Housing Recovery Brings Changed World

Bob Lindal is the President of Lindal Cedar Homes, and his company is probably the largest provider of custom cedar homes in the country.  Bob has been in the business for about 50 years, and today published a letter on the company blog.  Lindal explains that he’s seen several recessions before, but this one is different.  Prior recoveries retained the status quo, but “this emerging recovery is into a fundamentally changed world with new long-term priorities in housing.

Specifically, Lindal sees five fundamental changes in housing going forward:

  • Energy efficiency will remain a high priority as costs continue to rise
  • Sustainability and the efficient use of materials will grow in priority as worldwide demand and costs increase
  • Smartly designed flexible, naturally lit and ventilated interiors, compensating for continued downsizing, will be highly valued
  • Mortgage financing will be available but with greater restriction
  • Simplicity in both process and design will mitigate the growing demands of concurrent professional, community, family, and personal priorities

In other words, the home of the future will be energy efficient, sustainable, ventilated, functional, comfortable, and attainable.

Thoughts?  Do you think we’re in for fundamental housing changes going forward?  If you think we’re in for change, what makes this recession different than prior ones?

Credit: TD3 2010 in the Dwell Homes Collection.


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  • gerrr!

    I think part of it was the stimulus money that went into energy efficiency programs; another part of it was the tightening up of the energy conservation codes in 2009 (IECC 2009).  Combine that with LEED 2009 changes, and I think that people have focused on energy efficiency for a good reason.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ecozebra Andrew Stone

    I tend to agree, but with the exception of what Garbett Homes is doing I haven’t seen a lot of affordability in efficient homes.  At least not in Salt Lake City.  The average new home buyers need homes under 300,000 that are efficient and nice.  That type of home rarely can be found anywhere except at the fringes of the valley and far from where people actually live and work.

  • Daniel

    In Dallas we are still seeing a proliferation of “multi-gabular” monstrosities (you know the type-many steeply pitched roofs with lots of extensions in all directions capping a brick/stone/vinyl siding house of 3,000+SF), particularly in the suburbs but also starting to be built in more established neighborhoods.  There is definitely a gap in the market when it comes to relatively affordable, efficient, sustainable architecture.  Lots are so expensive that it doesn’t make financial sense to buy a lot and build a small house, especially if there is an expectation of increased value over time.  I’m not saying this is right, but it is a reality we are facing.  I for one can’t wait to get my hands on a lot and build small, efficient, and sustainable, but I would be doing so without expectations of financial gain in the future but because it is absolutely the right thing to do.  It is the direction that housing needs to go so I do agree with Mr. Lindal.

    • MOT

      It’s the same in Fort Worth.  Homes in old neighborhoods are being bought up and huge homes are being put in their place.  These homes looks out of place next to their more humble neighbors.  In new developments both here and in New Mexico, little thought is put as to which way the homes face and streets run.  In a large number of cases the homes face east/west which  in the Southwest means high utility bills and the inability of using the porch/patio or certain rooms in the afternoons.

  • http://www.davisframe.com DavisFrame

    We couldnt agree more with Bob. Davis Frame Company also provides wood homes (timber frames) and we are seeing many of the same trends. More of our clients are desiging their new homes with energy efficiency in mind. Every project we design includes passive solar design techniques and our clients are also choosing energy smart materials and products for their home. I think the mcmansion era is over and more people are choosing to build their homes with only the space they really need.

    Europe has been driving small cars and building efficient homes for years due to high energy costs, it was bound to happen to the U.S. I don’t forsee energy costs going down any time soon, therefore, I think building efficient homes is here to stay.

  • http://bruteforcecollaborative.com/ mike eliason

    the focus of our work has shifted nearly entirely to passivhaus desaign and consulting, so energy efficiency, ventilation, daylighting, embodied energy are all top priorities. passivhaus has had a major affect in raising the efficiency bar.

    also, if lindal had that home on the I-5 corridor next to Boeing Field, i think they’d get a lot more business. simply stunning.

  • megawatts

    *Mortgage financing will be available but with greater restriction*  talked to my friendly, construction loan(s) local banker last week…..he is unhappy about having to DENY financing to ‘longstanding 30 plus years local builders, of good standing’ due to the tightening of ‘credit regulations’ enacted recently by Congress, and the administration.  I see a huge change in the way we will build for the future, and with energy costs, ( ***Nov 3, 2008 … Obama: Energy Prices Will Skyrocket Under My Cap and Trade Plan …electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket***)…..We are all dealing with a new deck of cards!  Thanks for your continued energy relevant posts Preston.

  • Seihooper

    I think so. There have been many people here in Texas that are trying to change the laws of buying a  home. Requiring that an energy rating be performed before a house can be purchased. Of course because of the downward housing market it didn’t happen. But because of the downward market it also makes it super important to retro fit the houses that are currently built. I found a good page to do that for the south. http://www.coolsouth.com. Explains a whole lot about how energy efficiency retrofits work in southern homes.

  • Anonymous

    There’s definitely momentum occurring in the five fundamental changes mentioned. However, I would love to see another fundamental change occur: large housing development/sub-divisions come to an end. The homogenous design, one way in and out neighborhood layout, the reliance of motor vehicles to do simple errands because of subdivision design needs to change. 

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