Homebuilding Trends: 10 Fun Finds
Every January, homebuilders, contractors, architects and other housing pros gather for what’s billed as the the largest construction confab in the world. The 2016 International Builders’ Show, with 800,000 square feet of exhibits, drew about 110,000 visitors last week. Here are 10 homebuilding trends spotted at the event in Las Vegas.
Let’s face it, decks are ugly. Composite materials have come a long way, but the deck of the future is made of Italian porcelain tile that’s, well, pretty darn awesome. Deck tile from Mbrico can cost more than twice as much as pressure-treated wood, but it’s guaranteed to last for decades and you can say goodbye to staining, sanding, warping and splinters.
Mailboxes in the Amazon Age
For the humble letterbox, bigger is now better. The U.S. Postal Service recently gave its blessing to bigger curbside boxes so mail carriers can deliver more packages and fewer sorry-we-missed-you notes. Architectural Mailboxes (“America’s leading mailbox innovator”) has rolled out some package-friendly designs. (A history of mailbox sizes is here.)
Portable Hot Tubs
Living off the grid but still need a good soak? The wood-burning hot tub is lightweight and portable, according to its distributor. “It goes where you go, making spontaneous adventures in the secluded wilderness entirely possible” as long as there’s a garden hose handy to fill it up.
Toilets for Tots
Gerber’s PeeWee toilets and sinks are sized for the diaper set. At $380 for a junior john and $70 for a wee washbasin, pint-sized potty rooms don’t come cheap. But the little loos are installed on standard rough-ins so it’s easy to swap them out for a grown-up toilet later on.
Homebuilders are blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor space with stunning folding doors and sliding glass walls. Thankfully, screens are keeping up. Retractable screens can cover a 30-foot wall from floor to ceiling and disappear with a whisper and a flick of the wrist. LaCantina Doors makes one with pleats that’s easy to see so fewer people try to walk through it.
Don’t Call it a Closet
Today’s homes are designed with technology in mind, which includes building large nooks near the living area to house all the gear. It’s worth the square footage–modern heating and cooling systems are more efficient, and personal command centers can dim lights, amp up mood music, lower the shades and warm up the pool, all with a single remote.
Keys Are Out
Keyless entry pads are old hat, but now comes Noke, a padlock that can be used anywhere and opened with your smart phone. (“No key, no problem”.) Let your lawn crew through the back gate while you’re at work, never forget the combo to your gym locker and declutter your purse and pockets.
Authenticity is In
Hipsters are challenging mass production, which has been good for American craftsmen churning out one fixture and knob at a time. Tradesmiths hammer copper into gas and electric lamps at Bevolo and barn doors (all the rage right now) are built by hand at Rustica Hardware.
Fauxthenticity is In, Too
Log cabins made of steel, slate shingles made of plastic and wood siding made of … something. These building materials look like the real thing even close up. They’re energy efficient, lower maintenance and often–but not always–cheaper.
Poor Fido needs pampering, too. The companies that supply stainless steel tubs to dog washes and pet groomers are now marketing them to homeowners. The roomiest ones are 60 inches long and can hold a small bicycle. Multifunctional!