Boomers may not realize it, but they have a lot in common with their millennial offspring when it comes to home buying. And it's not just the matter of sheer numbers. Rather, it's the no-kid factor: Boomers heading into retirement have pretty much emptied their nests, while most members of Gen Y (born between 1979 and 1993) have yet to start families. That means their households are smaller. This trend, combined with current economic challenges, is creating demand for housing types that will be markedly different from those that until recently dominated the U.S. housing landscape. 

Builders are paying attention to this shift. In a recent Shinn Consulting poll, 89% of builders said they were planning to offer lower-priced models, while a nearly equal number said they were building smaller.  These numbers are corroborated by recent NAHB study findings.

But there are good ways and not-so-good ways to economize, noted architect Steve Moore with BSB Design in “Designing for Today’s Market,” a recent Webinar offered by Shinn Consulting. Effective value engineering must be part of the design process (and not a construction afterthought), with care taken to preserve the elements buyers hold most dear, Moore said. That includes elevations, and for boomers downsizing from larger homes, quality interior finishes.

In the presentation (see link below to view), Moore discussed ways to achieve value with a targeted focus on efficiency, size, density and lifestyle. Specific examples illustrated the benefits of designing in modules, minimizing corners and window types, simplifying roof forms, limiting truss spans, eliminating floor plan redundancies, and other key strategies.

Want to know more? We thought so. Click here to watch the full Webinar.

Jenny Sullivan is a senior editor covering design and community planning for BUILDER.