The pandemic has buoyed the custom residential design sector while impacting homeowner design preferences, according to a fourth quarter Home Design Trends Survey from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The latest survey results—focusing on community and neighborhood design—showed a decline in homeowner demand for infill and higher-density development, reversing a multi-year trend. Conversely, demand for multi-generational housing accommodations vaulted in popularity. Project billings, inquiries, and design contracts also rebounded from a record decline in the first quarter of 2020. Additionally, all custom residential sectors reported improved market conditions with home improvement reporting the strongest gains.

“The uneven impact of the pandemic on specific construction sectors is nowhere more apparent than in custom residential,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Though the initial impact of the pandemic hit residential architects hard, a stay-at-home lifestyle and the desire for more space and less density has increased homeowners’ desires to modify their accommodations.”

Other findings of the report indicate:

  • Front/side porches increased in popularity;
  • Durability/low maintenance remained a popular choice for home exteriors; and
  • Fire resistant materials continued to increase in popularity.

Residential architecture firm business conditions indicate:

  • Firms in all regions reported strong growth in billings in Q3;
  • Project backlogs at residential firms continued to increase in the third quarter; and
  • On average firms reported about a six percent increase in the value of backlogs from the second quarter of 2020 to the third quarter of 2020.

The AIA Home Design Trends Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of more than 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector.

More information on the latest survey results can be reviewed on AIA’s website.