The new normal

Next week marks my three-month anniversary of working on Residential Design + Build and its sister publication, Qualified Remodeler. Although I come from a construction publishing background, it always focused on commercial construction so this was the first time I had written about homebuilding. Like everyone else, I’ve spend the past handful of years hearing about how bad the housing market is, how new construction is almost non-existent and how homes are sitting stagnant for years before any buyers come along. As bad as all of that sounds—and it is bad—I still have hope. This past summer, I’ve talked with many of you who have lost jobs, had to lay off staffs and have downsized your operations. Yet you’re intelligent enough to continue looking long-term and believe, as I do, that the housing market will rebound if for one simple reason: People need a place to live.

Too many people are concentrating on getting things back to the way they were before the economy crashed. I don’t believe, however, that this is a practical approach. Instead of moving forward to get back to where we were, we should be moving forward to build a new future. Simply put, the industry needs to be looking forward to the new normal. Builders who once built “McMansions” now are required to work with homes a fraction of the size—but with just as much customization and beauty and with even more functionality. The challenges today and moving forward aren’t how to build the biggest, most extravagant house. The challenge is to build a usable, functional house with spaces that have dual-functionality. That doesn’t mean customers want to have simple, boring spaces. Customers are challenging you, the builders, to be creative and think outside the box to deliver the most bang for their buck.

Our Design Excellence Awards program entries reflected the very trend toward smaller spaces with exceptional design. It demonstrates customized houses are still very possible no matter what the size. Welcome to the new normal.