This article first appeared in Custom Home.

Homeowners are growing increasingly interested in reconfiguring spaces to better accommodate their pets as well as their in-laws and au pairs, according to the results of the quarterly AIA Home Trends Survey, which was released this week. Based on responses from more than 500 residential architecture firms, the the survey's most recent iteration highlights the prominence of emerging home features throughout the second quarter of 2018.

Special Function Room Trends

Second quarter results show that outdoor living areas continue to top the list of home features growing in popularity, and were the most frequently prioritized specialty space in the home. Nearly 56% of respondents reported an increased interest this year, building on the 70% of firms who affirmed their popularity in 2017.

Popularity of Special Function Rooms 2016-2018

“Outdoor living areas and home offices remain popular special function rooms in a booming market,” notes AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD. Hon. AIA in a release. “But an increasing number of homeowners are also focusing on their pets and incorporating them into their housing designs.”

The survey shows that a growing number of clients wish to reconfigure interior kennels. Architecture firms reported client interest in pet rooms/interior kennels increased to 30% from 20% one year ago.

The popularity of au pair/in-law suites also grew in this quarter’s survey with 41% of respondents reporting interest, which is up from 36% last year. Additionally, client interest in adding a home office increased to 39% from 33% a year ago.

Home Feature Trends

First floor master bedrooms remained a top request among clients, with half of firms reporting increasing inquiries.

Most Popular Home Features 2013-2018

Residential architects also report continued a strong interest in accommodations for multiple generations in homes they design. Ramps and elevators are also increasing in popularity, with the percentage of respondents reporting popularity increasing minus percentage reporting decreasing jumping 9 points in 2018 from 2017.

Business Conditions

As ARCHITECT reported last week, the AIA's monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) came in at a score of 54.2 in August, marking the 11th consecutive month of gains. The ABI is a leading economic indicator of construction activity in the U.S., and reflects a nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending nationally, regionally, and by project type. A score above 50, as seen in August, represents an increase in billings from the previous month, while a score below 50 represents a contraction.

Business Conditions by Construction Segment

August's score is 3.5 points higher than July's reading of 50.7, indicating that business continues to trend upward despite labor shortages and cost inflation of building materials.

Overall, the home design market remains robust with custom luxury homes showing the strongest improvement among new construction sectors. Client interest in custom and luxury homes increased to 24% percent from 18% on net in the second quarter.

“Billings at architecture firms in the South continue to lead the healthy increase in design activity that we’ve seen across the profession in recent months,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, in a press release. “Nationally, growth across all building sectors remains solidly positive.”

View the full second quarter survey results at the AIA.