Why Modern Housing is on the Rise

By: Dane

Many modern homes and condos are going up left and right in Austin, with local design and build companies behind the new residences. It is hard to pinpoint exactly why modern design is becoming so popular, but several factors possibly play a role.

One of the reasons Austin draws so many people to town is because at its heart, it is "different". It is very different from big cities like Dallas or Houston, and also different from a standard cookie cutter town found all over the state. New modern homes are also different from traditional homes in both their exterior curb appeal, with large walls of glass, concrete and wood, as well as their modern and minimalist interiors. Those moving to Austin looking for a change could find themselves hunting for a home that reflects their personality. It's also the same reason that most of the new modern housing is located in and around central Austin, where the vibe of the city is felt the most.

Though many builders are currently trying to take on green standards in their building practices, the local companies building these modern homes thrive on doing so, which appeases the home buyer who is also environmentally conscious. Modern homes often use renewable resources such as bamboo or cork flooring, and double paned windows, rain cisterns and tankless water heaters to conserve resources, and low VOC paint, which is less toxic than traditional oil and latex based paints. Even the majority of modern homes are xeriscaped, using landscaping plants that are friendly to the often harsh Texas environment, and cutting down on excessive watering.

Many new Austin transplants have come from large cities on the east or west coast, or possibly artsy cities like Portland or Seattle, and have a wide and eclectic taste. Others went to the university, and moved away, but are coming back to settle in central Austin. Those looking for a modern home are more into architecture and would prefer a home that makes more of an artistic statement than a traditional home. Also the growing popularity of magazines like Dwell, and house and home decor websites and blogs like Apartment Therapy, cultivate interest in unique modern homes and modern Austin condos.

In general, large home builders are sticking to traditional housing, since the demand for such homes hasn't gone away, and much of the population would consider modern homes ugly, uninviting, or resembling a dentist's office. Also building tract homes is easy and fast, since there are limited floor plans, and building sites are already plotted out.

Luckily, Austin has several small and medium sized firms who are willing to create more unique homes, and is another possible reason many modern dwellings are on the rise. Also, since many of the firms design and build their houses, the home buyer can have input on its design from the beginning, and feel assured that there won't be anything lost in translation when their house is under construction. These firms also take the land and the surroundings into account, and "bring the outside in" with touches such as exterior brick walls forming interior walls, and well placed windows to capture site specific views. For those Austinites that can't seem to find that perfect modern dwelling, a word into a local design/build firm can get the ball rolling.

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