Homeowners Seek Flexibility to Accommodate Multiple Generations

Sustained Upturn in Residential Billings Renews Demand for Special Function Rooms

Washington, D.C. – October 1, 2014 – As the housing recovery continues, homeowners seek design solutions that will allow them to age in place. Additionally, home automation features, as well as products that promote sustainability are also showing up with increasing frequency in both new and remodeled homes.  These are some of the key findings from the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey covering activity during the second quarter of 2014 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and function rooms in the home.

“As many households become caretakers for aging relatives, separate living suites have become popular options for accommodations,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “Homeowners want to ensure that their homes can support the needs of aging parents who may be staying for an extended period of time and other visitors with accessibility needs.”

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights




Dedicated guest rooms (Au pair / in-law suites)    39 26 10
Accommodate multiple generations     53 50 N/A
Ramps / elevators                                51 42 38
On-grade entry 37 33 N/A

(% reporting popularity of feature “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

Special function rooms, which often disappeared from homes during the downturn in an effort to manage housing costs, are now reappearing.  Likewise, special home features that were often eliminated during the housing downturn are now increasingly returning to home designs.

Special function Rooms




Outdoor living rooms 63 61 49
Home offices               38 36 36
Mud rooms                  37 44 33
Exercise / fitness rooms           8 0 -15
Safe rooms 6 7 -13

(% reporting popularity of room “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

Smart home features, as well as products that promote sustainability, are also showing up with increasing frequency in both new and remodeled homes.




Smart thermostats 60 61
Tankless water heater 48 45
Energy Star rated appliances 47 53
Water saving 43 47
Extra insulation                        65 61

(% reporting popularity of product “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

Systems / technologies



Energy management                                        54 53
Backup power generation                                51 48
Solar panels                                                     43 41
Electrical car docking station 35 29

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q2 2014 (any score above 50 is positive)

  • Billings: 64
  • Inquiries for new projects: 66

Baker noted, “This was the sixth straight quarter that the billings score was above 60. With the volume of new design work in-house increasing at a fairly rapid pace, it is the remodeling and custom home design sectors are providing the bulk of the work for residential architects. As of the second quarter, firm backlogs averaged more than five months, their highest level since mid-year 2007 near the peak of the last national housing market upturn.”

Specific construction segments



Additions / alterations                          70  64
Kitchen / bath remodeling                                60 61
First-time buyer / affordable home market      17  15
Move-up homes 33  35
Custom / luxury home market 36  25
Townhouse / condo market 18   13
Second home                           -8

(% of respondents reporting sector “improving” minus % reporting “weakening”; Q2)

About the AIA Home Design Trends Survey
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of over 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector.  Residential architects are design leaders in shaping how homes function, look, and integrate into communities and this survey helps to identify emerging trends in the housing marketplace.  Business conditions are also monitored on a quarterly basis.  Future surveys will focus on community design trends (December 2014), and kitchen and bath trends (April 2015).

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