The evolution and future of homes has been driven by the changing demands of people and the society that they live in. For instance, the nineteenth and early twentieth century included construction of quick and cost-effective properties to accommodate the growing working-class population during urbanisation.
In today’s society, we are facing our own unique set of challenges. As we entered 2020, there was increased pressure to contribute positively to climate change, the need for more housing and increased demand for more tech-savvy homes. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the housing industry has had to shift its priorities.
So, the real question is – what does the Coronavirus crisis mean for the future of homes?
In more recent years, there has been increased demand for spaces that are ‘flexible’. This means creating living spaces that can be easily adjusted and converted depending on the needs of the people living within them. Examples of flexible livings spaces may include the shifting partitions of walls and the ability to change room configuration.
It is likely that we will see sustained demand for this type of property in the months and even years ahead. The UK lockdown created a virtually overnight change to our way of life, and many people have homes that are not necessarily set up for living, working and relaxing in the same space. As a consequence, many people have been forced to adjust their usual home arrangements; living rooms are being converted into bedrooms and playrooms into offices etc but not in a way that it was intended to do so.
As people look to make their next move, flexible living may be high on the list of priorities as a result of our current experiences. By increasing the capabilities of future newbuilds, homes will be more resilient to unexpected demands in the future.
Bring Derelict Buildings into Use:
Prior to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, increased regional development was a growing trend that stemmed from people looking to move to big cities with similar career prospects and services to London. With a stimulated demand for housing in major cities and a simultaneous lack of space for new builds, developers had to take a responsive and vigorous stance to bring life back to derelict areas and buildings. This approach was readily embraced by many UK councils; Kent implemented a ‘No Use Empty Scheme’ designed to bring vacant properties back into use as quality accommodation. This scheme resulted in 311 approved loans. Similarly, Plymouth City Council offered financial loans and grants up to £50,000 to landlords who were bringing long-term vacant properties back to use.
However, it is difficult to determine how effective these schemes will be in a post-Corona climate. Undoubtedly, the current conditions we find ourselves in will impact how councils will prioritise and spend its resources in the forthcoming months. It is likely that the focal attention will be directed towards vital national and medical services for the foreseeable future.
Environmentally Conscious Homes:
With a rise in organisations such as Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, it is evident that environmentally conscious living has become a central focus for many. And, despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, there is no evidence of these focuses changing. In fact, many people are realising the significant impact that human consumption has on the environment. With people abiding by government guidelines to stay indoors, the environment has seen a series of benefits since lockdown started, including healing holes in the Earth’s ozone layers.
Therefore, smart sustainable ways of living remain a priority for many, including the government. The Ministry of Housing, Communications and Local Governments are still maintaining policies to reduce the carbon emissions released from properties. These policies include ensuring all new builds are energy efficient and low carbon. The ‘green deal’ initiative has also been introduced to enable people to pay for environmentally conscious home improvements over time using savings on their regular energy bills.
Additionally, homes that have features such as water filtration, natural ventilation, built-in solar energy and demountable spaces will still remain popular. There has also be an increase in the installation of wind turbines and the use of geothermal energy. Houses are being designed and constructed to be prepared and protected against extreme weather conditions and general adaptations to climate change. Regardless of the wider situation, being environmentally conscious is likely to still remain a priority.
We are very aware that technology dictates a large proportion of our time in today’s society.
As technology advances, we can also assume that there will be big changes in the way that people live. With practicality at the forefront of our minds, technology has progressed vastly. Mobile apps that control our heating systems and livestream deliveries have been pioneered to make our lives simpler whilst also delivering energy savings.
It is estimated that this trend will continue with technology being created for homes that provide a value add. With more time being spent inside, there is a greater focus on what homes can do to compensate for this. For instance, there are voice automated services that play music and turn lights on and off on cue. These advances have been made as people want homes that are both technologically advanced and connected. In the future, people will see homes that can collect and analyse data to suit the people who live there. For example, some more contemporary properties have features such as intelligent kitchens which aid with food and nutrition selection. They can even monitor supplies and make automatic online requests for to supermarkets for delivery if items are running low. This feature may become particularly popular following the current restrictions on movement and more long term hesitations on eating out because of the COVID-19 crisis.
It is evident that people’s housing priorities have changed, particularly since the outbreak of COVID-19. It is unlikely that we’ll see any immediate changes. Short term priorities are likely to be on riding out the storm under current circumstances. . However, once a sense of normality is restored in the market, the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and the relative unpreparedness we all experienced is likely to come to mind when making long term choices.