Homebuyer priorities and preferences have changed in the wake of COVID-19, and builders must respond. These four COVID construction trends will continue shaping contractor and builder businesses for years to come.
The COVID pandemic upended life as we know it, yet humans are innately adaptive, so homeowners and buyers simply shifted their priorities and preferences accordingly. For construction professionals hoping to stay competitive now and into the future, understanding how these four COVID home building trends will shape their business is just as crucial as pursuing them.
Back to the burbs
Not long ago, the hustle and bustle, diversity, and hot-spot proximity of urban living drew many Americans to the big cities. But couple a dearth of existing homes with the effects of a persistent pandemic, and a retreat to the suburbs was inevitable.
Often located in appealing areas where single-family homes and spacious yards are the norm, the suburbs will continue expanding. Soon, however, these neighborhoods will need to include accessory dwelling units, duplexes and even triplexes, but home sizes—and specifically, their footprints—will likely stay on the smaller side.
New and renovated homes are all the rage
The majority (60%) of buyers would prefer a brand-new house, the highest figure since 2007 according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). This can primarily be ascribed to the dearth of existing home inventory, although the value of a move-in-ready home—especially one complete with eco-friendly and smart features—cannot be overstated.
Many of the same design principles and features that attract buyers to all-new structures can also be used in renovating and remodeling older structures.
“Older homes that haven’t been remodeled tend to sit around, but the completely renovated ones sell immediately,” said Michael Bordes, president of New York-based AA Jedson Company, LLC. “Most people are coming from the cities, where they’re used to having the super take care of everything. They’re typically not the kind of people who can wait through or even manage a home renovation.”
Same space, more function
With limited inventory and eye-popping prices, home buyers are squeezing more function into every square foot. For example, although 2020’s average home size of 2,468 square feet hasn’t changed since 2015, NAHB found that in homes of the same size, the percentage with four or more bedrooms spiked to 46%, and 33% had three or more bathrooms.
With more people now working from home and living in multi generational households, buyers seek homes designed with multi functionality, versatility and transition in mind, so contractors experienced in building movable walls, designing flexible layouts, creating outdoor spaces, and developing other clever uses of vertical and outdoor space are in high demand.
[Related: Lack of style leads outdoor remodel triggers]
An innovation revolution
As COVID diagnoses climbed, almost every industry was also infected in some way. Supply chains snapped, construction projects shut down, workers were laid off, and material costs surged. But necessity is the mother of invention, so many companies used the pandemic to innovate.
“Builders are using more and more of the recent innovations in different materials and strategies,” Bordes attested. “Roof shingles that are actually functioning solar panels is one example; using cement boards instead of concrete boards in kitchen and bathroom floors is another. There are so many ways to save money and time now.”
Saving time and money never goes out of style, so home builders and owners alike will continue seeking smarter, greener and multi functional features. That makes these key trends far more than passing pandemic fads.