The Changing Face of Custom HomesLike many other things, custom homes have changed dramatically over the past few years. Not so very long ago, some Charlotte-area homeowners looked at custom homes as short-term investments – something to be built, enjoyed for a few years, and then flipped – typically at a considerable profit. A much tougher resale market and economic uncertainties have more people opting to stay in their homes longer these days. Yes, new custom homes are definitely being built in Charlotte, but in many cases, the people who are building them are taking a longer-term view. So how is that impacting the type of homes being built? Here’s a look at the top trends that we’ve seen in Charlotte’s most recently built custom homes.

Built to enjoy.

Since people are planning on staying in their new homes longer than they might have in the past, they are placing more emphasis on building in the things they really want – and worrying less about the impact those decisions might someday have on their resale value. That means rooms built for specific hobbies, a master bath that reflects the homeowners’ desires instead of the latest trends (with larger walk-in showers and often smaller or no bathtub), more vibrant colors and unique materials are showing up in designs. While everyone is conscious of cost, people are simultaneously more willing to splurge and less willing to wait “for the next house” to build in the features they truly want, because that “next” house may be years down the road, and they want to enjoy them now.

Right-sized.

At the same time, people don’t want to pay for “wasted” space. Unused formal living and dining rooms, single-purpose theater rooms, and soaring two-story spaces are becoming things of the past. Instead, functional spaces built around the way the homeowners actually live are gaining ground. Overall, home sizes are undoubtedly shrinking. Larger homes are simply more costly to operate and to maintain, and in today’s times, that’s an expense many just don’t want to assume.

Efficient.

Today, most people are taking a practical approach to being green. While consumers have reached the point where they almost expect the features and materials they choose to be environmentally responsible, they are also unwilling to invest heavily in features that don’t reap a substantial return. Because of that, today’s buyers are weighing the short-term costs vs. the long-term savings of every major purchase. The number one item that is making the cut is a more efficient HVAC system, which can reap a substantial return on your investment. Other options, like tankless water heaters, energy efficient appliances and more efficient windows and doors are also doing well. There are still tax credits available for certain windows, doors and appliances, but it is critical that consumers make certain that the models they select satisfy the eligibility criteria. While some may be energy saving, they may fall short of the standards established for each component, so make doubly certain before you invest.

Convenient.

Since homeowners are planning to remain in their homes longer, they are thinking ahead for a future when age or infirmity might make it difficult to fully utilize certain areas of their home if they don’t make accommodations on the front end. Simple changes that can be made behind the scenes, like putting extra blocking in bathroom walls to accommodate the need for future grab bars or other aging-in-place amenities cost virtually nothing extra when building and make future modifications a breeze. (Think about the hassle involved in installing a simple grab bar in the future if provisions aren’t made when building – it would entail breaking through a finished wall, installing the bracing, then repairing the wall and replacing the finish – in the case of wallpaper or a faux treatment, it might mean redoing the entire room. If you put a simple wood brace inside the wall now, future grab bar installation is as simple as drilling and turning a screw.) Making doors wider, installing right-height commodes, planning for a future elevator or placing main living spaces on an easily accessible portion of the main level are easy choices that can make all the difference in how long and how well you live in your home for years to come.