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New Normal Must-Haves For Home-Buyers - Get Your Zoom Room Ready Before Marketing Your Property

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New Normal Must-Haves For Home-Buyers - Get Your Zoom Room Ready Before Marketing Your Property

The most important rooms or spaces in a property in the pre-Covid times were always the kitchens, bathrooms and spacious entertainment areas  - i.e. when you are selling your home or apartment.  

Pandemics has in the past always created a shift in architectural responses towards health-conscious home design. Features such as antimicrobial materials, no-touch fixtures and hospital-grade air purifiers as well as extra bathrooms could all become the norm to make our homes a safe haven against Covid-19 or any future viral threat. As South Africa is already in our fourth month of lockdown, a lifestyle change is happening. We also have had plenty of time to change habits and this will relay to much more attention to residential (home) design which impact and legacy could last for generations.

Home spaces expectations are not only adjusting to the social distancing "disruption", changes already underway are in fact being amplified  - especially for those who can afford to buy new and healthier spaces to live, work and play within one residence.

The Covid-19 pandemic's "new normal" of working from home coupled with a heightened health measure protocol, has brought new must-have spaces into the buyers' wish-list and might just be the difference between you getting your property sold .......or not :

(1) a "Zoom" room or video conference space / home office;

(2) a safe outside space;

(3) guest toilet or additional bathrooms;

(4) drop zones - front door space or garage (with direct access to home) sanitising station;

(5) anti-microbial surfaces;

(6) air-filtration systems

(7) home gyms

 

  1. "Zoom Room" or Video Conference Space / Home Office:

Home offices has been the biggest change in "new" home spaces buyers need. Bedrooms, living rooms or at least kitchen nooks (for those without a separate "study") have become makeshift offices and are at best stopgap measures.

In the USA and Canada, some estate agents are already placing a stronger emphasis in their marketing material to "impressive Zoom rooms" than to e.g. wine cellars in luxury property. They are also including in their property descriptions suggestions that a third unfinished bedroom would be "perfect for a private home office or a zoom room." Other descriptive wording in usage is e.g. " a nice backdrop for Zoom calls" which has been aptly coined "Zoomscaping".  It describes the deliberate arranging of your home office or desk's visual backdrop for video calls - even if the out of view is a mess!

Homes with multiple office spaces have a distinct advantage as a quiet and secure Zoom office where you cannot hear the rest of the household (while making a conference call) has become a very important space to have. In the luxury property market buyers will in future expect a built-in Zoom Room system with a big TV display unit and professional acoustic equipment which will include a camera and noise cancelling microphone array and speaker.

Since a return to the pre-Covid-19 formal workplace environment will be gradual, comfortable and functional home office spaces will become more and more important to empower people to be as productive from home as they would have been in an office setting.

The trend is not limited to single-family homes and according to the Montreal Gazette, the next big thing in the apartment market might well be the Zoom room. One of the potential long-term impacts of the pandemic is there are going to be more people working from home, which means people are going to need some extra space in their apartment for a home office - or at least a kitchen nook as an alternative space to store their computer and office necessities. You might also see more people setting up partitions inside their apartments so the camera will not be able to show the rest of the apartment during video conferences - showing an environment that is more work-like than home-like.

Sectional title or apartment developers could in future also consider building WeWork-type common work areas that will allow people to work from the apartment building but outside their actual own apartment.

Interior design firms in the USA have also been approached by past clients about their only-in-2020 kind of problem - i.e. to help making their home workspaces not only more efficient, but to make them look better on camera. The inquiries launch a whole new service: a virtual design package wherein they will take a video tour of a home, give the homeowner a 30- to 60-minute consultation, and follow up with a checklist of ways the owner can improve their space. People who want even more help can opt for a much more comprehensive design plan, plus a Pinterest board full of products and furnishings selected just for the owner.

According to the interior designers you can easily make your background look more interesting by adding wallpaper or artwork. These tips will also help you create a visually appealing and functional space:

- Take advantage of natural light - which means the most ideal setup is facing a window;
- Paint the walls is the quickest and most budget-friendly way to instantly change the way a room looks and feels;
- Declutter - as having less stuff around you will make you feel better, and also make you look much more professional and put-together on camera;
- Layer, layer, layer - Not only do layered interiors look more finished, but adding items such as area rugs, throw pillows, or window treatments can also help dampen sound. 

  1. Safe Outdoor Living Spaces

 

Before the pandemic children could go to the park or playgrounds. Now people are realizing how important it is to have a space for kids right in your own yard where they are safe and secure while you are working inside.

 

According to Architectural Digest, outdoor living spaces will take on renewed importance during and post-COVID-19. Home-owners will seek to carve out their own private outdoor space-balcony, patio, garden, or fully landscaped backyard-and many will look to design experts to create these fresh-air havens. Incorporating water, fire, light, and natural species are a few key elements, along with appropriate seating and in some cases a trellis or canopy. They will need to consider whether the space will be used passively, as an area to gaze out upon from inside; or more actively, as a space to sit and have coffee, work, do recreational activities, work out, and more.

 

  1. Guest Toilet or Additional Bathrooms

The coronavirus could bring public health back as a primary home (and bathroom) disease avoidance design issue. Receiving visitors to your home might according to Bloomberg CityLab in future emulate the post-1918 Spanish Flu surge in guest bathrooms near or at the entrance - when homeowners strove to keep visitors away from the family's main bathroom and "personal quarters". It will also be very important until a vaccine is develop to have a separate bathroom for a family member who contracts Covid-19 and needs to be quarantined. Once a semblance of normalcy returns, it will be interesting to see whether we respond to this trauma by trying to make ourselves more comfortable, or by implementing design features that make our homes and bodies easier to clean, or a combination of the two

  1. Drop Zones - Front door space & garage (with direct access to home) sanitising station

Entering a home pre-Covid-19 was only a problem during the winter when shoes needed to be rubbed and wet jackets or rain coats needed to be left drying. Now masks, shoes and clothes became part of a cleansing routine to prevent the virus entering our homes. A dedicated front door transition space ("mudroom") or a "drop zone" as well as a sanitising station inside the garage for those homes with direct access from the garage, could provide such a safety measure. Drop zones can provide a space where people can keep things which have not been sanitised and / or where they can sanitise materials.

 

  1. Anti-microbial Surfaces

More than half the home buyers in Gazelle Global Research's America at Home Study, which was conducted in late April, said they wanted features like germ-resistant countertops and flooring, touch-free faucets and appliances, a better-equipped kitchen for cooking, and more storage for food and water.

According to Inman's Marian McPherson, home designers in the USA expect buyers to favour homes with copper and ceramic to homes with stainless steel surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms - as the Covid-19 virus only live on ceramic tiles and copper due to their antibacterial properties for a few hours, compared to 24 hours on stainless steel.

According to a Forbes article, kitchen and bathroom sinks are amongst the most frequently used items in the home. Ceramic tiles is another positive way to keep your family safe from bacteria because it is a solid surface that does not break down with the use of steam or cleaning solutions. If you are not ready to part with stainless steel, then touch-free faucets may be the best option - but that will definitely come at a price!

It is expected that smart-home features will become more and more important to create a clean, safe and healthy home - touchless faucets and bidets or even a touchless home entry, are only the beginning.

       6. Air-filtration Systems

According to a New York Times article, air purifiers with HEPA filtration efficiently capture particles the size of (and far smaller than) the virus that causes COVID-19. In theory air purifiers can therefor help protect against infection - but as of July 2020, it remains unclear how much practical impact the machines could have.  

 

The more time we spent at home during the pandemic, the more people will rethink our indoor air quality - especially as the WHO guidelines now state that airborne transmission of the coronavirus may be possible indoors, especially for people who spend extended periods in crowded, poorly ventilated rooms.

 

Replacing or upgrading the filters in HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units in homes, as well as investing in air purifiers for homes and apartments, may soon become a top priority.

 

The coronavirus lingers in the air after a cough or sneeze - something which high-powered air filtration systems and smart home systems therefor could help address for those homeowners who can afford it. Alternatively, homeowners could consider making physical changes to their homes (where possible) to manage indoor airflows.

 

Improved air filtration systems as well as pivoting away from synthetic materials like glues and certain padding under flooring may appeal to buyers with compromised immune systems or asthma. A recent study of home buyers in the USA by Meyers Research, found that 66% would spend another $1,000 on their home if it included a whole house air filtration system. That is up from 56% in 2019.

 

Homeowners or potential buyers will probably also crave flexible space or indoor/outdoor rooms to boost their access to natural air.

 

  1. Home Gyms

 

Home gyms can become almost as important as the home office and while a high percentage of home gyms may not have previously been used, they probably are now that wellness at home has become more of a focus. Utilizing any outdoor space or available indoor nooks for home gyms will be vital.

 

Conclusion:

 

The way we live in and ultimately sell or buy a home has been changed forever. It is also a matter of when, not if, changes arrive to home design and the better management and safer utilisation of our home spaces .

 

Social-distancing measures in phased economic re-openings according to our lockdown regulations have led to temporary barriers in commercial properties like offices and restaurants. While health and safety concerns made those responses more immediate, it can however take months for home design to shift - but shift it will.........

Author Benhard Wiese
Published 06 Aug 2020 / Views -
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