Industry Bits and Pieces

There are too many noteworthy developments in the custom home market and I can’t pick just one to write about. So instead, I’m sharing a few of them.

Green Kitchens and Bathrooms

It was made clear at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Chicago last month that green is the new luxury. Every manufacturer made a point to show us industry editors their green appliances, countertops, faucets and more. The common feature among these products was their lack of distinguishable differences or inflated costs compared to non-green models. This is great news to tell clients who think green means ugly, or expensive.

This makes me wonder if these manufacturers snatched an advanced copy of the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey from the end of 2007. Results indicate an increase in the popularity of efficient or sustainable kitchen and bath products, and a drop in the popularity of high-end appliances. Luckily, homeowners get the best of both worlds with green products that are as high-end as ever and perform as well as expected, so let them know they won’t sacrifice to be green.

Outdoor living technology catches up

Most would agree the trend toward outdoor living is no longer a trend. It comes standard today, partly because of the large number of available products designed specifically for outdoor living environments. Technology has caught up with outdoor living, and the custom home market is enjoying the benefits.

Practically all the manufacturers at K/BIS last month made a point of showing the outdoor products they offer. It seems as if every major brand — and several minor brands — offers outdoor models that look and perform as well as their indoor counterparts.

It’s also nice to see the raised sophistication level of products such as speakers and lighting available for outdoor living environments. Outdoor speaker aesthetics and sound reproduction have improved so much you might not be able to spot the speakers, but you will hear them in crystal clear quality. Once again, this is good news to tell homeowners. For articles on outdoor living product trends.

Signs of a market upturn

Rather than listening to the unending stream of mass media reports about more bad news for the housing market, ask other custom builders and architects if they’re seeing signs of a market turnaround. Call your colleagues and friends in other parts of the country and ask them what they are seeing.

Our online poll asked readers that question and 39 percent said they have seen signs the market is turning around. Are you as pleased as I was at the high percentage? Time will tell how quickly these signs turn into actions, but it’s important to know what your peers are seeing and thinking right now. They’re seeing what hopefully is the beginning of the end of the slowdown, and thinking about fresh ways to get customers in the door again. Are you?