Described in his company brochure as "the dwelling of future," Finnish architect Matti Suuronen designed and built a series of flying-saucer-like houses out of fiberglass called Futuro. The Futuro, with a hatch door leading to a comfortable living room outfitted with six plastic bed-chair combinations and a central fireplace slab, as well as a kitchenette, a bathroom and one small bedroom, was supposed to take advantage of the mobile home buyer of the future. While Suuronen's effort did not 'take off,' that did not deter others from trying to determine in the present the needs of the home buyer of the future.
Given the rapid evolution of design, configuration and products in new homes, even a professional futurist might be hard-pressed to determine what the next five decades hold for housing. A new "The Home of the Future" study by the National Association of Home Builders, however, provides a telling look at the homes buyers can expect to purchase in the nearer future: the year 2015.
According to the experts, the pace of change in new homes will be much faster over the next 10 years than in recent years, and buyers can expect that all homes will be significantly "greener" and more resource efficient than today. There will also be increasing emphasis on universal design and handicap access.
Perhaps most surprising, the consensus was that although average home size has increased significantly in the past decade, it is not likely to increase in the next 10 years. In fact, average home size in 2015 is likely to stay in the range of today's 2,400 square feet, and homes are increasingly likely to be two-story rather than one-story.
Like today, kitchens and bathrooms will continue to be among the most important factors affecting consumer buying choices and will continue to feature upgraded materials and appliances. The focus on garages will also increase, with more consumers preferring three-car garages. Moreover, the door openings on garages will be larger to accommodate larger vehicles.
Other features of the average home in 2015 include:
- 2,330-square-foot, two-story home with 2.5 to 3.5 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms
- One-story entry foyer
- One-story family room (no loft or volume ceilings, etc.)
- Living room will vanish or become parlor/retreat/library
- Nine-foot ceilings on first floor; eight- to nine-foot ceilings on second floor
- Exterior walls of vinyl or fiber cement siding or brick
- Staircase located in foyer.
While experts are labeled as such because they know their business, what the Internet, technology and our dynamic society has taught us is that rapid and exponential change makes predicting into the future -- one month, one year, one decade -- delicate, at best. History proves that axiom, just ask Finnish architect Matti Suuronen who designed and built the Futuro thinking it was the future of home building. Studies like NAHB's "The Home of the Future" are fascinating, important and excellent sources of information but the secret is builders, architects, contractors and developers must develop systems and processes that are flexible enough to allow them to meet the changing needs of today's home buyers, as well as the evolving demands of those soon to enter the marketplace.