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Homebuyers reveal hopesfor 'house of the future'

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Potential buyers of new luxury homes would like their homes to be imaginative and light-filled on the inside - but utterly conventional on the outside. This is a finding of research by Wates Built Homes as part of its Project Housing 2000 scheme, aimed at discovering and building 'the house of the future'.

It launched a competition for which it has received 348 expressions of interest, about 100 more than the norm for an riba open competition. Architects and other professionals accounted for 72 per cent of the registrations, and the rest came from students. Winners should be announced in April.

The research was carried out through focus groups and individual interviews, with owners of both new homes and older homes, since a major concern of Wates and other housebuilders is the reluctance by many to buy new houses. One of the objectives of the research was 'to understand the barriers to buying a new built home and determine how these can be overcome'.

Trends identified as influencing the house of the future include: home working (need for a home office); informal living (a kitchen diner rather than a dining room, flexibility of room/space usage); greater security (gates and guards may be inevitable); technology in the home (wiring for networked pcs, video and sound, central vacuum cleaning system, flat-wall tvs); environmental considerations (many are expected to become law, but consumers are wary about making changes without guaranteed long-term savings); reduced running costs (better insulation, low-voltage lighting).

The wish list for the future includes treating the kitchen as the most important room in the house, and internal features like double-height rooms and split levels. The home office should be in a 'peripheral location' and of 'modern design'.

Information from this research was fed into the brief for the competition. Wates is committed to building the winning designs.

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