Bob Nielson
Dennis Drenner Bob Nielson

Bob Nielson and the National Association of Home Builders represent more than 160,000 members across the United States. A 25-year veteran home builder from Reno, Nev., Nielson has been on the front lines of affordable housing his entire career. Looking ahead, he thinks residential architecture is poised for some big changes, which will affect both how people live and how architects practice.

Like other sectors, it will take time for housing to rebound as we climb out of this recession. One advantage we have, however, is the design and innovation capability of the architectural community. Our member architects provide invaluable perspectives on design trends and construction both locally and at the national level.

A recent NAHB survey shows some of the changes brought about by the recession. It indicates that smaller homes with lower prices and more green features will dominate the marketplace in the near future. Looking forward to 2015, builders expect homes to average around 2,150 square feet, or about 200 square feet less than at present. Generally, buyers will be looking for flexible spaces that can accommodate changing household configurations. The preferences of the aging Baby Boom generation will be a major factor.

Architects and interior designers also play leading roles in some of our most visible programs. One initiative is The New American Home, a custom-designed show house constructed annually at the NAHB’s International Builders’ Show to showcase innovative design. Member architects also serve on our Design Committee, which helps educate builders to improve residential design.

In my view, the most important thing architects can do to help facilitate a recovery is support the NAHB’s efforts to restore the flow of credit for acquisition, development, and construction (AD&C) financing to builders, and resolve the problem of appraisals that do not accurately reflect new home values. Largely as a result of the recession, credit for home building has dried up, and the use of foreclosures and distressed sales as comparables has resulted in appraisals that do not reflect a new home’s unique qualities.

It is also crucial that everyone in the housing sector supports the mortgage interest deduction and other housing-related deductions in the tax code. Eliminating or reducing these tax measures, as has been proposed, would have a devastating effect on homeowners and the housing market. However, the mortgage interest deduction and other housing-related deductions are likely to be in the crosshairs as Congress moves forward on budget and deficit reduction efforts. As told to Guy Horton.aia