The pandemic, the economy, and the housing market have all caused a lot of upheaval for homeowners in the last few years. One result of this is that many homeowners are beginning to choose and incorporate things into their plans that may not have been as important just a few years ago. Features like a usable outdoor space, home offices, and better natural light all have a new focus, while some features that seemed poised to grow just 5 or 6 years ago, such as smart features, have fallen down the list in terms of priorities.
To help uncover what features are truly important to homeowners today, we asked 47 home builders, designers, and architects to weigh in on what they are seeing as homeowner’s top priorities. Below is a look at what these experts feel are the most essential, important, and unimportant features for homeowners in 2022.
The graphic above shows 15 home features and how they are rated in terms of level of importance to homeowners, according to the experts we spoke to. The green bars represent a rating of ‘very important’, yellow represents ‘important’, orange shows a rating of ‘somewhat important’, and red represents ‘not important’. The percentage of ratings every feature received by experts has been rounded and is shown in each bar. Below, we break down the results in more detail.
Outdoor Area a Top Priority, Along With Natural Light
According to experts, 92% believe that having a usable outdoor area is either a ‘very important’ or an ‘important’ feature for homeowners. This has become an increasingly popular focus as many people found themselves spending more time at home. By creating a functional outdoor living space, you have more usable areas on your property to enjoy. This can allow you to entertain, relax, or exercise without having to go anywhere, increasing enjoyment in your home.
The desire for natural light stems from the same place. 60% of experts say homeowners consider it as a ‘very important’ feature, while 38% believe it to be ‘important’ for homeowners. People spending more time at home, first due to the pandemic and now due to the rising cost of living, want to be comfortable in their space. Natural light also allows you to keep daytime energy bills lower, and can have positive health benefits as well.
Likewise, investing in better thermal insulation and an energy efficient HVAC system follow closely in terms of priorities, as they can make your home more comfortable and efficient, particularly if you’re there more often. Having thermal insulation was considered as ‘very important’ for homeowners by 43% of experts and energy efficient HVAC features 32%.
Home Office Is the Most Important Interior Space
With the number of people who suddenly found themselves working from home two years ago, home offices have been found to be more essential than ever before. Remote work is still a popular option for many people, and having a home office gives you a flexibility that you might not have had before.
The cost to build a home office depends on whether it’s a remodel, conversion, or an entirely new build, with the average homeowner paying around $3,500 to convert a spare room into a functional home office. 96% of experts agree on its high level of importance for homeowners. And while home offices can be created on a tight budget, or even makeshift spaces, investing may be considered worthwhile by many.
Other Important Features for Homeowners
In addition to features that were deemed very important, there are also several features that are ranked mostly as ‘important’ or ‘somewhat important’. These include security, spare rooms, privacy, a multi-use garage, and a walk-in pantry.
Home Security High on the Priority List
There are many features that can help make a home more secure, from cameras that can let you know who’s at your door or if they’ve taken a package, to full security monitoring systems that can also provide peace of mind in an emergency. The average cost to install a video surveillance camera is roughly $600. Having security features installed was considered to be ‘important’ for homeowners by 53% of the experts.
Spare Rooms and Multi Use Garages Offer Important Versatility
Spare rooms are also important for their versatility. A spare room can be used as an extra bedroom, a playroom, an exercise room, or even a multifunctional space that can change with your needs. The average cost to add a spare room does not come cheap at around $24,000 to $80,000. This could also go someway into explaining why it is an important priority, especially for those buying or building a new home, as a retrofit is costly. Having a spare room was considered ‘important’ by 45% of the experts as it allows you options and flexibility, which are two things that many homeowners have come to appreciate in recent years.
A multi-use garage offers many of the same benefits; you can use space for working, storage, or to convert later into additional living space. If your home does not currently have a garage, the cost of building a new one ranges between $30,000 and $60,000. 42% of the experts believe it is either ‘very important’ or ‘important’ for homeowners as having this flexibility means that your home is better able to roll with life and any potential twists in the road ahead.
Privacy Considered Important by Majority of Experts
Privacy can refer to many things; from the location of your home - further away from the road or from neighbors - to features like fences, blinds, and spaces in the home where you can retreat to, such as private bathrooms. One of the most attainable and effective privacy features to incorporate for many homeowners is to install a fence, as the average cost ranges between $3,000 to $7,000. However, this cost will depend on the desired level of security and privacy, as well as the choice of material. Ultimately, privacy was voted by 40% of experts as an ‘important’ feature, as people spending more time at home may want outdoor spaces that can be shielded from neighbors.
Experts Disagree on the Importance of Walk-in Pantries
Walk-in pantries make sense from a savings standpoint. With a walk-in pantry, you can more easily stock up on supplies, and make use of cost-saving bulk purchases. With supply chain issues and rising costs, being able to store large amounts of essentials can be important to some people. However, 21% of experts believed that they are considered to be ‘unimportant’ to homeowners in 2022.
Unimportant Features for Homeowners in 2022, According to the Pros
Most features deemed as either essential or important can be found in all areas of the country, meaning that they would benefit homeowners no matter where they live. The following features may only benefit homeowners in more localized areas, so while they may be popular with some people, they won’t have the same widespread appeal.
Smart Features and Solar Panels Low on the Priority List
Smart features and solar panels on the surface seem like they should be more important than they are currently ranking. Both industries had been seeing a lot of growth in the past few years. However, many people’s priorities have changed.
Additionally, solar panels can lower energy costs which may be at the forefront of people’s minds right now, however with a hefty upfront average cost to install solar panels of $18,000, and not all areas of the country having the same amount of sunlight, people have other priorities for their homes.
Experts Believe Pools Are Bottom of People’s Priorities in 2022
Finally, there are many features that were deemed to be ‘unimportant’ according to the experts, such as swimming pools (59%), basements (53%) and disaster-proof features (30%). This may be due to the fact that these items are only regionally popular. Basements for example are not found in every area of the country, and in many areas are not possible to install.
Likewise, many homeowners living in areas that have not been recently hit by natural disasters may not put an emphasis on this, while swimming pools may seem like a luxury that is only a benefit for those that live in the hottest climates such as Southern California or Florida. And with things like drought becoming more common, particularly in hot climates, a swimming pool may not be a feasible choice for many homeowners as well.
Homeowners’ Priorities Affected by Current and Recent Circumstances
One thing that most of the essential and important features have in common is a desire to make your home work for you in the current state of the world and country. Homes that are versatile, private, secure, and comfortable can offer more peace of mind to homeowners that the home will continue to benefit them even if outside factors change. Features deemed less important may have less of an immediate impact, so they may not be as desirable. If you’re planning on upgrading your home in 2022, be sure to consider how these and other factors will affect your way of living in the future, and make sure that your home will continue to serve you well no matter what comes your way.
Ornella Bianco is a home improvement content specialist at Fixr.com. She enjoys researching home renovation projects and communicating advice to homeowners through our reports, articles and visualizations.