By Sue Ridgeway
A recurring theme in the home building industry is housing affordability and the impact the dearth of attainable homes is having on home building in general. At the most recent International Builders’ Show, Lita Dirks, CEO and principal at Lita Dirks & Co., and Tom Devine, AIA, senior partner at Housing Design Matters, presented on the importance of delivering homes that buyers want and can actually afford.
During their presentation, attendees learned tips on how to save money through strategic architectural and interior design decisions. From floor plan design to finishes to outside elevations, this blog will cover the highlights of that presentation and (hopefully) remove the stigma of the word “value.” Because as you will read, value does not have to be a four-letter word.
Value: It Starts at the Start
While this may sound like something Yogi Berra would say, it’s accurate. To build a home with value in mind, one must be thinking about value from the start: from the creation of the floor plan. Key considerations in creating a value-promoting floor plan include:
- Reducing exterior walls
- Avoiding snout garages
- Minimizing circulation (buyers don’t want to pay for hallways)
- Creating long sight lines (makes a smaller footprints feel larger)
- Maximizing natural light and open space (again, to make small footprints feel large)
Ultimately, these considerations add value by creating a small plan that lives large.
Keep It Simple, Keep It Bright
When a prospective buyer walks into your home, you want to them to be overwhelmed with desire to live there. And, as a builder you need to entice that desire without breaking the bank. One way to do that is through maximizing natural light and open space to create a feeling of luxury in the home. Ways to promote light and luxury (at least the perception thereof) include:
- Lining up windows with doorways to allow light to flow through the space
- Creating long sight lines
- Keeping drapery limited (to add light and expand perception of space)
Focus on Flexibility
Providing a variety of options can make a simple floor plan seem like so much more. For example, create a room that is designed in such a way as to fit a number of your buyer’s goals: a home office, a spare bedroom, a crafting studio, etc. Some buyers may struggle envisioning how they might use the space, so it is crucial to merchandise in a way that shows off and demonstrates that flexibility.
Creative Design goes a Long Way
In the same vein as using simple materials to create the feeling of luxury, employing creative design can go a long way towards maximizing your dollar and promoting that luxurious feeling. If your model is merchandised in a creative, strategic way, even the most affordable of materials can seem high-end. Some creative merchandising ideas include:
- Arranging mirrors to make a room look bigger
- Adding a frame around a simple mirror can make it appear more expensive
- Including an expensive pillow or two on a more affordable sofa
- Adding wainscoting in a bathroom (small space, big impact)
- Thinking outside the box for impact pieces
In practice, what does this look like? This is a section of wallpaper that has been framed to create a strong (and expensive looking) art piece:
Exterior Details Matter, Too
It goes without saying that the outside details matter too, and in fact, are perhaps the most important detail. Consider them your first wave in promoting the importance – and accessibility – of value to potential buyers. Outside elevations are the home’s first impression.
Using the rule of three, use materials to create a feeling that the home is more customized, less cookie cutter.
Designing and building homes that are affordable does not have to be boring or ugly. With well-crafted architecture and strategic interior design, value does not have to be a four-letter word!