Interestingly, the National Association of Homebuilders recently reported that average home sizes for new permits have declined by some 17%, since 2007. 80% of developers they surveyed said that they will eliminate formal living rooms and dining rooms in new detached product going forward. Most also plan to eliminate 4 bedroom or more product. Energy star fixtures and other "green building" features are becoming standard.
Kitchens seem to be a good place to start economizing.
Very few people have the time or inclination to cook much, so kitchens are not being utilized in the way they once were. And, they are, by far, the most expensive rooms in homes. Couple these facts with the increasing availability of more walkable neighborhoods that have good restaurants and good transit, and I think a revolution could be afoot.
Cheap, effective soundproofing is probably another area for attention. If attached and semi-detached single family product is to become the new-normal, the perception that the shared wall creates privacy and sound issues has to be overcome.
Again, we go back to the whole "do what we say" mentality.
And one wonders why people call us "commies"
Tide hit it perfectly. It is not a question for planners to debate type, unit or style (at times with style because I am a fan of appearance) but rather this is a debate on how we manage our existing or future infrastructure and utilize this as a tool to manage development.
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Actually, the kitchen is critically important for people. In theory, you could basically have a single family house consisting of a good kitchen, a small family/nook/eating area, 2 bathrooms, lots of storage, and the bedrooms, and it'll probably sell. In terms of common area, the kitchen is really all people really care about these days.
You like your kitchen, and you think it is worth the price you paid. My kitchen is excessive, but I didn't have a choice since it was bundled with the rest of my home.
Unbundling garages and storage units should actually be written into codes.
People should not be forced to buy garages if they are not desired.
I'd also like to see more bathrooms split so that toilet, bath, and powder-room functions are separated in order for them to be used more efficiently.
With attached housing, the potential exists for common areas to be used for entertaining, cooking, working, etc. One might have access to a very elaborate kitchen, for instance, that he or she shares with other residents.
Paradigm shifts of all sorts are in order.
Last edited by Pragmatic Idealist; 22 Mar 2011 at 5:13 PM.
The same here: me and my cohort don't cook much. Therefore, most people don't cook much and kitchens should be downsized or something.
Never mind that an adequately-equipped kitchen would mean people would save money by purchasing their own food and preparing it themselves instead of driving to a place to consume more expensive food and service (since most new construction - if there is such a thing as 'new construction' - continues to be far from an adequate supply and choice of restaurants).
Minus the elevator (don't know what's up with that), this townhome is probably the future for much of the country, for "big"/"high end" product:
Tuck under tandem garage (or just one garage), two floors of living space above, very efficient, about 1400 square feet.
You're telling people who don't cook that they should take the fully-equipped kitchen and be happy with it. You're also telling them that they need to cook even though they may not want to do so or they don't have the time to do so or they are not very good at the task.
Well, thank you, Comrade.
Surely projecting into the future we'll want to ensure efficiency gains are realized across markets and scales, and providing flexible options that allow savings from avoiding extra costs should be incorporated into durable structures.
Second, non-utilization of a kitchen may lessen depreciation if in the future we still are somewhat mobile and family units consume multiple houses (or rent) in their seeking livable employment.
That is: in an economy where wages will be lower, many sectors may appreciate the flexibility of a more well-equipped kitchen.
Now, where is that frugal smiley...
I alluded to resale values. My point is that the culture is changing, but builders haven't adapted to the market preferences, yet. Instead, we're being treated to ever more elaborate and useless kitchens, partly because of the one-size-fits-all mentality that ensures we are all buying granite countertops and a full complement of stainless-steel appliances.
A three bedroom, two bath city condo around here is about 1500 square feet. There is only so much space for a kitchen. While mega kitchens in McMansions may be on the way out. no one is going to buy a unit without a certain minimum amount of space with at least a full size stove, even if they only cook a couple of times a week. I bet you'd have problems getting it by the code and mortgage people.
These three bedroom condos can accommodate families with 2 children quite nicely. Our condo complex of 160 units has about 150 children in it of all incomes (the complex is 1/3 low income - Section 8, 1/3 moderate income ownership, and 1/3 market rate).
What kitchens need to be is more practical with more economical finishes (ie, a return to formica/ceramic tile counter tops and vinyl flooring as opposed to granite and tile or hardwood). They need more storage and countertop workspace plus an eat-in area in less floor space (ie, fewer islands, drop the dining room, etc).
"The culture" is NOT changing that much that people are going to stop having families any time soon. I think that you need a reality check.
Last edited by Maister; 23 Mar 2011 at 10:03 AM. Reason: sequential posts
No, I don't think the culture is changing... just the economics and the desire for a greater amount of conservation and sustainability. I think developers have a good handle on what needs to happen. Basically, density has to go up and unit sizes, down, without increasing construction costs per square feet, and that means no increase in apartments and much fewer single family detached product. Townhouse and patio/semi-detached product will become the new norm. This means patio homes, duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, and rowhouses. They seem to be saying the following (about housing):
1. z-lot product will become the vast majority of new production. The enclosed private softscape yard will be history by 2020. They'll be replaced by more community open space and playground sapce.
2. average densities must increase from 5 to 8 per acre net to 10 to 14 per acre WITHOUT increasing per square square feet construction costs (which is why apartments won't become more popular and townhomes will be). Stack-up townhome configurations can get you to up to 17 per acre net... or 22 units per acre in one weird San Diego case, but I'm still not sure how McMillan did that and sold the product.
3. homes closer to work locations (sometimes this means TOD, but other approaches are available as well)
4. smaller units, sometimes much smaller, but correspondingly well-designed for household needs
5. more prefab/modular construction techniques will increasingly blend the difference between prefab homes and traditional homes, to the point that the casual buyer won't even be able to tell the difference anymore
6. three-story stack-up configurations for the mass market will become very common in urban markets (narrow homes with at least one shared wall and tuck-under parking below)
7. more purpose-built special needs housing (co-housing, seniors, SOHO) will require different configurations
8. sound-proofing will be a big marketing issue for people accustomed to detached product
9. dramatically reduced discretionary communal household space (getting rid of the living/dining room and reducing the family room to a small bedroom-sized TV/play space)
10. reduced bathrooms in larger units, but not below 1.5 per unit for 2 beds and 2 for 3 beds, elimnation on in-suite bathrooms (the private master suite bath is going away fast)
11. elimination of 4+ bedroom configurations in most urban markets outside of Utah; this has pretty much already happened in new permitting, nationally
12. smaller bedrooms, sometimes dramatically smaller
13. the end of the front-facing 2 to 3 car garage. Tandem configurations will replace the 2 car garage and offsite or single onsite parking space configurations will become much more common, personally I don't know why people put up with tandem parking garages but I have been seeing them pop up in permitting all over the US recently.
14. bigger kitchens/nooks, not smaller to make up for the elimination of communal space
15. more porches and enclosable balconies, also to make up for the elimination of communial space and blending indoor and outdoor space
16. more, not less, storage space
17. in-unit building and equipment/MEP rooms (shared unit facilities are paradoxically going away. Nobody wants to share HVAC or weasher and driers with their neighbors). Each unit will become more autonomous with respect to MEP equipment, small private washers-driers, etc.
18. Energy Star will be ubiquitous
19. so longer as tax credits are available for them, PVs and solar hot water in virtually all US areas, and ground-source heat pumps in some US areas, will become standard options and add-ons provided by developers
20. green roofs will, unfortunately, not become ubiquitous, unless costs come down dramatically
It's important to note that in most markets, home prices are down 30% to 60% since the recession began. This value won't come back and I strongly believe they have further to go.. possibly another 10% to 25% on a national average basis. The best case is that those values stop plunging and start growing at the rate of real wage growth, going forward (assuming this country will ever even see real wage growth again.. we haven't in my lifetime, certainly). Thus, eventually, homes will recover their values, but only in a nominal sense. This means the whole game has changed. If developers could make a breakeven 10-12% profit for single family detached production in 2007 (it never really got better than that, unless you count in the land speculation gains that are really at the root of our current problems), they now must figure out how to do the same with half the valuation gone. A median income household can only afford half the house he could before the recession, and builders can only afford to build him half the house, literally, and still make their 10% cut.
If home sizes peaked at 2800 sq feet nationally in 2006 new permits, the new normal will, by 2020, be half of that. Short of China-style rates of real economic growth or an impossible $4+ trillion bailout and recapitalizaton of the GSE system, there's no other way to cut the numbers. Unit sizes have to fall dramatically (40%, much more than the 17% they've already fallen since 2007, with a blend of previously permitted and new permitted product). Density has to increase in order to increase amortization of the land residual. My suspicion is that the land-residual will not be a source of much home price appreciation since it'll become - has already become - virtually unfinanceable (you pay equity for the residual and then finance the physical home). Construction costs per square feet have to stay the same while all this stuff is going on.
Some interesting stats from ULI: (i) another 1,000,000 foreclosures nationally in 2011, (ii) demographic growth, equilibrium demands and mobility requirements will require 4,000,000 home sales in 2011.. how they'll get financed is anyone's guess, (iii) homeownership rates have reverted back to 63%.. or 1993 levels, (iv) 1 in 4 US homes now have negative equity value, 3 in 5 homes in entire regions have negative equity (Florida, Central Valley, Nevada, etc), (v) 1 in 4 buyers are paying all cash, versus one in 100 pre-recession, (vi) rental product shortfalls are starting to materialize in most major markets, causing rents to spike at the worst possible time.
Last edited by Cismontane; 23 Mar 2011 at 11:57 AM.
Just because some TV shows have convinced a segment of gullible rubes that granite countertops will make their house a better ATM doesn't mean we make cr*ppy kitchens all of a sudden. Learn how to cook and you'll want a nice kitchen.
I also am a big fan of in-unit laundry facilities. I will never live anywhere I have to share laundry facilities again unless I get carted off to the old folks home. Been there, done that, and I won't do it again.
I also would NOT be any more interested in some place that didn't have a dishwasher than in some place that didn't have central heating. Again, that's just me, but I really do detest washing dishes.
This thread has turned from annoying to pretty good. Thank you to all who are making this an interesting read... (even though some are a bit more heated in their rhetoric)
I really don't think that this is going to be answered. People perceive what they know or want as best. Many times this isn't correct.
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