Two recent consumer surveys shed light on what housing features are important to today’s homeowners. The bottom line? An inviting space that can adapt to rapidly changing lifestyles.
According to an NAHB consumer preference survey conducted last year, consumers still want larger houses, but not as large as before. The typical American would like to have around 2,300 sf, said Gopal Ahluwalia, vice president of economic research for NAHB.
Items that would most influence a consumer’s decision to purchase a house are living space (79 percent), energy efficient features (72 percent) and better insulated and sealed homes (66 percent). Specialty areas that were deemed either “desirable” or “essential/must have” were laundry room (92 percent), dining room (81 percent) and home office (71 percent).
Exterior lighting (86 percent), rear patios and front porches (80 percent) and rear decks (77 percent) rated most highly among consumers.

Gayle Butler, editor in chief of Better Homes and Gardens, said people want a home that supports their busy lifestyles.
“The house needs to be part of the solution in successfully handling that active lifestyle,” she said.
That need makes specialty areas key in home design. When asked what specialty space they would prefer, respondents to a Better Homes and Gardens consumer survey listed sunroom (36 percent), extra large front porch (35 percent), oversized laundry room (34 percent) and mudroom (26 percent).
Butler said consumers also want an inviting space that allows them to gather with family and friends. And that space now includes the outdoors.
“Outdoor spaces have gone beyond the barbeque to include dining rooms, entertaining areas and full cooking and refrigeration capabilities,” she said.
Finally, consumers want homes that cannot only manage a busy lifestyle, but also adapt with it. According to the Better Homes and Gardens study, about one in three people expects an aging parent to move in within the next five to ten years. Many are planning for an adult child or relative to move in (23 percent). Most demand guest accommodations in their home for grown kids and grandkids (66 percent).