As we move into 2010, I've been reading predictions and forecasts about where the homebuilding industry is heading. It didn't take me long to realize that there's no real consensus. We are still in uncharted waters, and no one seems to agree on when the economy will rebound and when the existing home inventory will be reduced to typical levels. Nevertheless, it's worthwhile to consider some of the top trends predicted for the coming decade as described on the Fine Homebuilding website.
1. New home construction will shift from the job site to the factory. I find this interesting because our Swedish friends have been telling us about this for years. Many new homes in Sweden have pre-assembled walls and roofs, and the exterior shell can be constructed in a day or so. I'm sure we'll start to see more of this process in the U.S. as the number of skilled carpenters seems to decline each year.
2. Granite countertops are on the way out. I believe this one. Granite carries a high price and requires high maintenance. There are many other products, both natural and synthetic, that give a similar appearance at a lower cost...and with little or no maintenance.
3. Weatherization and small remodeling projects will be the lifeblood of homebuilders for a while. I agree. Most builders have been surviving on smaller projects for the last year or so...and until existing inventory gets back to normal levels, new homes may be on the back burner for many people. Yet, homes always need upgrading---both for aesthetic purposes and for energy-efficiency.
4. Insulation will continue to be big. Government incentives and tax credits are in place that make adding insulation a wise decision both for cost savings and for comfort.
5. Water conservation will gain in importance. This trend is evident in the Western United States where water rationing, irrigation, and water conservation are frequently in the news. Not that it's right or wrong, but in the Midwest, I think this is still a few years away from becoming a hot topic.
Whatever the next year has in store, it's fun to try to foresee where things are headed. With new homes, it's fun to imagine your dream home. We hope, however, that you realize that a home is more than a dream house...It's what you put in it (and I don't mean "things") that makes it truly a home.
Happy New Year!