That answer to that question is ‘yes’, at least according to the American Institute of Architects’ housing survey just published by the National Association of Homebuilders. According to the survey, homeowners are attempting to remodel or build homes to grow old in. In Anchorage, that trend is evident by a substantial increase in remodeling permits over the past couple of years and more frequent inquiries as to the availability of ranch homes, despite the fact that their increase cost for new construction is anywhere from $250 to $325 per square foot. Ranches also generally take a larger and wider lot which also adds to their cost. Corner lots are popular for ranch homes because they are usually larger, although that additional square footage is usually taken up by front and side yard setbacks. Ranch buyers appear less concerned about the size of the yard because they’re no longer interested in maintaining gardens and extensive landscaping. Forty-six percent of home buyers surveyed now prefer a single floor design and 56% percent prefer informal spaces.
Accessibility in and out of the home is also a priority for 59% of respondents. That means no steps from the garage to the mud room and slab on grade for construction. Active baby boomers are also concerned about caring for aging parents which is also fueling this trend for ranch homes, or double master suites, with one being on the first floor with its own private bath. The preferred ranch home has a master suite on one side of the home and secondary bedrooms or the second suite on the other side. A great room and open kitchen is where everyone comes together for meals and family gatherings.
Other new trends reported by the survey include a 20% increase in the size of home since 2010. The improved national economy has resulted in the return of ‘big is better’. All homes have kitchens and bathrooms which are the two most expensive rooms in any home. Adding ‘great room’ square footage or increasing bedroom size from the minimal 9 x 10 for secondary bedrooms is an inexpensive way to add square footage. Volume, or the height of the ceiling, has leveled off to the new standard of 9 foot ceilings. Walk into any home and you can tell its age by its ceiling height. You can also determine the age of the home by whether or not it has a formal living room and dining room. Anecdotally, probably only one out of 15 new home buyers ask for a formal living room or dining room. And, if they do ask, it is usually for a formal dining room. What is popular, however, and replacing the formal living room, is the first floor office/den/flex room, which is usually about 10 x 12 and located off the entry. That’s the extra space or retreat area when it comes for private time. Gone, however, is the upstairs loft/computer room. Now, everyone is just walking around with an iphone for messages and information.