Larger, More Accessible Homes Increase in Demand by Homeowners Preparing to Age-In-Place

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As the housing market continues its recovery, homeowners are increasingly seeking more square footage while simultaneously looking for more accessibility inside and outside of the home. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2015, which focuses specifically on overall home layout and the use of interior and exterior space.

“An increase in home square footage with the rising popularity of accessible design concepts points to a population that is preparing to age-in-place, or, perhaps, is anticipating responsibility for caretaking of older relatives in the future,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “As homeowners prepare to stay in their current homes, investment in outdoor living spaces has also increased.”

The survey further demonstrates gains across all major housing sectors, except for new construction. “The lag in new construction, taken together with the increases in remodeling, may be another indicator of homeowners wanting to remain in their current residences for the long haul,” according to Baker.

Residential elements (% of respondents that reported increases) 2015 2014
In-home accessibility 70% 65%
Access in/out of home 59% 55%
Informal space 56% 52%
Open space layout 61% 50%
Single-floor plan 46% 47%
Volume 26% 28%
Square footage 20% 15%
Lot size 2% 3%

% of firms reporting “increasing” activity for that characteristic; Q1 2015

Outdoor living and landscaping trends

Residential elements (% of respondents that reported increases) 2015 2014
Outdoor living space 72% 69%
Low irrigation landscaping 61% 60%
Blended indoor / outdoor living 58% 56%
Outdoor features 21% 16%
Exterior / security lighting 36% 36%

% of firms reporting “increasing” activity for that characteristic; Q1 2015

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q1 2015 (any score above 50 is positive)

• Billings: 66

• Inquiries for new projects: 73

“The fundamentals of the economy demonstrate steady progress, with incomes continuing to stabilize, as illustrated by the survey’s positive findings,” Baker added. “Business conditions at residential architecture firms continue to show solid gains, as billings, new design contracts, and inquiries for future project activity are all improving.”

Specific residential segments* 2015 2014
Kitchen and bath remodeling 57 57
Remodeling additions / alterations 61 59
Custom / luxury home market 33 29
Move-up homes 30 27
Townhouse / condo market 15 15
First-time buyer / affordable home market 9 5
Second / vacation home market 1 -9

% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q1 2015


About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey

The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of more than 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 2015), community design trends (December 2015) and kitchen and bath trends (February2016).

About The American Institute of Architects
Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world.