Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on The 3 C’s for Home Builders.
Gale Steves, author of the recently-published book “Right Sizing Your Home,” sat down with K&A to discuss how home builders have been marketing their homes toward women and what they need to do to improve their practices.
“Most people aren’t living fully, or even well, in their homes,” says Steves. “There are areas of the home that are seldom used.”
She says the current cookie-cutter homes being built by the large builders stem from trends that began in the1990s. “We wanted stunning star-quality kitchens, huge ceilings, and communication centers and so on. And do you know what? It was all about ego. We got out of touch with how families work.” Families, particularly women, are asking for more realism. They need a house that suits the way they actually live.
Steves identifies three C’s when it comes to homes: comfort, convenience and carefree maintenance. “People are hunkering down. They want to be comfortable in the space that they’re in. Don’t forget that the home they’re in now might not be the space they wanted to be in at this point!” The new reality, she says, is frugality.
The changing demographics at home are also driving change. There are tons of multi-generational fluxes happening – the bonus room above the garage becomes an apartment or the basement becomes work space for people who are now working at home. “The home is going through the spin cycle right now. People are starting to re-think their spaces. The next five years will see a much more efficient home in terms of both energy and space,” says Steves.
Steves says she hopes the builders catch on to this message which kitchen designers have already. “The best house plans I’ve seen have a ton of flexibility. “Everyone looks at a house in different ways because we all have different needs. Down with cookie-cutter homes!”
Steves also identified some key questions home owners, builders and designers should ask themselves:
Is the dining room a dinosaur?
Do you have to have a dining room? What sort of lifestyle do you have? Most people I know only use that dining room for dining specifically maybe three times a year. Otherwise it’s my office.
Are you forcing your homeowners to buy furniture they don’t need?
You don’t need to furnish an entire room that you never use. I saw one builder call the front entrance room his ‘chat rooms.’ It’s clever, but it’s not convenient.
Think about the front entrance.
Steves says most people come through the mud room or the garage. “The only people that come to the front door are the FedEx guys or someone selling me something.”
Less crazy in the kitchen.
Steves says designers don’t have stop specifying high-end products. Homeowners might not want to give up the giant-sized range, but, Steves says, “Most of us don’t need eight burners. Most of us don’t need a restaurant-sized refrigerator either!”
How will they talk to each other?
“Once you’re in, how do you communicate? You can’t put all the fancy new gear in the kitchen and clutter it up. Where do you talk and catch up? Do you watch TV together or are the kids upstairs on their computers?”
Steves heads Open House Productions, a home industries consulting company. She has more than 30 years of experience working with manufacturers, retailers and consumers in the home and building product industry, and she is an expert on lifestyle market forecasting.