Editors note: The following content has been provided by Tracy Bartlett of South African PR company, Bartlett Communications.
The way we live in – and experience – our homes has forever changed since the onset of Covid-19 and, in the long term, this means that the way in which houses are designed and constructed must also be adapted to meet new demands and priorities.
So says Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, adding that historically, residential design has always been influenced by times of crisis, although this time the impact will be more significant.
“The current crisis in the form of a pandemic has literally forced us to be homebound and will therefore have a bigger and broader impact on residential design than, say, an economic crash.
“Spending more time at home with family as well as working and learning remotely has forced us to be more mindful of the relationship between spaces, including the indoors and outdoors, all of which has implications for how we will design houses going forward.”
Geffen believes that although a few of the currently emerging features and trends are likely to be passing fads, others are here to stay and will continue to add value to homes for years to come.
Off the grid
This is not only becoming an established trend in South Africa where our electricity supply is unstable and unpredictable, but globally as more and more people turn to renewable energy.
Homeowners and home buyers are already showing considerable interest in homes that use less energy and water and there is also increasing demand for systems that manage power consumption.
Homes with several sources of heating as a safety net will be sought after, such as fireplaces, fuel generators, solar geysers and solar panels.
Concrete has always been considered the most stable and reliable building material but, as buyers have become more environmentally conscious and more young people have started to enter the market, the demand for eco-friendly building has increased dramatically.
There are now a multitude of sustainable building materials available, from bamboo to composite plastic and these are likely to be increasingly popular features when it comes to selling down the line.
The pandemic has turned the spotlight on holistic wellness and there is a growing focus on how our homes can impact our health.
Buyers are already starting to look for features like low-VOC paint and more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and insulation materials that can help improve indoor air quality.
The energy-efficiency, health benefits, and construction techniques that can be used in and incorporated into modern building nowadays are very different from the way older homes were built – and they are continually improving in leaps and bounds.
Many of the environmental considerations associated with workplace productivity, such as indoor air quality, noise pollution, and visual comfort should also be taken into consideration as remote working will remain the norm for many people.
Room usage has changed considerably and has become more flexible since the onset of the pandemic. And, although remote working and distance learning are likely to be less prevalent in the coming years, how we work and live has forever changed and additional living space that can be used for a variety of activities will continue to be in demand.
Flexibility is key in space planning, as is designating areas based on specific function.
Communal living areas are no longer mere lounges where we watch television and even people who have gone back to work like having a ‘home office’ which can double as a study room or quiet space.
Larger, more versatile kitchens
Kitchens have become the showplace of the home and a central gathering place for family and friends, although this is not only due to lockdown but also the fact that people are entertaining more casually.
So even if you do prefer a traditional separate kitchen and dining room, the chances are that it won’t be a drawcard when the time comes to sell and could even deter buyers. Not everyone likes completely open plan living, but most people love a generous, inviting kitchen-diner.
Blending outdoor and indoor living
Being closer to nature and enjoying fresh air makes us calmer, healthier and more balanced and incorporating natural light and air into daily living promotes good health and reduces utility costs, so it’s not surprising that, post-lockdown, more buyers are requesting homes with this feature.
And, with cooking having become more of a social bonding activity, adding an outdoor kitchen or upgrading your braai area will also add value and appeal.
“Post-pandemic, people have a better and, for many, unprecedented, sense of how they live in their homes and what amenities and spaces they do or do not need,” says Geffen.
“And to meet these exacting standards, the design of future homes will have to be much more personal and, in some ways, technical, as people will continue to use their homes for work, study, leisure, entertainment and beyond.”