Cathedral Ceilings May Be Real Estate Trend Of The Past

I got another tip from one of my friends in Seattle about a real estate trend. The emphasis now in real estate preferences is away from the soaring ceilings we’ve been used to seeing over the last decade or two according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

There may be a variety of reasons for this change. For one, many home buyers are looking at these hard-to-clean two story rooms as wasted space. Another reason is that as homeowners are more conscience of the money they spend on heating and cooling, drafty two-story rooms waste a lot of energy – wasted energy translates into wasted money in these days of exponentially rising fuel prices.

New home builders in most markets around the country are no longer offering homes with the two-story “great room”. Since buyers are concerned about energy costs, don’t like the noisiness of the cavernous unused space, and need more usable floor space, they are no longer buying homes with the now ‘out of vogue’ wasteful spaces.

Homeowners who can not afford to move but need more room, are hiring architects and contractors to remodel existing homes to add additional living space such as bedrooms, and other more useful finished square footage to their property. This work of transferring ‘wasted’ space inside the existing envelope of the home is much cheaper than adding finished space outside the existing footprint.

A likely consequence to this remodeling trend is that the value of the home is probably going to improve after these modifications. If done professionally and properly, having an existing home remodeled will make many homes more marketable, as well as more valuable. (A four or five bedroom home is frequently easier to sell, and often commands a higher sale price than a home with the same floor plan with only three bedrooms.) With high ceilings out of style and more usable space in demand, it’s a win-win scenario for homeowners that choose to make changes to their home while they can reap the personal benefits of living in the space, combined with the future benefits of a higher sale price, and shorter market time, when they’re ready to sell.

An alternative that’s gaining popularity in lieu of the two-story ceiling is the movement towards building homes with slightly taller than average ceilings. A ten or eleven foot ceiling can create a very luxurious and high-end feeling in a home. While the trend towards cathedral and vaulted ceilings that started in the 1970’s is waning, this recent change towards slightly taller ceiling height may be a great compromise of the various benefits of each building style..

A recently rebuilt home that I featured in another blog post and also in my video tours section used this tactic to enhance the open feeling of the mail living space. Starting with an early 1960’s split level, the home was enhanced with taller ceilings in the main level and an additional upper level added to create more useful bedroom space.

In another home in Boulder featured on my site, an older home was completely rebuilt to include eight foot tall solid wood doors that compliment 10 to 11 foot ceilings on the main living level. It also included an additional upper level to provide more living space in the form of bedrooms.
In neither case were these recent renovations embracing the cathedral or two-story ceilings so common in larger suburban homes built through the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s. I guess these builders and remodelers are in tune with the current trend away from this wasteful, noisy and difficult-to-clean architectural style that’s going the way of the square-lipped rhino, grizzly bear and brown pelican.

Whether or not the ‘endangered’ feature of high ceilings will become truly extinct or not — as homeowners decide with their wallets that more useful square footage is the order of business in real estate these days – builders and remodelers will have an opportunity once again to find a reason to create new products on which home buyers can spend their money.


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