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7 Home Building Trends Every General Contractor Should Know About


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There's no substitute for quality, style, comfort and convenience in pleasing demanding residential customers. But, how do you select from the vast array of products available to meet those demands? Take a look at these trends.

1. High Touch Tech

The world is getting overrun by sensors, and these sensitive little tattletales can swiftly and easily control everything from your lighting to room temperature. Light sensors know when you enter the room and turn on by themselves. Your thermostat can sense the hot stuffy air near your westside windows and close the blinds. Still, all these nifty sensors doing their own thing without any collaboration could be a recipe for disaster. That's why there is a demand for systems that integrate everything to give the homeowner complete control over their living environment. That job falls to an electronic systems contractor, and no matter your role in residential building, it's wise to become one or get to know one.

2. Maximum Viewability

Televisions and monitors of yesteryear needed huge amounts of space to accommodate the cathode ray tube (sticky-outee-thingy at the back of the screen). Today's flat screen revolution changed that. Now, you can place screens almost anywhere. Use some novel hardware, and you can even have them drop down from the ceiling or rise from the floor. Better yet, have them automatically fold out of the way, or in a different direction so one screen is useful in multiple spaces.

3. Remaking Sustainability

Renewable energy like solar panels and wind power continues remaking the residential energy market. California recently mandated solar panels on all new homes starting in 2020. While you won't probably see that kind of sustainability bullishness from other states just yet, homeowners and home buyers are very interested in homes that use less energy and water. There is also increasing demand for systems that manage power consumption. These home energy management systems monitor and adjust factors affecting energy use to lower the bills and reduce wear and tear on HVAC equipment. 

4. Lighting the New Way

Industrial style lighting holds its popularity in sleek, simple designs. But now, lighting is also dressing up architectural accents like tray ceilings, and it's illuminating shapes and scenes inspired by nature to create calm, peaceful-feeling spaces. Brass and gold trimmed lighting is in, offering a vintage feel for private spaces. New tunable light bulbs allow users to change the tone of the lighting so they get energizing light during the day and softer, warmer light in the evening. 

5. "Form Follows Function" is Outdated

Function takes a seat right next to form in kitchen trends. But even here, function is expected to have a tech aspect. Design doesn't have to fade into the background just because counters adjust to the person's height. What’s more, kitchen countertops with inlaid screens providing internet connectivity for kitchen activities, or nearly anything else, are also adding tech to previously un-techie spaces. Built-in, nontraditional cookware, such as vacuum cooking appliances, is attracting interest. Food preservation is getting as much attention as food preparation with new built-ins like food packaging appliances.

6. New Ideas for Tiling

The latest tile colors are black, white, and shades of gray. However, when it comes to tile used to simulate wooden floors, wood designs still reign. And, tile planks are now more in demand than traditional tile squares. The most popular plank styles are stone, metal, or cotto. The most popular plank size is 18 inch by 36 inch. High-end applications still demand rectified edges, but calibrated tiles fit everywhere else. When it comes to vintage style, there's a trend toward tiles that look old but well cared for. Also, laying tiles in unconventional but design-sensitive ways is popular, while the new thin tiles are grabbing more attention.

7. The New Essentials

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, home features in demand by both first-time buyers and second-time buyers are similar but vary in priority. 

  • Laundry Room

There is apparently a lot of interest in keeping the laundry contained somewhere out of sight. Laundry room must-haves now also include space for ironing and folding. Interestingly, second-time buyers rank laundry rooms as more essential than living rooms.

  • Garage  

First and second-time buyers rank a garage as very important. However, first-time buyers want garage storage way more than they want a two-car garage. Meanwhile, second-time buyers rank two-car garages first, immediately followed by garage storage.

  • Master Walk-in Closet

First-time buyers rank a master bedroom walk-in closet as fifth in the features they consider essential. Second-time buyers rank the walk-in as third in their lists of most essential features.

Of course, all the niceties in the world won't make up for poor quality and inefficient systems. So, you can't go wrong by making those the foundation around which you build in style, comfort and convenience.

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