AIA survey: Homeowners interested in eco-friendly features, materials

Washington, D.C – As the housing market continues to suffer, demand is declining for upscale products and features for kitchens and bathrooms. There is also a greater emphasis on accessibility and universal design to make home life easier and safer for an aging population. Renewable materials and products that promote energy efficiency are still growing in popularity.

Residential architects have reported the weakest business conditions in the four-year history of this survey, indicating that the housing market is not yet showing signs of recovery. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey focused specifically on kitchen and bathrooms in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Read the full report.

“Because of concerns over affordability and re-sale value, it’s not surprising that there has been a sharp decline in demand for high-end kitchen and bath products,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “However, some products and features remain in high demand. Despite the difficult economic conditions, homeowners are extremely interested in renewable flooring and countertops, energy-efficient and water saving products, as well as having a dedicated recycling center.”

Baker added, “A rise in demand for LED lighting options and a drop in interest of multi-head showers are reflective of both greater environmental awareness and desire to keep utility costs manageable. Homeowners are asking architects for ease of access in bathrooms, handheld showers and radiant heated floors.”

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q4 2008 (any score above 50 is positive)

  • Billings: 19.5 (down from 29.7 in Q3 2008)
  • Inquiries for new projects: 18.4 (down from 28.0 in Q3 2008)

“While it’s natural that there is very little demand for move-up and vacation homes given the current state of the economy, this is the first time in the survey’s history that the additions / alterations and kitchen and bath remodeling sectors are reported to be weakening nationally,” said Baker.

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

  • Additions / alterations: -14
  • Kitchen and bath remodeling: -16
  • Custom / luxury home market: -52
  • First-time buyer / affordable home market: -65
  • Townhouse / condo market: -66
  • Move-up home market: -71
  • Second / vacation home market: -77

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