Architects and developers are starting to rethink how the homes they build and design could better meet the expectations of the people who buy and live in them based on national surveys initiated by three San Diego real estate professionals.
Coming out of the third round of the America at Home Study, it’s become clear that people want their living space to do a better job of providing for their health and wellness, said Nancy Keenan, president of DAHLIN Architecture|Planning|Interiors.
“We’re going to expect our homes to do more of everything,” Keenan said, from having kitchen appliances with Wi-Fi connections to having flexible spaces and more ways to connect to the outdoors.
That could include designing homes with open floorplans that use more glass doors that connect to open spaces to blend outdoor and indoor living.
“As designers, that’s our job, it’s possible to design a home that has a higher standard of care,” Keenan said. “People are still placing their home at the center or what’s important to them. They still see it as a safe place.”
Keenan said that the results of the surveys “gives us a different level of confidence” in designing homes.
“We know what consumers want, what’s motivating them,” Keenan said. “We’re really doing this in a scientific way, it’s bringing science into the art of what we do.”
Some of the priorities of those surveyed differed depending on age.
Millennials favored expanded and better designed storage above all while Gen X and Baby Boomers ranked greater technology and energy efficiency as most important.
Better equipped kitchens were a priority among all age groups.
Walkable neighborhoods with access to coffee shops and casual eateries was listed as important by 43% of respondents.
Keenan said that finding was especially significant for San Diego as zoning changes and developer interest is moving toward infill projects.
“We’ve been saying this for quite some time, that the amenities don’t necessarily have to be built into the project,” Keenan said.
Starting in 2020, the surveys were commissioned by Keenan, Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki, president of tsk ink, LLC, a marketing firm that works with developers and builders, and Belinda Sward, founder and chief strategist of Strategic Solutions Alliance, a Carmel Valley real estate consulting firm.
The latest survey done by Gazelle Global Research was of 3,000 people across the country between the ages of 24 and 74 with annual household incomes of $50,000 or more.
All three rounds of the survey found that people are willing to accept smaller homes if that makes the price more affordable.
“We’ve seen this for a long time in California, people are settling for a smaller home,” Keenan said, with developers responding by building an increasing number of townhome projects.
A concept home was built in 2021 by Garman Homes in Pittsboro, North Carolina, that incorporated some of the findings of the first two surveys and Keenan said that there are plans to build a second concept home incorporating the findings of the latest survey.
The original concept home is a 2,600-square-foot, two-story home with four bedrooms and 4 ½ bathrooms. It was designed for a hypothetical family with two working parents, one who works at home.
The house has separate entrances for the homeowner and guests, two dedicated office spaces, flex spaces, a guest suite with outdoor access, a large family bathroom, multiple covered outdoor spaces and drop zones for package deliveries.