What's Hot and What's Not for Homes

Housing is subject to the whims of fashion, too. So what will the stylish new homes be sporting in 2010?

For one, they'll be slimming down from plus-size to skinny model footprints, but in a way that you won't notice the downsizing so much. Green continues to be in. Homes will also be designed to appeal to older folks and, in deference to these recessionary times, slimmer budgets.

Those were among the fashion forecasts emanating from the National Association of Home Builders's annual conference last week in Las Vegas.
The changes are an attempt to keep in step with the times, as well as to save money. "Builders are responding to the buyers while trying to cut costs," Rose Quint, assistant vice president for the National Association of Homebuilders Survey Research Economics and Housing Policy Group, told HousingWatch. "Most builders will focus on lower-priced models and smaller homes with [amenities] buyers consider to be necessities."

That means smaller homes with fewer walls, taller ceilings and some larger rooms to create an illusion that the space is bigger than it is, says Quint.

And say bye-bye to outdoor kitchens, butler pantries and media rooms. Instead, expect to see more homes built with "great rooms" -- typically a combination of two or more rooms, such as a family room and a kitchen.

Great rooms save builders money because they're putting in fewer walls, explains Quint. And those savings can be passed on to buyers.

There also will be fewer rooms. New construction homes with four or more bedrooms have been declining since 2007. Last year, there was a drop in the number of homes built that had three or more bathrooms. In response to the growing number of 55-plus homebuyers, also expect to see larger bathrooms, non-slip floor surfaces, doorways that are wider than standard for accessibility, entrances without steps, and bathroom aids, such as grab bars.

Here are some other trends, courtesy of the NAHB survey, that we'll be seeing in new home designs this year:

What's hot:
  • Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  • Separate laundry room
  • Insulated front door
  • Great room
  • Low-E windows
  • Linen closet
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Energy-efficient appliances and lighting
  • Separate shower and tub in master bedroom
  • Nine-foot ceilings on first floor

What's not:
  • Outdoor kitchen
  • Outdoor fireplace
  • Sun room
  • Butler's pantry
  • Media room
  • Desk in kitchen
  • Two-story foyer
  • Eight-foot ceiling on first floor
  • Multiple shower heads in master bath
  • Smaller kitchen area than in recent years
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