"Good buildings come from good people, and all problems are solved by good design."
As Stephen Gardiner reminds us, it's the people behind the designs who are integral to the building process. That's why we turn each year to the leaders of the home construction industry - the architects, builders, and designers - who help dictate the future of homebuilding and design.
We conducted a survey of industry leaders to find out what construction trends are emerging this year in order to give industry professionals, homeowners, and homebuyers a glimpse into what's popular and important. As always, we extend a special thanks to the the 38 industry influencers who contributed their knowledge and expertise to this survey.
Eric Corey Freed
Paul Brant Williger
Richard D. Centolella
Sabine H. Schoenberg
Susan P. Berry
Susannah C. Drake
Thomas C. Donnelly
Top 5 Trends##
After extensive questioning of our contributors, we determined the top five trends of the construction industry this year. This include smart homes, open floor plans, solar energy, tiny houses, and artificial intelligence (AI) systems.
We asked industry influencers from across the country to select one answer to each question that they feel best captures industry trends in each category. They were also asked to answer open-ended questions on each topic to give a more clear picture.
Who Will Be Buying Single-Family Homes in 2018?##
Keynote: Younger buyers from Generation X and the Millennial generation are the most likely to buy a single-family home in 2018.
Which age brackets are more likely to buy a single-family home in 2018?
Interestingly, most influencers agree that the Silent or Mature generation will be doing little new home buying as they downsize. This makes sense as younger families from Gen X are the most likely to want to put down roots, while having the means to do so.
Which characteristics will differentiate 2018 home buyers from buyers of the past five years?
Home buyers today know what they want in a home, with 21% of those asked saying that certainty is something that they'll be seeing more of in buyers, along with buyers looking for smart homes and open floor plans in their design. Lower prices, however, drop to the bottom of the list.
Do you think emerging programs designed to help people pay off a part of their student loan will prompt them to purchase a home?
As our influencers have noted, Millennial home buyers are now powering the housing market. New programs are emerging from the government that will help Millennials and other recent graduates pay off student loans faster. These include the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program, Income Driven Repayment Plans for those whose income falls below certain thresholds, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness for those working in the public sector. However, influencers aren't sure whether these programs will encourage home buying. "There is still a lot of uncertainty around policy, a shortage of affordable urban options, and almost no opportunity for the lower or middle class to build new in the city," explains Brinn Miracle, Senior Associate at Kirksey. Lora Teagarden, L2 Design owner, does note, however, "It might open up funding options that weren't previously available."
The Most Popular Home Designs for 2018##
Keynote: Smart homes and wireless technologies are predicted to be the most popular themes in 2018.
What design theme will builders be most likely to apply to single-family homes in 2018?
Smart homes continue to top lists with builders as well, with 50% of those questioned responding that smart home designs are the most likely to be seen in 2018. Sustainable and energy-efficient designs round out the top three, while most agree that modular, universal designs won't see much interest.
What will be the most popular exterior color palettes on single-family homes in 2018?
Cool colors and neutral tones are predicted to be the most popular for home exteriors in 2018, with fewer people predicting warm or dark colors.
Which 2017 design trend will be out in 2018?
Design trends from 2017 that are likely to be shown the door in 2018 include faux finishes, jewel tones, and white mixed with off white. Matte finishes and greenery seem more likely to have staying power.
If you could spend only $1,000, what remodeling projects would you recommend for the living room?
Even on a budget, it's likely that smart home projects are what designers would recommend, with Jeremiah Russell of Rogue Architecture recommending, "Dimmable lighting, wireless hub, (and) concealed components," for inexpensive remodeling projects for the living room. Susan P. Berry, however, felt that, "New floors, energy-efficient windows, and paint" were the way to go.
What Home Layouts Do People Want to See in 2018?##
Keynote: Open floor plans and single-level homes are by far the most popular layouts amongst home buyers, with two-story and split-level homes falling into disfavor.
What will be the most popular floor plan for single-family homes in 2018?
Open floor plans were the most popular layout of 2017 - and that hasn't changed in predictions for 2018, with 76% of influencers reporting. Single-level homes take a distant second place at 11% while split, two-story, and symmetrical homes rounding out the bottom.
What is the most important feature/element for handicap-accessible house plans?
Accessibility throughout the home seems to be the most important feature, with Aaron Plewke offering that an accessible entrance and bathroom were the most important. Jeffrey Pelletier, however, feels that enough space to travel easily through the home is more important.
Popular Features of Green Homes##
Keynote: Solar panels are predicted to be the most popular method of introducing renewable energy into single-family homes.
What will be the most popular way to include renewable energy in single-family homes in 2018?
Solar panels are predicted to be the most popular way to include renewable energy in single -family homes in 2018, with geothermal and solar tiles tying for a distant second place.
Do homeowners value lower monthly energy bills over style in their home design?
Experts seem to feel that lower monthly bills are the goal in home design, with Stacy Kunstel of New England Home mentioning that homeowners value lower bills, "Only when it makes an economic difference," while Lora Teagarden feels that, "Homeowners expect both, as is shown with the recent ... smart home products. They are not sacrificing aesthetic for function."
The Most Popular Outdoor Spaces for 2018##
Keynote: Backyards, gardens, and porches are among the more popular additions for outdoor spaces.
What type of outdoor space will single-family homeowners be most likely to add to their homes in 2018?
Influencers predict that backyards and gardens will be the top choice for outdoor spaces in 2018, followed closely by porches. New driveways, however, are at the bottom of the list.
What are some simple landscaping solutions for small yards?
Many influencers recommend potted or raised planters for small yards. According to Charles Hendricks, "Native plantings and cozy spaces," will also lead the way. Lee Calisti agrees about using planters, "Low maintenance and no mowing required."
Home Safety & Automation##
Keynote: Automation of HVAC systems through smart thermostats as well as home security systems are the top trends in this area for 2018.
What will be the most popular smart home feature for 2018?
When it comes to home automation and safety features, most influencers agree that smart thermostats and HVAC systems will be amongst the most popular options for 2018. Home automation security and lighting control systems will also likely be popular, while smart appliances and home automation for the elderly or disabled are unlikely to be.
What kind of Artificial Intelligence will possibly come into single-family homes in 2018?
Most of the influencers questioned agreed that voice controlled systems are the most likely to become available in 2018, with Matt Risinger adding, "More home automation via Google, Alexa, etc." John McManus agrees, stating that, "Voice activated digital personal assistants will be the way of the future."
Those Most Likely to Purchase Tiny Homes##
Keynote: Minimalists and first-time home buyers seem most likely to want to get in on the tiny house movement in 2018.
Do you see an increase in the tiny house movement?
More than half of all those surveyed believe that there is going to be an increase in the tiny house movement. According to Lora Teagarden, it will, but, "I think it will shift to more of an urban setting than an individual plot of land." Collier Ward, however, doesn't feel that it is increasing, but " Folks love to talk about it however."
Who is most likely to buy a tiny house in 2018?
Minimalists and first-time home buyers are the most likely to be purchasing a tiny house in 2018, with downsizing families and retirees being the least likely.
Make the Most of Emerging Trends##
Architects, designers, and industry influencers are in a unique position to spot trends as they occur. As you see from these survey results, homebuyers are putting an increasing value on smart home features, open floor plans, and smaller spaces. Industry professionals can learn from these trends to help them better reach their client bases for the future. Pay attention to these and other emerging trends, whether you work in the industry or are a homebuyer yourself, to help make better decisions going forward.