Coronavirus fears are reshaping home design


“There is a lifestyle change happening. It’s been three months since the shelter-in-place orders went out, ”said Liz Morgan, Creative Director in Portland, Ore.. JHL design. “It’s a lot of time to change habits, so there’s just going to be more attention to the design of the house – period.”

The longer quarantines and operating restrictions last, the more people will trust their home as a mission control for day to day life. But a kitchen counter as a home office, or free weights pushed into the corner of a guest bedroom masquerading as a gym, are only interim measures.

As corporate teams warm to the idea of ​​working from home, enhanced short-term health measures become protocol – think of the health-related equivalent of an TSA check at the airport. . As social distancing stays on everyone’s mind, expectations at home will adjust, Morgan said.

“It also depends on someone’s means and the space they have,” she added.

Spaces dedicated to home offices or gyms are some of the most talked about home design changes, but these can still be done with dedicated areas in smaller spaces like a studio.

Improved air filtration systems along with the removal of synthetic materials like glues and some padding under flooring may appeal to buyers with weakened immune systems or who have asthma. A recent study of homebuyers found that 66% would spend $ 1,000 more on their home if it included a whole-home air filtration system, according to Mollie Carmichael, director of Meyers Research. That’s up from 56 percent at least last year. Homeowners or potential buyers are also likely to be looking for flexible space or indoor / outdoor rooms to improve their access to natural air.

More elaborate design changes include the addition of a “drop zone” or exterior to interior transition space, such as a locker room.

“People are going to have to have places to keep things that haven’t been sanitized and where you can sanitize the materials,” Morgan said.

More than half of home buyers in Gazelle Global Research Study America from Home, which took place in late April, said they wanted features like germ-resistant countertops and floors, touchless faucets and appliances, a better-equipped kitchen for cooking, and more storage for food. and water.

Kerrie Kelly, design expert for Zillow, predicts an increase in smart home functionality. “Touchless faucets and bidets are just the start,” Kelly said. “Just wait for the tiled floor to take your temperature and the bathroom mirror to check your vital signs.” There are exciting new products on the horizon when it comes to keeping a home clean, safe and healthy.

Over 30% of those surveyed for the America at Home study wanted amenities like a contactless home entry, home office, and adaptable space with flexible walls. In Zillow research published On June 22, Katie Detwiler, vice president of marketing for Berks Homes, said buyers will see the doors return. “Open floor plans are changing. People feel like they need more privacy, so we’ll see more doors – especially for home offices – more insulation for noise control and separate spaces to occupy the kids during that parents are working, ”Detwiler said. “More people will be working from home in the future, period. It will take space and privacy to accommodate this.

“A home office has been part of the plan for a number of our builders over time, but not everyone has requested one in the past 10 years,” said Donna Tefft, director of marketing and sales at The pine forests – a 3,200 acre residential development in Plymouth. “Recently, potential buyers are asking for not just one home office, but two.”

The Pinehills are home to nearly 2,500 families, with a planned construction of over 3,000 homes. Buyers are flocking to the development 45 miles south of Boston because of its outdoor spaces and 10 miles of walking trails, Tefft added, but they are also looking for new amenities in their own homes.

To accommodate two home offices, various home builders in the Plymouth development are considering whether to convert lofts or finish single-level basements to accommodate two offices in future homes. More recently, potential buyers of developing homes have asked about fitness facilities and even “getaway spaces” or areas in between to take a call that are not open environments like a living room or bedroom. bedroom.

While many of this equipment was under study before the coronavirus, the pandemic has slowed down planned deployment.

“One of the consultants we work with says disruptions like this amplify changes already underway,” said Tony green, the Managing Partner of Development.

Any change in the design of buildings and homes stemming from COVID-19 would be the last chapter in centuries of architectural responses to public health crises.

Wide porches and increased ventilation gained popularity following three cholera pandemics in the first half of the 1800s. Carpeting and upholstery in bathrooms became much less fashionable later in the decade. over the century, as scientists began to understand how germs and disease spread.

Washrooms grew in popularity following the 1918 influenza pandemic, according to City laboratory, Bloomberg’s publication on urban living. Similar to Morgan’s prediction that locker rooms could gain popularity as a drop zone due to COVID-19, powder rooms were touted as a way to sanitize quickly when first entering a home.

Pandemics have a history of shaping residential design, but it may still take some time for the legacy of COVID-19 to permeate the Boston housing market. Projects currently underway or about to lead the way have been in the planning and approval process for months, if not years. But some changes in building infrastructure, such as increased air filtration and improved HVAC systems, have already been adopted in various municipal building codes in Greater Boston and major metropolitan areas across the country, said the people interviewed for this article.

It may take time for a contemporary post-pandemic legacy to emerge.

“All of these things are being considered but, really, for our region, it did not emerge until the beginning of March. People are still figuring things out, ”said Frank DiCenso, Vice President of Bridgewater-based Callahan Construction Managers. “If we have this interview in three, four or five months, I bet we’ll see changes. ”

It’s just a matter of when, not if, changes happen to the design, Morgan said.

Social distancing measures during gradual economic reopenings have led to temporary barriers in commercial properties like offices and restaurants. While health and safety concerns made these responses more immediate, the design of the home could take months to change.

“It’s kind of like asking a designer how long until the next big fashion cycle,” Morgan said. “With the design of the house, some people are always concerned that a contractor will walk inside, so it’s hard to predict when all of this will manifest. “

Locker rooms can gain popularity as a means of disinfection before entering a home.Adobe Stock / Ursula Page –
A survey suggests that a majority of buyers are willing to pay more for a home if it has a whole home air filtration system.Adobe Stock / Ursula Page –
Touchless faucets offer a way to sanitize without spreading germs on the handles.Adobe Stock / Ursula Page –


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