renters

How will our homes change in the next 5-10 years?

We are in the middle of a lot of movements changing the way we live and the homes we live in. From the green movement to spending less because of economical hardships, the way we live now is very different than the past.

Similarly, how we live in the future will be different than how we live now. Thus, we want to know how our homes will change in the next 5-10 years. What do we have to look forward to?

Why We’re Asking:

In our 2nd question, we asked our experts what the 2011 home improvement trends would be. They made a lot of predictions, but what really left an impression on us was the advice they gave about trends: proceed with caution. Trends are called that for a reason, they come and go. Our experts recommended that we only adopt trends that are easy to replace.

Our experts helped us realize the difference between trends and movements. Movements are more permanent, sparked by a set of ideas shared by a large group of people. As movements progress, they either become permanent changes or lead to a new way of thinking, or new movements. We are currently in a green movement that looks like it is here to stay. It got us thinking: are there other movements on the way? How will our homes change in the next decade? Is there anything we should be preparing for now?

So experts, it’s time to weigh in:

How will our homes change in the next 5-10 years?

We’re not talking about trends here! We want to know what changes you think will happen in the next 5-10 years that are here to stay, either permanently or as part of a movement (cultural, economic, etc.). Think about areas like layout, building practices/techniques, materials, the professional/homeowner relationship, technological developments, and resale value.

Are there any home features that will be considered standard?
Where will our money go—any spending habits you envision forming?
Is there anything we should be preparing for now?

No matter the area, we want to know how you think our homes will change in the next 5-10 years!

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!



  • Kevin Costenaro, Manager of The Augusta Group Construction Management 04/29/11

    As I’m thinking about answers to this question, I find myself vacillating between what I’d personally like to see versus what I think might more realistically happen. As someone who manages a company responsible for constructing only higher-end custom homes, and from a purely idealistic point of view, I’d love to see ugly automobile-centric suburban tract housing & McMansions eliminated forever, only to be replaced with inspired, creative & interesting designs as the norm. Of course this is just a pipe dream and not likely to happen…but we can dream can’t we? A little more realistically, I like to envision every home powered by the sun, heated by geothermal sources and be constructed for top-notch energy efficiency and done so only with sustainable materials. I get the sense that most in the industry and elsewhere believe these things will become the norm. But will they really? My gut says that perhaps…but only to a small degree and not as widespread as we all hope. Here in the Denver area, just the recent threat of subsidy (rebate) reduction from Xcel Energy was enough to significantly impact interest in solar PV & geothermal from several of our clients. What can we expect if/when these rebates/subsidies are eventually eliminated for good?

    So what sort of changes would I realistically expect to see in the future? I believe that what “green” we see on a macro scale will primarily be attributable to those imposed by government regulations; of course, I expect that smaller more conscious builders will likely continue to take things beyond any minimal requirements. Already, there are laws on the books requiring the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs in favor of LED. And most building departments here in Colorado are already requiring new homes to meet certain efficiency requirements by looking at the home’s entire envelope taking into account insulation, quantity and size of windows, etc. I suspect these sorts of things to increase incrementally over time. Before long, using more efficient insulation and better windows will be the norm. So to a certain extent, I think we can expect homes to trend slowly towards better efficiency in the future.

    We’re already seeing our clients look at their homes as permanent, as opposed to the last decade where everyone only thought of resale. I believe another blogger already noted this and I think he hit the nail on the head. Further, I would expect that wireless technology for all home electronics – sound, security, communication – will quickly replace hard wired systems common to most homes. From a design perspective, I see a continuation of the trend towards eliminating formal “entertaining” rooms; formal dining rooms and sitting rooms, etc.

  • Merrideth Kalil @ Seltzer Studios 04/29/11

    I think we’re going to see a lot of changes in the suburban landscape over the next decade. Technology is giving many people the freedom to work from home. And with the cost of gas continually rising and commutes becoming longer and more congested, the suburbs are now becoming their own mini cities. People looking for the conveniences of urban living will no longer have to live in the city to find it. As the suburban populations grows we’re going to see the size of new houses getting smaller. Along with the furnishings within them. Compact, multifunctional appliances, furniture design that’s more streamlined or that can be flexible in its arrangement. And living spaces that are more communal. For example, traveling in Europe and abroad many Americans are struck by how compact but efficient the bathrooms are in hotels. I think we’ll soon be borrowing a few of their tricks to maximize the space in our own homes.

  • Reggie Marston @ The House PI 04/29/11

    Housing will have to change dramatically in the future or costs are going to make it difficult for the American dream of home ownership. Energy costs are skyrocketing so it can not be,”business as usual.”

    Whether it’s gasoline, electric, natural gas, propane or whatever type of vehicles are used, their going to be increasingly expensive to operate. The urban spread of the past 60 years is going to come to an end. People are not going to be able to afford commutes of 30, 40, 50 miles or more to work.

    I see housing centers being developed close to work centers. Where minimal to zero commutes to work will be the trend and public transportation will be required. Large metropolitian areas are already attempting to control and restict traffic through the use of taxes, enforcement or limiting parking areas.

    Land is at a premium so the only way to go is up, so I envision more cubicle style apartment living similar to Japan. Where land is available there will be smaller more efficient homes. The days of the large McMansions is going the way of the dinosaurs.

    My parents in the early 1950’s puchased their home for five thousand dollars, when I started building homes in the 1970’s they started under twenty thousand dollars, now in the metro Washington, DC area you would be hard pressed to find a brand new one bedroom condo under two hundred thousand and a single family under three hundred thousand. As this trend in housing prices continues to escalate it continually keeps the dream of home ownership out of the reach of this and future generations.

    Homes of the future starting now will focus on less is more. They will be smaller because families will be smaller, more energy efficent because the trend will be to keep homes off “the grid.” Homes will be powered by photovoltaic panels on the roof with batteries capable of powering the home during periods of minimal sunlight, heat for the house and water will come from geothermal sources. In the next five to ten years we will see more homes heated with geo-thermal systems and builders will start offering more photovoltaic systems with there homes.

  • Mary Kennedy Thompson @ Mr. Rooter Plumbing 04/29/11

    According to the EPA, at least 36 states are expecting a water shortage within the next five years. Going green is not a trend. The green movement has created a frenzy of innovative and effective plumbing solutions to safeguard the environment by properly managing, reusing and conserving water.

    The way water is used on a daily basis has a huge impact on both the environment and our wallets. In the next five years, we’ll see a noticeable downsizing of homes to control costs. This will also allow builders to increase environmental awareness by including money saving, environmentally friendly features.

    In plumbing, you’ll see an increase in hybrid water heaters, mandatory high efficiency toilets and reduced flow faucets and tub/shower valves. Solar panels and systems will also be built into many homes.

    Gray water reclamation, which is recycling water from baths, showers, and washing machines for landscape irrigation, will become mandatory for new homes being built. Residential drainage systems are being designed to capture the gray water, and it will become a standard feature, as legislation continues to pass. This will reduce water consumption by up to 40% for each household.

    It is important for homeowners to make changes now in preparation for government imposed conservation. A good place to start is changing our habits when we brush our teeth, take a shower, wash dishes and do laundry. By doing this, a homeowner can save hundreds of gallons of water daily.

  • Charlene Storozuk @ Dezigner Digz 04/29/11

    “Living green”, from a design point of view, still has somewhat of a buzz word dynamic to it. However, it’s definitely here to stay and not just a trend. I think it will evolve exponentially over time providing us with more design options than what are currently available. We’ll see a greater selection of furnishings and flooring alternatives for starters. As well, recycled materials and vintage items will remain in high demand and be used to create sought after decor “treasures” for the home.

    As far as building practices, with the demographic moving to an aging population, floorplans will change to make accessibility easier. I see that shift now in new builds that I visit. Many now have the master bedroom located on the main floor, leaving the upper level for guest bedrooms. Another design plan I envision staying around for a long time is showers with built-in seating areas; again to accommodate the homeowner as he or she becomes older.

  • Patricia Davis Brown, ASID, CKD, CBD @ Dig This Design 04/29/11

    The internet has effected how we live, work and play. Everything is now at our fingertips with the push of a key. We can literally operate our business and our home just from our phone. For many of us our home has become a much more efficient place to conduct business. We save time and money by eliminating a daily commute to the office. Corporate has certainly seen better productivity by allowing their employees to work from home. Because of the changes in technology, I see smart homes with home offices being the new trend in home design. Designing homes with remote access is essential and key to this concept. I would never think of designing a home today without incorporating an office equipped with the latest in smart home technology.

  • Katie Miller @ Roomations 04/29/11

    I appreciate all the wonderful insight about the aging generation. However, it’s also important to note the cultural shifts in the younger generation. In this generation, as more and more young adults are choosing to start families at a later age, we’re already seeing a shift in the way they live their lives, which will only be enhanced in the next 5-10 years. Marriage and parenthood are no longer as important to defining adulthood. More young adults are financially and economically independent and seeking ways to define their lifestyle. From a design perspective, they no longer want to live with hand-me-down mismatched furniture because they’ll only have it for a little while and instead really want to define their space, make it look sophisticated, and unique to their own style. They plan to live in their own spaces much longer than generations in the past did. They’re also seeking conveniences for their busy lifestyles. I think we’ll see a shift in more communities being formed for the young adult groups – areas where restaurants, bars, shopping and living are all in one place, convenient for independent young adults. We’ll also see more use of technology in the home as the younger generation always wants to be “connected.” We should prepare for this shift in culture by making access to contractors and design advice convenient and attractive for this growing group.

  • Jason Todd @ GreenHomes America 04/29/11

    If we ask the question what will the price of heating oil or natural gas be in the next 5 or 10 years or electricity if we start using more electric cars, we get a sense of what we need Design and Construction in our homes to be. If we don’t change how we look at what is important in housing we may not be able to afford them for the long term.

    As a Home Performance contractor, we find the same problems in new homes you might expect to see only in older ones. Air leakage, lack of or poor insulation, comfort issues, inefficient heating systems with poor distribution are all common in the newest of construction.
    There has been change in design and construction towards efficiency, comfort and conscientious building. We are finally coming to a point where outside pressures such as limited building resources, illness indoor air quality issues, as well as the instability of the price of heating our homes may force us to reconsider what is important.

    I hope design and construction will take a turn for the better for our health, safety, comfort as well as our wallets when he heat and cool these homes, it needs to happen. Put the fancy counter-tops and other luxuries in later. What we need are homes with good insulation and air barriers, deal with moisture well, have efficient heating and cooling equipment sized to accommodate the reduced demand because of an exceptional building envelope. This is our goal when we fix existing homes and can really only be achieved when we take a house as a system approach to building.

    I do not wish for the construction of homes to continue in the ‘just adequate’ fashion that potentially creates un-healthy and inefficient buildings. Building to code is the bare minimum standard. It might be seen as good for business for GreenHomes America to carry on in the usual fashion since each home built this way is one that we could fix in the next 5 to 10 years, but the fact is there is plenty of work already for many years to come. The future holds comfort, health and safety wrapped up in efficiency. Homes as they should be: a safe haven new or old.

  • Terry Peterman @ Electrical Online 04/28/11

    I believe that the most significant change you will see within the next 5 to 10 years in the design of our homes will be the incorporation of a layer of foil somewhere in the structure of the roof, and perhaps even in the construction of pergolas to cover us while we in our outdoor space. The purpose of the foil is so that we don’t have to wear foil hats while in our home living space, so aliens won’t be able to easily read our minds.

    I’m kidding of course (or am I?), but I take the discussion here to a bizarre new level as I believe that some of the suggestions from our experts are just a little utopian given the relatively short time frame of 5 or 10 years. Think about what has really changed in the last 5 or 10 years, and I think you will agree. Change, no matter how positive and desirable, takes time and those in the construction industry are notoriously slow to adapt.

    What I have seen from my own experience of purchasing a home for my retirement years, and from helping other friends and family in doing the same is that single level ranchers or bungalows are a must, and 2-story homes are not even given mild consideration. No steps and smaller homes are what I see on the search criteria, and along with that the open floor plan with less “living rooms” and a more common entertaining area focussed around the kitchen and outdoor living patio areas.

    Energy efficiency and green options and solutions will make it into the design and construction process, but only if pressed for by the consumer demanding these changes, putting pressure on legislators to implement these initiatives that are generally more expensive and less understood, and changing development guidelines and requirements.

    The technological changes that are here now, and more coming at an alarming rate, will work their way into the system by retrofitting existing infrastructure to accommodate the conveniences, and will get incorporated into design and pre-wiring of homes as they become commonplace.

    As cool and novel as some of the technological innovations are, such as adjusting sound levels of the entertainment system, and turning off, on, or adjusting the level of light in a room using a mobile device app., people are still quite comfortable with the old remote control, or using that switch on the wall as you enter and exit a room.

    5-10 years from now? Have you noticed just how quickly time goes by after we reach a certain age? Remember that 10-year old child you were just picking up at grade school the other day? He’s 20 now.

  • Greg Chick @ DIY Plumbing Advice 04/28/11

    I have been working with Emerging Code Development. In that arena we are preparing for Gray Water Reuse, Rain Water Collection, use and Storage, Geothermal and Solar as well as, Waste Heat Recovery on Laundry and shower Drains. This could put some Shower or Laundry up stairs or main floor over a Basement. Current Waste Heat Recovery needs vertical elevation. Downstairs utility Room might emerge. Building layout could change to allow for Water Heating to be close to hot Water Points of Use. (or put Water Heater(s) downstairs in Utility Room)

    If I were to make use of Emerging Technologies I would have a Utility Room! also Roll in Showers will be popular or those Deep Tubs that have a door to get in & out. both for the ADA issues less the “Stigma”. High Speed internet next to the Toilets will allow for Urine analysis when Toilet is used and Data logging for Health reasons. These Toilets exist now! At min. hot Water to Toilets for Bidet. Coffee Makers in Master Bath using quality water treatment at point of use.

  • Doug Drube @ Electrical FAQ 04/28/11

    Energy efficiency and conservation of resources is a trend that is only going to become stronger. From photovoltaic solar systems to smart meters and smarter appliances, our homes will begin to create less of a global footprint. Homes will be designed to use more natural light and LED lighting. Rain water retention and low flow everything are already on the rise. And with the new smart meters, your home will “know” the best times to run your appliances. Solar, stand alone panels or roof tiles, is already a hit and required in some new developments. I predict more great energy efficiency ideas just around the corner, preparing to be a part of everyday use over the next 5-10 years.

  • Peter L. Mosca 04/27/11

    The depletion of America’s resources, as a result of our collective energy negligence and consuming ignorance, will reach the ‘breaking point.’ The result will be a paradigm shift in our personal and professional lives, and the greatest effect on how our homes will change in the next 5-10 years. The mantra “location, location, location” will take on a whole new meaning as laws, regulations and policies mandating sustainability standards will affect different markets and submarkets across the country in varying ways. For example, water shortages in the West and South and Southeast, power grid failures in the Northeast, methane gas distension in the Midwest, and food shortages and rising prices nationwide will undoubtedly lead to rationing and a focus on improving and utilizing the natural environment around the home. Residential owners, architects, remodelers, and construction contractors (et al.) who offer proven energy and water saving technologies, sustainable construction units/additions and viable options for farming produce will thrive, while those who do not will be left behind and eventually lose their homes and their businesses. The good news is that commercial real estate, which typically leads the industry forward, has made substantial strides in the integration of sustainability and GREEN practices. Already, GREEN- and sustainability-focused commercial asset managers, corporate real estate directors and property managers are enhancing property performance, increasing cash flows, realizing health and productivity gains, gaining a recruiting and retention advantage, and improving risk reduction outcomes. One last note: Despite what you read, hear or see whether it is out of the mouths of the media, elected officials or a family member or neighbor, these changes, the GREENING of America and therefore the future of America, will NOT occur through market forces alone. It will be a combination of consumers, the market and the government working together to ensure our ability to maintain the lifestyles we are all accustomed to living. Your thoughts?

  • Elena Velkov @ Second Use Salvaged Materials 04/27/11

    I can’t help but wonder if more people will turn to salvaged products to build and improve their homes, rather than buying new ones, as time goes on. Take materials made from wood, for example. The Rainforest Action Network cites a 2005 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, saying forested area around the world was reduced by the size of Ireland each year! Between depleting resources, the cost of energy, growing landfills, and a person’s never-dying interest in saving a buck, I think salvage yards will only grow in popularity as time goes on.

  • Holly Meadows Baird @ Powell Design Studio 04/27/11

    Some of this is reiterating what others have said, but i wanted to post anyway.

    One of the biggest changes that we will see residentially in the next 5-10 years is the permanent implementation of accessible design. As the Baby Boomers age, the US is beginning to experience a “Senior Tsunami”, and the way we have designed homes in the past will not work for this aging generation. The independent Boomer generation wants and expects to “age in place”, and the only way they will be able to do that is with new construction or extensive remodeling to make their homes accessible. Accessible design is often called universal design because it literally benefits all users. It is a good decision for the aging, for the young, and for anyone with a disability. If you live long enough, you will develop a disability. It only takes an instant to turn an able-bodied person into someone with a disability. With Americans living longer, and a growing number of veterans returning home with injuries, design that assists a variety of disabilities needs to become standard. The changes that we will see will include wider hallways and doors, entrances on grade or ramps incorporated into the landscaping and facade, faucets and door handles become flat and easy to operate even with a closed fist. Stairs will be minimized in new construction, and chair lifts, stair lifts, and elevators will be retrofitted in existing homes. Bathroom lavatories and kitchen sinks will incorporate either break-front casework or be left open underneath with insulated pipes to allow a wheelchair to roll under. Bathroom walls will include blocking as a standard regardless of whether grab bars are being installed at that time. Walk in showers will grow in popularity, and roll in tubs will become more commonplace. Kitchen cabinets can be lowered throughout or be on adjustable mechanisms that allow them to be pulled down to the correct height. Furniture and appliances will continue focusing on ergonomics i.e. washers and dryers will be front loading, and oven doors will hinge from the side, and easy to use touch-screens will increase. A flashing light will be installed throughout the house to help alert a resident with a hearing impairment to the phone or doorbell ringing. Finishes like carpet will use shorter pile so that wheelchairs and walkers can roll easier. Colors preferences will change and become lighter as eyes age and require more light. Lastly, it is important to note that all of these changes can and will be made while still maintaining a beautiful, even high-end aesthetic. People do not have to compromise form for the function to make their home accessible.

  • Greg Klepper @ LED Illumination Inc. 04/27/11

    On January 4, 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (http://energy.senate.gov/public/_files/getdoc1.pdf, Section 321) which mandates phasing out incandescent light bulb use by 2012-2014 for energy conservation purposes.

    That means, starting next year, you will see more and more homes and businesses across the U.S. converting to LEDs (light emitting diodes) which are safer, cleaner and greener than the incandescent light bulb.

  • Bob Sisson @ Inspections by Bob 04/27/11

    Homes are getting more complex, tighter and more engineered.

    More complex is easy to understand, we are putting more gadgets and technology in the walls and we will need people to service them, and explain how they work.

    Tighter is related to insulated. Unfortunately modern houses don’t breath well. We started with leaky houses, got “too tight” and had sick-house syndrome, went back to moderately leaky, and are now headed back, cautiously to “tight” houses, but they must be maintained, tuned, cleaned and otherwise controlled.

    Modern houses are more engineered than ever. Not only do we have more gadgets in the walls, the walls have been engineered to behave a particular way, cost less, use less materials, and are easy to install. Unfortunately, the one thing not mentioned is longevity and proper installation. A simple example is the 2″x10″ board vs. the 10″ I-Joist. The board is extremely forgiving, and you can cut and drill almost anywhere and only reduce its strength a portion. Drill a hole or put a notch in an I-Joist and it loses ALL of its strength and can fail catastrohpically. Also, a 2×10 takes quite a while to burn through, while a I-Joist, made mostly of plywood, can burn through very quickly. The bottom line is that someone needs to make sure that modern materials are being installed correctly as the “tolerance” is much tighter than it was.

  • Scott Frankel @ Frankel Building Group 04/27/11

    The change is already occurring. There is going to be a larger demand for design build where there is no longer a separation between the designers and builders. The time when an architect or a building designer draw something out and then have builders bid on the design is going to be over. The designer and or architect have to be involved in the overall process. As opposed to everyone out for themselves, everyone is now involved in the project. It’s the most dramatic change.

    The houses have gotten so sophisticated and energy efficient. Features such as dual speed air conditioning units, high efficiency water heaters, and insulated attics are considered standard.

    Building standards and codes are getting more and more official and difficult. The number of people that just call themselves builders is going to be minimized. Your builder isn’t just a contractor with a pencil in his ear, he needs to be like your doctor or accountant, a professional. You are going to him for expertise so that you have a healthy, excellent home that is sustainable long term.

    • Nancy Keenholts Dalton @ Baywolf Dalton, Inc. 04/29/11

      Scott, you’re absolutely right. Everyone in the process benefits, the design/build firm and the client. Less confusion and terrific outcomes. I also see clients taking the process more seriously and being clear about their needs and budget right from the beginning.

  • Steve Robinson @ Axios Architecture 04/27/11

    The big change that is already underway is moving from a “resale” mentality to one “quality & lifestyle”. We have created our own plague of houses designed for resale, an unknown buyer that exists somewhere on a 3-8 year time horizon. In doing so, doing the house we really wanted got lost to a generic design paradigm of curb appeal and marketing features. A growing emphasis on “my” house is developing. “My” house will be 1) more tailored to how I live, 2) will be viewed as more of a lifestyle, rather than monetary, investment, 3) will include more emphasis on personal preference, and 4) will be built/renovated with a longer time horizon, say 5-20 years. This doesn’t mean homes will become odd or more expensive. To the contrary, I believe homeowners will discover that designs that resonate with their own heart will resonate with a future buyer…it just won’t be the generic, trendy, future buyer that has driven so much of design over the last many years. This shift is a very good thing because it will drive a much higher level of design going forward!

  • Lynn Schrage - The KOHLER Store 04/27/11

    The transformation of our homes will change dramatically in the next five and ten years.

    We may be building smaller more compact living environments, but they will be packed with punch. It is no surprise that technology is the leading factor in home automation. With IPhones and touch pads now common place, intuitive user interfaces and touch controls will be used to control HVAC systems, lighting, sound, video and security in our home environments. Enhanced safety features and controls for its occupants will be an important consideration as social media outlets continue to make us more exposed.

    The products that we choose will be more intuitive and use advanced technologies as well. Kohler’s Numi™ toilet, DTV Prompt™ digital showering system, and Crevasse® prep sink with Cynchronus™ rinsing technology are just a few of the newest products to offer more convenience for the user and enhanced functionality.

    The integration or repurposing of rooms has been evolving over the past ten years with the emergence of the great room, open kitchen floor plans, and more casual dining room environments. We will find more expansive outdoor spaces as an extension of our interior environments with movable wall panels. This will also allow for healthier homes with the ability to open up our home more frequently and air out the house. The need for tranquil, respite rooms will emerge to create a sense of escapism in our home environments from external influences.

    We will focus on making our homes healthier by choosing local building products such as cabinetry, paint, flooring and wall materials that do not off gas volatile compounds. Homes will use resources more effectively with the use of home automation systems. Water conservation will become increasingly more important and gray and rain water collection systems will be common place. We won’t have flat corn field developments, but planned communities where the placement of the home and use of natural vegetation for both shade and natural light are careful architectural considerations. We will also find the concept of pulse or dosing – products that sense and adapt to our needs instead of the one size fits all mentality.

    Enjoy the ride.

  • Barbara Tako/Clutter Clearing Choices, LLC 04/26/11

    As Boomers age, they will scale back, but, as with everything of their generation, they will do it uniquely and with their own style. Total square footage will decrease, but functionality will increase. Wireless, flat screen, and fewer spaces (but more open design) will characterize their homes. Function will rule form.
    Homes will be multipurpose–places to eat, sleep, work, entertain the grandchildren, and suit aging parents. Technology and function will rein. Of course, I would like to see less clutter and greater clarity of purpose! I also hope to see things tailored to fit uniqueness instead of a cookie-cutter approach to design.

  • Nancy Keenholts Dalton @ Baywolf Dalton, Inc. 04/26/11

    The next movement we will see is multi-generational living spaces as the new norm; apartments within homes. Whether it’s a son living at home after college to save or pay off his student loan; a aging parent, or a paying tenant, we will see many added to existing homes in the next 5-10 years.
    For some, this is a cost savings measure, for others a better way to take care of a parent. Actually with the cost of caring for seniors and some without enough savings, this may be the new alternative. For young adults, living at home may the best way to save the 20% down payment for a new home that will include an apartment to offset the mortgage!
    Along with MGL’s you will notice design trending toward universal design; the ability for all ages and levels of mobility to live in the space.
    Personally I would add features that allow the apartment to function as a home office if not being used as living space. The ability to have an eating space and a restroom in your office allows for an assistant to work in one area, while the owner has their own space. Then in the following year, or next owner; instantly has a suite for another use all together.

  • John Lee @ SolarTown 04/25/11

    Homes will dramatically change in 10 years with high energy prices being the catalyst for homes to evolve and be more green with either solar or wind technology. Solar energy will no longer be an oddity, representing only a small fraction of one percent of our energy consumption in the US. We will see all new construction require solar panels. Because of widespread adoption, the solar panels of tomorrow will cost dramatically less than today and be aesthetically pleasing.

    If you reflect back 20 years ago, solar panels were cost prohibitive running thousands of dollars for a single 25w solar panel. Now you can easily purchase a 230w discount solar panel for home or commercial projects. What is really interesting is that about the same time 35 years ago a sophisticated computer would have required an investment in the hundreds of thousands. As technology advances the underlining product cost will be reduced, evident in how much we pay currently for a computer, is what is happening to the cost of PV modules. This price action is why residential homes will substantially change in 5 to 10 years. Solar panels will be used in more applications because of our energy consumption. I can confidently say homeowners and business owners will change how they power their devices and equipment due to constant price increases for energy.

  • Pablo Solomon, Green Designer 04/25/11

    I appreciate the comments made by fellow designers so far. I have been involved in forward looking design in housing for decades. Much of what I have preached for years is finally being recognized as the way to go. Here are some simple basics

    1. Think smaller but of higher quality in all aspects. The days of big box houses that guzzle energy and have few redeeming design qualities are over. Smaller homes require less of everything–energy, insurance, upkeep,etc.–which gives you more money for investment and fun. And more space on your space for greening and growing.

    2. I like DeAnna Radaj’s suggestions for making homes easily adapted from one life stage to another and ready if need be in case of handicaps. I think my neighbor Steve Crossland down the road in Austin is correct in his recognition of the importance of “feel”. As a designer, the key question I always ask is “how do you want this project/house/landscaping to make you feel?”

    3. The real change will be in the suburbs and gated communities as children inherit homes much larger than they can afford to maintain. There will be a glut of these homes in the near future. Zoning laws will have to be changed so that as in times of past economic stress, large homes can be turned into multi-unit dwellings.

    4.You will also see the family compound evolve here as it has in many other countries.
    You will have a core home with large kitchen, family room, library,swimming pool, etc. Several generations of the family will have smaller attached units with basically a bedroom, bath, small kitchen–think small resort. This will allow the sharing of expenses in order to be able to afford shared luxuries while maintaining some privacy.

    5. While I must sadly admit that mega cities are probably on the horizon, I am totally against the concept. I believe in the concept that I developed years ago–“Green Freedom”–that is for each individual family to have its own energy sources, food sources, water sources, space in nature, etc. With modern digital communications, on demand manufacturing, new energy sources being developed, etc. the prospects of true freedom for all is possible. Mega cities are designed more to control people than to make their lives better. True freedom is freedom from both government interference and from deprivation. People who love freedom should embrace Green Freedom as a way to fight tyranny as well as to live in harmony with Nature.

    6. An architect friend of mine, Tom Burke, was preaching the concepts of growing your own home and “edible” housing over 40 years ago. While far out on first glance, the concepts are thought provoking ( and no you do not have to be high and listening to the Moody Blues to contemplate the concepts ) . Tom was part of the design firm Ant Farm which ushered in many of the innovations of the 1960s in green design–wood laminates, earth berms, passive solar heating, etc.

  • Steve Crossland - Austin Realtor 04/25/11

    Homes will change in the following ways:

    As buyers rightfully start considering Total Cost of Owner of homes, including commuting costs, small homes with shorter commutes will start to gain favor. This means smarter, more functional designs that make better use of less space, and offer flexible multi-use areas instead of the pre-defined, designated spaces to which we’ve grown accustomed.

    Also, as the younger generations move into the market, we notice that they seem more interested in having non-tangible nuanced features of a home, such as a “good feel”, which they can’t always define in advance, but they know it when they see/feel it. Generally, this means open areas, lots of natural light, subdued yet interesting color combinations and architectural accents. And they’re also willing to accept smaller spaces if they can have the “feel” and location they want.

  • Anna@GreenTalk 04/25/11

    Here are some the changes that I see:

    More multi-use spaces and build smaller, more energy efficient houses. Think about the typical living room or dining room. How many times do you use either? Furniture will reflect multi-functional elements as well.

    Technology will rein were people will be able to control more household functions through their smart phones.

    We might see more ranches or master bedrooms on the first floor as baby boomers age.

    Urban development will increase because more people might want to live in a city where transportation is easier, less commuting time to increase quality of life, and more cultural opportunities will be available.

    More use of sustainable materials with less maintenance in construction as those materials become more mainstreamed.

    I also agree with DeAnna’s assessment of the use of universal design to include ease of aging.

    Quality of life is going to become more of the driving element in the next 5-10 years. No one is going to want to be a slave to their house with constance maintenance, high energy bills, and cost of living.

  • DeAnna Radaj @ Bante Design 04/25/11

    With the aging population (Baby Boomers), multi-generational households, increasing health care costs & people wanting to STAY in their homes as long as possible, the PROPER & EFFECTIVE use of Universal Design principles will become a mainstay in design. From width of hallways, larger spaces that accommodate wheelchairs (5′ turning radius), motion-sensored faucets (or foot activated), open floor plans and color being used to help navigate way-finding (visually impaired and/or yellowing of eyes as we age)…all will have to be incorporated into our homes to help increase life quality as we age.

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