Our Future Homes: Easy Care and Open Plan

Thanks to an exhibition organized by Japanese retailer Muji, we can peek into the home of the future. And according to a recent article in Houzz, we can expect to live with new materials, adaptable spaces, and open-concept floor plans.

The exhibition, House Vision 2, introduced the ideas underlying tomorrow’s homes as seen by companies in the housing industry, architects, and designers. Ten life-sized prototypes offered insight into the way housing may go in the future. Here are a few examples:

  • “Open House with Condensed Core” was a collaboration between architect Shigeru Ban and Lixil, a Japanese building materials manufacturer. Their prototype addressed the limitations of traditional plumbing, which make layout changes difficult. In their vision, the plumbing is installed in the ceiling, making it easier to reconfigure. The house also features glass windows that can swing up and out of the way for a truly indoor-outdoor space.
  • Commissioned by Daito Trust Construction, Sou Fujimoto’s installation explored new types of multi-dwelling residences in his “Rental Space Tower.” It rearranges both private and shared spaces of a typical apartment to reduce the square footage of private zones and maximize public areas, creating new shared amenities like libraries and theater rooms.
  • Airbnb and architect Go Hasegawa teamed up on “Yoshino-sugi Cedar House,” a wooden dwelling that brings a new meaning to house-sharing. It’s part community space, part temporary residence, which is used, maintained, and operated by the community, not a private individual. On the first floor are a meeting space and communal kitchen; upstairs are bookable sleeping quarters for guests.

Finally, it seems we don’t have to bid goodbye to open-concept living just yet; open floor plans were featured in many installations. They’ll just look a little different down the road.

Know What You’re Doing When Buying a Vacation Property

Whether you call the place a cabin, a camp or a cottage, the truth is undeniable: We Canadians love our summer homes.

And so, it seems, does the rest of the world: Real estate in vacation country is booming, and one popular Ontario summer recreation area saw property sales increase by more than 80 per cent last year.

This isn’t that unusual. Across the country, out-of-province and even out-of-country buyers are snapping up Canada’s vacation properties.

If you’re one, be wary: What’s supposed to be a relaxing retreat may turn stressful if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

Consider hidden costs: Vacation homes need maintenance and repairs; because you may live at a distance, this can be time-consuming and costly. Also, commuting to and from your second home (with all the stuff you’ll need for a relaxing holiday) can eat up a lot of time, money and energy. And if you opt to rent out your property when you’re not using it, add extra time to find and prepare for renters.

Because prices for vacation homes are skyrocketing, many buyers are considering co-ownership with family, friends or business partners. Ensure you make this a true joint venture, complete with a legal agreement defining each co-owner’s responsibility for maintenance and upkeep and outlining what happens should the property be sold.

Owners must also remember to keep detailed records, including receipts and before-and-after photos of renovations made to the property. Upgrading will likely impact the value of the property, and records will be important should you decide to sell.