Construction Trends in New Builds: How Has Covid Changed Homebuyer “Must Haves?”

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Successful builders and house flippers often have an innate sense of what buyers want and, if not, they’re smart enough to enlist the help of architects, landscapers and designers. But even the savviest, most-forward looking builders would probably admit that the past year-and-a half of lockdowns and distancing has changed buyers’ perceptions of what they are looking for in a home–and will likely impact construction trends for the foreseeable future.

We found a couple of recent articles that addressed the changing needs that builders must acknowledge in a pandemic/post-pandemic market. The first appeared in Veranda Magazine where they polled 170 architects and designers around the country on what are the new “must-haves” for today’s upscale buyers.

The result was an interesting article: Here’s What the Future of the American House Looks Like. opens in a new windowWhile much of the article dealt with interior design, it also had suggestions that might be useful for builders and investors.

These include:

  • A shift to landscaped front yards, porches and entertainment spaces, creating “curb appeal” such as unexpected double-door access to outside spaces to extend dining rooms.
  • More useful and hygienic multi-use mudrooms that can act as sanitization stations (with showers), delivery and postal centers and master charging outlets to reduce clutter.
  • The use of pocket and other door options to create more private spaces vs. the once more-popular open space concept.
  • The additional, unexpected “weird, kooky, creative spaces” throughout the home, especially window seating.
  • Multi-use living rooms to incorporate casual and formal dining and other activities like space for elegant hors d’oeuvres and flowers for a cocktail party at night, or an in-house pregame tailgate that opens to an outdoor space for BBQing.
  • Planning acoustics to cut down echoing.
  • Rethinking kitchen and pantry spaces: Kitchens are becoming entertainment areas, not just cook stations. Incorporated islands provide multi-uses such as a buffet or workstation. Pantries are expanding to hide away a lot of the clutter for various cooking appliances.

Another interesting article on the subject appeared in The Washington Post, and was more directly aimed at homebuilders regarding what millennials’ expectations were for new home construction in a pandemic world.


A Home of the Future, Shaped by the Coronavirus Pandemic – The Washington Post

The article draws a parallel with the 1918 pandemic and how 1918 flu-era design and building elements introduced changes that directly addressed the need for sanitization and health: having a powder room near the front door, using subway tiles in bathrooms for easier cleanup and built-in closets to confine clothes away from people and eliminate dust-catching armoires. Carpet and draperies were removed from bathrooms to reduce germs. 

A dedicated research team conducted a study of 6,000 consumers and their current views on what they were looking for in a home today. Then they collaborated with a North Carolina-based home builder to design and build a “concept home.”

The end result was a 2600 sq. Ft, 4 bedroom, 4 bath model home that would be used as a study tool for one year. The house design was driven to maximize every space in the home and included elements like a “family” bathroom, a “quarantine” guest bedroom with a dedicated entry to the front porch for fresh air and outdoor access; pocket doors to link it to the rest of the house; and an adjacent private bathroom.

Other building design elements that are addressed in the article include oversized front porches and covered open air backyard spaces; a front door vestibule area with a glass door separating the rest of the house and allowing a location for package drop-off and a sanitization station; multi-flex options for a working-from home-environment and even “secret rooms” to get away from it all for business calls, meditation and other uses.

What construction trends are you experiencing in spec new home building? Let us know in the comments below:

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