Study: More homeowners eye accessible design, square footage

A study from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) said that with the recovery of the housing market, homeowners are showing increasing interest in indoor and outdoor accessible-design aspects, as well as a desire for more square footage, the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) said on Tuesday.

The survey indicated gains across all major housing sectors. Kermit Baker, AIA's chief economist, said this indicates that homeowners are more inclined to stay in their current homes, opting for renovations over a new home.

"Accessible design" refers to design elements of a home or building that accommodate individuals with physical disabilities, and consideration of such needs during the design process is growing.

“An increase in home square footage with the rising popularity of accessible-design concepts point to a population that is preparing to age in place, or perhaps is anticipating responsibility for caretaking of older relatives in the future,” Baker said. “As homeowners prepare to stay in their current homes, investment in outdoor living spaces has also increased.”

Data is based on firms that have reported fluctuations in activity. Between 2014 and 2015, activity related to indoor accessibility increased to 70 percent and outdoor increased to 59 percent. Increasing square footage activity increased to 20 percent.

“The fundamentals of the economy demonstrate steady progress, with incomes continuing to stabilize, as illustrated by the survey’s positive findings,” Baker said. “Business conditions at residential architecture firms continue to show solid gains as billings, new-design contracts and inquiries for future project activity are all improving.”

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