AIA Home Design Trend Survey: Residential market beginning to show signs of improved business conditions

Washington, D.C. – June 21, 2010 – The prolonged economic downturn in the housing market, coupled with growing concerns about rising utility costs has resulted in greater interest in smaller homes and lot sizes. There have also been some broader lifestyle changes with U.S. households eschewing upscale amenities, opting instead to invest in more low maintenance projects, particularly for property improvements. Accessibility within the home continues to be a concern, especially for an aging population, and there is an increasing demand for more flexible design and informal space within homes. Business conditions for residential architects are beginning to indicate improving conditions with the first quarterly increase in billings since mid-2007. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey that focused specifically on overall home layout and use in the first quarter of 2010.

“We continue to move away from the ‘McMansion’ chapter of residential design, with more demand for practicality throughout the home,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “And with that there has been a drop off in the popularity of upscale property enhancements such as formal landscaping, decorative water features, tennis courts and gazebos.”

Overall home layout and size trends

    Residential elements (% of respondents that reported increases) 2010 2009
    In-home accessibility 60% 63%
    Open space layout 56% 50%
    Access into / out of home 49% 49%
    Informal space 48% 45%
    Finished basement / attic 36% 32%
    Single-floor plan 40% 34%
    Lot size 2% 2%

“There has been a steady decline in both the square footage and volume in home design in recent years,” added Baker. “The preference instead seems to be for more flexible, open and informal layouts that allow for both ease movement and fostering a space more conducive to family living.”

    Outdoor living and landscaping trends 2010 2009
    Low maintenance landscaping 63% 67%
    Outdoor living space 56% 60%
    Rainwater catchment 55% n/a
    Blended indoor / outdoor living 48% 51%
    Exterior / security lighting 33% 33%
    Outdoor amenities 23% 22%

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q1 2010 (any score above 50 is positive) 

  • Billings: 50
  • Inquiries for new projects: 62 

Baker continued, “These are the first encouraging signs in over two years that an economic recovery for the beleaguered housing market is near. The home improvement market, including both additions and structural alterations as well as remodeling projects, continues to be the healthiest sector of the market.”

Specific residential segments (index score computed as % of respondents reporting improving minus % reporting weakening conditions) 

  • Kitchen and bath remodeling: 41
  • Additions / alterations: 37
  • First-time buyer / affordable home market: -11
  • Move-up home market: -23
  • Custom / luxury home market: -27
  • Townhouse / condo market: -39
  • Second / vacation home market: -57
Posted in AIA, Design

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