As we’ve written before, the housing forecast looks strong for 2013. There are three strong indicators to look at for new home construction: Building permits authorized for privately-owned housing units hit 866,000 in October 2012, representing a nearly 30% gain from October 2011. Housing starts for October 2012 reached 894,000 units, representing a 42% increase from October 2011. Finally, housing completions in October 2012 came to 772,000; A 33.6% increase over figures from October 2011. So the 2013 housing outlook is looking strong, and rates are likely to remain low, at least for the first part of the year. If you’re considering building or buying a new home, you might want to move that time line up!
The surge in new home building is sure to have home buyers dreaming up all sorts of amenities and features for their new homes. We posed the question to our Facebook fans and asked a local architect: If you were buying or building a new home, what is one feature you’d really like to see?
Here were the most popular responses:
The old front porch, revisited
Front porches are making a big comeback and there’s one reason; they help create a sense of community that is lacking, especially in suburban areas. Front porches are also necessary to help new homes blend with older homes when doing “in-fill”, which is adding a home or a few homes to vacant lots in in-town neighborhoods with older homes built in an era where the front porch was the most important part of a home. The front porch can be more than a place for newspapers to stack up while you’re on vacation. The perfect front porch is a welcoming extension of the home. A place to drink morning coffee, chat with passing neighbors and meet new ones.
A greener, more efficient place to call home
Energy efficiency has been a hot trend for a few years and hopefully it will continue. Green efficiency takes many forms, from the ground breaking to the shingles on the roof, there is an environmentally friendly option for nearly every product or process involved in building a home. Builders are adding better insulation in the walls, energy efficient dual layer windows with simulated divided lites and low-energy LED lighting. As far as finishing touches go, you can even specify low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, recycled carpets and renewably sourced hardwoods with water based stains.
The heart of the home
The home kitchen has come a long way from being tucked away in the back corner of the house. Heck, kitchens used to be completely removed from the house in a separate building. Given the nature of fires originating in the kitchen, outdoor kitchens would probably make insurers very pleased. But we digress, the open kitchen has been popular for some time. Homeowners often entertain from both the kitchen and family room, so they want the kitchen to be open and flow well with that space. Organization is the key to a well-functioning kitchen, so often you’ll see vegetable prep areas near the main sink, a baking station with a lift-up mixer in the base cabinets, a bar area with a second sink and mini fridge integrated into the island. The most well organized kitchen might even include a designated charging area/docking station for a whole family’s mobile devices.
For man years to come
Those buying or building a custom built home are often thinking about designing a home that will serve a family as it grows and changes over the years. Atlanta architect Adam Stillman of Adam Stillman Residential Design frequently gets two requests from new home builders. Adam says most young couples specify a second family room in close proximity to the guest bedrooms. When children are young, this room functions as a playroom and as they grow up, it transitions into a space for weekend guests to relax and enjoy some space without interfering with their hosts. Adam adds, “Another very common request is for a large study or living room with a full bath attached. This room is designed to do double duty as a bedroom for elderly parents when they come to stay for an extended period.” While we’re on bathrooms, our Facebook commenters suggested the following; dual sinks, linen closets in the bathroom, heated floors and even a urinal.
If all of these new home features seem ordinary to you, check out a couple that are a little more off the wall. Architect Adam Stillman says there is a growing trend of new home builders asking for vaults to be built under their concrete front porches. These vaults are accessible through the basement and have concrete walls and ceilings. What they’re for is anyone’s guess. Uses range from eyebrow raising safe-rooms to more mundane wine and fur storage spaces.
For those who love their upholstery and carpets as much as they love their dogs, the solution is a designated dog washing station in the garage or mudroom. If you have a dog, you know the only thing worse than him shaking water all over you and your bathroom after a bath is when he comes bounding in with excitement after playing in the mud and leaves a trail of paw prints all over the house.