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    How This Pandemic Will Reshape Our Homes

    Because I’m in the business of real estate, I try to watch the treads in new home construction a little closer than most people. Although most of the new construction homes that are now being built in Kansas City were already in the planning stages prior to the COVID outbreak, some interesting new data has been coming out about what consumers will be asking for in the very near future going into 2021.

    Working remotely is the new norm

    Number one on the list is probably pretty obvious: more home office space. Home office space has been on a slow rise over the last ten years as more employers are beginning to allow some of their people to work remotely, but since the shelter-at-home ordinances this year, devoted home office spaces have now risen to the top of the “wish list.” In larger, executive style homes, a designated home office is a must along with high-speed internet service. In moderate-priced homes, we are seeing home office space tucked in behind the kitchen or a smaller room right off the master bedroom. Our clients are saying they no longer want to use the guest bedroom as an office; they want a dedicated space specific to their work needs.

    Outdoor living space will reign supreme

    Next on their list is a more elaborate outdoor space. Built-in backyard grills and patios have become the place for family get-togethers. While being forced to stay home, extended family backyard picnics and cook-outs have become vogue again. I’ve always gotten complaints from our new construction clients about the super small 6’x 6′ concrete patios builders put in, but now I’m beginning to see custom fireplaces, grills, and firepits, being built into backyard patios. From cottages to mansions, reclaiming more yard space—no matter the size of your property—has become the norm. I’ve also seen gardening become a more widespread hobby amid the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipate seeing in-ground pools making a comeback in the near future.

    Family movie night

    Number three on this list: large TV rooms or home theaters where everyone can enjoy a film together. These have always been in style, but now I believe we will begin to see more architects and builders actually designing the family rooms around the TV or creating a specific “movie space” for family nights.

    Kitchens will be more important than ever

    Kitchens are arguably already the most important room in a house, but with the temporary shutdown of restaurants, home cooks of all skill levels are preparing every meal at home. Future homeowners will have an even more pronounced interest in kitchens. Home buyers expect them to not only be spacious enough to cook and hang out in, but they’ll also be equipped with high-quality refrigerators and ovens. At one point during the pandemic this last spring, I had to pick something up from Lowe’s. As I walked in the front door I saw what appeared to be a full truck-load of home freezers. In talking to the manager, I found out that all of a sudden, people were buying up large freezers again to store more food at home. I suspect that builders will begin integrating space for a home freezer somewhere near the kitchen.

    Homes will be healthier

    When the world rebounds from COVID-19, homeowners will be drawn to emerging wellness technologies. Smart home solutions that were once seen as a luxury may now become the expectation of home buyers who are looking for safer, cleaner spaces. Higher-end computerized air filtration systems, motion sensors that turn on faucets, and voice control options for ovens, lights, televisions, and music could become more popular next year. As for kitchen and bathroom surfaces, topping the list for healthier countertop materials is lead-free (US-made) ceramic tile, followed by solid surface products such as Corian, then engineered quartz and cultured marble.  Plastic laminate and granite fall to the bottom of the ranking.

    New home construction has always been driven by consumer demand, but now more than ever, architects and builders are paying close attention to how consumer’s lives are being altered during this pandemic to build attractive features into their new construction homes for the future.

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