Saturday 6 February 2021

The Homes Of 2021

The seismic shift in lifestyle created by COVID-19 and lockdowns has reshaped how Australians are choosing to build and renovate their homes. From an increased focus on hygiene, to rallying against shrinking block sizes, the story of Australian architecture has taken a new turn.

With industry data showing that 44% 1 of home buyers have changed their preferences for their properties, James Hardie’s experts talk to some of the trends influencing the homes of 2021.
More life in style
According to Helen Simpson, Insights Manager at James Hardie at the beginning of 2020, we were seeing increased interest in more sustainable ‘micro-homes’ and an acceptance of shrinking block sizes in metro areas. However, in less than a year, our homes took on new roles from offices, gyms and other locations that we would normally go outside to visit. Today, homeowners, especially working couples buying their first property, are looking for more separate spaces such as home offices, while maintaining the scale of open plan living. In fact, nearly half (48%) of homeowners that changed their home priorities are now looking for a home office or study nook, while over a quarter (28%) wanted additional living spaces.

With families spending more time sharing the same space, there is also a greater need for areas of connection as a family and separate retreats for privacy. Floor plans that separate bedrooms and home offices with a central living-dining area work well.

When developing multiple shared and private areas, it’s important to make the most of the space you have. If you’re adding an extension or second floor to a property, consider the thickness of your walls. For example, fibre cement cladding, like Axon Cladding, will add just 9mm, while a brick veneer adds 130mm. For a 250 square meter single level you could gain almost 10 square meters, which is enough for a study nook, a powder room, or some essential storage.
Moving for size
Working from home has reduced the need to be tied to a physical location, opening up new property opportunities.

According to research, Gen Y is considering moving to the suburbs for detached home ownership. However, they would still consider apartment living near their family, if it had sufficient room. Across all age groups, data shows that 23% of Australians that have changed their home preferences during 2020 are now considering a move out of the city.

According to Helen Simpson, on the other end of the spectrum, downsizers, who are largely 60 plus years old retirees and account for approximately 14% of homeowners, are looking to escape the city for a smaller beachside location. They’ve bought or built enough homes to know what they want and have the money to get it and COVID-19 has only motivated them.
Rising Renos: Bedroom, Bathroom and Beyond
Home isolation has provided owners with time to reflect on potential improvements to their properties, with leading industry bodies 4 expecting a growth in renovations such as kitchen and bathroom updates. Additionally, the HomeBuilder initiative is expected to support more than 10,000 projects in 2021.

According to the Principle of Hamptons building company, Natalee Bowen, the ability to capture the holiday feeling in outdoor spaces has also become increasingly important. The idea of creating a sanctuary at home is not new, but it has certainly become a driving force in 2021. This ties into the existing trend for indoor-outdoor design that meets the lifestyle needs of the owners, which is especially important to first home buyers and young couples.

This emphasis on blending interiors and exteriors is driving the trend for continuity in colour palettes, materials and textures between spaces. For example, exterior cladding with the appearance of wood grain, such as James Hardie’s Axon vertical joint cladding can be used internally and externally for a consistent timber style. Additionally, as they are made of premium fibre cement, they are resistant to warping, flaking and damage from moisture and fire. They are also BAL rated, which is a must for any bushfire zone.
Property prices
While forecasters anticipated house prices to crash across the country in response to the recession, they in fact rose by 3.1% 5 year on year at the end of 2021 according to industry data. With land prices rising, there is a downward pressure on build costs.

According to Helen, no matter the property, there is normally a compromise between costs and the dream home people are trying to build and according to industry data, these decisions will be affected by growing house prices. As such, consumers should make very clear budgets and leave additional funds for unexpected costs. From there, they should work with their builder to find cost-effective options and substitutions to get the look, while maintaining quality.
Mixed looks
Homeowners want their properties to reflect their style, especially those on their fourth home or higher who have gained more confidence and capability. Many of these more experienced homeowners are realising that they can cost-effectively redefine their homes’ exteriors by recladding or with cladding features.

According to architect Joe Snell, homes with little architectural shape can be enhanced by varying lines, textures and colours. Here, the mixed cladding look can reflect a well-known style or a unique personal one. By incorporating a larger range of materials, the look opens up almost endless design possibilities, perfect for people who have rediscovered their creative sides during lockdowns. Advances in modern materials like Premium Fibre Cement allow lightweight cladding to be created in a number of profiles. James Hardie offers a wide range of cladding with vertical and horizontal lines with timber and render textures that are perfect to accentuate the dimensions of a property or particular features. Large format panel Matrix cladding also offers as a great backdrop, or the basis of clean minimal designs. Working together, all of the profiles easily attach to timber fames and hold paint well for a low maintenance and long-lasting look.
To find out more about how to build or renovate your own dream home, from inspiration on the latest look to advice on modern materials, visit

Till next time... What's your favourite look for 2021?

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