home buyers are coming back, but they donít want the
same old McMansion. They want a house they can use.
means a "great room" where everyone can gather
ó and a spalike bathroom to escape from the crowd.
usefulness also extends to lots of storage space for
big-box buys. It means "drop-off zones" for
recharging smartphones and pet-friendly "puppy
showers." It means a home office actually designed
for work and media centers made for play. It means big
closets and little nooks.
new homes combine practicality with the way we want to
live now, builders say.
rolling out all new designs," said Jeff Lake,
national head of architecture for major builder Standard
Pacific Homes, which has new tracts under construction
in Rocklin and El Dorado Hills. "We completely
re-did our entire inventory with a huge emphasis on
designs are the culmination of a three-year process,
did a lot of research," he said. "We studied
how people actually live in their homes. We found theyíre
more connected than ever ó and not just texting."
want to feel connected to their family as well as to
their media, Lake said. In some places, including
California, they also want to feel connected to the
great outdoors with windows everywhere and patio rooms
that look like their indoor counterparts.
realized it truly is different the way people live
now," Lake said. "(Buyers) are not as formal.
They want life to be simplified."
to experts, todayís home buyers are much more budget
conscious, a natural consequence of the recession. They
demand more value per square foot. Theyíre not
interested in rooms they will rarely use such as a
formal dining room. Most of all, home buyers want a
house that "works" for them.
put a huge percentage (of square footage) into hallways
and formal spaces that are used infrequently," Lake
said. "It adds up to a lot of square footage. Weíre
building homes with 1,000 less square feet but every
room feels bigger because the house isnít so cut
walk-through of new luxury home models in Rocklin,
Calif., at Standard Pacificís Manzanita at Whitney
Ranch illustrates his point. Priced at $454,000 to
$504,000, each home featured a mammoth "great
room" combining a large kitchen with family, dining
and living room space into one very large area without
rooms are the No. 1 requested feature among current new
home buyers, real estate experts say.
ends up in the kitchen, so why not make room for
them?" Lake said. "(Traditionally), most homes
defined circulation zones with a lot of hallways. This
gave us the opportunity to do something totally
kitchen/great room combo had a layout that could double
as a small restaurant. The L-shaped area had space for
three dining sets ó one adjacent to the kitchen,
another for more formal gatherings in the living area
and a third near a media wall that could double as a
game table. Separating the kitchen from the great room,
a 14-foot island served as a buffet and breakfast bar.
Every eating area could see the media wall, anchored by
a 70-inch flat-screen TV.
for entertaining, this great room can hold a crowd. At a
recent community event, 75 people gathered in this
it still felt comfortable," said Danielle Tocco of
Standard Pacific Homes. "Itís the perfect kind of
room for a large family."
Lake, "Dining, cooking, communication; theyíre
all connected. We used to be more compartmentalized.
Now, people want flow."
home construction is finally bouncing back after the
recession. In 2012, new home sales increased by 67
percent in the Sacramento area compared to 2011,
according to the Gregory Group, a Folsom, Calif.-based
new home consulting company. In 2012, 2,782 new homes
were sold in the four-county Sacramento region, up from
1,668 the year before.
and buying still have a long ways to go to catch up with
the pre-recession boom. During the downturn, new home
construction in the area fell to a 50-year low. At its
peak in 2004, about 17,000 new homes were sold in the
Sacramento region, said the Gregory Group. Annual sales
for the past 15 years average 8,765 new homes.
inventory and new designs can help lure buyers back into
Eckman of Rocklin and her mother, Sylvia Vining,
recently toured the Manzanita models.
are getting smarter," Eckman said. "They think
the great room, the women pointed to other thoughtful
touches such as mud rooms (some with a dog-friendly
shower to wash dirty paws) and "drop zones,"
located near the entrance doors and designed to
gives you a place to drop your stuff right when you walk
in," Eckman said.
like the his-and-hers (walk-in) closets a lot!"
Vining added of the master bedroom.
my home, I have very little storage space," Eckman
said. "Everything is in the garage. I liked the
upstairs laundry room with the storage right there (near
the bedrooms). How convenient! Boom, itís done!"
love the little homework area tucked behind the
kitchen," Vining said of a computer nook. "You
can still keep an eye on the kids, but they canít see
the TV (in the great room)."
thoughtful highlights: A home office near the front door
(convenient for deliveries) and state-of-the-art smart
technology to keep the home running as efficiently as
homes have the space for everything but itís a matter
of how to use that space.
40 years, new homes have grown substantially nationwide.
The average new home is 44 percent larger than one built
in 1973, according to real estate statistics. Back then,
the average new house measured 1,660 square feet. In
2007, the national average hit 2,521.
construction came to a virtual standstill during the
recession, home size slipped only slightly. The average
new house still measures 2,480 square feet.
mid-size home is now considered anything between 2,500
and 3,000 square feet. According to U.S. Census
statistics, about 20 percent of new homes fall in that
category. Almost 20 percent fit the 3,000- to
4,000-square-foot range. Another 7 percent top 4,000
most popular new home size ó 1,800 to 2,400 square
feet ó accounts for 27 percent of new homes, but that
also includes townhouses and other attached dwellings as
well as single-family homes.
assumed that, during the recession, everyone would just
start building smaller homes," said Lake, noting
Standard Pacificís Manzanita homes range from 2,400 to
3,200 square feet. "But actually, weíre still
building big, but smarter."
homes also tend to feel like resort living, an outgrowth
of "staycations." Next to the great room, the
most requested amenity is a spa bathroom, Lake said.
take a lot of cues from hospitality," Lake said.
"Think about the best vacation spot youíve been
to. Thatís what people want ó particularly the spa
bath for their home."
includes "the whole idea of a spa," he added,
with such amenities as a soaking tub, steam shower,
luxurious cabinetry and natural stone.
want huge showers ó Łber showers, car-wash
showers," Lake said. "I havenít found a
limit yet on a shower thatís too big. Everybody wants
a seat in the shower, too. Itís another case of
dedicating square footage where people use it every