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Home Building Trends: A Report from the 2018 International Builders’ Show

Innovations and Ideas That Will Shape the Building Industry


When it comes to showcasing building techniques, the newest in home technology, hot trends, and designs in new homes, there’s nothing like the annual International Builders’ Show (IBS), sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). This year’s event in Orlando, Florida, unveiled The New American Home 2018 (TNAH) and The New American Remodel (TNAR) – and focused on all of the exciting products and innovative concepts that may change the industry in the future.

The Plan Collection talked to residential designer Jonathan Boone of House Plan Zone (Hattiesburg, Mississippi), who attended IBS 2018, for his insights and observations on products, trends, and technology. We also scoured the press and information on the show itself to glean information on new projects and trends.

Boone was impressed with all of the remarkable products, including appliances for the kitchen and outdoor cooking areas – and innovative lighting styles. Among the trends he thought would be popular are home automation, energy-efficient products such as insulation, wall panels, upgraded doors and windows, and large patio doors that open onto rear porches.

Dining room in House Plan #161-1076

Expect more of these kinds of unusual lighting fixtures – here in the dining room of a 3-bedroom, 2-bath Texas style home – to grace residences in the future (Plan #161-1076).


Here’s a look at some of what we found from IBS 2018, including state-of-the-art “smart” home technology devices, energy-efficient products, multi-generational design trends, stone décor for floors, kitchen appliances, and bathroom automation ideas.


1.  Home Automation Technology

The “Smart” Home has been at the forefront of the building industry for the past few years. However, the excitement is about the major strides in technology that are on the horizon. Smart locks and smart vent hoods were a few of the tools that were unveiled at IBS 2018. Stoney Island, a smart vent hood from Elica, for example, uses wireless sensor technology to detect cooktop activity. The vent also monitors temperature and moisture so that it can adjust the blower speed for the best air quality.

Experts say that smarter devices will continue to be developed and introduced; and “personal assistants” like Siri and Alexa will evolve into more advanced and sophisticated technology. "Smart" technology is even coming to the design and marketing of house plans and designs themselves as videos and virtual reality house plans become more popular and economical to develop.

Kevo Contemporary Touch-to-Open Smart Lock, 2nd Gen

Say goodbye to spare keys and wondering if you locked the door on your way to work. Smart locks like this from Kwikset give families the ability and peace of mind to lock and unlock their doors from iPhones or iOS devices. You can use Siri voice commands or assign user codes that you can check remotely for lock activity and lock status (photo courtesy of Kwikset).


2.  Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient products ran the gamut at IBS 2018. From revolutionary glass, LED fixtures, air conditioners, and smart thermostats to outdoor cooling and heating units, manufacturers outdid themselves in delivering products that considerably reduced energy costs. For example, ecobee, a home automation company that introduced the world’s first Wi-Fi-connected smart thermostat in 2009, won the Best Energy Efficient Product with its voice-enabled ecobee4 thermostat that is also a room sensor that helps manage hot or cold spots. Then there’s Guardian Glass with its vacuum insulated glass for windows that provides the same insulation as a wall – but is much better on the eyes. Acuity Brands delivered an economical surface-mounted LED fixture, while Mitsubishi introduced an outdoor multi-zone cooling and heating unit. You can use many of these products in connection with your energy-efficient house plan.

Outdoor deck with large patio door and windows (House Plan #161-1085)

A glass patio door in the dining area of a 4-bedroom, 4-bath, 2-half-bath Contemporary style home opens onto the outdoor deck. Take a look at the large glass windows of the Great Room, which protect the indoors from the sun’s glare and provide a great view of the outdoors (Plan #161-1085).


3.  Forever Homes

Multi-generational homes and aging-in-place designs will continue to increase in popularity, according to Dan Swift, president and CEO of BSB Design, based in Des Moines, Iowa. Research shows that families looking to combine households want to reduce living expenses and plan to share the home with elderly parents as well as provide space for adult children who choose to return to the family home. For this reason, you may consider a home with 5 or more bedrooms.

Similar to the concept of The New American Home 2016, which provided for multi-generational living spaces, Swift and his company collaborated with Meritage Homes in Scottsdale, Arizona, to design and build the 5,188-square-foot, seven-bedroom reNEWable Living Home in Orlando for IBS 2018 – with its separate spaces for the residents.

There is an urban-inspired loft for a young adult, a first-floor in-law suite, a tech-savvy space for a teenager, and an amazing master suite that overlooks the home’s resort-style pool. Shared social spaces include a Great Room, kitchen, outdoor living space, game room, and pool area. The home’s two-story floor plan allows family members their desired private space/retreats and at the same time provides comfortable, homey areas where they can relax and enjoy each other’s company.

1.5-story Country style Home Plan #153-1021

This 1.5-story luxury Texas style home with 5 bedrooms features a basement and attic – just in case the need arises to add separate living spaces for adult children and/or in-laws (Plan #153-1021).


4.  Kitchen Innovations/Appliances

No show is complete without showcasing the best in kitchen tools and improvements, including farmhouse sinks, wine coolers, and a refrigerator with a “smart device box that allows users to control certain settings through its ... smartphone apps, or Alexa-enabled devices.” And while these products were not on display at IBS, Joseph Wheeler, co-director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Design Research, said homeowners can look forward to:

• Induction cooktops with a glass panel that slides over them when not in use for more kitchen workspace.

• Countertop touchscreens built into kitchen islands and protected by impact-resistant glass that will allow homeowners to surf the Internet while cooking.

• Refrigerator shelves that will monitor the freshness of produce and UPC scanners in the pantry will keep track of shopping lists.

Vinotemp Backlit Private Reserve Series 188-Bottle Commercial 300 Wine Cooler

Elkay Crosstown Stainless Steel 35-7/8" x 20-5/16" x 9" Double Bowl Farmhouse Sink with Aqua Divide for Interchangeable Apron

Top: One of the new wine coolers from Vinotemp provides storage space for up to 188 bottles of wine. The coolers are designed for built-in or free-standing use and include interior lighting with three different LED options (photot source: Vinotemp). Bottom: This stainless-steel farmhouse sink from Elkay with an interchangeable apron front (sold separately) can change the kitchen design without replacing the entire sink. Its deep sink bowls make it easy to wash large items (photo source: Elkay).


5.  Bathrooms and 21st Century Accessories

Designers predict that future bathrooms will recognize each family member via touch identification and adjust the vanity height accordingly. Sensors in the floors will automatically weigh each resident and provide a readout via a screen behind the mirror.

And speaking of mirrors – not since Snow White has there been such a heightened interest in mirrors – specifically bathroom mirrors that “turn on motion-activated lights when you get up in the middle of the night or tell you the weather in the morning.” Set to launch in March is a voice-enabled lighted bathroom mirror with dual microphones and Amazon’s Alexa embedded in the unit. The product from Kohler will allow people to start showers and even ask Alexa to fill up a tub set to a specific temperature and level.

Voice-lighted bathroom mirror from Kohler Co.

A voice-lighted mirror – to be launched by Kohler – uses Amazon’s Alexa and allows people to control its lighting, start showers, and adjust water temperature (courtesy Kohler).


Another offering is from CareOS – a subsidiary of a French company. This one has a complete health and beauty hub with a smart mirror as the showpiece. Its smart mirror “features facial recognition and touchless gestures.” An example of its capabilities: the mirror scanned a Lancome lipstick, recognized the tube, and played a tutorial on lipstick application.

And in the pipeline from Moen, another leading bathroom fixture company, is a voice-activated shower that also uses virtual assistants.


6.  Tile and Wood – Always in Style

With their versatility, durability, and textures, tile and wood are great choices for interior and outdoor projects. The new tile collections feature captivating designs, intriguing shapes, and color variations that make them ideal for backsplashes, shower and accent walls, and fireplace facades.

The warmth of wood is always touted. But the natural material also adds elegance and appeal to porches, decks, pergolas, walls, ceilings, and cabinets. Just imagine all those attractive exposed beams in vaulted ceilings.

Echo Gray 2" Hexagon / 12" x 14" Mosaic Mesh

Add chic and sophistication to a modern residential wall with glazed ceramic tiles of interesting shapes and details, including the beached wood look above (photo source: Emser Tile).


Family room in House Plan #161-1076

The beauty and warmth of wood is on display in this family room of a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath luxury home. Check out the exposed wood beams of the vaulted ceiling (Plan #161-1076).


7.  All About Doors

You can’t have a builders’ show without featuring innovations on doors. Designer Jonathan Boone talked about larger patio doors that will open onto rear porches and said that the prices for these items – which were too high for most owners in the past – seem to be coming down lately.

A few manufacturers introduced new and innovative door products: Ply Gem showcased a three-panel glass door called the MaxView Patio Door. Its the best way to connect the indoor and outdoor living areas because it not only opens into the beautiful outdoors but also gives a perfect view from the inside. Johnson Hardware exhibited its Soft Close/Soft Open hardware that slows down a door’s travel speed and softly pulls it into an open or closed position. And Trimlite displayed its one-piece, screwless frame for lights, or windows, in doors. The one-piece screwless exterior door-frame system is an attractive accent touch for modern houses as well as Craftsman style homes.

Great Room Modern style home with large patio doors

Great Room in Modern style home with large patio doors open

The wide expanse of patio doors in the Great Room of this 3-bedroom, 3.5-bath Mid-Century Modern style home opens the house up to the rear patio for a stylish indoor-outdoor living (Plan #202-1022). Mutl-door systems like this are becoming more mainstream according to designers we talked to.


While the excitement of the NAHB 2018 International Builders’ Show fades away, building industry professionals can look back at the amazing “hot” products and futuristic trends that captured their attention and imagination – and look forward to Las Vegas 2019!





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