New-build buyers are choosing upgrades related to convenience, such as home gyms. Courtesy Calbridge Homes

Extras, extras!

The shifting popularity of new-build home upgrades

Home command centres, extra-large closets, gyms, secondary suites, energy efficiencies and more – the new-build bells and whistles homebuyers are choosing today are all about convenience.

No matter the size of the home, buyers want products that support a busy lifestyle, says Michelle Jakeman, director of sales and marketing for Calbridge Homes.

Calbridge, this year’s homebuilder of the year, builds everything from stacked townhomes and bungalows to multi-million-dollar homes throughout the Calgary region.

In many cases, that busy lifestyle means turning a home’s extra space – previously used for a den – into a home gym.

“It’s a very popular request,” said Jakeman. “It might be a small space for a yoga mat, or downstairs in a walkout instead of a games area. It’s a time saver, especially with our winters, and if you have kids. You can stay in, rather than travel to keep healthy.”

That quest to simplify extends to clean-faced fireplaces, dog washes in the mudroom and “really large closets.”

Jakeman says buyers sometimes eliminate an extra bedroom to expand storage space and, for convenience, can “put the washer and dryer right in the closet.”

Ryan Moon, director of business development at Brookfield Residential, says his company has also seen a shift in home layouts.

Separate office space is being replaced by command centres in smaller areas like butler pantries, for organization of everything from paying bills to doing homework.

“You just don’t need a full room,” said Moon.

Brookfield is also meeting buyer demand for multi-generational living or rental income with secondary suites in homes in its new Livingston community.

“It’s about different family arrangements today, and also about affordability,” said Moon.

The company is also seeing growing interest in home automation, and in its concierge services that take the stress out of moving.

Both Jakeman and Moon say buyers are also going beyond the “lipstick” – those add-ons you can see – to the home’s nuts and bolts, in search of greater energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

Brookfield is building a pilot “passive house” in Symons Valley that is airtight and uses little energy for heating and cooling, while also offering still-sizeable homes on smaller lots with a reduced environmental footprint.

Calbridge builds all its homes above building code standards aimed at green efficiencies, including its HRV (heat, recovery, ventilation) systems that ensure quality air flow.

“It’s definitely front of mind with our buyers, and we do everything we can in energy efficiencies,” said Jakeman.

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