Outdoor Living Spaces and Smart Home Technology Top Homeowner Preferences

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Homeowners continue to prioritize investing in outdoor living spaces and there has been a significant surge in popularity in adding technology and systems that can help automate energy consumption . These findings are from the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey covering activity during the second quarter of 2015 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and special function rooms in the home.

“With the tremendous interest in well-designed outdoor living spaces, it’s a pretty strong indication that the days when houses were viewed as a way to flip for a big profit are long gone,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Signifying a renewed interested in practicality and use, demand for mud rooms and dedicated guest rooms are also quite high.”

Special function Rooms 2015 2014
Outdoor living rooms 62 63
First floor master bedroom 51 46
Mud rooms 45 37
Home offices 34 38
Dedicated guest rooms (Au pair / in-law suites) 33 39
Exercise / fitness rooms 12 8

(% reporting popularity of room “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)
Products and systems that ease home management are growing in popularity. These features double as energy saving solutions, reducing utility costs.

Products 2015 2014
Smart thermostats 59 60
Extra insulation 56 65
Energy Star rated appliances 44 47
Water saving 40 43
Tankless water heater 36 48

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

Systems / technologies 2015 2014
Energy management 62 54
Backup power generation 43 51
Electrical car docking station 42 35
Security systems 34 31
Central audio 26 24
Air purification 23 15

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

Baker added,Automation is on its way to becoming standard functionality within homes as there are systems available to regulate temperature, lighting, home audio and energy usage.”

Housing market business conditions

“Conditions remain very positive, but as we might expect at this stage of the cycle, growth is beginning to slow a bit,” said Baker. “Backlogs are still trending up, and are close to being back to where they were before the downturn. While the individual sectors aren’t accelerating in terms of growth, they are all positive.”

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q2 2015 (any score above 50 is positive)

• Billings: 61

• Inquiries for new projects: 66

• Design Contracts: 58.3

• Regional averages: Midwest (59.2), South (60.7), West (62.9) Northeast (61.0)

Specific construction segments 2015 2014
Additions / alterations 64% 70%
Kitchen / bath remodeling 59% 60%
Custom / luxury home market 34% 36%
Move-up homes 29% 33%
Townhouse / condo market 18% 18%
First-time buyer / affordable home market 17% 17%
Second home 3% 2%

(% 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 2015), and kitchen and bath trends (April 2016).