House Review: For First-Timers and Downsizers

These two buyer groups are in different life stages, but their design preferences often coincide

By By Larry W. Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer | March 6, 2018
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Rear elevation of Robert Hidey Architects' Verano Plan 2 (Photo: Mark Boisclar/courtesy Pardee Homes)

Millennial first-time buyers and downsizing Baby Boomers actually have a lot in common when selecting their new home. Sure, a Baby Boomer probably won’t post an Instagram photo of themselves in their new kitchen; that’s a Millennial thing. But both are often looking for an open-concept design, similar square footage, low maintenance, and, yes, high-quality finishes. Flexible spaces are also high on their lists. The same room that transitions into a nursery for a Millennial can become a hobby room or a grandkid’s space for a Boomer. Indoor/outdoor areas for entertaining are a priority for both, as are spacious kitchens and luxurious master suites. Finally, value is of the utmost importance as first-timers struggle to qualify for a mortgage and downsizers desire to spend their money in other ways, such as traveling. The following pages present a variety of solutions suitable for buyers looking to reduce their living space as well as those taking their first steps into homeownership.

 

LWG-1937

DESIGNER: Larry Garnett Designs, larrygarnett@larrygarnettdesigns.com, 254.205.2597

PLAN SIZE: Width: 48 feet, 6 inches; depth: 74 feet, 4 inches; living area: 1,937 sf

Whether homebuyers are looking for value in their first home or attempting to downsize from their current residence, this design responds with a flexible open concept. The office, defined by exposed interior brick, provides space to work at home, and a secluded master suite offers plenty of privacy and a luxurious bath. An optional door opening from the bath into the laundry provides convenient access for the downsizer or a quick path to the children’s rooms for a first-time owner. A desk in the resource center adjacent to the kitchen serves as a command center for household management. 

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Front elevation

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Rear elevation

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Berryessa II

ARCHITECT: Richard Handlen, AIA, LEED AP

EDI International, richard.handlen@edi-international.com, 415.362.2880

PLAN SIZE: Width: 45 feet; depth: 60 feet; living area: 2,100 sf

Whether it’s room for holding onto memories or room to make more memories, the needs of move-down and first-time buyers have a lot in common. Empty nesters need to house items accumulated over the years; young buyers are looking for space to grow their families. They both must consider cost but also want something with impact that they can be proud of. This plan fills out the buildable footprint with no extra room for a true porch. To compensate, there’s the option of extending the slab and adding a short wall, creating a patio without going beyond the front yard setback or incurring the cost of a roof porch. This house is oriented north-south, which provides plenty of south-facing roof for solar collectors and northern light for the clerestory windows. 

 

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House Review_EDI Intl_front elevation

 

 

Verano Plan 2

ARCHITECT: Robert Hidey Architects, ahidey@roberthidey.com, 949.655.1550

PLAN SIZE: Width: 49 feet, 9 inches; depth: 50 feet, 6 inches; living area: 1,670 sf

Designed to attract 55+ buyers wishing to downsize, this plan surpasses the needs of those seeking a low-maintenance, cost-effective, and compact home with single-story living. (For more square footage, three second-floor “lofts” are available, offering additional guest suites, bonus spaces, and unfinished attics depending on layout choice.) An open, airy great room, together with building design efficiencies such as abundant storage and a second bedroom that can easily flex, makes these snug homes, built at 7.1 ac/du, live larger. Amenities are in abundance and provide residents with lots of ways to stay physically active and involved with others: a resort-style pool, spa, fitness center, and bocce ball courts, as well as a community garden, meeting rooms, Wi-Fi
stations, a social bar, and private wine lockers. 

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House Review_Robert Hidey_Verano Plan 2_elevationPhoto: Mark Boisclar/Courtesy Pardee Homes

 

Lean Design

ARCHITECT: Todd Hallett, AIA , TK Design & Associates, thallett@tkhomedesign.com, 248.446.1960

PLAN SIZE: Width: 40 feet; depth: 53 feet; living area: 1,823 sf

The key to capturing market share for first-timers and downsizers is to create affordable homes that will still wow them. This is a perfect situation for implementing Lean Design, which allows builders to provide extras and upgrades to buyers without the burden of additional cost. The focus is on eliminating design waste. The structure should be easy to build and efficient. The design must be an exciting open plan with a strong exterior aesthetic. This Lean Design plan was specifically created for affordability.

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Duplex Clubhome

ARCHITECT: Donald F. Evans, AIA, The Evans Group, devans@theevansgroup.com, 407.650.8770

PLAN SIZE: Width: 30 feet; depth: 80 feet; living area: 1,744 sf

Efficient is never a term we use in sales, but this home is the very definition of efficient. None of today’s hot buttons have been overlooked; rooms are nicely sized, and there is no wasted space. The home opens into an open floor plan with the living room, dining room, and gourmet island kitchen all offering views to the private, screened lanai. The plan has a clear division between public and private spaces, with the private space down the gallery from the foyer.

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