First-time buyers are a varied lot. Here’s how to deliver to this diverse pool
The startling fact that a growing percentage of the population simply cannot afford a new home should encourage us to find solutions for economical starter homes. The American Dream of owning a home has been derailed by several factors, including rising land and construction costs. Also, many first-time buyers have very high (and perhaps unrealistic) expectations. They want the same amenities and materials they enjoyed in their Baby Boomer parents’ home or their luxury apartment.
Just as all other market segments have become diversified, so have first-time buyers. Some are single and seeking locations close to work and recreation, while others focus on local schools and child-friendly neighborhoods. Although the following design concepts offer a variety of ideas, they all share basic components: living and dining areas that flow into each other, outdoor spaces that enhance the indoor square footage, and open floor plans with particular attention to maximizing spaces on a visual level. Providing affordable and functional starter homes might be the greatest challenge our industry now faces. These ideas can help. As always, we welcome any comments or suggestions.
TK Design & Associates' Starter Home
EDI International's Starter Home
One of several designs created for a new neighborhood of homes ranging from 1,400 to 1,800 square feet, this four-bedroom plan features an open living and dining area with a spacious front porch and a private side yard. Targeting the first-time buyer, the homes all feature rear-lane auto access and fenced side yards. The front porches of each home face small yards and a pedestrian-friendly network of sidewalks and walking trails.
Starter homes are an interesting compromise. Cost is the main concern, but which features are too important to be omitted during value engineering? In this plan, curb appeal, openness, and flow are key features that differentiate this home from the typical starter model. To play up curb appeal, the garage is set behind the study/flex room. Moving the front entry to the side of the home allows for a room to be forward of the garage. The foyer is modest, which provides extra square footage in the kitchen and dining and family rooms. Typically, a starter home is completely flat across the back, but breaking up the rear plane of the home improves flow and increases the sense of space on the main areas of the first floor. Detailing on the front elevation creates character and charm, while the remaining roof and massing are fairly simple, as well as cost-effective to build.
The Evans Group's Starter Home