From green features and smart homes, to building a stronger community, here are some of the hottest building trends for 2020.
By Kate Robertson
With climate change the hot topic of today, it should come as no surprise that green features are at the top of the list of what new home buyers are looking for in 2020. Developers are committed to sustainable development and architecture to minimize environmental destruction and fight against climate change.
“We have seen a trend towards earth-friendly features,” says Jane Hoffman, president and realtor at Coldwell Banker Jane Hoffman Realty in Kelowna. “Many condo developments are including things like electric car plug-ins, car-share program [parking] and green space for community gardens.” Green features are a sign of how the real estate industry has reacted to global concern. “It’s amazing to see how our development community has taken these green initiatives from a “trend” to being a normal expectation from buyers,” she says.
Hoffman notes that new single-family homes are being designed to have a smaller footprint, while remaining flexible to adapt to different family needs. “We are seeing a new approach to ‘open concept,’ with spaces being segmented through the use of glass, with sunken rooms or varying ceiling heights, to create the feel of separate living spaces,” advises Hoffman. Buyers are becoming increasingly conscious of how a space will function for their families, moreso than square footage or room size. “Multi-family developments are also utilizing smaller footprints, but including larger outdoor spaces, such as rooftop patios,” she says.
THINGS IN COMMON
One company incorporating some of these trends is Mission Group, an Okanagan Valley real estate and development company. “High-quality common spaces in the new Bernard Block development in downtown Kelowna will feel like an extension of the home, with hosting and enteraining spaces like the private rooftop kitchen and dining area,” says Luke Turri, executive vice president of Mission Group. “The Bernard Block will also incorporate community spaces like a fitness centre, communal garden, barbeque area and lounge space with fire pits,” he says.
Innovative convenience features include parkade amenities like a dog wash, bike wash and storage space plus electric-vehicle charging stations. There will be a dog run and relief area on the fifth floor, plus package delivery space in the lobby. “In an age where Amazon and e-commerce have become commonplace, its necessary to cater to residents,” says Turri.
Features like these that help extend living space and enhance lifestyle in multi-family homes and to enhance smaller-footprint living have an additional purpose: to help residents feel like they’re part of a community, something else that is becoming increasingly important to buyers. The Mission Group recognizes this and designs common spaces and amenities that promote a healthy, neighbourly lifestyle.
“We felt is was important to make shared spaces at the Bernard Block feel like an extension of your home,” says Turri. “When purchasing a home in a condo building, it can be hard to imagine how you may get to know your neighbours, so common spaces are ideal for residents to gather.”
SMART BUYERS, SMART HOMES
Smart features, or “connected” homes, are also on the rise, with elements like security systems, locks and lights that are managed through an automated system.
“In the Okanagan Valley, many homes have security systems that can be activated or turned off remotely with a cell phone,” says Hoffman. “These systems can control indoor and outdoor cameras, as well as the thermostat, so when the home owner travels they can still regulate the temperature in the home.”
Many homeowners travel in the winter, so mobile-operated and automated security systems give them a comfort level while they’re away. “These systems can also control window sensors, flood sensors, glass-break sensors and 24-hour guard response. It’s amazing that a simple app can allow you to see and speak to whoever rings your doorbell, even when you’re in another country,” Hoffman says.
Because there is a demographic bulge of aging Canadians, with more older people wanting to remain as long as possible in their own homes, the installation of private residence elevators is on the rise.
“Baby boomers are building their ‘last home’ and wanting to age in place,” says Jade Davidson, general manager of Kelowna’s Hybrid Elevator Inc. “They are ‘future proofing’ their homes with items such as elevators, caregiver suites and accessible bathrooms. The majority of people installing elevators do not have current mobility challenges, but are planning for the future,” he says. A new-build home can be made elevator-ready during consruction (with the opening roughed-in but the elevator not yet installed), which leads to cost savings down the road–plus an eventual increase in resale value.
Families with multiple generations living under one roof are also becoming increasingly common, and an existing home can be retrofitted with a small, efficient home elevator more easily than ever before, to accommodate everyone from family members with disabilities to seniors with mobility issues.
Smart, safe, friendly and efficient: the new-home idustry has some shiny new calling cards for 2020.