Houston homebuilders are pioneering new technologies and design trends.
John Leggett, president and CEO of Houston-based On Point Custom Homes, returned recently from the National Association of Home Builders show in Las Vegas, where he saw vendors hawking new smart home appliances and showcasing new architectural styles.
Here are five homebuilding trends sweeping Houston’s luxury homebuilding market, according to Leggett:
1. Blending of the indoor and outdoor spaces: Many Houston builders already incorporate a patio into their home designs. However, builders nationally are now treating the indoor and outdoor realms as one space, with materials and features that blend the two. For example, more homes are starting to see patios with ceiling AC/heaters, misters and mechanized mosquito screens that drop down. French doors separating the patio and living room space have been replaced by sliding glass walls. Tile floors typically used in the patio are framing the inside entryway
“These two spaces are converging as one,” Leggett said. “You’re making that outdoor space a continuation of your living space.”
2. Smart home technology: There is now an app for every appliance, from kitchen appliances like slow cookers to large household appliances, such as tankless water heaters. More appliance manufacturers are incorporating technology that alerts homebuyers to potential problems and reminds them of maintenance schedules. For example, the dryer can alert homeowners that it’s time to clean out the lint catch to prevent fires.
In addition, many manufacturers are starting to offer fee-based maintenance services, similar to those already offered in the automotive industry. Major technology players, such as Apple and Google, also are pushing into this smart-home space that allows homeowners to control pretty much everything inside the house, from lighting to music.
“Everything is going to have an app and everything is going to give you diagnostics,” Leggett said. “That’s where the home is heading.”
3. More lifestyle spaces and products: Homebuilders are offering more specialized rooms, beyond a media or game room. More luxury homebuyers are requesting a pet room, with a pet-friendly sink and shower. There are more pet products as well, such as automatic food bowls that owners can set to dispense food at certain times of the day.
There are other lifestyle products, such as spa-like sauna and steam room kit, mood lighting in the shower and an indoor pizza oven that allows homeowners to personalize their home to their life.
“All of these lifestyle products allow you to enjoy your home more like you’re at a five-star hotel,” Leggett said. “Everyone spends so much money on their pets, so this is important.”
4. Material accent walls: Painted accent walls are now being replaced with accent walls made out of materials, like sheetrock, stone and reclaimed wood finishes. Builders are experimenting with different materials, not just colors.
Paint and color are still important however. Gray and white colors are in, as well as two-tone cabinets and kitchen styles.
“Builders are jazzing up everything with different materials,” Leggett said. “Sheetrock is becoming a canvas.”
5. New appliance colors: Stainless steel appliances have now become standard in new production homes.
Now, manufacturers are offering new colored appliances for luxury homes, such as a slate gray, stainless black or carbon fiber range.
“You’re getting stainless steel no matter the newest home you’re in,” Leggett said. “Luxury buyers are looking to be different. This is good looking stuff that I think is going to catch on.”