Residential business conditions weaken while remodeling remains popular, says AIA Home Design Trends Survey | News

The American Institute of Architects has published its latest quarterly report on residential design in the United States. The AIA Home Design Trends Survey for Q4 2023 focused on the theme ‘neighborhood and community design,’ and revealed a desire among clients for simpler detailing on home exteriors and more windows.

Home exterior trends from the latest AIA survey. Image credit: American Institute of Architects

According to data from architects on client expectations, ‘contemporary home styles’ remain the most popular feature, mentioned by 51% of clients. ‘Simpler detailing on exteriors’ was requested by 29% of clients, and ‘front/side porches’ by 27% of clients.

On home exteriors, ‘low maintenance/durable exteriors’ was the most popular request, mentioned by 59% of clients. A focus on ‘windows (number and size) was cited by 48% of clients and ‘metal finishes’ by 35%.

Neighborhood/community trends from the latest AIA survey. Image credit: American Institute of Architects

On a neighborhood/community level, ‘infill development’ continues to be the most popular trend, mentioned by 51% of clients, followed by ‘tear-downs’ at 46% and ‘higher-density development’ at 44%.

Beyond the focus on design trends, the AIA report also includes an update on business conditions for architects. Project billings, inquiries, and design contracts showed a weakness in Q3 of this year, at 43.1, 42.4, and 42.8, respectively. Any score below 50 represents negative growth.

Billings, inquiries, and design contracts trends from the latest AIA survey. Image credit: American Institute of Architects

Meanwhile, firms in all regions of the US reported weakening conditions, particularly the West. Project backlogs at residential firms saw a minor decline but remained healthy, with an average of 5.2 months of backlogs across all firms.

Billings conditions by region from the latest AIA survey. Image credit: American Institute of Architects

Following trends seen in 2022, the home improvement sector remains significantly healthier than the new-build sector. The number of architects reporting an increase in the popularity of ‘remodeling: additions/alterations’ was 33% in 2023, while the popularity of ‘primary residence: first-time buyer/affordable homes’ fell by 34%.

Residential sector popularity from the latest AIA survey. Image credit: American Institute of Architects

The survey results come weeks after the AIA released its latest Architecture Billings Index, reporting declining conditions for the third consecutive month. Meanwhile, the institute announced last week that it was to send a nine-member delegation to the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

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