Builders tempt pet lovers with posh suites

  • By Sue Manning Associated Press
  • Wednesday, August 13, 2014 8:04am
  • Life

LOS ANGELES — These homes are set apart by their amenities — for dogs.

Standard Pacific Homes is building and selling homes in 27 developments from Florida to California and is believed to be the first to offer a pet suite as an option in every one.

The most lavish suite is a 170-square-foot pet paradise with a step-in wash station, handheld sprayer and leash lead; tile walls and floors; a designated drying area with a commercial sized pet dryer; a water station; automated feeders; a large bunk-style bed; cabinets for toys, treats and food; a stackable washer and dryer; a French door that opens to a puppy run; and a flat-screen television set.

Standard Pacific decided to offer pet suites after conducting livability studies with homeowners. Pets were a constant theme, said Jeffrey Lake, vice president and national director of architecture for Standard Pacific.

“Devotion to pets is second-to-none,” he added. “They are family.”

The American Pet Products Association reports that 68 percent of Americans own pets and contribute to an industry worth more than $55 billion annually.

Real estate officials say building homes designed to cater to pets is a new concept, but that remodels for pet owners have been available for some time.

Adam Cowherd Construction in Ozark, Missouri, installs pet-friendly additions to homes. Cowherd said he recently finished a job where there was an open shelf on the end of a kitchen island to hold pet bowls.

“Owners want it uniquely functional, very contemporary and something that catches the eye,” Cowherd said.

However, only once in the last 10 years has he been asked to build a whole room for a pet, he added.

Melanie Dean lives with her family near Dallas in a Standard Pacific home with a pet package for their dog, Lola.

Lola’s room “makes life much easier,” Dean said. “We don’t have to use the kitchen sink to wash yucky stuff anymore.”

Standard Pacific Homes’ newest community, called Avignon at Blackstone in Brea, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, features homes that start at $710,000. The pet spa option adds $35,000 to the price, Lake said.

Only the largest suite is available in Brea, but in some of the other communities, there are smaller sizes and prices, starting at 60 square feet for $8,000, he said.

During some of the model grand openings at different communities, several potential buyers brought their dogs to look at the homes, said Danielle Tocco, the company’s director of communications.

Around 70 percent of those looking for a home have pets, said Mollie Carmichael, principal at the John Burns Real Estate Consulting firm in Irvine.

Pet adoptions were also held at some model grand openings, Tocco said, just in case somebody didn’t have a dog but wanted one.

For cat owners, things can be rearranged and swapped out, like a scratching post for the dryer. And if no one is using the bath, it can be used for sporting equipment, like golf clubs.

Those looking to sell their homes may find their pet additions to be a benefit. Laundry rooms and mud rooms toward the back of homes are popular, said Amy Bohutinsky, chief marketing officer at Seattle-based Zillow. Pet washrooms can also be used as multipurpose mud rooms, which may attract buyers.

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