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May 12 2010

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

Buyers Still Want Practical Features with Scaled Back House Plans

0036H-0058 Outdoor LivingA 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’s 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, you have to think about the cash home buyer of the future. 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 2nd Chance real estate group.


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.

This article brought to you by The HousePlanShop, LLC, the home of the best selling house plans from the best designers!

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Apr 02 2010

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

New Home Building Trend: Less is More with New Houses

020H-0199 Narrow Lot House PlanWith the downturn in the economy and the hard hits the home building industry has suffered, a new building trend has come into the spotlight. Along with building green and energy efficiency, the concept of “Less is More” is quickly growing in popularity. The housing market is turning away from high-end amenities and unnecessary spaces for smaller more practical homes that do not waste space or energy and are more budget conscious.


Builders and home buyers are saying goodbye to two-story ceilings, outdoor kitchens, home theaters, and embellished master baths with built-in TVs and fancy showerheads. Instead, home buyers and their builders are focusing on ways to keep costs down and be more earth-friendly. They want to eliminate special features like tall ceilings that cause energy bills to skyrocket. This year’s home builders and buyers plan to cut costs with homes that offer plenty of natural light, usable rooms and gathering spaces, practical storage options, energy efficient appliances and lighting, energy-saving windows and quality insulation.


In January, the National Association of Home Builders reported the average size of an American home decreased in size by nearly 100 square feet of living space since last year to approximately 2400 square feet of living area. Furthermore, the required number of bedrooms and baths in the American home has dropped over the last couple of years.


So what else can we expect with the “Less is More” strategy?


1.    Smaller homes with smaller footprints are becoming popular requiring narrow or smaller lots, which saves green space. In addition, families who need more space are building up instead of out doubling their finished living square footage on that same small footprint. House plans with a second floor are an easy way to gain living space.

2.    Energy efficient products of all varieties are in high demand. These products may not have all the bells and whistles that were popular just a few years ago, but if they get the job done while saving energy and cutting utility costs today’s builders and home buyers are interested. Besides, do we really need all of those state-of-the-art features on a dishwasher?

3.    Most families are interested in practical and functional spaces and features. They are skipping the high-tech media room and formal dining room. Instead, they are opting for a home office or a built-in computer station the whole family can use on a daily basis. Features that make daily activities flow more smoothly are a must. Many homebuyers will forego the wet bar in the family room, but a large kitchen island is a must along with a few large storage closets throughout the home.

4.    While a lavish master bath is still desirable, they are being scaled back a notch or two with most builders and buyers. Some homeowners are trading the separate shower and bathtub option for just a shower with a bit more room. Others are skipping the fanciful His and Her vessel sinks and downgrading to a standard double bowl vanity. In either case, the less sophisticated option still serves its purpose and cuts costs.

There are many other ways builders and new home buyers a scaling back their homes. No matter how they do it or what features and amenities they skip over, the goal is the same for everyone involved – Cut costs, reduce energy consumption, make the most of the finished space and hire the removal companies to move in as soon as all of these things are ready. Talk with your builder for more ideas related to the “Less is More” trend.

This article brought to you by The HousePlanShop, LLC, the home of the best selling house plans from the best designers!

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