The seven ways the pandemic will change the look of new homes
It’s hard to imagine an event that has transformed what people want out of a new home more than the pandemic.
True, innovations over the years have changed people’s wants. From refrigerators to air conditioning to smart features, home buyers in the past century have increasingly welcomed technological improvements into their houses.
But since 2020, the way we live and work has changed, and that will impact how we build new homes. This is especially true when you consider that we’re going to see increased construction of new homes over the next five years or so, given heightened demand and low inventory across the United States.
What do we want in our post-pandemic homes? Check out seven must-haves below.
Indoor air quality
It’s fair to say that, before the pandemic, indoor air quality was little considered among homeowners. As long as the vents were clean and smokers didn’t contaminate the air, few gave a second thought to the inside air they breathed.
The pandemic upended that. More efficient HVAC systems, along with better insulation materials, became essential. Even furniture changed: these days, a side table doubles as an air purifier. The use of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in new homes is also becoming a standard in the industry. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these filters remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns.
Future homes will have plenty of options targeted at killing viruses, such as bladeless ceiling fans that destroy microorganisms and ultraviolet technology that can eliminate pathogens. Air quality sensors will help alert homeowners if toxins are in the building. Letting more fresh air from outside into the home will be more important than before. Overall, homeowners will be much better armed to battle airborne viruses that infiltrate their houses.
Pathogens can live on counters in our kitchens and elsewhere for a few days. Since you can’t see them, it’s best to buy a material that can hamper their spread.
The use of quartz, stone and copper are the best antimicrobial materials from which to create your counters in your new home. Think about installing hands-free faucets to minimize germs, along with a germ-resistant material such as silver on your doorknobs.
Gone are the guest rooms that go unused unless someone is visiting, the dining rooms just for special occasions (that’s now the virtual classroom) and the old playroom (cleaned out and full of exercise equipment). Even as we start to let more people into our homes and allow ourselves to spend more time in public spaces, we’ve been putting every square inch of home to use during the pandemic, and that’s unlikely to change.
In new homes, once-popular open-floor plans will likely fade away, as people will crave more privacy for Zoom meetings and the like. Sliding panels are likely to be implemented to create an extra room.
Once known as the spot where rambunctious kids can take off their dirty shoes, this can become the first line of defense against viruses as people enter your house. Installing a sink is an easy way to persuade visitors to get rid of germs quickly, along with the option of hand sanitizers ubiquitous during the pandemic.
Having a dedicated space for a home office is going to be essential for anyone who plans on working remotely at least a few days a week for the foreseeable future. Repurposing an extra bedroom – which may have been the only option during the pandemic -- will be less attractive, as this space will be used 40 hours a week or more and needs the best lighting and no random closets. Top-notch Wi-Fi technology will be crucial too, as this is your sole way to communicate with work – and with the world.
Outdoor living rooms
As we learned how COVID-19 spread, one of the first places we felt safe was outside, where fresh air and ventilation seemed to lessen the risk of transmission. That led more of us to create outdoor spaces to gather, either around a firepit or an outdoor heater, if you could find one. Even outdoor furniture experienced some supply shortages as we rushed to create an outdoor living room to stay social, and socially distanced. And now that we’ve created these outdoor spaces, we’re going to keep using them.
Garages without cars
During the pandemic, homeowners transformed their garages into gyms and ceramic workshops, according to The Wall Street Journal. Especially in warm-weather climates, such as California, expect builders of new homes to make more space for cars on driveways and use garages as additional space for free-time pursuits.
Homes built as the pandemic recedes are being tailored to the new needs of buyers, who have been influenced by surviving the pandemic. From antimicrobial counters to flexible space, these features are likely to become permanent fixtures in homes going forward.
Craig Wales contributed to this article.
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