Trends 2018: Attainability

By Ron Nestor, AIA of WHA Architects, Designers & Planners

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Housing prices today are under tremendous pressure.  High demand, steep land costs, lack of available lots and inventory, surging material costs and a  construction labor shortage, coupled with rising interest rates puts housing further from reach for many.  The problem is so severe, it is affecting business expansion and location strategies as employees must commute longer and longer distances.

The ability to afford a home that meets a family's needs in reasonable proximity to employment and community resources is the challenge.  Costs are not coming down, limiting the possible variables with which to work.  Creative solutions to density: clever use of space, changing ideas on transportation, and prefabrication of building components are key ideas.  Choosing a smaller home near jobs, existing amenities and community assets makes infill solutions a smart decision for affordability.

Increased density is an obvious solution; we see this within many urban areas.  Adapting this densification idea to suburban areas requires a delicate balance of appropriate scale, open space,  privacy and satisfying NIMBYs.  Right-sizing of units by creating efficient floor plans, designing for multi-functionality of uses, establishing creative storage solutions, and providing designs that embrace exterior areas to increase perceived space are important strategies.  

The new sharing economy has disrupted the use of automobiles with Uber and the upcoming autonomous car will forever change our lives, but importantly, it will diminish the need for storage of cars in our homes and communities.  Releasing the home-car tie will result in alternative development patterns and more freedom in site planning. Minimizing the cost of auto storage, and general automobile costs, will boost home attainability.

Finally, building prefabrication of everything from panelized walls, bathroom cores and cabinets to entire homes will speed construction and reduce costs.   Prefabrication can improve construction quality, better control construction waste, allow for more productivity during adverse weather, and may better handle workforce variables.  

I believe that Attainability will be the watchword of the year.  The depth of the market is huge and is largely unmet.  Starter homes that people can actually afford are vital to perpetuate the housing cycle and create a vibrant dimensional community! 

Rpn Nestor

With over 40 years of design and planning experience in a wide variety of product types ranging from single-family homes to downtown high-rise corporate headquarters office parks and industrial facilities, Ron Nestor’s projects include some of the most recognized in the region.  

Check out the other articles in our 2018 Trends Series: