Senior Editor

Susan Bady has been writing about the housing industry for 30 years. She is senior editor of Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines, and produces the Design Innovation e-newsletter. Bady has also written for such consumer magazines as Cabin Life and Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas. You can reach her at sbady@sgcmail.com

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An article that was published in The Atlantic a couple of weeks ago got me thinking about McMansions, which were ubiquitous during the housing bubble. Big and bland, the McMansion became synonymous with middle-class excess, argues author Jordan Weissmann. After the housing-market crash, people came to their senses and home sizes shrank somewhat.

I recently read an article written by Bill Lurz, a former colleague at Professional Builder. Bill is now editor-in-chief of AvidBuilder.com. If you’re acquainted with Bill or have read his articles, you know how deep his knowledge of this industry runs.

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.

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May 2017

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