The housing metamorphosis is just getting started. It’s going to change faster and more dramatically over the next few decades as we jettison outmoded concepts of where we want to live, and who we want to live with.

Pick your generation: boomer, X, Millennial, or any other one. The home you grew up in – which you then might have expected would be like the one you’d raise your own family in – is going through some drastic changes.

The housing metamorphosis is just gettinga started. It’s going to change faster and more dramatically over the next few decades as we jettison outmoded concepts of where we want to live, and who we want to live with.

Time to change the old rules

The zoning ordinances that determine the kind of physical housing that can be built by developers were more than likely put in place generations ago. Most of those zoning laws favor the low-density single-family detached homes that did an admirable job of serving what can be called the traditional nuclear family.

Times have changed. According to the most current Census data, what’s defined as a nuclear family made up only 19 percent of American households. That data measured things in 2013, so it’s already more than five years old. Compare that number to 1970 when it was 40 percent.

Meanwhile, more people are choosing to live alone. In 1970, 17 percent of American households were made up of a single person. Fast-forward to 2013 and that number jumped to 27 percent. The Census data shows that people are waiting longer to get married, and they’re having fewer children. Or, maybe they’re not getting married at all. Census data showed that 7 percent of American children had a mother who’d never been married in 1970, versus 48 percent in 2013.

Reshaping homes to fit the people who live in them

Clearly, these statistics show why a single-family dethatched home in a low-density neighborhood no longer has the appeal it once did. People who want to live in areas are looking for housing solutions that fit their lifestyle. Things have to change.

There’s a cost associated with this change. Developers and homebuilders – and the construction companies that work with them – are challenged to find ways to build what people want while adhering to current zoning regulations.

It can be costly to appeal and change zoning regulations. Prices increase because of the effort involved with rezoning that is inconsistent with the long-range land-use plans by local government. These costs will impact profitability. Ultimately, a choice has to be made: Who’s going to pay to push municipalities to get in step and pave the way to allow today’s new homes to be built for current preferences? It’s a financial puzzle and one that can have a substantial impact on the bottom line.

Changes in density

Most of existing homes and townhouses were built for traditional nuclear families. It’s unlikely that this group will become extinct, but the need for many other types of homes with layouts and functions have to be created for the growing groups of nontraditional dwellers.

Here’s an example. Historically, a single-family home, townhouse, or even an apartment might have a master bedroom and bathroom combination, while the other bedrooms were smaller and were only in proximity to bathrooms. New living arrangements are creating a growing demand for housing where there’s no difference in bedrooms and bathrooms.

The one shared desire for most generations is the ability to be near others. To make this happen, the zoning laws will have to change. The proportion will have to flip. Currently, a small proportion of land either in a city or residential area is zoned for high residential density. These same zoning ordinances also prohibit what is known as accessory dwellings, which are a separately accessible unit. It might be in the basement, the back of a house, atop a garage, or even a freestanding structure in a backyard.

The amount of space for these types of dwellings to accommodate the increasing number of people who want them will require rethinking the current proportioning ratio. And, it’s not as easy as just changing the law. There’s plenty of opposition to this from current homeowners who fear what it may do to their property value. What’ll happen to the neighborhood’s character?

A misnomer about space

Thanks to the tiny house trend, it’s generally thought that newer generations want small living spaces. In general, Millennials are looking for more space as they upsize from their cramped shared rental experiences to the first-time home of their own. It’s what they put in it that’s different, as this generation prefers a minimalist lifestyle, where money is invested in experiences rather than possessions.

Egg-shaped pod-houses that are energy self-sufficient. Modular houses that can expand and contract to accommodate the size of a multigenerational family. Micro-apartments measuring under 400 square feet in major cities. Self-contained cities where most inhabitants live and work within walking distance.

These are all possibilities for your future home. And they are all on the horizon, now that many people realize that few of us share the “American Dream” of a single-family detached home in the suburbs. We’ve got different kinds of families, and we want different kinds of homes.

When it comes to financial services, a one size fits all approach for homebuilders, developers, and heavy construction companies don’t work, either. Find out how we can help your particular industries.

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