May 12 2010
A recent post discussed the “Less is More” building trend, by which home builders and buyers are scaling back house plans by cutting lavish amenities, choosing smaller floor plans and making the most of usable space. Though home owners are willing to give up yesterday’s outdoor kitchens and state-of-the-art home theaters, there are many practical features that continue to top their “Want” lists. Home builders are focused on elements that make a new home practical now and in the years to come. With the rough economy, cutting costs is essential, and since no one can predict what the economy will do in the future, it necessary to select new home features that have proven themselves time and again instead of choosing something that maybe trendy now, but undesirable in just a few years. Home builders and buyers are stripping floor plans of all the excessive amenities and selecting elements that promote function, convenience, practicality, and relaxed living.
Below is a list of ten “must haves” as revealed through interviews of home builders and in a recent survey of home buyers by Avid Ratings Co.
Large kitchen – The kitchen is often the center of activity in most homes, a place where people gather, talk, eat together, etc. So, if you’re going to spend extra cash, make the kitchen as roomy and functional as possible.
Kitchen island – The island is a practical workspace used for more than just meal preparation on a daily basis. Cooking islands or islands that include a sink or snack bar offer additional functionality.
Low maintenance exterior – Face it, people are busy. Home owners do not want to spend all of their free time maintaining the exterior of their homes. Instead, they want to enjoy their new homes, so many are choosing exterior finishes that require as little upkeep as possible such as brick or stone.
Flexible rooms – No person or family’s lifestyle will stay the same forever. Home buyers are looking for flexible rooms that can serve as a bedroom while the kids are young and convert to a hobby room years down the road. Others are looking for multi-purpose room that have a primary function and double as something else when necessary, like a den that can serve as a guest suite when occasional overnight guests arrive.
Outdoor living space – Whether it’s a porch, deck, covered patio or terrace, outdoor living spaces remain popular among new home buyers providing a place for outdoor cooking, eating, entertaining and relaxing.
Energy efficiency – Buyers value energy efficient appliances and lighting as well as other energy saving elements that help cut rising utility costs from energy efficient windows and high quality insulation to water stingy shower heads and solar panels.
Geared for the “Golden Years” – When building a new home, it is hard to imagine moving somewhere else later in life. Many home buyers have an eye on their golden years and plan to make their new home their last. They look for things like open floor plans. A barrier free design makes it easier to get around with a walker, cane or wheelchair should the time come. Likewise, a roomy walk-in shower is a more likely choice than a whirlpool tub for accessibility reasons. Furthermore, a main floor master suite is a must have, eliminating the need to climb stairs later in life.
Ceiling Fans – Indoors or outdoors, ceiling fans remain a popular choice among home owners providing air circulation and comfort from the kitchen and great room to the bedrooms and covered porch.
Two-car garage – Most American families have at least two cars making a double garage, a necessary convenience. A three-car garage option is a popular choice as well providing additional storage space for everything from the lawn mower and bikes to attic or basement overflow.
Home office – Home buyers are looking for as much usable space as possible. Most are likely to skip the formal dining room or media room for a more practical space such as a home office that will be used on a regular basis. Think about it, you’ll only use the formal dining room for special occasions and when you plan to entertain.
Storage – Walk-in closets, a large pantry, abundant kitchen cabinets, storage closets and built-in shelving rank high when it comes to home storage. Families have a lot of stuff and it is necessary to have plenty of organizational space.
If you are considering building a house or are currently browsing The House Plan Shop’s extensive collections of house plans, keep these “must have” features in mind.