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ECOterra News and Articles
  • Posted by Michael Cecchini

How COVID-19 Has Builders Rethinking Floor Plans

People need their homes to serve more purposes than ever before, and builders are uniquely positioned to help.

In 2020, homes went from the place people returned to after work, school, hitting the gym or vacationing, to the place where families do all of the above. For those who now spend the majority of their hours at home, there’s a growing wish list of what they’d change about their homes, if possible. 

Builders are the ones who can turn those wish lists into reality. Here are five ways home design is changing, according to experts.

Every room needs to serve multiple purposes

The need for a quiet space for remote work means we’ll see more barn or pocket-style sliding doors that “give people privacy but can still preserve an open concept space when needed,” says Jennifer Pyatt of Indianapolis-based Pyatt Builders. That transition from dining or living spaces into working spaces helps provide a much-needed balance between privacy and community.

Zillow design expert Kerrie Kelly believes that all areas of a home will be used in multi-purpose ways. “Guest bedrooms may become wellness studios,” and dining rooms may be used occasionally as game rooms, Kelly says.

No home office? No thanks.

Working parents need dedicated separate space from their children, says Katie Detwiler of Berks Homes, which builds homes in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. Two-thirds of people surveyed by Zillow in May were working from a room that’s not a dedicated home office space, while the desire for one was at the top of their wish list. 

Designing for health and cleanliness

Kelly says touchless faucets and self-cleaning toilets are only the beginning: “Just wait until the floor tile takes your temperature and the bathroom mirror checks your vitals.” Kelly also expects builders to tout the antimicrobial qualities of quartz countertops. 

Detwiler says builders are thinking through how to build mudrooms with sinks off garages so people can “get clean before they even enter the house.”

Other design features geared toward keeping germs at bay include more en suite bathrooms, easy-clean flooring, larger foyers for taking off shoes before entering.

Even the air itself holds an opportunity for improvement: “Air cleaned by a UV light system in the HVAC can help minimize the risk of spreading germs,” notes Joe Klusnick, marketing director at Blue Mountain Communities in Northern California.

Yards need to be usable year-round

People want more space in their next home, and one way to get it is by turning part of the backyard into a functional room, “an outdoor space for play as well as entertaining or cooking,” says Detwiler. 

Todd Pyatt, President of Pyatt Homes, agrees. “Motorized, retractable screens, heaters and fans, now considered luxury options, will become more essential because they allow families the freedom to be outside across the seasons.”

When everything happens at home, there’s more to store

When people are cooking at home more often or making fewer trips to the grocery store to reduce exposure, serious pantry puzzles can result. Pyatt expects specific home design choices like larger pantries will continue to grow in popularity.

Closets are another opportunity for optimization in rooms that may serve multiple purposes throughout the day. A space that works as an office, a gym and a classroom can only be its best when there’s a dedicated spot to stash the yoga mats and art supplies to make way for office hours.

All in all, an increasing number of home shoppers appear interested in starting fresh with a brand-new home; searches for new construction homes have recently seen an uptick on Zillow, up 73 percent from last year.

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