By Dr. Becker
Well over half of U.S. households include at least one pet. And increasingly, pet guardians consider their dog, cat, bird, hamster, or other companion animal to be a member of the family, deserving of the same consideration in living arrangements as the kids, or grandma, or the in-laws.
Around 70 percent of potential homebuyers have pets, and many bring them along to look at homes for sale.
Would a couple with children build a home that was not suitable for children?
Would a professional who works from home build a house that would not accommodate a home office?
Would a family that includes a handicapped family member build a home that was not properly equipped for even basic handicapped accessibility?
Of course not, you say. So why would a pet owner build a home that was not designed to make pet ownership as convenient as possible?
-- The B.O.L.D. Company1
Adam Cowherd Construction of Springfield, Missouri, builds pet-friendly additions to existing homes. “Owners want it uniquely functional, very contemporary and something that catches the eye,” says Cowherd.
Is it any wonder that enterprising homebuilders are now offering a wide and wonderful variety of built-in pet amenities in new home construction?
How About a Pet Suite in Your New Home?
Luxury homebuilder Standard Pacific Homes, which is building developments across the U.S., conducted “livability studies” with homeowners, and discovered that pets were a constant theme. As a result, the company now offers pet suites as an option in all their new homes.
The large suite is 170 square feet with tiled walls and floor. It comes equipped with a wash station, handheld sprayer, a drying area complete with a commercial pet dryer, water station, automatic feeders, a bunk bed, cabinets for food, treats and toys, a stackable washer and dryer, a flat-screen TV, and a French door that opens to a dog run.
In the Los Angeles area, the large Standard Pacific Homes pet suite adds $35,000 to the price of a home. In other communities, there are smaller pet suites available starting at 60 square feet and $8,000.
If a potential buyer has a cat, Standard Pacific can modify the pet suite to include, for example, a scratching post instead of the pet dryer. There are also endless ways to design a room or several rooms in a home to appeal to a kitty’s natural drive to climb, jump, and perch on high. You can see examples here, here, and here.
For additional ideas on how to design cat-friendly spaces, take a look at Jackson Galaxy's latest book, Catification: Designing a Happy and Stylish Home for Your Cat (and You!).
Other Great Ideas for Built-in Pet-Friendly Comfort and Convenience
The B.O.L.D. Company (B.O.L.D. = Builders of Lifelong Dreams) encourages dog owners to ask their homebuilders about built-in pet doors to the backyard or garage, invisible fence, and permanent or removable dog gates or Dutch doors. Another possibility is a pet waste management system.
Cat owners may want to talk to their builder about installing litter box cabinets in less-traveled areas of the home that even include low-volume fans to keep air circulating and odor to a minimum.
And since indoor kitties really enjoy safe, protected access to the outdoors, cat guardians might want to think about a pet door to an outdoor kitty enclosure. Other options could be a sunroom, a screened porch, or extra-deep windowsills or window seats.
Bird owners might want to think about a backyard flight cage, or a built-in birdcage or bird room indoors.
Additional Pet-Friendly Ideas for Your Home
When building or renovating a home where pets will live, it’s a good idea to select, non-toxic pet-friendly flooring and wall coverings. Washable paints help maintain clean walls, and hard floors are easier to clean and more durable for households with pets.
It’s also a good idea to pick colors that hide pet hair, and surfaces that won’t reveal every scratch or claw mark, for example, a distressed wood floor. Another thought is to install pet supply storage that will be inaccessible to a determined, clever dog or cat.
It’s also important for the sake of home cleanliness to make smart vacuum (for example, a strong central vacuum system) and air filter choices.