By Sun Kim
Posting in Architecture
The chief economist for the American Institute of Architects tracks the outlook for the residential design market.
Kermit Baker, chief economist for the AIA (American Institute of Architects) presented key findings of the 2012 first quarter AIA Home Design Trends Survey. The gist of the data is that the residential building market is steadily picking up, especially in the luxury and custom areas. According to the season's ABI (Architectural Billings Index) billings for residential architecture firms are the strongest in six years.
Homeowners are focusing on improving what they have or what they can afford instead of building with resale value in mind. The major trends in home design include
- housing sizes returning to pre-recession sizes, especially in renovation, addition, and luxury projects
- outdoor spaces becoming the new living room, even in non-temperate areas
- increased demand for more informal, flexible spaces
- improving accessibility in the form of single story and open space layouts
- adapting for long term/aging in place needs
Baker reports that the luxury market is showing the most improvement, probably because of stricter standards and requirements for credit and financing. Regardless, starter homes and improvements to existing homes are not far behind, which signals broader, slow improvement. He tells Mary Umberger of the Chicago Tribune,
"The major signals are strong, but the underlying economy is not strong. Housing is going to have to develop some momentum on its own.
Generally, you have to see job growth. People get a job, they buy a new home, that relationship is well-established. But it's also going to rely on pent-up demand, households that have been deferring buying a home deciding to take advantage of low prices and record low interest rates, saying, this is the time to move -- some sense of "whoops, we're at the bottom, prices are starting to move up, and so it's time to buy."
Related on SmartPlanet: Is architecture a better economic indicator?
Aug 21, 2012
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Architectural design - in general is one of the major sources of what is wrong with housing design. Like most designers they are tied to their personal perspective of aesthetics and due to a general lack of engineering and basic economic training, they largely create places to live that generally lack functionality, adaptability and especially economic optimization and focus on an expression of their own aesthetics. Errors in design by even "successful" and "experienced" architects are common as dirt - and as a consequence their designs, especially large complex ones need to be critically scrutinized by other architects and especially materials engineers. I saw one statement in the article that is well connected to reality "- increased demand for more informal, flexible spaces" and too that could be added practical storage solutions. Most house buyers don't understand the basic economics of construction either - further supporting the inept evolution and continuation of in inept architectural design. "Space" is the least expensive feature of any house, and yet it is the first to be cut when trying to reduce costs - and this is totally absurd. It's the fixtures and finish that create the most significant cost areas in housing. Nothing is more adaptable than "space." Books could and have been written on this subject, but it doesn't take much looking at current and past housing design to conclude in the vast majority of designs - the designers were clueless with regard to average families needs for the most adaptable commodity in existence - space. For get all the bright shinny fixtures and "architectural features" and focus on how you live - now and if you are young in the future as your family grows - children and parental care needs. If you building you really, really, really need to analyze your builder's record of construction results (mistakes, and fit and finish quality)/competitive costs. Finding competent building contractors is a major undertaking, but success in doing so pays immediately in construction cost and for years to come in maintenance.
The USA needs a new Wright(s) to design new 21st century Usonian homes that tastefully provide function at prices that people can afford. The subdivision homes built during the boom looked like they conspicuous displays of wealth bought with mortgages that the buyers could not afford.
"Baker reports that the luxury market is showing the most improvement, probably because of stricter standards and requirements for credit and financing." I can think of another reason...