Building and home construction are arts that expresses changes in society’s technological and economic needs and desires. Today’s arising needs and living situations are increasingly different from those that created and evolved the modern home in the 1940s and 1950s. The modern home is evolving again.
In 1950, many homes were built with little or no insulation. In the 1970’s and 1980’s insulation became important and fiberglass reigned supreme. Asbestos insulation was proved dangerous and had to be removed. Today however, insulation coupled with overall energy efficiency, is probably the single most important consideration. New insulating products are rapidly driving fiberglass insulation into obscurity. Among the winners of the competition are closed cell blown insulation, polyurethane panels, and polystyrene panels. In areas where it is readily available, pumice stone is a great natural alternative.
Insulation has not only changed in nature and quality, it has also changed in quantity. Today’s green home builders agree that five inches is a minimal space to fill with insulation, forcing the two by four studs into obsolescence as well. Today, most walls are made with two by six studs, insulated concrete panels, or OSB covered, structural insulated panels. A finished wall can be between seven and fourteen inches thick. A fourteen inch wall is fortress strong, so as a result of the need for added insulation, durability of homes has been greatly increased. Thicker walls also force a few changes and options in how windows and doors are mounted as well.
There is definitely a demand for an increase in the number of outlets everywhere. Small kitchen appliances are more popular than ever, but the most recent increase is in the living areas and bedrooms where electronics and computers, TV’s and game systems have forced extensive use of power strips, surge suppressors and battery backups in existing homes to feed and protect our new electronic friends. Creative builders are working with electricians, in trying to incorporate this need into construction.
Fossil fuels have become cost prohibitive. Most people have switched to electric appliances, and electric heat sources. Solar power has been increasing in popularity, and the technology is improving. Many homes are now self-sufficient, whether off the grid, or tied into the grid to provide at least a meager positive flow. People are now getting checks from the electric companies instead of bills. In some areas the wind is powerful enough to give similar results.
The heart of the home was once the hearth, but it became the kitchen, gradually between 1920 and 1950. The kitchen, full of various electrical appliances, is now not only the center of the home, but the most expensive part of the home. The hearth or fireplace is now optional. Today needs and lifestyles are again changing. The modern kitchen only came into its full reign in the 1950s, but is it being displaced by entertainment and media technology? The TV was a tough challenger, but in most households the kitchen still reigned. Over the next few decades though, can the kitchen stand against the internet?
The recent rise of bedroom refrigerators and personal, USB powered blenders and hotdog cookers could be marking the future, or it could be just an obscure novelty. Only time will tell, if the kitchen will lose out to small individual cooking areas throughout the home, or if the gleaming and expansive kitchen will reign supreme.
The main trend in homes today is size. Today’s homes are built lean and mean, to combat high energy costs. The walls are nearly twice as thick and the homes are 30 to 40 percent smaller. Efficient use of space is at a premium. Multi-purpose areas are encouraged.
Overall now is the time of creative innovative ideas. For more information on new construction please download our 98 page free book on home planning, and see our other articles on this site. Today’s trends in building and home construction are likely to grow and evolve, based on the principles of your changing needs.