Universal design gets some traction as open floor plans, dual vanities, kitchen islands, and walk-in closets continue to be the most desired new-home amenities
Toilets with touchless controls and dual flush systems didn’t make the top 10 list of bath amenities (17th and 26th places, respectively) that builders and architects are delivering to their clients. The sleek-looking wall-hung commode, probably too new to catch the eye of buyers just yet, was almost dead last. But don’t say new products and concepts, although slow to be adopted, will never catch on.
Not long ago, universal design was a white paper topic, but judging from respondents’ comments to Professional Builder’s Design Innovation survey, it is very much top of mind for builders. Representative of many respondents, a Florida builder wrote that his Baby Boomer clients are designing to have aging parents live with them but don’t want their house to look like a nursing home. So he’s installing decorative grab bars that hide universal design much “like a mom hid vegetables in pasta sauce” so the kids wouldn’t know. Enlarging doorways, installing curbless showers, and designing larger and more open kitchens were all frequently mentioned in comments, as was installing more smart appliances and home-automation systems. A California builder wrote that he will build more garages with charging stations, as he sees increased demand for electric cars in his market.
Among the conventional changes that builders shared, an Indiana builder intends to offer granite counters as standard since it’s the one option that all buyer groups, with the exception of seniors, will pay for. A North Carolina builder wants to open a design boutique with one-stop shopping for his clients who increasingly are asking for more modern styles and finishes. Others are expanding their selection of tile and flooring—one mentioned that his company is adding faux wood tile that is priced comparably to laminate flooring. See the charts that follow for more results from the Design Innovation survey.
Methodology & Respondent Information
This survey was distributed between March 2 and March 19, 2015, to a random sample of Professional Builder’s print and digital readers. No incentive was offered. By closing date, a total of 192 eligible readers had returned the survey. Respondent breakdown by discipline: 29 percent custom home builder; 22.8 percent diversified builder/remodeler; 20.7 percent architect/designer engaged in home building; 10.9 percent production builder for move-up/move-down buyers; 3.1 percent manufactured, modular, log home, or systems builder; 3.1 percent luxury production builder; 2.6 percent multifamily; 2.6 percent production builder for first-time buyers; and 5.1 percent other. Approximately 50.5 percent of respondents sold one to five homes in 2014, and 14.7 percent sold more than 50 homes.