Specialty Rooms in Homes Move From Luxury to Practicality and Outdoor Living

Energy-efficient products and systems remain popular despite economic concerns

Contact: Matt Tinder


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Washington, D.C. – September 15, 2010 – The troubled housing market has homeowners concerned about affordability with an increasing preference for functionality over extravagance in special function rooms and home features. There also continues to be a strong willingness to invest in energy efficient products and systems to help reduce utility costs. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the second quarter of 2010 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and function rooms in the home.

“As the overall economy has slowed in recent years home offices have become the new home theaters,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Homeowners are placing a far greater priority on specialty rooms that get the most use, as well as incorporating outdoor living elements within their lifestyles.”

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AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights 2010 2009 Outside living rooms 41% n/a Home offices 34% 43% Mud rooms 17% 25% Au pair / in-law suites 2% 7% Hobby / game rooms -9% 9% Home theaters -38% -19%
(% respond. report. popularity of room “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Products 2010 2009 Energy-efficient 77% 80% Low maintenance 68% 72% Tank-less water heaters 68% 70% Water saving 57% 62% Synthetic materials 55% 59% Recycled materials 47% 47%

(% respond. report. popularity of products “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Systems / technologies 2010 2009 Energy management 50% 40% Solar panels 49% 55% Geothermal heating/cooling 47% 46% Wireless 42% 46% Back-up power generation 34% n/a Water reclamation 33% 31%

Baker added, “High levels of adoption for certain products and systems have not yet taken off to a high degree, but residential architects are reporting that saturation rates are likely to rise substantially in the next few years as demand continues to rise and prices continue to fall.”

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Special home features 2010 2009 Alt. insulation (e.g. panels; foam) 67% 68% Extra insulation 65% 65% Ramps / elevators 33% 37% 1st floor master bedroom 44% 48% Easy-to-use features 32% 36%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2010)

Housing market business conditions

On the heels of recent quarters of business conditions pointing to a recovery in the housing market, there was a fall off in billings at residential architecture firms in the second quarter of 2010. The national billings index was 41, following a two-year high of 50 during last quarter. Inquiries for new projects also fell sharply from 62 to 41.

“This decrease was triggered by a general back tracking in the overall economy, but was also exacerbated by the home buyer tax credit that expired at the end of April,” Baker noted.

Specific construction segments 2010 2009 Kitchen / bath remodeling: 29% 25% Additions / alterations: 22% 26% First-time buyer / affordable home market: -24% -13% Move-up home market: -32% -35% Custom / luxury home market: -39% -45% Townhouse / condo market: -51% -49% Second home: -62% -70%

(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q2)


About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey

The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace. Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will focus on community design trends (December 2010), and kitchen and bath trends (February 2011).

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit www.aia.org.

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