The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) took a stab at envisioning
the home of the future at its recently concluded annual convention
in Orlando, Florida.
NAHB noted that the norm
in new housing has evolved in the last five decades from a small one-story bungalow
of about 1,000 square feet with two bedrooms, and one bath to homes that tend
toward two stories, 2,400 square feet, three bedrooms and a minimum of two baths.
Not only has size and configuration changed, but "new homes
have evolved to levels of comfort and sophistication that were virtually unimaginable
even a generation ago."
NAHB's crystal ball looked only a few years into the future, to what
a house will likely look like and live like in 2015. Information was based on
a poll conducted last year by NAHB'S Economics Group that sought responses
from architects, designers, marketers, and manufacturers who were asked to identify
what they thought would be in an "average" home and an "upscale"
Changes will come much faster over the next decade than they
have in the past, not a surprising conclusion given what technology is doing
in all aspects of our life. Homes will be "greener"
than today and there will be increasing emphasis on access for persons of limited
physical ability, a trend that has already started as the population ages. Not
a lot of the changes forecast by the study, however, are particularly startling
While, as noted above, houses have greatly increased in size since the immediate
post-war years, the NAHB study does not expect this trend to continue. The average
home in 2015 is likely to be in the same 2,400 sf. range that is found in today's
new homes and are increasingly likely to be two stories (a green feature which
minimizes footprint). What will grow, however, are garages as more and more
homebuyers opt for three-car garages and for larger doors admit SUVs. So much
for green! Consumers are currently turning toward use of recessed lighting in
homes of all price ranges and wood floors are also in demand.
On a macro level, neighborhoods or communities will have more open space with
walking and jogging trails and will be closer to public transportation facilities.
Here is a thumbnail sketch from the NAHB of first the average home and then
the upscale home of 2015.
The average home will have 2,330 square feet on two floors
and contain 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 bathrooms and four bedrooms. The family room will
replace the living room which will either vanish or become a library, "retreat,"
The average home will not have the high vaulted ceiling found in so much construction
today. Foyers will be one story as will family rooms but ceilings throughout
the first floor will be nine-feet high with the second floor being eight to
nine feet. The staircase to the second floor will rise from the foyer, there
will be a front porch and a patio, and the exterior of the house will be vinyl
or fiber cement siding or brick. (The study did not indicate whether any of
these predictions but particularly the last one was regionally influenced.)
Tech features in the house will include a fiber optic network,
programmable thermostat, structured wiring system, and a multi-line phone system.
The master bath will have a tub and a separate shower stall and the toilet will
have a separate enclosure.
The upscale home will average more than 4,000 sq. feet over two stories with
the 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 bathrooms and at least four bedrooms. The vanishing living
room will not be quite as universal but many homes in the higher priced category
will opt for a smaller parlor, formal retreat, or library. Vaulted ceilings
will be popular in foyers and family rooms and, surprisingly ceilings on the
second floor will average nine to ten feet in height but only nine on the first
The exterior of the house will be of stone, brick, stucco,
or fiber cement siding and "stairs (will be) in the back or side of the house."
We assume that these are secondary or back stairs as a two story foyer begs
for a staircase of its own. The house will also have two master suites and again
we will second guess that one of these will be on the first floor and used initially
as in-law or nanny quarters and then for aging homeowners who wish to remain
in their homes.
With all of that space inside, the upscale homeowner of 2015 will apparently
expect to spend a lot of time outside. The home of the future will have not
only a front porch and patio but also a rear porch and deck. There will also
be an outdoor kitchen
with grill, sink, refrigerator, and cooking island, and an outdoor fireplace
and a pool or spa. All of this will be serviced with appropriate lighting and
audio and television equipment.
High tech amenities will include all of those in the average
house plus multi-zone HVAC, remote control fireplaces, instant hot water in
bathrooms and kitchens, lighting control systems and monitored burglar/fire/toxic
gas alarm systems.
2015 is, of course, now less than a decade away and most of the predictions
in the NAHB study are relatively modest in scope. Still it will be interesting
to keep an eye on the building industry from the perspective of the study. It
will be especially interesting to see if the trend toward bigger and bigger
houses actually comes to a halt.