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Building trends 2012-2015: expect smaller, greener homes

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ October 23, 2011

The American trend toward buying smaller homes - currently driven by the economy - will likely extend out to the near future. A builders' survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), found that new homes will average 2,152 square feet in size by 2015, some 10 percent smaller than single-family homes built this year. Average home sizes peaked at 2,521 square feet in 2007.

The first room to suffer cuts to make homes smaller and more affordable will be the living room, according to the NAHB study. More than half the builders surveyed were in favor of blending the living room with another room of the home to make it more useful. The living room may well be fused with the kitchen and foyer to create a great room, while a third of the builders believe the living room will go the way of the dinosaur.

Going small and going green

Nearly 70 percent of builders that participated in the survey said homes will feature new green technology and energy efficient features, creating a house that receives a complete Energy Star rating. One home builder currently offers homeowners a written guarantee of ongoing energy savings. More predicted changes include larger laundry rooms, eat-in kitchens, master suite walk-in closets and porches.

NAHB Director of Economic Services Stephen Melman told Yahoo Real Estate, we can expect less of formal dining rooms, mudrooms, hobby rooms and four or more bedrooms in the future house. Catering to an aging American population, builders may increase the focus on walk-in showers and grab bars, single-level homes or at least ground-floor master bedrooms.

The new home will be wired

MSN Real Estate reports new home trends for 2012 include front and side porches, low-energy lighting, sealed ductwork, and windows with efficient glazing. Huge, expanded baths and kitchens - once the craze - will give way to smaller, efficient rooms that give preferences to function rather than glitz.

Melman says preferences are toward features that add to an efficient lifestyle. Expect practical electronics work stations and charging areas to become a common part of the kitchen, for example. If builders hope to remain competitive, they may well have to find innovative ways to downsize homes, rather than add exorbitant bells and whistles that only add cost and take up space.

Think green, think small!

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