House style- New Constuction

New Home, courtesy of Pixabay (www.pixabay.com)

History

With single-family homes sprinkled generously across the American landscape, it can be easy to forget that this housing type was once a radical new concept, reflecting the independent and self-reliant spirit of the early settlers. Prior to the 17th century, European communities often centered around manor houses which required large staffs of servants, skilled workers, and groundskeepers to keep them running. Those not living or working within the confines of the main house, often lived in multi-generational cottages, where one would be born and reared until married, at which time a new wife would leave her family to join the household of her husband. 


The evolution of the single-family home became possible only as living standards improved, societies became more industrialized, and people were able to survive in smaller groups. In the “New World,” the abundance of space and resources allowed early settlers to break into smaller “nuclear” family groups. Modest homes needed only to accommodate one or two generations, and “newlyweds” were able to establish their own homesteads, separate from that of their parents. With little to no staff required to run them, the focus of the home became the family itself. Privacy, a notion that would have been foreign to our 16th century ancestors, would go on to become a driving principle for much of American home design, its influence evident in everything from sleeping quarters to landscaping.

Trends for 2017

Because the characteristics of new construction change from year to year, it makes sense to consider the trends that experts say will guide home design in 2017. According to the National Association of Home Builders (www.nahb.org), the new year’s new construction will continue to emphasize the use of open concepts, high ceilings, and energy efficient appliances and windows, while also incorporating greater use of utility rooms, such as laundry areas and master walk-ins. Apparently, elevators, pet-washing stations, and wine cellars are all on the decline, much to the relief of tee-totaling dirty dogs everywhere. A recovering economy, coupled with more relaxed lending, indicates that entry-level single-family homes will be at the forefront of home construction this coming year. If you’ve been thinking of building a house, 2017 might just be the year for you.

Design experts seem to agree that the trend in interiors will center around elements that are natural and cozy. Pantone, the company that standardizes color-matching for manufacturers and designers, has chosen “Greenery 15-0343” as its 2017 color of the year, reflecting a growing desire to “connect with Nature.” Paint, fabric, even indoor plants, will be used to bring this cheery yellow-green color into new homes everywhere. Other natural elements are also expected to take center stage, such as marble, cork, and terracotta. White tile, which has lately reigned supreme as the must-have neutral design element, is expected to cede its thrown to newer tile designs that mimic the look of natural wood, reflecting a desire to move away from antiseptic living spaces. Finally, the Scandinavians are expected to weigh-in on interior design trends with a push for all things cozy (or as the Dutch like to say it, “hygge”). Warm neutral throws, upholstered furniture, jewel-toned accents, calm lighting, candles —all one needs to enjoy a long cold winter — will be at the center of interior home design in 2017. These are rooms you want to settle into with a good book or an old friend. Good-bye all-white interiors. Good-bye sharp angles. Good-bye stark minimalism.

New Construction might be perfect for you if:

  • you want everything new, new, new: Everything in a new house is new! New roof, new paint, new floors, new electrical system, new furnace, new windows, new driveway, new appliances. For at least the first 15 years, this house should require very little maintenance. If you’re careful and diligent with the upkeep, you might get even further. It’ll allow you to save your money for other things … like car repairs or college tuition.
  • you have a clear vision: Building a new house requires you to make roughly one million decisions. For some people, this can be overwhelming. However, if you are someone with a clear vision and love the idea of being in control of every aspect of your home’s design, new construction might be just the thing for you. For many, nothing is more satisfying then sitting in a home that wholly reflects their values and tastes.
  • you can wait for landscaping: No matter how much you invest in the initial landscaping of your new home, it will be several years before it develops a mature tone. However, as with the interior elements, a new house allows you to choose the landscaping and garden design. You won’t inherit someone else’s overgrown pine trees or sickly rhododendrons. You won’t have to figure out how to remedy someone else’s color fails. For the aspiring gardener, a new property is a blank canvas just waiting for your inspiring hands. So, while you might not have an enviable yard at first, if you’re patient, you can create a magnificent oasis.

This might not be your dream home if:

  • you can’t say “no”: When building or customizing a new house, it can be very tempting to get pulled into the optional add-ons and upgrades, after all, you’re only going to “do it once” so you might as well “do it right.” The problem is, each seemingly small update can add up to a significant expense. If you’re someone who isn’t good at creating a reasonable budget and then sticking with it — particularly when tempted by granite countertops or custom walk-ins — you might find yourself in an unwanted financial situation once all is said and done.
  • you like old houses: Some people just love older homes. Hefty trim, bump-outs, outdated extras that exude charm. Without these things, in your opinion, a house just isn’t a home. Unless you’re in a position to fund a high-end construction project, a new house probably won’t have the craftsmanship found in older homes. If this is a deal breaker for you, you might want to pass on new construction.
  • you want to live in an established neighborhood: Occasionally you can find a lot in the middle of an older, well-established neighborhood, but generally speaking, if you’re planning to build a new house, it will most likely be in a neighborhood with other new houses. Depending on when you move into the development, your new neighborhood might be a “work in progress” for a while, replete with construction equipment and half-built houses. These neighborhoods can have a lot of nice features (young families, sidewalks, other freshly finished homes), but it’s unlikely the streets will be lined with old shade trees or that they’ll have a homey, lived-in feel.
  • you need to move in right away: Building your own house, or customizing a builder’s plan, takes time. You’ll need somewhere to live while the house is being built, whether that means staying in your existing home or biding your time in a rental. This can be an inconvenience (to put it lightly) and an additional expense, particularly for larger families. If you have neither the nerves nor the pocketbook for the process, you might want to consider a house that’s already built.