The theme for this year’s Concept House, shown at last month’s International Builder’s Show in Orlando, was the changing demographics of the marketplace. The houses that appealed to the home builders’ bread and butter clientele for 50 years — mom, dad and two kids — may suit the 20 percent of households who still fit this description, but the other 80 percent, including single adults, married couples with no kids, families headed by single parents, step families and multi-generation households, are looking for something different.
The builder who succeeds on this playing field will have to offer houses with flexible spaces that can serve multiple purposes and appeal to a broad range of buyer profiles.
Recognizing this reality, Builder’s 2012 Concept House is not one house but three, each targeted at a specific subset of conventional buyer groupings: Gen B (the baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (the population born between 1965 and 1980) and Generation Y (the population born between 1981 and 1999, only a small fraction of whom will be buying houses now).
The magazine engaged Centerline Homes of Coral Springs, Fla., to build its Concept Houses. The market-savvy firm has done well despite the downturn, and its CEO, Craig Perry, was remarkably candid about the sales prospects of Builder’s shake-’em prototypes: “If we build 50 of these houses, it would be a lot. These are definitely unique.” He was willing to take a risk in building the pricey sales models (he’ll have to eat their cost if they don’t eventually sell) because the building site is unusually attractive. It overlooks a small lake and a golf course and that, Perry said, “gives you 100 percent flexibility to do something different.”
Will these houses appeal to their target audience? I am doubtful, but other subgroups of home buyers may find them a good fit.
The highly unusual floor plan and features of the $900,000 Gen B house will capture the attention of every visitor. The 2,866-square-foot house wraps around a central courtyard replete with fire pit, fountain and lounging area. The front door, located on the far side of the courtyard, opens onto a 28-foot-long glass walled gallery that overlooks a shaded lanai and a gorgeous outdoor pool with a swim-up bar. The lake and the golf course hover in the distance.
The 57 linear feet of glass walls in the gallery, dining area and the breakfast nook are actually sliding glass doors; when they are fully opened, the line between inside and outside dissolves, and one can freely move from the courtyard through the house to the pool area. The combined space could accommodate large gatherings of 50 to 75 people.