Senior Editor

Susan Bady has been writing about the housing industry for 30 years. She is senior editor of Professional Builder, Custom Builder, and NKBA Innovation+Inspiration magazines, and contributes to the portal Web site Bady has also written for such consumer magazines as Cabin Life and Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas. You can reach her at

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Whenever I come across an article in the Wall Street Journal touting some new-home trend, I see it as a sign of mass appeal. Take the story in the May 2 issue about the growing numbers of home buyers who are jumping on the net-zero bandwagon.

The late Roger Caras, president emeritus of the ASPCA, once said, “Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.” No dog lover would disagree, and now architects are chiming in with a new art exhibit called Architecture for Dogs.

It’s well known that Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes, while they’re architectural masterpieces, often have structural issues such as leaky roofs. Wright also disdained such modern must-haves as large kitchens and abundant storage.

One of the latest trends in community development is the farm—an integrated space for the production of organic food. I don’t think this is a brand-new idea, but it’s certainly one that has enjoyed renewed popularity ever since the baby boomers starting retiring or, if you will, reinventing themselves. The sustainability movement and the emphasis on organic, locally grown food play right into this trend.

A number of homebuilders in the Washington, D.C., area have stopped using the term “master” to describe the largest bedroom in the house. According to an article in the Baltimore Business Journal, Winchester Homes, Pulte Homes, NV Homes, Ryan Homes, Van Metre Cos. and D.R. Horton have all replaced “master” in their floor plans with such terms as “owner’s suite” or “owner’s bedroom.”

In an earlier blog post, I talked about being inspired by the home improvement shows on HGTV. But I know at least one builder who gets design ideas from other types of television programs, such as dramas and reality shows.  

Art and architecture lovers, rejoice: Tour season is about to begin at architect Philip Johnson’s Glass House campus in New Canaan, Conn. From May to November, the public is invited to view 14 Johnson-designed structures and a variety of paintings and sculpture on the 49-acre campus.

Active-adult communities sure have come a long way. We all know that the massive numbers of baby boomers hitting retirement age want to remain active in their golden years, and they’re very demanding about home and community design. But some of the newer projects coming online are over the top. Think four-star-quality cuisine and state-of-the-art gyms with personal trainers and Zumba classes.

Seattle architect Ross Chapin has been designing and writing about small homes for 30 years. Examples of Chapin’s work can be found in various parts of the country. Some of his techniques for maximizing space will be featured in the May issue of Professional Builder, but Chapin has many more ideas than I could fit in a single article.

Here are a few good ones:

There’s an interesting article in the March 25 issue of Time magazine called “10 Big Ideas” (read the digital version here). Some of the ideas are fanciful, but idea #2 resonated with me: Shrink your living space.


October 2016

This Month in Professional Builder


The Home Builders Institute is dedicated to providing a path to employment for those who need one—and it’s helping alleviate the labor shortage in the process

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