, accessibility and energy efficiency.
Architects and builders alike are seeing smaller air conditioned space with growing interest in outside living areas. Additional practical aspects include home offices which appeal to telecommuting and home based employees and mudrooms which reflect the emphasis on outdoor living and provide additional closet and storage space.
Because we are an aging culture there is increased emphasis on accessibility. Pinnacle Custom Homes is currently designing a home that has few halls, wide doorways, roll-in shower, easy grip handles and non slip floors.
Perhaps the greatest growth in popularity is the focus on energy efficiency. There has been great interest in energy management systems, solar panels/collectors/photovoltaics and geothermal heating and cooling pumps. However, due to initial investment remaining high actual levels of adoption don’t come close to levels of interest.
According to Builder Magazine, American Lives Survey 2010 buyers want to see a more immediate return on their investment. Nearly 35% of survey respondents want a return on investment of less than 2 years.
The survey found that most buyers are interested in high efficiency heating and cooling equipment, appliances and lighting. There was also a strong focus on building materials that require less maintenance. The survey seems to reinforce what architects and builders are seeing during the design phases of construction.
The paradox is that todays buyers have the right information but don’t understand how it should be properly applied. Energy efficient construction is most effective when a systems approach to construction is used. In otherwords, its not effective to have energy efficient windows if energy efficient sheathing and insulation are not part of the equation.
Pinnalce Custom Homes uses a system to approach to constructino called Engineered Energy Efficiency (EEE). When a systems approach is used there is synergy which creates greater combined impact and more saving. The lesson here is cost effective compenents utilized in a systems approach to construction provides the best return on investment.