Chris Lyons

New homes evolve continuously, and builders who don’t want to offer prospective buyers the equivalent of a T. rex must constantly fine-tune their products to meet changing consumer expectations and the realities of the marketplace.

To help provide builders, suppliers, and other associates with insight into what housing consumers will be looking for in the near future, the NAHB recently polled more than 3,000 members nationwide about their expectations for new homes in 2015.

The survey found that although new homes will not be dramatically different, the typical new single-family detached home will be smaller and greener than today.

More specifically, the people responding to the survey expect the typical new single-family home to be about 2,150 square feet, which is about 10 percent smaller than the average size of single-family homes started in the first three-quarters of last year, according to the Census Bureau.

The survey also found that the interior configuration of a typical new home is continuing to evolve. By 2015, the formal living room is likely to vanish or to merge with other functions to become a “great room” that accommodates the functions of the kitchen, the family room, and the living room.

Within the kitchen, the most likely features include double sinks, recessed lighting, and table space for eating. Features that are somewhat likely to be found in the 2015 kitchen include a central island, a walk-in pantry, and a recycling center. Among the kitchen features that won’t make the leap from the luxury lane to the mainstream are the trash compactor, wine cooler, butler’s pantry, fireplace, and storage area for small appliances.

Besides a great room, new single-family homes are most likely to feature walk-in closets in the master bedroom, a laundry room, ceiling fans, a two-car garage, and a first-floor master bedroom.

Bathrooms are most likely to include double vanities and linen closets, but more upscale features such as a separate shower stall and tub and a compartmentalized toilet are only somewhat likely, according to the poll.

As energy costs rise, consumers are increasingly concerned with energy efficiency, and new homes are most likely to address that concern with low-E windows, a programmable thermostat, and an Energy Star rating for the entire home.

Other green features likely to be included in a typical new home include engineered wood beams, joists or trusses, and water-conserving plumbing fixtures such as dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets.

Green features that are somewhat likely to be included in a typical new home include tankless water heaters, argon gas windows, and insulation values that are higher than required by the local code.

According to the survey, the typical new home is likely to be located on a smaller lot in a community that has dedicated open space and includes walking trails.

It’s never easy to anticipate what buyers might demand in the future, but the results of this survey provide an excellent starting point for builders who want to ensure that the homes they build are evolving in step with the market.