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Inside the House of the Future

Inside the House of the Future
National Association of Home Builders

When the homebuilding industry descends on Las Vegas on Jan. 20 for its annual trade show, a highlight as always will be a project called the New American Home. This model house—a new one gets built each year—serves as a showcase for the industry's latest technology and trends. The massive four-bedroom, five-bath structure popping up in suburban Las Vegas this year may seem a little out of touch with the times as the nation suffers through the worst housing slump in decades. But out in the real world, architects and builders are busy trying to figure out how to put some of the same design features into new homes. Such trends are worth noting: Having amenities that appeal to buyers a decade or more after your house is built will help it hold its value. We list below some of the most important new design features you'll see in homes.

Indoor/Outdoor Living Just since 1992 the number of U.S. homes built with patios or porches has doubled. The New American Home in Las Vegas has a giant backyard that features a covered area with a flatscreen TV and pool table as well as a detached "rejuvenation room" for relaxing. New homes in warmer climates are being built with courtyards that provide a connection to the outdoors but also give shelter from wind and privacy from neighbors. This is critical as builders try to cram larger houses onto smaller lots to keep land costs down. And there's a history to them, notes Newport Beach (Calif.) architect David Kosco: "The courtyard goes back to Roman times."