The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) conducted an exclusive poll of top builders and developers and found that while most people are not starting major renovation projects due to the economy, homeowners feel now is the time to take care of the smaller jobs around the home. Additionally, consumers are indicating that the most important goal in home renovation this year is to incorporate trends with staying power, not ones that will become dated as soon as construction ends.

So, what remodeling projects are on top of the 2011 list?

1. Bathrooms Rule: When homeowners see the old tile getting a little grungy, they want a fresh look. It appears that 2011 is the year for a bathroom update. Bathrooms are the hottest project right now; possibly because baths cost less than a kitchen or an addition. Plus, people desire the luxury of a spa in the comfort of their own homes.
2. Must-Do Projects: Rather than going through major renovations, this year people will continue to complete the projects that need to be done, like repairs to siding or roof leaks. “Have-to” projects instead of “want-to” projects are a trend that is remaining near the top of the list.
3. Warm & Cozy: Warmer colors on all surfaces are coming back. People tend to be moving away from minimalist, white designs or bright colors in favor of cozier, earth tones. The trend, however, is not rustic. Instead, it is a blend of earthiness and modern design. Along with warmer tones in homes are warmer tones in metallic features—oil rubbed bronze, aged bronze, or distressed hardware is big in 2011. Homeowners want rooms that are more contemporary and calming, but are “still not totally contemporary.”
4. Living Outside: It appears that in 201 people want to sit outside again and are staying at home more frequently. This means that outdoor living spaces are making a big splash. Many pools are being built and homeowners are looking to bring the inside out.
5. Roomy Rooms: Open floor plans are in, so removing interior walls and opening up the spaces in older houses to modernize them is a big trend among homeowners with older houses. Open floor plans help families be more flexible with the square footage they already have.
6. Work Space Flair: Exposed beams will remain popular, but stainless steel cable and industrial products are on the rise. With so many people working from home, office spaces will take on more of a business or commercial look.
7. Tech-Savvy Homes: In a world ruled by technology, many homeowners are making changes that will improve the workability of their home electronics. Equipment is improving and consumers want every possible gadget they can get their hands on. Ease of use and ways to make all those ugly cords, as well as the T.V. (called the black hole by many female clients) less obvious is a design trend that is coming on strong.
8. Growing Green: Bamboo floors, energy-efficient appliances, and energy-efficient glass doors and windows will continue to be a big trend in 2011. Though consumers have not bought into the green movement hook-line-and-sinker, it is projected that this market will keep growing in popularity.
9. Planning Ahead: More and more people are turning to universal design and performing expansions to prepare for the future. Many homeowners want to age in place, so their homes need to be accessible when they do grow older. This does not mean installing ramps or elevators, but rather making smaller adjustments like widening hallways and doorways, adding step-in showers and installing extra lighting. This design concept is extremely popular, and it will stick around for a long time.
10. Hiring the Qualified: Consumer diligence is on the rise. People are finally getting the message that it is important to look more closely at companies they are considering for their remodel project. They are asking the questions we have been telling them to ask for years and checking out qualifications.

With all this information, what do we do next? It is important to recognize that some of these trends will be around for awhile. Therefore, in order to stay competitive, those of us in the industry must be experts within our fields. Designations and product knowledge are a must. Consumers know what they want and they are becoming much more discerning when it comes to selecting a remodeler. As well, now is the time to establish great relationships with your clients, because even though the jobs may be smaller this year, those larger jobs will come back around and you want to be the one they call.

About the Authors: Allen Griffin is founder and president of Gryphon Builders and Gryphon Property Services. He is a Certified Graduate Remodeler, Graduate Master Builder, Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, and a Certified Green Professional with 20 years of experience in the building industry. Allen was named 2009 Remodeler of Year and 2007 National Association of Home Builders Certified Graduate Remodeler of the Year. Allen currently serves as the Membership Committee chair for the GHBA Custom Builders Council. He serves on the Education Committee, the Membership Committee and has been on the Remodelors Council board of directors for several years, serving as RMC president in 2009.

This article was first printed in the May 2011 Houston Builder Magazine and was written by Allen Griffin and Larissa Michael.
Larissa Michael is a graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in Communication and has been working in the building and design industry for nearly 15 years. She recently started a new business, Volume Control, and now handles the advertising, marketing, and public relations for several companies within the industry. As a member of the GHBA Remodelors Council, Larissa earned her Certified Graduate Associate designation, served as the 2010 Membership Chair, and currently serves as special committees—Marketing Coordinator. As well, Larissa received the 2010 Texas Association of Builders Star Award and the 2010 GHBA Houston’s Best Award for Best Print Ad—Remodeler.

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