Homebuilding Trends in the Western U.S.

The challenges imposed by weather and climate influence the regional homebuilding trends

By AMI HARARI

As with every region, there are various elements that affect how and why we build the homes that we do.

In the west, we have noticed a large increase in specific homebuilding trends that were not necessarily as prominent in past years. For instance, home automation is the latest trend that has really been opening for us as the possibilities for programming homes have become endless. Programming for distributed audio and video, lighting and climate control, security alarm and cameras, camera doorbells, blinds and pool, and spa heaters are all available. The most coveted function is that the homeowner can create “programmable scenes,” meaning they are able to set up “scenes” with their chosen music, the perfect amount of lights, climate control, etc. One does not even need the technician once they learn how to use it. Additionally, in the west the use of these technologies for outdoor pools and spas, climate control, and indoor/ outdoor living is growing too. A wireless, user-friendly future is upon us.

There are always challenges that generally have to do with what geographical area you are building in. Recently, we have been building homes with basements in the west and, since they are in coastal areas, we find the water table higher, bringing an additional scope of work to the project: dewatering. By having the soil report, we can prepare the homeowners and developers for the possibility of needing to install dewatering treatment plans and discharging the water. Once the shoring and drilling begins, we discover how low the water table actually is and if we need to facilitate this scope of work.

This winter threw us for a loop with the torrential rainstorms. For those of us building modern homes with flat roofs, it was a true test to our roofing contractors! Waiting for the rain to end makes us truly appreciate how great our weather is. Repairing caved in footings is more preferable to waiting for them to thaw out before you can pour!

These challenges are good for the mind; they keep us from becoming stagnant and allow us to develop our skills in new, uncharted areas. These are the challenges that will ultimately make the region, and its markets, more progressive and profitable.

The trend for the last few years has been to maximize the allowable square footage and produce a bigger house with an indoor-outdoor flow, that is well-suited for people who are working in the city, want to take advantage of the city nightlife, or would like to avoid suburban traffic.

The trend has become very popular; prices have been driven up by demand and developers are seizing the opportunity. People love to hate the “big house on a little lot” because of the change of the style of the neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The truth is, this is serving to drive the value of the existing homes up, with tear-downs selling higher than ever.

Building in Southern California and other Western areas provides us with nearly perfect weather to work around. We have a very small window for the rainy season where we need to prepare for erosion control. During the summer when the temperature jumps up to the 90’s, making scopes such as framing bothersome, we are still the most fortunate region for building. However, with regions that are extremely desirable, the market can become more saturated. It seems that the Western single- family home market has become just that, with so many homes for sale that there is no real interest in building more for a while.

The western markets have been going through a big transformation with home ownership and development, and there are many new trends to consider that may not be as prominent in other regions.

Ami Harari is the President of LA Build Corp. LA Build Corp specializes in New Construction, Remodeling, and Development. To learn more please visit labuildcorp.com

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