AIA: Efficiency, low maintenance drive design trends

Washington, D.C. – October 6, 2009 – In light of the downturn in the housing market and overall economy, homeowners are still adding energy-efficient options and low maintenance produces, while showing a lessened interest in special features such as home theaters, guest wings and three-car garages. Business conditions at residential architecture firms are stabilizing with the entry-level housing market showing a movement towards recovery. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the second quarter of 2009 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and function rooms in the home.

“There has been a decrease in popularity for certain energy-efficient products or systems, but overall they continue to be in demand from homeowners,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “And reflecting the current economic conditions, we have also seen a significant drop in the investment in theaters, guest or kid wings, mud rooms and other specialty features.”

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AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights

2009   

2008

  • Home offices                                                  

43%    

39%

  • Mud rooms                                                     

25%    

32%

  • Hobby / game rooms                                     

8%      

8%

  • Au pair / in-law suites                                               

7%      

16%

  • Three or more car garages                            

-15%   

-6%

  • Home theaters                                                           

-17%   

-19%

(% respond. report. popularity of room “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:)

Products

2009

2008   

  • Energy-efficient

80%    

79%

  • Low maintenance                                           

72%    

70%

  • Tank-less water heaters                                

70%    

88%

  • Water saving                                                  

62%    

62%

  • “Green” flooring                                            

59%    

69%

  • Synthetic materials                                        

59%    

62%

  • Recycled materials                                        

46%    

60%

(% respond. report. popularity of products “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:)

Systems / technologies

2009               

2008   

  • Solar panels                                                   

55%       

64%

  • Wireless systems                                           

46%       

49%

  • Geothermal heating / cooling                        

46%       

48%

  • Energy management                                      

40%       

54%

  • Water reclamation                                         

31%    

41%

  • Air purification                                               

19%       

37%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:)

Special home features

2009               

2008   

  • Alt. insulation (e.g. panels; foam)                 

68%    

69%

  • Extra insulation                                              

65%      

68%

  • 1st floor master bedroom                                

48%    

 n/a

  • Ramps / elevators                                          

37%      

43%

  • Easy-to-use features                                      

36%      

34%

  • Hurricane resistant design                            

28%      

32%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2007)

Housing market business conditions

The extended slowdown in the housing market is showing signs of stabilizing with the residential billings index increasing almost 20 points over the past two quarters. The national billings index was 38 for the second quarter (any score below 50 indicates a decline in activity), up from the low mark of 24 the previous quarter. Inquiries for new projects also increased to a mark of 47 following a score of 35 in the first quarter of 2009.
                         

Specific construction segments

2009   

2008   

  • Additions / alterations:

26%    

26%

  • Kitchen and bath remodeling:                        

25%    

22%

  • First-time buyer / affordable home market:  

-13%   

-46%

  • Move-up home market:

-35%   

-44%   

  • Custom / luxury home market:                      

-45%   

-27%   

  • Townhouse / condo market:

-49%   

-49%

  • Second home:            

-70%   

-53%

(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q2)

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on community design trends (December 2009), and kitchen and bath trends (February 2010).

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes.  By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit www.aia.org/walkthewalk.  

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