We asked Boyce Thompson, author of The New, New Home, to give us a sneak peek into his upcoming presentation, The Changing Aesthetics of New Home Design at PCBC 2014. Thompson has some incredible insight to share, and this is only a taste of what you’ll see from him! Register today, and don’t miss this phenomenal presentation about the intricacies of designing and building contemporary homes.
How substantial is the market for high-end, contemporary homes? Is it enough to keep builders afloat in these times of real estate uncertainty?
Dozens of production builders have seized on contemporary design as a way to set their homes apart from resales and other new homes. The strategy has definitely helped keep them afloat. That was definitely the case with Infinity Homes in Denver. Dave Steinke of Infinity will be presenting on our panel. If every builder were pursuing this strategy, it might not work as well. Demand for contemporary architecture is strong among certain buyers. Not everyone wants it. Also, the learning curve to build these kinds of homes is steep. Which is good—because if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
If we’re looking specifically at the West Coast, where is this market the strongest?
20 years ago, Palm Springs was just about the only market where you could find contemporary production homes. For most of the last two decades, Western builders have preferred to tap into the traditional tastes of baby boomers, especially in California where architects trotted out one historical design after another. The recession convinced many builders to give contemporary homes a try. They are now common in most major Western markets, including Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and San Diego. Michael Woodley, another speaker on our panel, has designed contemporary homes for builders in most of these markets. He has won Home of the Year in the Gold Nuggets Awards each of the last two years for his contemporary designs.
What is the demographic that seems to be reaching out to builders looking for that cutting-edge home with minimal orientation?
Builders who started down this path figured that younger buyers would be the primary targets. But they quickly found that the designs appeal to cultural creatives of all ages, including aging boomers and Gen X professionals. Several builders who began by building entry-level contemporaries during the recession have since introduced new series of trade-up homes. The common denominator among buyers seems to be a desire for a clean, fresh aesthetic. Many of these homes are high-performance homes, too, with strong energy agenda. The homes appeal to discerning buyers who often spend liberally on upgrades. That’s part of the contemporary agenda—the home as a palette to be customized with personal expression.
Will homebuyers continue to look towards more modern, aesthetically non-traditional homes in the coming years, or will they revert back to the traditional, ranch-style homes we still think of as common today?
It’s always struck me as strange that you haven’t seen more contemporary homes, given how popular the style is in commercial and institutional buildings. Homebuilders naturally resist breaking from what’s worked for them in the past. Traditional home designs have been their bread and butter for decades. But now major production buildings in markets throughout the West have demonstrated that building contemporary homes can pay dividends. Patrick Edinger, another speaker on our panel, was just asked by one of the largest production builders in the country to do contemporary makeover of all the builder’s homes. I think this movement is here to stay. I don’t think it’s a passing fad, like, say, Tuscan design.
It’s not too late to join us at PCBC 2014! Register HERE today!
Boyce Thompson, author of The New, New Home, spent over 30 years covering the housing market. He is the founding editor of business titles such as Residential Architect, Digital Home, ProSales, Big Builder, Developer, and ihousing magazines. Thompson served as editorial director of Builder magazine, the flagship magazine for the residential construction industry. In 2008, Thompson received the Crain Award from American Business Media for a lifetime of achievement in business media.