Peter C. Kurth on Recent Trends in Residential Design

With the real estate market finally stabilizing and incredibly low interest rates on home improvement loans becoming more readily attainable, the last couple of years have been extremely exciting for architects. While remodeling has slowed as a result of increased economic uncertainty in recent years, contractors continue to offer bids at extremely reasonable rates, empowering our clients to initiate some breathtaking projects. Homeowners considering renovations or additions have rarely enjoyed such an accommodating market. The overwhelming majority of projects that my firm has pursued include restorations, expansions, and renovations. These projects represent a wide range of budgets and expectations from the homeowner. My firm will accept virtually any project so long as it presents unique challenges and design questions for our design team to contemplate. For the most part, clients adapt their homes to their changing lifestyles. As a result, the most common requests are enlarged kitchens and family room expansions, new entrances and staircases, state-of-the-art media rooms, fully equipped offices, and even in-home studios. Many homeowners also wish to increase the size of the master bedroom and sometimes create a bedroom suite with a deluxe master bathroom.


Before Renovation -- Peter C. Kurth © All Rights Reserved

Before Renovation -- Peter C. Kurth © All Rights Reserved

 

Renovation projects have become popular for two primary reasons. First, they immediately and drastically improve the quality of life for the homeowners and others living in the house. Second, they add considerable equity to the home, increasing the value of the property as the real estate market continues to recover at an exponential rate. On average, my firm has completed about 20 of these projects annually for the last few years.

After Renovation -- Peter C. Kurth © All Rights Reserved

After Renovation -- Peter C. Kurth © All Rights Reserved

 


In terms of new construction, our firm only takes on a couple of projects each year. In Westchester County, New York, and southern Connecticut, where we primarily work, suitable new land has become increasingly difficult to find. Environmental concerns and uneven terrain make most undeveloped land undesirable. Clients also remain concerned about the long approval process for new construction. We circumvent these problems with an expertise in developing challenging sites and by handling the approval process for clients, which generally necessitates collaboration with several different environmental agencies, all of whom must be handled in a professional manner.

About the Author

Peter C. Kurth serves as the Principal Architect at The Peter C. Kurth Office of Architecture and Planning, PC, a firm that he founded nearly two decades ago. His Mount Kisco, New York-based company creates unique designs that meet the exact needs of clients and match the aesthetics of existing structures and sites.

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Peter C. Kurth on Habitat for Humanity International

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by Peter C. Kurth

As an architect who believes strongly in giving back to the community, I often contribute my time and services to Habitat for Humanity. For more than 30 years, the nonprofit organization has worked internationally to provide shelter for families in need through the innovative concept of partnership housing. With the support of volunteers and donors, Habitat for Humanity collaborates with low-income families to build simple and serviceable housing; in turn, Habitat homeowners make affordable monthly mortgage payments to a revolving fund that allows the organization to build more new houses.

Habitat for Humanity traces its roots to the 1960s and one couple’s desire to help. In search of a new direction, Millard and Linda Fuller sold their possessions and moved to a Christian community outside of Americus, Georgia, where they developed the idea for a new housing ministry. To address the issue of inadequate housing on a nonprofit and no-interest basis, the ministry would need to rely on the generosity of volunteers as well as the contributions of the partner families themselves. With this insight, the Fullers and their children moved to Africa in 1973 to test their housing project in the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. After seeing their project flourish, the Fullers came back to the United States in 1976 to establish Habitat for Humanity International.

With high-profile supporters such as former President Jimmy Carter, who leads a weeklong project on behalf of the organization every year, Habitat for Humanity continues to partner with families worldwide to provide decent and affordable shelter. Habitat for Humanity has built more than 350,000 houses for 1.75 million people since its inception, and I am proud to donate my abilities to support the organization’s critical mission.

To learn more about Habitat for Humanity and how to contribute, please visit www.habitat.org.