The importance of design

Every April, we print the results of our annual Market Trends Report — a report on the custom home market. You provide us with the insights, tell us what you’re experiencing and predicting for the market, and we happily print those results in the April issue (page 16). It’s a great tool to get an understanding of the custom home market — not just the housing market in general.

There are many industry reports that give us an idea of how the housing market is doing: housing starts, pending home sales, foreclosures, and more. But they don’t narrow down to the custom home segment — the segment that is near and dear to your hearts. That’s why we implemented and continue to believe in this industry report.

After looking at the results, and discussing them with Kermit Baker from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, it looks like the custom home market is getting its footing back after a “horrendous 2009 and 2010,” as Baker puts it.

One of the many interesting highlights from the results was that the majority of respondents said design skills are what helped them differentiate themselves from competition in 2010. That’s a great sign and it means more homeowners understand the value of good design. They understand the value your design brings to their project — something so important to the custom home market.

This value of good design was a huge factor in this month’s cover story about the August Residence (page 12). The design was one of the biggest challenges in this project — aside from the lot, says J.R. Ruthig, associate AIA, managing designer for Dominick Tringali Architects in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. The house features a contemporary farmhouse design — in an urban setting.

Not only did Ruthig need to design a contemporary home, but he also had to add a farmhouse appeal to it and make it feel like it’s located in the country despite actually being located in an urban environment. In addition, the design had to fit the way the homeowners live. It was a big challenge but it was important to the homeowners therefore it was important to Ruthig and the builder Louis Beaudet, vice president, BRG Custom Homes, Southfield, Mich.

In the custom home market, design will always be important. A design that fits your clients’ needs, and appeals to what they want will always win out over anything else. You believe in the value of design, and based on the results of the Market Trends Report, so do your clients.