A look at what’s trending in homebuilding | HomeWork

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In the last several years, there has been a significant shift toward reducing energy costs and carbon emissions by incorporating green principles into home design, building and operation.

Q: What are some of the current trends in homebuilding?

A: In the last several years, there has been a significant shift toward reducing energy costs and carbon emissions by incorporating green principles into home design, building and operation.

Homes that consume less energy and have a lower carbon footprint also generate lower energy and operating costs.

Key principles of this kind of building and remodeling include an airtight thermal envelope, proper ventilation with a good heat recovery system, superior insulation, good solar orientation for the use of solar panels, and the use of energy efficient appliances.

Homeowners are also increasingly interested in health-conscious designs.

Paints, insulation, wood stains, carpeting, upholstery and other synthetic materials can pose serious health problems for family members with severe allergy or breathing problems. Fortunately, nontoxic paints and natural-material alternatives are available.

Another homebuilding trend is designing for relaxation. It has been estimated that people alive today are exposed to more information in one day than an average person in the 17th century was exposed to in his or her entire life.

With today’s heightened stress levels and information overload, it’s easy to understand why home features like spas, theaters, gyms and other areas designed to provide opportunities to unwind and relax are becoming more common.

Flex rooms are also a popular trend. Flexible areas in the home can have a range of uses — changing from a den to a guest room, for example, as needed.

Architects are also designing homes to accommodate the growing elderly population who are opting to stay with family.

By designing and building a kind of self-contained unit, segregated from the rest of the house in some way, it allows an elderly relative and the rest of the family valuable privacy.

This kind of building also offers versatility for the homeowner. Flex rooms enable maximum usage with the available space, and also allow for potentially renting out the room should that become desirable.

Kitchens have been the hub of the home for many families for years. Now they are being elevated to center stage, and are often designed to be the focal point of the home. New kitchen designs often incorporate a range of other multitasking uses, including home offices and homework stations. This allows overscheduled families to maximize the time together at home.

Where the outdoors was once a place exclusively for gardens and lawns, these days builders are creating outdoor rooms.

These rooms allow homeowners to expand their available living space and enjoy the enhanced presence of nature in their homes.

Another trend that helps maximize available space is inventive storage capacity. Builders and remodelers are finding creative storage solutions, such as stairways that contain storage bins in the steps, under-stairs closets and play areas, and new and innovative built-ins.

Whether you are building or remodeling, these trends offer comfort, convenience and the likelihood of increased resale value.

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