Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep your formal living room and mansion because new homes are expected to remain on the small side for several years. The American home of the future will be smaller, more energy efficient and will have a combined great room-kitchen area says a recent survey taken by the National Association of Home Builders. Years ago if you had some money the house came with a ball room for dancing. Now we have to hope for a living room without the aroma of kitchen smells.
A survey of 238 builders, architects, manufacturers and designers showed how they see the future of single-family homes. 74% predict that homes will get smaller. 68% predict the home will have more “green” features. 29% see more technology features offered in homes. 20% will have more universal access features and 10% see more outdoor living features.; bringing the kitchen and fireplaces in your backyard.
Single-family homes, after getting larger and larger in size for decades began shrinking in 2008 and seem to be continuing in recent years as well. Completed new homes, only 1,500 square feet in 1970 peaked at an average of 2,520 square feet in 2007 but fell to 2,377 square feet last year citing U.S. Census Bureau data. Yes, the government keeps records on how large a house you live in. The estimates are that the average size will drop to 2,150 square feet in 2015.
Part of the downsizing may be temporary, due to recession-pinched pocketbooks, but several trends such as the “huge desire to keep energy costs down” suggest it will continue in a stronger economy says National Association of Home Builders, Rose Quint. “Demographics are long term on the side of smaller homes” she says, pointing to the increasing number of young adults seeking energy efficiency and senior citizens wanting less space. She cites Census data that show people 65 and older will account for 20% of the U.S. population in 2050, up from 13% last year.
“Lets buy what we need,” is a common new attitude, Quint says, consumers are viewing homes less as long-term investments and more as places to live than they did in the housing boom. Yet, Americans, after two years of belt-tightening, are starting to dream a bit bigger, says Jill Wage of Better Homes and Gardens, which also released a survey this past December of 2,000 of its readers. They now say they want a home with a median square footage of 1,914 square feet, up slightly from 1,864 square feet last year. To me , that is not enough of a difference to even note.
“They are dreaming again but their dreams are definitely reality based,” Wage says. In her survey, 74% of consumers say affordability remains a high priority as they look to remodel or buy a home. Therefore, energy efficiency is a plus too at 68%. NAHB reports that the average size of new U.S. homes started but not completed last year actually increased a little to 14 square feet from 2009. This increase occurred mostly in the south.
The saddest trend is the loss of the formal living room, which 82% say will either vanish or merge with other spaces in 2015. Maybe because even if you are luckily able to afford a family, no one wants to stay in the same room together anyway. Give me back the ball room and I will talk to myself and listen to the echo. That is what I want.

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