America's economic slump has had a significant influence on home designs. Before the Great Recession hit, lavish "McMansions" were popular. In contrast, many of today's homebuyers are looking for small house plans that can help them minimize heating costs as well as their mortgage payments. Flexibility is another "must have" in family house plans. With new appreciation for economic unpredictability, many Americans have abandoned the idea of upgrading to larger homes as their families grow. Instead, multigenerational house plans are gaining in popularity, since these flexible family house plans can easily sustain a new baby, a returning graduate, or an aging parent.
Another reason why multigenerational house plans are trendy at the moment is that Americans' life expectancy is longer than ever. Hoping to live comfortably in their own homes as long as possible (rather than being hauled off into a nursing home), many homebuyers are thinking ahead and looking for family house plans that are designed for people of all ages and physical abilities.
Here are a few more top home design trends for 2012.
1. Bigger garages - but not for cars.
Designers of family house plans are favoring larger garages, but not for the reason you might expect. Rather than storing an extra set of wheels, Americans are using these larger garages as "flex space," for storage or living space, as needed. For instance, while one family may choose to store clutter in the extra garage space, another may transform an extra garage bay into a "man cave" den, where Dad and his buddies can hang out. Ultimately, additional space in the garage is appealing to modern buyers because it can quickly be shifted to alternative purposes if needed.
2. Accessibility for all Age Groups.
A new survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects found that almost half of American architects rank accessibility as a growing preference among homeowners. Multigenerational house plans designed for age-in-place comfort often feature attributes such as:
-No-twist faucet handles, to avoid arthritic pain. These faucets are activated through a lifting action that completely avoids the wrist pain that is so common among older Americans.
-Minimizing stairs. Because stairs can be difficult or even impossible for seniors to navigate, many multigenerational house plans are designed on a single level.
-Bars to provide stability in slippery spaces, such as bathrooms.
Because such features are appealing to a broad swath of homeowners, family house plans that feature universal design often maintain a high property value over time.
3. Multiple Master Suites.
Small house plans don't have to feel cramped. Architects are creating multiple family arrangements within in the same home to provide a comfortable living arrangement for different generations of residents. For instance, rather than having all living spaces connected, a separate bathroom/bedroom/kitchenette suite in the back of a home can be accessed through a separate entrance. This preserves family members' privacy.
4. "Command Centers" within other rooms.
Back in the nineties, family house plans often included a distinct office area. Today, in contrast, the popularity of small house plans inspire such work zones to be located within other rooms. As an example, a designer may feature a kitchen nook with a desk, bookcase, and paper storage area for bills. That way, Dad can keep an eye on dinner while doing the family finances.