Will the Current Recession Change the Design of New Homes? Past Recessions May Give Us a Clue!

For those of you returning to your childhood home over the holidays, you might have noticed how much houses have changed over the years. Lifestyle trends, building product technologies and economic fluctuations have all had a hand in changing the American home. How will the current economic outlook affect the homes of tomorrow? If the current recessionary period is anything like those from the past, you may be surprised. Building a new home can take many months to design and build. Successful home builders use all of their powers of perception to design a home today that will sell in the housing market tomorrow. As witnessed by current events, rapidly changing demographic and economic forces can play havoc on those future markets catching many home builders off guard with homes “that don’t sell”. These changing forces sometimes alter the design of homes – for better or worse. Over the past thirty five years, economists generally recognize five economic recessions or crisis:

  • The 1973 oil embargo
  • The recession of the early 1980’s
  • The recession of the early 1990’s
  • The recession of the early 2000’s
  • The current recession that started in 2007

Each of these events had short and long term influences over the way homes are designed and built. Understanding these trends, home builders may be better able to predict the needs and demands of the future housing market. We plotted U.S. Census data for new housing activity over the past 35 years. From this data, we developed eight different charts that shows how the economic recessions of this period affected the design and style of new homes. Charts, corresponding to each item below, may be accessed by clicking on the link at the end of the list.

  1. Size matters – If you think the latest recession will lead to smaller homes, think again. Historical statistics show that past recessions have merely slowed the trend for larger and larger homes. With the exception of a slight decline in the late 1970’s, home sizes have steadily increased. The average home today is fifty percent larger than one built 25 years ago.
  2. Sleeping Conditions – The recession of the early 1980’s seems to be the only influence on the number of bedrooms in newly constructed homes. But, by the end of the 1980’s that effect was corrected and a general trend toward homes with four or more bedrooms continues to this day.
  3. More Facilities – The events of the early 1980’s had influence on the number of bathrooms in new homes, too. A trend of building more homes with only 1 full bathroom was quickly reversed by the end of the economic challenges. Prior to 1985, data for homes with three or more bathrooms is not available. But, like bedroom allocations, a continued trend toward more bathrooms has continued for almost twenty years.
  4. More Parking – The early eighties also affected the type of garage designed into new homes. The number of homes built with no garages increased to the detriment of homes with two car garages. But that trend quickly revered after the negative economic affects subsided. For the past fifteen years, almost two thirds of all new homes built have two car garages.
  5. Up, not out! – As the size of new homes steadily increased over the past 35 years, so too has the number of multiple storied construction. Again, the eighties recession seems to have the most effect, but for the last fifteen years the market is almost evenly split between single and multiple story homes with a slight deviation occurring since 2001. Even with a retiring baby-boom generation, the number of homes built on one floor seems to be counter intuitive.
  6. Burn, baby burn! – The energy crisis of the early 1970’s seems to have the most affect on the inclusion of a fireplace in newly constructed homes. Were we intending to burn our fireplaces instead of our furnaces? Maybe so, but the recession of the early 1980’s reversed this trend and today the market is almost evenly split between homes with and without fireplaces. Even with the housing booms in warmer climates, we continue to want the warmth and glow of a fire.
  7. The magic of heat pumps – Heat pumps were introduced to new homes in the mid-1970’s. Because of the oil crisis of the early 1970’s, heat pumps were accepted quickly as a more efficient way to heat a home. So much so, in 1978 the U.S. Census created a new category to track heat pump installation. Since then, heat pump installations have remained relatively steady as their effectiveness has been questioned in many regions. In recent years, new advances in heat pump technology have resulted in increased market share. Will that trend continue? Possibly, but for more than a quarter of a century, warm-air furnaces have been the heat system of choice for the American home. Even after the 1973 oil crisis, solar, wind and geothermal technologies have continued on a disappointing trend of gaining little market share. Let’s hope that trend changes soon.
  8. The Way We Look – External siding had considerable changes over the past 35 years. Maintenance free vinyl siding took tremendous market share from an industry dominated by wood. It should be no surprise that low cost, easily installed, low maintenance building products are quickly accepted. Quickly in the building industry is a relative term as it took 20 years for vinyl siding to become the market leader (prior to 1992, vinyl siding sales were included in the “Other” category). Again the economic recession of the early 1980’s seemed to affect the market most. Out of this recession new products and technologies were introduced to meet unfulfilled needs in the market. Primarily, vinyl siding products began to take market share from all of the other categories dominating the market in the early years of the new millennium. Recently, that domination is threatened by the introduction of fiber cement siding in the last part of the 1990’s. Will that trend continue or will there other technologies emerging from this recession that will dominate future markets?

What’s Up With That?

So what does all this mean? Taking a line from our fractured financial system, we would like to declare that “past performances do not guarantee future results”. But if history teaches us anything, the history of American recessions of the last 35 years will probably not have much effect on housing styles and designs. Monetary and financial pressures of past economic challenges seem to have little lasting effect on the houses we want to live in.

But there are more factors that influence house design. The aging population, changing industries, immigration and emerging social trends all can change the kind of homes we build. These and hundreds of other natural and man-made issues will continue to contribute to the design and style of the American dream. Assuming that a serious economic downturn is going to drastically affect home design is just not true. The forces that change home design have been in the market for years and will continue to influence home design despite the economy. The economy may slow a trend or temporarily change its direction, but empirical data shows that a trend is a trend and will continue on its path despite the economy.

So where are we going?

The three home characteristics – square footage, number of bedrooms and number of bathrooms – won’t change drastically. In fact, we think the average home size will continue to increase, more four bedroom homes will be built and these homes will have even more bathrooms. But the reason for this will not be to satisfy ego alone (although that will continue to influence the market). An aging population combined with improved health care means people live longer. Challenging economic conditions means that they may not have the money to do it.

House sizes will continue to grow because they need to support more people. Facilities for aging parents moving in with their children will be part of the new home design. More bedrooms, more bathrooms and even more fireplaces will be built for more people. Separate, self sustained living quarters with separate entrances will be built all under one roof. The lines on the graphs will continue to increase – for reasons already in the market – while floor plans for those designs will satisfy new market demands.

Technology will play a large part of the new home design. New product developments spurred from stricter building codes, energy codes and manufacturer differentiation will allow larger homes to be built for less. Home designs will have to incorporate plugs and power sources for electric cars. Water collection and recycling along with solar panels and geothermal energy will be included in future designs as will improved home monitoring and control. “Smart” windows and doors and even “smart” walls and roofs will all maximize energy performance, minimize operating costs and help Americans keep their American dream alive.

The future house will be bigger, better, more efficient with wider hallways, fewer stairs and a place for more than just the immediate family. It will be re-purposed to accommodate the lifestyle changes of a diverse population. The death of the dining room is finally a reality while larger, more versatile eating areas designed as part of the kitchen facilities will be in demand. Outdoor and even “semi-outdoor” areas will become more sophisticated. Studies, computer nooks and entertainment rooms will replace dining rooms, family rooms and dens as homes become more functional dwellings for occupants of all ages. Room sizes, floor plans and integrated functionality will be significant changes. But despite economic doom and gloom reports, homes will continue to get bigger because the more we ask for change, the more we really just want more – much more – of the same.

New Home Design Plans – What to Include?

Thinking about new home design plans is exciting. Trying to form ideas on paper can leave you a bit muddled about where to start first. It is really important early on to know what you want your new home design plans to consist of, as once the actual building starts it’s not as easy to simply delete a feature you’ve changed your mind about.

For those of us who prefer to know at least what the shell of our future dwelling will look like, there are many construction companies available with a wide range of new house and land packages to select from. Also ask about showhomes you can walk through to really get a feel of the space available. A reputable construction company will let you alter these existing house designs to suit your personal preference and lifestyle.

To get you started on forming your new home design plans browse over the following checklist and make notes of what you would like your future dwelling to include.

When planning the exterior of your home you will want to focus on architectural attributes that add character and match the style of residence you are building. Think about these exterior house features:

– bricks / wood materials
– patios and decks (can connect the internal living areas such as having access off each bedroom)
– roofing, spouting and joinery
– garaging (internal access)
– porch or overhang at front entrance (offering shelter and shade)
– windows / doors (styles and colors)
– storage shed(s)

There are so many options available today when designing the layout of your internal house space. You can have open plan living, separate dining and lounge areas, family rooms, games rooms and home theatre entertainment rooms with professional surround sound systems. You will know the atmosphere you wish to create in terms of aesthetics and functionality; you may want to build a contemporary residence with lavish features, or a family home that will stand the test of time and comfortably house all family members. Think about these interior house features:

– carpets: color and texture
– flooring: tiles, wood, carpet
– window / door hardware
– kitchen: gas top / electric ovens, sinks, countertops, cabinets, waste bins, lighting
– bathroom: shower, spa bath, basins, mirrors, fittings, lighting
– bedrooms / living areas: lighting, storage
– decorative: wallpaper / paint colors & shades / vanishes, blinds, curtains
– heat pumps / ventilation
– underfloor heating and cabling for the home theatre system

This is by no means an exhaustive list, yet a good place to start none the less. Happy house design planning.

New House Design Ideas

Are you planning to do some house refurbishing? There are many new home designs today that you can choose from to make various areas of your house more updated. Whether you’re going to have some minor touch-ups or a total remodeling, architects and interior designers today offer a lot of fresh concepts for the different styles of houses. Here are some suggestions that you can apply to various parts of your home.

The minimalist concept of open spaces is one of the most popular choices for home owners today. If you’ve got a good enough budget to refurbish your home and would like to add the feeling of serenity and freedom, having an outdoor room is a great idea. If your living or dining area that’s right beside your garden, you can open up that area so it can lead directly to your outdoor area. Put sliding doors so you can close the area at night. You can have the Japanese shoji doors or the conventional sliding ones. If you’ve got stone tiles as your flooring material, you can choose matching tiles for the outside space so you can have an instant patio. If you’ve got wooden flooring inside, you can continue to have this material outside and have a deck where you can relax.

If you want a new house design, but aren’t planning to touch any part of your home, you can create a modern atmosphere through your furniture. Many homes today have limited spaces. These call for furniture with multiple functions. If you need some seats, look for a bench that also works as a chest so you can also have a storage unit. This idea works also when trying to find coffee tables. Other space-saving furniture items include sofa-beds and desks that you can fold up against the wall when not needed. You can also buy beds and couches with drawers underneath.

However, if you’ve got plenty of space in your home and would like to inject comfort and elegance into it, try getting oversized, extra-comfy chairs and sofas. Furniture of this type gives your home the appeal of a luxury hotel. For your dining room, one option you can do that will bring a big change is to bring in cushioned high-back chairs for your dining table.

Lastly, you can easily pick up ideas from the nice places that you go to. When you go to grand lobbies of buildings, rooms in hotels, and other modern venues, observe which items you like and try to bring those concepts into your home.

New Home Designs – Helpful Hints in Planning a New House

Selecting from the countless new home designs you’ll see in magazines and on the Internet elicits different reactions from people. Those who are having their home done for the first time are mostly excited. But there are also some people, especially those who aren’t new to construction, who are quite anxious and concerned about a lot of things – not going over the budget, how everything’s going to turn out, if the contractors will be able to do everything on time, etc.

Indeed, having a new house built isn’t easy. But the best way to start is to relax and tell yourself to enjoy the whole procedure of planning for your new home – choosing the designs, purchasing materials, checking out what’s done right and what needs to be improved, and many more. You’ll definitely have your hands full, but, when everything’s done, the fulfillment will be indescribable.

One of the first tasks you might want to do is to check out magazines or the Web for some ideas. Magazines and the Web are rich sources of new home designs from different eras and cultures. You’ll surely find some options that reflect your personality and preferences. It would be best to start with the basic concepts which will be your house’s foundation. You can get bits and pieces of ideas from different publications and sites. You can pick the architectural style of one house and adopt the color scheme of another. Do you want an ornate Victorian home or a minimalist modern? Or is something eclectic more appealing to you? Once you’ve established your basics, you can move on area by area – living room, dining area, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and others.

Make a comprehensive wish list and questionnaire, so you won’t miss out on anything when you talk to your architect, interior designer, construction team, furniture maker, and other people you’ll deal with. In your wish list, you might want to have the swatches of fabric and photos of features you want in your home.

Choose certain features in your new home that you want to focus on. You can have one side of the wall painted with an unexpected color and make your furniture, curtains, decors, and others match it. You can also have really nice cabinets in your kitchen and make it the standout element in the area. Having that one special feature in every room or area makes a big difference in your entire home.

There are surely many things you need to consider when having a new house built. But don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. These tips are a good starting point for you. Make sure you keep an open communication with your contractors. Before you know it, you’ll already be moving in to your new home.