Accelerated by the pandemic, the emphasis on health and wellness extends to the design and systems within today's homes.
As of August, Taylor Morrison, one of the top 10 largest home builders in the U.S., decided to make whole-home air filtration and water-filtration, along with other features, standard in all its homes.
"There’s a healthy movement that’s been coming for quite some time. COVID has just accelerated that,” says Stephanie McCarty, chief marketing and communications officer at Taylor Morrison. “We think this is here to stay—this isn’t a temporary solution for ‘COVID days,’ if you will. We really think that consumers will have an eye for healthier homes. It will be a permanent, structural shift.”
During the pandemic, people have spent an unprecedented amount of time in their homes. Untethered from a physical office, as many as 23 million people, or one-tenth of working-age adults in the U.S., are planning to move, according to an Upwork survey, which opens up new housing markets. A Zillow survey of Americans working from home found that approximately 30% were interested in moving in order to have a dedicated home office. Change is in the air, and home requirements are shifting.
The importance of fresh air is a concern. As stricter energy codes call for tighter homes, getting enough air exchanges is a concern. whole-house mechanical ventilation is not standard for homes in the U.S., although it is required by code in a few states. California has mandated it for new residential construction since 2010, and it is also a prerequisite for Energy Star certification.
KB Home standardized on Energy Star in 2008, recently reaching the milestone of completing140,000 Energy Star homes. According to a survey by the NAHBs, ceiling fans are one of the most desirable features in a home.
The NAHB survey found that outdoor spaces are right up there with ceiling fans. Eighty-two percent of respondents wanted a patio, 81%wanted a front porch, and 75% were interested in a rear porch or deck. Since private outdoor space has been such a key amenity during the pandemic, Ackerly at David Baker Architects thinks there will be a new wave of enthusiasm for balconies. The firm also advocates for open-ended corridors and open lobby areas.
Also coming out this year is Wellness Within Your Walls, a checklist for home health and wellness developed by interior designer JillianPritchard Cooke. She partnered with builders to pilot the WWYW certification program in 11 homes across the U.S. “It’s a holistic approach that bridges the gap between the builder, design team, and occupant,” Pritchard Cooke says about the program. At press time, the WWYW specification was not yet publicly available.
“A lot of it is common sense and covers things we were doing anyway, like no-VOC paint, no carpet, no gas [line], and detaching the garage,”says Randy Noel, president of Rêve in Laplace,
Louisiana , and a past chairman of the NAHB.
“It was good timing, because people are really keen on their health all of a sudden and they’re stuck at home,” Noel says. “And so now all this stuff really matters. So that made [WWYW] a great marketing tool.”