4 trends that are changing floor plans in new-builds

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

SAN DIEGO — Buying a brand-new home offers many advantages over purchasing resale, and one of the most important is that new houses are designed for the way people live today. Homebuyers are looking for open, flexible spaces to suit a more casual lifestyle — and builders are paying attention.

Here are some of the top trends influencing today’s home design:


With the proliferation of television shows and websites devoted to real estate, home décor and design, home shoppers now arrive at a sales office with a list of "must have" features that they want in their next home.

At the top of the wish list is an open concept floor plan. In a National Association of Home Builders report published last year, builders surveyed said the kitchen-family room arrangement is completely or partially open in 84 percent of their homes. In 54 percent, the main living spaces are completely open.

"Five years ago, there was a thought that the desire for a separate dining room may return, but that notion has fallen completely to the wayside," said Tom Redwitz, chief investment officer at The New Home Co., based in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

More than ever, buyers seek bright, inviting spaces for entertaining, and the trend is pulling the majority of shoppers toward plans with the lowest wall-to-square-foot ratio.


It’s not just interior walls that are vanishing. According to a recent American Institute of Architects report, demand for outdoor living space has grown by 70 percent since 2013. San Diego homebuilders CalAtlantic Homes, Shea Homes, Pardee, Brookfield Residential, California West Communities, and Toll Brothers are among the developers that feature outdoor rooms in homes of almost every price range throughout the county.

To provide an indoor-outdoor living experience in denser markets, the use of rooftop decks is soaring, as found at Hallmark Communities’ 1125 South Cleveland project in Oceanside. Across the board, exterior spaces are taking shape as sizable outdoor rooms that are functional year-round and are as much a part of the home as its interior spaces. Shading and heating products as well as audio and video technology make it possible to extend entertaining spaces to the outdoors year-round, adding usable square footage to the home.

At Almeria, a luxury residential community in San Diego by Pardee Homes, Robert Hidey Architects designed upper-story private exterior spaces that can be closed off as rooms or opened to flow out of the great rooms, making them adaptable for hosting social functions of various scopes and sizes. Downstairs, the kitchen — which receives light from three sides — features a wall that folds away at the sink and provides a catering station for outdoor dining.

In addition, the growing number of product manufacturers offering affordable sliding and foldable window and door systems makes it possible to create an indoor-outdoor flow while still managing costs.

"Collapsible doors are being offered at nearly every price point today. Plans that don’t include them — especially in markets like San Diego with temperate climates — are at a competitive disadvantage," Redwitz said.


As more people enjoy the benefits of multigenerational households, homes with ground-floor suite options are increasingly in demand. Almost one in five Americans live in multigen households, according to a Pew Research Center report released in August 2016, and the number is growing. In San Diego, more builders are offering flexible floor plans to accommodate shifting family dynamics.

"As the cost of housing rises, households are expanding to accommodate adult children, elderly parents, and space for a caregiver, and more," said Robby Thorne, CEO of California West Communities, which recently unveiled S.L. Rey in Bonsall.

Three of the four floor plans for the neighborhood had choices for multigen living spaces — and the first two buyers purchased the option, Thorne added.

Brookfield Residential, CalAtlantic Homes, Shea Homes, Lennar and Pardee also build homes with multigenerational living choices that may also include universal-design features such as zero-entry showers and wide, accessible hallways and living spaces.


Who wants to tear down walls, replace flooring and paint after they move into a home? Turns out, fewer and fewer homebuyers.

According to Mike Moore, author and building industry coach, 53 percent of home shoppers prefer new to resale. The No. 1 reason: Buyers want the ability to be involved in the building process and select options and upgrades before they move in, instead of having to make changes to a home after settling in.

Almost every builder has a design center, staffed with professional design experts and consultants, ready to give step-by-step help along the way. The centers offer design features previously only available for custom homes, including whole-home control systems for security, lighting heating and air; special home theater packages; solar heating choices; and top-end design choices for stone, tile, wood, and more.

Today’s savvy homebuyers know what they want, and builders are listening, creating innovative homes fit for today’s active families regardless of their size and makeup.