Home exterior research: Fiber cement, brick, wood dominate market

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Tried-and-true materials continue to dominate the home exteriors market, but veneer products are gaining in popularity, according to a survey of Professional Builder readers.

home exterior, fiber cement, residential design, home design

Tried-and-true materials continue to dominate the home exteriors market, but veneer products are gaining in popularity, accordin

January 03, 2012

When it comes to specifying materials for the exterior of their new homes, most builders rely on time-tested products — fiber cement, brick, wood, and stone — but newer product additions like stone veneer and brick veneer are gaining in popularity, according to a May 2011 survey of Professional Builder readers.

Of the 268 builders that responded to our survey, a whopping 87.2 percent said they use fiber cement siding on at least some of their new homes, while 13.3 percent use it on all the homes they build. Nearly three quarters of respondents said they use wood, brick, or stone on at least some of their homes, while about 16 percent use brick on all the homes they build — the highest among all material choices (Table 1).

Stone veneer continues to grow in popularity as builders and buyers look to spice up their elevations without dramatically impacting overall cost. More than 82 percent of builders said they are using stone veneer on at least some of their projects. Brick veneer is also quite popular, with nearly a quarter of respondents using it on selected projects.

“There’s no doubt that exteriors help sell homes,” said one respondent who recently added stone veneer and enhanced trim packages to his exterior offering. Another builder said: “Both buyers and developers have higher expectations for quality of exterior designs today, therefore, our price point in that area has trended higher.”

Increased expectations for great exterior design, combined with the rising cost of materials, means that some builders are dedicating a larger portion of their overall budget to the exterior package than in years past. In fact, more than a quarter of builders (26.6 percent) said they are investing more on exterior design and material today versus two years ago, while only 12 percent said they are spending less. For most builders, the home exterior (including labor and material) represents anywhere from 10 percent to 39 percent of the total cost of a new home, but the largest group of respondents falls into the 20-29 percent range (Chart 1).

With regard to selling home exterior upgrades, it’s no surprise that windows are the biggest seller. Slightly more than half of respondents said they have had the most success selling window upgrades, followed by siding material (42.5 percent), elevation design changes (40.5 percent), and front door style (36.7 percent) (Table 3). These popular enhancements represent what buyers want most in a home exterior — great curb appeal, low maintenance, and energy efficiency. More than two-thirds of respondents said great design/curb appeal is an important issue among their buyers, while more than half said maintenance, energy efficiency, and weather-tight construction are key factors (Table 4). 


 

TOP SIDING & EXTERIOR MATERIALS

Table 1. What types of siding/exterior materials do you specify for your new homes?

            All homes            Most            Some            None

  • Brick            15.7%            21.1%            37.4%            25.9%
  • Stone            13.6%            13.0%            45.1%            28.4%
  • Fiber cement            13.3%            27.6%            46.3%            12.8%           
  • Wood            13.0%            14.3%            47.2%            25.5%
  • Concrete/concrete block            10.0%            12.7%            24.0%            53.3%
  • Stone veneer            9.8%            23.0%            49.4%            17.8%
  • Vinyl siding            9.7%            22.2%            32.4%            35.8%           
  • Brick veneer            9.3%            17.4%            45.3%            28.0%
  • Stucco/EIFS            9.3%            22.0%            38.5%            30.2%
  • Composite shake/single            2.9%            8.0%            42.8%            46.4%
  • Aluminum/metal siding            2.3%            4.5%            20.3%            72.9%           
  • Insulated vinyl siding            2.3%            4.5%            21.8%            71.4%
  • Composite siding            1.0%            7.5%            41.0%            50.8%

Base: 270; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

TOP ROOFING MATERIALS

Table 2. What types of roofing material do you specify for your homes?

            All homes            Most            Some            None

  • Asphalt shingle            37.9%            43.3%            15.8%            2.9%
  • Metal            3.7%            5.5%            68.3%            22.6%
  • Synthetic            2.5%            1.0%            28.8%            67.8%
  • Wood shake/shingle            1.0%            4.1%            26.4%            68.6%
  • Concrete/clay tile            8.1%            10.7%            36.2%            44.0%           
  • Slate            1.6%            1.6%            28.8%            68.0%

Base: 270; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

SELLING UPGRADES

Table 3. In which areas have you had the most success selling home exterior upgrades?

  • Windows            51.0%           
  • Siding material (brick, stone, siding, stone veneer, etc.)            42.5%           
  • Elevation change/design upgrade            40.5%           
  • Front door            36.7%           
  • Enhanced insulation/air-sealing package            23.9%
  • Roofing material            22.0%           
  • Landscaping            21.6%           
  • Garage door            18.9%           
  • Trim/molding            13.5%           
  • Porch/railing             10.4%           
  • Gutters            6.2%           
  • Security/locks            4.0%           
  • Leaf protection/gutter guard            4.0%           
  • Other            6.2%           

Base: 259; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

BUYER CONCERNS

Table 4. What are the most important issues among your buyers with regard to the home exterior?

  • Great design/curb appeal            66.8%           
  • Low-maintenance            56.8%           
  • Energy efficiency/ongoing cost savings            51.7%
  • Weather-tight construction            50.6%           
  • Lowest possible cost            23.9%           
  • Porch space/outdoor living            18.5%
  • Expansive windows for daylighting/views            17.4%           
  • Architectural accuracy            14.3%           
  • Long-term warranty            10.0%           
  • Color selection            9.0%           
  • Other            2.0%           

Base: 259; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

MONEY ALLOCATED TO HOME EXTERIOR

Chart 1. What percent of the total cost of your new homes that is spent on the home exterior, including labor and material?

  • Less than 10%            3.4%           
  • 10-19%            29.1%           
  • 20-29%            36.1%           
  • 30-39%            23.3%           
  • 40-49%            5.8%           
  • 50-59%            1.9%           
  • More than 59%            0.4%           

Base: 258; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

In general, has the amount your company invests in exterior design/materials changed in the past 24 months?

  • No            60.65%           
  • Yes, we’re spending more today            27.08%           
  • Yes, we’re spending less today            12.27%           

Base: 277; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

Do you currently use multiple exterior cladding materials on individual homes (e.g., a mix of materials like stone veneer, vinyl siding, etc.)?

  • Yes            83.21%           
  • No            16.79%           

Base: 274; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

Compared with two years ago, when it comes to selling new homes, how much more or less important is offering elevation designs that incorporate multiple exterior materials?

  • It’s more important today            44.93%           
  • It’s less important today            8.70%           
  • No change            46.38%

Base: 276; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

Do you use architectural/design services?

  • Yes, we buy architectural services?            43.93%           
  • Yes, we have an architect(s) on staff            24.29%           
  • Yes, all of the above            11.43%           
  • No            20.36%           

Base: 280; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

How important a consideration is architectural accuracy when it comes to specifying window style for your new homes?

  • Extremely important            42.39%           
  • Somewhat important             35.51%           
  • Neither important nor unimportant            18.12%           
  • Somewhat unimportant            3.26%           
  • Extremely unimportant            0.72%           

Base: 276; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

When trying to achieve architectural accuracy on your home exteriors, which window features/considerations are absolutely critical? Please check your top two considerations.

  • Window style/profile            36.38%           
  • Placement/location of windows            27.78%
  • Brand/manufacturer            13.08%           
  • Frame material            8.06%
  • Window color            6.81%           
  • Number of windows in the elevations            6.45%           
  • Other            1.43%           

Base: 276; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

Please indicate your company’s primary business.

  • Custom home builder            31.91%           
  • Diversified builder/remodeler            23.05%
  • Production move-up buyer            10.99%           
  • Architect engaged in home building            10.64%
  • Manufactured, modular, log home, or systems builder            4.96%           
  • Multi-family builder            3.55%           
  • Luxury production            2.84%           
  • Production first-time buyer            2.48%
  • Other            9.57%           

Base: 282; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

In which of the following regions does your company build homes? Check all that apply.

  • New England (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)            6.78%           
  • Middle Atlantic (NJ, NY, PA)            11.30%           
  • East North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI)            14.12%           
  • West North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, NB, ND, SD)            8.47%           
  • South Atlantic (DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV)            20.06%           
  • East South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN)            4.80%           
  • West South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX)            10.17%           
  • Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY)            9.32%           
  • Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA)            14.97%           

Base: 282; Professional Builder, May 2011

 

How many homes did your company build in 2010?

  • 1-5 homes            63.70%           
  • 5-10 homes            12.22%           
  • 10-15 homes            2.96%           
  • 15-25 homes            3.70%           
  • 25-50 homes            3.33%           
  • More than 50 homes            14.07%           

Base: 277; Professional Builder, May 2011

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