With a graying population, both home occupants and their guests have changing housing needs and preferences. For multiple-floor homes, a master bathroom and a full bath on the ground floor are generally desired. Additionally, ramps (rather than steps) to enter homes, easy-to-use home features (such as door handles and faucets), and non-slip floor surfaces all made the list of popular home features. Each of these features was seen as increasing in popularity at an accelerated pace. On-grade entry to the home—therefore limiting the need for ramps—was an added option on this year’s survey, and residential architects noted the growing popularity of this feature.
Still, there are other motivations for special home features. Energy efficiency remains a popular objective for most households, so extra insulation is a popular and cost-effective feature. Also added to this survey was providing accommodations for multiple generations in the home, which also turned out to be a popular choice of respondents. (Au pair/in-law suites are one way to achieve this objective, as is a separate accessory unit in an outbuilding. It may also mean converting a den, basement, or attic area to a bedroom or living area for extended family members.) Finally, with the recent increase in storms, hurricane-resistant designs are increasing in popularity, even in areas where these features are not required by local building codes (Figure 3).
New technologies in the home
With the increasing dependence on technology in the economy, it’s not surprising homeowners are seeing more of these applications in their homes. Systems and technologies that are growing in popularity may be designed to enhance entertainment systems, energy management, and security, or just for convenience.
At the top of the list are wireless telecommunications/data systems. While over 63 percent of respondents reported that these systems were increasing in popularity, hardly any reported them to be declining. Residential architects have rated wireless systems as among the most popular systems/technology in homes for the past several years.
Likewise, energy management systems have been reported as perennially popular by residential architects. Recent wireless applications have given households remote capabilities to manage basic households systems such as lighting, temperature, and security controls. Other systems and technologies that are emerging in popularity include backup power generation systems and electrical docking stations for cars. Once electric vehicles become more pervasive, these systems are likely to mushroom in popularity (Figure 4).
Residential architects rated low-maintenance materials as the product category increasing the most in popularity recently, while synthetic materials used for applications such as flooring, siding, or decking also rated highly. Popular new products in the home also promote goals such as energy efficiency, convenience, water conservation, and healthy homes.