As I said in different articles here, the pandemic changed our way of living and forced us to rethink our relationship with our homes. What are the new priorities, and how are they shaping our choices when creating our spaces?
No matter where you are, most likely, the sound of drills and hammers has become part of your life over the past few months. From DIY until new constructions, homes’ investment has never seen a boom like this in decades.
Here I invited three home building professionals to share with us how they saw home investments changing during the last year.
- Molly Robertson, an interior designer, talked about one of the biggest necessities the pandemic brought to our lives: home office.
How we use our homes and how we socialize dictates how we allocate space.
In general, the home office was seen as a luxury if space was an issue or sometimes an afterthought like a small desk in an extra bedroom. 2020 has shifted the model of how we allocate space in our homes, and perhaps to a certain degree, it has done so permanently. I have clients and friends who tell me their offices have been shuttered, and their homes have become permanent satellite offices. Of course, these changes were thrust upon us all due to Covid-19, but in many cases for my clients, the evolution of remote working is not going away. Platforms like Slack and zoom enable us to communicate much more effectively, and although far from perfect, it has proven a model on a large scale that business can be done well remotely. I believe this shift was coming, but covid has simply made it happen faster.
Creating a work-life balance when your office is also your home is all the more critical. The biggest problem is constantly feeling like you can be reached—always on call! To combat this, my clients and I carve out zones in the home. Thus they can compartmentalize by physically and emotionally walking away from the never-ending emails and Slack messages. My biggest rule is not to make the main work area in my client’s home the bedroom. Zoning out space can be done by rooms or even within rooms. The key is to add purpose and functionality and set yourself up with as much natural light as possible. Home offices are no longer secondary spaces; they are primary; to help my clients feel less stressed and overwhelmed, we need to accept that and design to meet this new life at home.
- Cristianne Ortiz, an architect, pointed out one of the silent concerns.
Living with a pandemic has certainly taught us many new things. It has also modified some of our needs and relationship with spaces around the house, the office, and other places.
Because most of us are spending a whole lot of time at home now, things like having a dedicated home office space, workout area, and swimming pool are in high demand.
But there are other, more silent concerns that most people didn’t use to focus on before. One good example is the quality of the air that we breathe indoors. Indeed this is very important in enclosed public places, but people are also starting to think about how air moves inside their homes.
There are, of course, many options and solutions when it comes to solving indoor air quality (IAQ) problems. Whereas it is always easiest to plan ahead for a solution when designing a new house, there are also very good and efficient solutions available for retrofit and renovation projects. There are three basic principles when designing for good IAQ: ventilation, filtration, and humidity control.
It’s worth noting that other than viruses, there can be many contaminants in our indoor air that affect our health. Some examples of these are high levels of CO2, formaldehyde, and other volatile organic compounds (VOC).
- Juliano Souza, a general contractor, emphasized the house’s new darling: the backyard.
From simple deck replacements to complete backyard remodeling, outdoor improvements have been in very high demand, and we don’t see it slowing down so soon.
At the beginning of the pandemic, outdoor projects were the only safe investment to make. Remodeling was pretty much concentrated into very functional needs such as better fences for privacy and lighting projects. As time went by, home extensions and additions became the main request. For some families, it can be the need for a home office; for some other families, it is the need for a retreat after seeing their houses transformed into an office space. For other families, it can be the need for a new entertaining addition.
While priorities are different, at the end of the day, with this new “bunker style” way of living, everybody needs more space, and whoever has a backyard that can be better used is investing in it.
Other home improvements that have been in much higher demand if roofing and outdoor painting.
Some projects are new ideas, but many others are long-time dreams that kept being postponed until last year when many families saved money on vacations and other restaurants and shopping activities and invest in their homes.
While projects that can increase home value are commonly considered the projects to be prioritized, the pandemic made us think about home differently, and whether you are planning on moving shortly or not, the most important projects have become the projects that will improve your quality of life.
Although some home projects can be a significant commitment in terms of time and money, more than ever, they can be worth every penny, and if I can give you one piece of advice, it is to establish a budget. Even if your place is temporary, it is essential to invest in your emotional well-being and make cozy a priority.
Cristianne Ortiz is a registered architect with license to practice architecture in New York, Connecticut and Brazil. She has been working in the field of architecture for over 20 years and has a wide range of experience not only in residential, but also in commercial, religious and high performance, net-zero buildings.
JS Builders specializes in foundations, retaining walls, garages, decks and remodels; handles framing and dry rot repair work, and provides a variety of general contracting services for residential and commercial.