Continued Homeowner Preference for Energy-efficient and Low Maintenance Products and Systems


Best business conditions for residential market since 2007

Washington, D.C. – September 19, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — As the housing market continues to improve, investments within the home have remained focused on increasing energy efficiency, designing outdoor living environments and adding wireless communications systems as home offices remain the most popular special function room. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Surveyfor the second quarter of 2012 that focused on emerging home features: systems, technologies and function rooms in the home.

“We are far removed from the days when there was strong demand for home theaters and saunas,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Instead, the last several years have seen consumer priorities based more on practicality, ease, and affordability over luxury.”

AIA Home Design Trends Survey highlights 2012 2011
Home offices 35% 36%
Outdoor living rooms 22% 24%
Mud rooms 22% 17%
Media / home theater 7% 8%
All other rooms 8% 11%
Au pair / in-law suites 5% 3%
Indoor greenhouse 1% 1%
TOTAL 100% 100%

(most popular special function rooms, % of respondents)

Products 2012 2011
Low maintenance 59% 65%
Energy-efficient 58% 69%
Tank-less water heaters 51% 58%
Water saving 48% 51%
Synthetic materials 47% 55%
Recycled materials 39% 42%

(% respond. report. popularity of products “increasing” minus % report. “decreasing”; Q2:2012)

Systems / technologies 2012 2011
Wireless 48% 50%
Energy management 48% 46%
Backup power generation 44% 31%
Solar panels 38% 44%
Geothermal heating / cooling 30% 45%
Water reclamation 22% 29%
Electrical docking station 22% 9%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2012)

Special home features 2012 2011
Extra insulation 66% 68%
First floor master bedroom 46% 47%
Ramps / elevators 38% 33%
Easy-to-use features 27% 30%
Hurricane resistant design 25% 29%

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2:2012)

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q2 2012 (any score above 50 is positive)

      • Billings: 53
      • Inquiries for new projects: 53

Baker noted, “Led by a robust remodeling market this is the first time there has been consecutive quarters of increasing demand for design services for residential architects since 2007. We haven’t entered an across-the-board recovery phase, but all other housing building sectors have improved remarkably so far this year.”

Specific construction segments 2012 2011
Additions / alterations 44% 40%
Kitchen / bath remodeling 44% 36%
Move up home market: -4% -35%
Custom luxury home market: -6% -22%
First-time buyer / affordable home market: -11% -37%
Townhouse / condo market: -28% -37%
Second home: -48% -62%

(% 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 2012), and kitchen and bath trends (March 2013).

About The American Institute of Architects
For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit

Matt Tinder

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