Improving Market Leading to Larger Home Sizes and Increased Enhancements

Washington, D.C. -- As the struggling housing market shows signs of improvement, there has been a reversal in the 6-year trend in smaller home sizes.  This is the case for custom and luxury homes, as well as for additions to existing homes.  A preference for outdoor living, especially blended indoor/outdoor living, continues to increase, along with strong demand for accessible and flexible home layout.

Led by strength in remodeling and renovation projects, business conditions for residential architects are experiencing the strongest growth since 2006.  These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey  for the first quarter of 2012 that focused specifically on overall home layout and the use of interior and exterior space.

“In the last few years, outdoor living spaces have become the new ‘great room’ in terms of must have items for homeowners,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “As people are more interested in adapting their property to their long-term needs rather than readying it for sale, we are seeing more attention paid to landscaping and features that have some return-on-investment like rainwater catchment systems.”

Overall home layout and size trends

Residential elements (% of respondents that reported increases)

                                                            2012      2011

Volume                                                   20%       11%

Square footage                                       8%          5%

Lot size                                                    5%          2%

In-home accessibility                             64%       58%

Open space layout                                55%       49%

Informal space                                       51%       40%

Access into / out of home                      47%       48%

Single-floor plan                                    45%       35%

Outdoor living and landscaping trends

Residential elements (% of respondents that reported increases)

                                                            2012      2011

Low irrigation landscaping                    65%       63%

Outdoor living space                             64%       60%

Blended indoor/outdoor living               53%       46%

Rainwater catchment                            48%       49%

Exterior / security lighting                     33%       30%


Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q1 2012 (any score above 50 is positive)

• Billings: 56

• Inquiries for new projects: 64

Baker continued, “These conditions are not only significantly stronger than just last quarter, but also  over the past year.  We aren’t close to pre-housing market bust levels of design activity, but all housing sectors are performing at vastly higher levels than recent years, and billings are likely to accelerate in the months ahead.”


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

• Kitchen and bath remodeling: 53

• Additions/alterations: 51

• Custom/luxury home market: -2 

• Move-up home market: -3

• First-time buyer/affordable home market: -7

• Townhouse/condo market: -17

•Second/vacation home market: -36

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey

The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of 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 specialty rooms and systems (September 2012) and community design trends (December 2012).