In response to a growing trend here, new home builders and residential designers say they’re giving customers more chances to personalize and customize their own homes.
One strong example of that trend can be found in a model home at 506 N. Vercler, in Spokane Valley. There, Lexar Homes of Spokane uses 1,700 square feet of space for customer sales.
Tim Jones, a home consultant for Lexar, says for the last two years, he’s been using a $3,000 software program created by Chief Architect Software, a Coeur d’ Alene-based software company. The program’s 3-D modeling enables Jones to help customers build precisely the home they want.
“I think we’re somewhat unique in the industry because we have a large portfolio of standardized plans that can be modified by the customer,” Jones says.
Lexar offers a total of 62 different homes and garages available to build. According to its website, the company is based in Centralia, Wash., and has offices in 17 cities across the Pacific Northwest and one in North Dakota.
“They can determine where to move walls or where they want the bathroom. This is a fun thing for them to do,” Jones says of Lexar homebuyers.
Meanwhile, east of Lexar, two employees at Liberty Lake-based home builder and designer Greenstone Corp., say they’ve also seen a greater desire from more of their customers wanting to have more say in the construction and design of new homes.
Greenstone also uses its Facebook page to solicit input from followers, regardless of whether they’re in the market for a new home.
Last month, Greenstone posted two exterior design renderings on its Facebook page. The post asks, “Which exterior do you like better: A or B? We’re working on updating the look of our new 4-unit Lofts townhome building at Kendall Yards (for 2017) and need your input.”
Drew Benado, Greenstone’s building division manager, says using social media has been an effective way for Greenstone to be able to keep tabs on current trends and consumer’s ever-changing tastes and styles.
Greenstone occupies 11,800 square feet on the second floor of the Liberty Square Building, at 1421 N. Meadowwood Lane. The company’s design studio is housed in 900 square feet of space on the building’s lower level.
Wendee Kelly, who works as Greenstone’s design studio manager and customer services manager, says the number of selections for interior and exterior amenities available to customers has proliferated in the last few years.
“When I first went to work for Greenstone about four years ago, we offered considerably less in the way of customer design options,” says Kelly, whose office is the design studio.
Greenstone is projecting it will sell 275 new homes this year compared to 235 in 2015 and 177 in 2014. Benado says 60 percent of all Greenstone homes are pre-sold, which means Kelly’s duties in the last three years have only increased.
“I wouldn’t call it customization where we’re actually going in and moving walls,” Kelly says. “I think personalization is a better word to describe it. Buyers today want more control over what their homes look like in the end.”
Kelly says in recent years she’s seen different areas within the Spokane region begin to take on different tastes in building styles and layouts.
“When development of Kendall Yards first began, we expected to see younger singles and couples flocking to the neighborhood. But the trend there has been more empty nesters who want more simplicity, less fluff in the home’s appearance and a more contemporary feel,” she says.
Meanwhile, in Post Falls, for instance, home buyers prefer the traditional Pacific Northwest look, with its customary shades of brown craftsman-style appearance, Kelly says.
“But then last year, all of a sudden, the trend everywhere was gray colors. Now, this year, people are doing more of a mix of warm and cool colors,” she says.
Another trend both here and nationally, Kelly says, is that new home buyers are looking to capitalize on more effective use of backyard space than just for landscaping.
The majority of Greenstone’s new home construction now consists of large, covered patios that can be accessed year-round. “People really want a better backyard living space,” she says.
As for interiors, old style farmhouse sinks—also called apron sinks—and chrome fixtures, are popular among current buyers.
Another look that has gained in popularity among Greenstone clients is a stone-tile wall serving as the anchor feature in the master bedroom.
“This has been a huge hit for us,” Kelly says.
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