Builders Share Trends Homeowners Require to Create Personal Oasis

Building a custom home today involves much more than specialized floor plans. Homeowners have endless options for special features and unique touches that can turn a home into a personal oasis.

“Most people who build a custom home prefer to be able to influence the design, appliances, fixtures and décor selections rather than buying a replicated product,” Kevin M. Stuckey, managing partner at Stuckey Builders LLC, explained.

Stuckey and other members of the Custom Builders Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association cite several hot trends in today’s market.

Functionality over Formality
James D. McVaugh, founder and president of McVaugh Custom Homes Inc., said homebuyers tend to prefer functionality over formal living spaces.

“This is particularly true with ‘great rooms’ -- where dining, kitchen and living rooms all blend in an L-shape configuration with a high ceiling,” he explained. “We are also seeing kitchen islands getting bigger and designed in new shapes like the letter ‘T’ which seats more people and allows for easier conversations.”

Amanda Pallotta, associate designer and of sister companies Contour Interior Design LLC and Capital Builders & Designers LLC, explained that clients tailor their homes to fit their lifestyle.

“Separate playrooms, theaters and home offices are all integral spaces that are consistently requested by clients,” she said. “It is very important to design for all members of the family so each individual living in the house can be comfortable. In order to achieve this higher standard of livability, the spaces need to be multifunctional.”

The Great Outdoors
Functional living spaces often incorporate patios and backyards, McVaugh said. “With our favorable weather, we are incorporating outdoor sliding pocket door systems that when open, literally blend the inside with the outside. Outside areas now offer fire pits, water features, summer kitchens and the newest evolution away from giant pools to smaller splash pools.”

Stuckey agrees, saying that outdoor living spaces are one of the most requested upgrades for his clients. People enjoy being outside, but they have to be comfortable to really enjoy it,” he said.

Getting Technical
New homes are built to keep up with the times, the builders agreed. Clients want to control their lights, fireplace, garage door, home temperature, security system and music all from their smartphones.

“It’s wireless everything!” Stuckey said. “Wireless lighting and security controls enable a homeowner to activate a security system, lock doors and turn specific fixtures on and off. New electrical outlets provide USB connections for sound and video equipment that can be controlled remotely as well.”

Pallotta agrees. “With the speed in which we as individuals are becoming technically savvy, it is important that we educate our clients on how to integrate that technology into their homes."

All about Amenities
For his clients, Stuckey said, a four-to six-burner gas range is a must-have item. Well-equipped kitchens can help sell a home,” he added. “The kitchen is always an area of interest.”

His clients also want large master bathrooms with a specialty tub, Stuckey said, adding that “An over-sized tub seems to be a necessity even if it’s a non-jetted tub that is used only occasionally.”

In addition to elevators in three-story homes or townhouses, McVaugh said clients also want energy efficiency. “Products such as solar, spray or hybrid insulation and high-efficiency A/C units, as well as home automation are here to stay.”

Intergenerational living is another frequent request, McVaugh said. “Whether returning college students or aging parents, the dual master bedroom suites offer luxury for owners and their guests.”

Stuckey said the industry is trending toward more efficiently sized houses – but that Texans are still looking for big.

“The more efficiently sized house for empty nesters is still in the future,” he said. “The demand for a 3,500- to 5,000-square-foot home for an empty-nester couple is still strong here.”

McVaugh also receives requests for smaller homes, but still full of custom touches. “These smaller homes offer total luxury -- from appliances to high-end details,” he said. “There are full coffee bars and wine closets, as well as unique finishes like porcelain tiles that mirror the warmth of wood with the functional benefits of tiles.”

Groups like the Custom Builders Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association can be great resources for homeowners. The Council has a list of professionals who not only know the latest trends but also can offer guidance for a custom home that suits the most discerning tastes.

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