Commit to a Classic Style to Create Lasting Value

I think “lasting value” is a catch phrase in our industry, which is overused, yet under defined. As I scroll through many builder’s websites, about 50 percent of them present photos of current or recent builds to display their work, and these homes are ones I am often called in to renovate because in a few years they will be so “2015.”

Why? Well, I believe lasting value comes from simplicity in architecture, never from trends. Using less trendy materials help create a home with personality and timeless value that is “un-dated.” I always go to the classics as a reference: Craftsman, Tudor, Colonial 4 square, Cottage, Mid Century Modern, Rustic…etc., these homes have a built in personality.

They make sense, and people know that the design is timeless. As the home ages and requires updates, there is architectural integrity that can be followed as inspiration toward their remodel. Most of the homes in new suburban developments all contain the “trend of the day.”

These houses are having an identity crisis. It would be so simple to create homes that complimented their natural surroundings, and honored the traditions and styles of homes built years ago in the area. There are MANY builders creating gorgeous spaces that will prove to be timeless and of great value for years to come, but I feel too many are not.

You can still mass produce without building cookie cutter cul-de-sacs with garage-scaping. A simple fix? Set those garages back and put the home front and center where it should be! We then beautify our neighborhoods, and that, has lasting value.

Advanced framing techniques, sometimes called Optimum Value Engineering (OVE), have been researched extensively and proven effective. They save on material cost and resources, they make a more energyefficient building by creating fewer thermal bridges, among other things, and they can be built in less time than traditional stick framing. I know there are many forward thinking builders that are, and have been, using this technique for years, yet way too many builders have not adopted these new practices simply because of the initial cost and time of training your framers a new way of doing things. There is no reason that in such a powerful forward thinking country we should be behind the times. To note, some of the techniques in advanced framing may not be allowed in certain areas based on factors effecting building codes.

Homeowners are savvier than ever about energy-efficiency in the home. I don’t think any of us believe energy costs are going down, so by adding elements that focus on energy efficiency, you add a great selling point, and also showcases that you care about the family’s energy expenses and the benefits of increased home health.

Green is no longer a trend, it is becoming the norm. It is confirmed that there is a looming global water crisis, and I believe builders can be at the forefront of designing to accommodate these uncontrollable changes. Universal Design should definitely be considered.

With an aging baby boomer population, one floor living is very popular. The master bedroom/bath, laundry, kitchen/dining and living space, will attract buyers who may think they want to downsize, and realize that they can have a family friendly gathering home, while not compromising their ease of living.

Smart Homes are IN! Everyone wants to control their home on their smart phones. From heating, to security, to USB plugs included in the outlets, to being able to monitor their peak and off peak energy usage in order to adjust usage to save money.

I have to use my favorite quote by a friend who is an architect & professor who I have worked with extensively: “Great design has a lot to do with restraint.

There’s a power to absence, by making the choice not to do something. I challenge my students to start with the simplest possible form and the fewest possible materials, then make a strong argument for why there should be more. More often than not, that process leads to a beautiful and affordable solution.” –John Dwyer AIA, ACSA

2015-dept5Amy Matthews is a host on the HGTV shows “Renovation Raiders,” “This New House” and the DIY network’s “Sweat Equity.” She may be reached by visiting

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