Kitchen, Bath Trends Pinpointed Among Home Buyers

Kitchen, Bath Trends Pinpointed Among Home Buyers

LAS VEGAS American homes continue to get larger and more elaborate and continue to change, as part of a slow, evolutionary process, along with both homeowner demographics and their product/design preferences. That's the conclusion of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which conducted a survey into the preferences of new-home buyers, as well as a second study which focused on material usage and features in new homes built during 2002.

The two new NAHB studies contain important implications for kitchen and bath specialists because they reveal key trends and buying preferences in new homes, which are being purchased by a changing group of first-time and move-up buyers. Those same trends and preferences can also be associated with kitchen and bath remodeling projects, which typically mirror new-home trends.

The latest research conducted by the Washington, DC-based NAHB reveals, for one thing, that homes are growing in size. In fact, the average home size has increased from 1,500 sq. ft. in 1970 to 2,320 sq. ft. last year. And, of the new homes completed in 2003, 19% were 3,000 sq. ft. or more, according to the NAHB.

An increasing amount of space within these new homes is being devoted to bathrooms, the NAHB also pointed out.
In 1970, for example, 52% of all newly built homes had 1.5 bathrooms or less. In 2003, by comparison, only 5% of new homes had 1.5 bathrooms or less. Similarly, while only 16% of new homes in 1970 had 2.5 bathrooms or more, 56% of the new homes built last year contained 2.5 or more bathrooms (see Table 1).

To take it one step further, some 22% of the new homes built last year contained three or more bathrooms, compared to just 12% as late as 1987, according to the NAHB.

Homes are also including more upscale features and amenities than ever, Gopal Ahluwalia, an NAHB v.p. and researcher, observed. "Some of the features that average home buyers want today used to be considered optional, and were standard only in upscale luxury homes," he noted.

Among the NAHB's additional findings were the following:

  • An average single-family detached home built in 2002 contained 21 cabinets, while an average multi-family home had 14 cabinets.
  • Kitchens had an average of 23 linear feet of countertop in single-family detached homes in 2002, compared to 17 linear feet in the kitchens of multi-family homes. Laminate was the dominant countertop material used in both types of construction, with granite and ceramic tile being used more frequently for single-family units (see Tables 2 and 3).
  • Of 18 different kitchen features, a walk-in pantry topped the list of the most popular, with 85% of survey respondents categorizing it as desirable or essential. Also high on the list of favored features were island work areas (77%), solid surface countertops (65%), a built-in microwave oven (61%) and special-use storage (60%) (see Table 4).
  • A linen closet topped the list of the most desired bathroom features, with 91% of survey respondents categorizing it as desirable or essential. Other desired bathroom features included an exhaust fan (87%), separate shower enclosure (77%), water temperature control (75%), a whirlpool tub (63%), ceramic tile walls (58%), a private toilet compartment (57%), and a dressing room/makeup area (52%).
  • New-home buyers prefer large kitchens adjacent to family rooms, and want the two rooms to be visually open or divided with a half wall.