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Remodeling on the Rise

McMansions are so last century. While it’s harder to use “other people’s money” to fund move-up homes, the current recession has not only cooled extravagant tastes, it’s causing homeowners to think about how to make the homes they have work better for their needs. 

According to the American Institute of Architect’s Home Design Trends Survey, architects are getting more requests to upgrade and expand existing homes, but with more emphasis on functionality than the over-the-top opulence of a decade ago.

Explains AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, “The general consensus is that homes will continue to be smaller on average than they were in the past decade, but since kitchens remain the nerve center of the home, doing more with less space is a key consideration. Integrating kitchens with family space remains a design priority, as does including areas devoted to recycling, pantries, computer workstations, and spaces devoted to recharging laptops, cell phones and PDAs.”

About 28% of responding architects say more homeowners are requesting kitchen and bath remodels while 21% say they are getting requests to design additions. That’s way up from -16% and -14% a year ago.

The most popular kitchen features in 2008 and 2009 are:

Popular kitchen products and features*  2009 2008
Recycling center: 52% 48%
Larger pantry space: 47% 50%
Renewable flooring materials: 46% 54%
Renewable countertop materials: 46% 49%
Computer area / recharging stations 43% 48%
Integration with family space: 41% 40%
Drinking water filtration systems: 30% 31%
Adaptability / universal design: 28% 32%
Double island: 20% 19%


Popular bathroom products and features* 2009 2008
Water saving toilets: 63% 57%
Radiant heated floors: 52% 50%
Accessibility / universal design: 50% 52%
LED lighting: 49% 41%
Doorless showers: 47% 50%
Hand showers: 36% 45%
Linen closet / storage: 29% 25%

What makes the survey good news for the housing market is that remodeling is one of the leading indicators in economic recovery.

"It's still too early to think the residential market has fully recovered, but there are two encouraging signs,” says Baker. “Overall business conditions are far better than they were a year ago at this time, and we are seeing improvement in those housing sectors that need to lead a broader improvement in the housing market: remodeling and alterations of existing homes, and at the entry-level of the new construction market."

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