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Thursday, Feb 9, 2023
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Pandemic Prompts New Design

A national survey by three San Diego County real estate professionals is starting to change the way builders design new homes.

Among other things, the survey showed that people want more flexible space with a focus on garages that can be converted to office space or other uses and they want function over fancy design.

Show kitchens are out and accessory granny flats, also known as granny flats, are in.

Those were among the findings of an October survey of 3,935 adults between the ages of 25 and 74 with annual household incomes of $50,000 or more.

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The survey, the America at Home Study, was commissioned by Nancy Keenan, president and CEO of DAHLIN Group architects, Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki, president of tsk ink, LLC, a marketing firm that works with developers and builders, and Belinda Sward, founder and chief strategist of Strategic Solutions Alliance, a Carmel Valley real estate consulting.

Permanent Changes

“I personally believe we’re going to look back at this five or 10 years from now and say this was a tipping point in home design,” Keenan said.

The October survey built upon the findings of the initial America at Home Study done in April to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect people’s attitudes toward their homes.

The new survey showed that changes detected in April have taken hold and even strengthened.

As with the earlier study, safety was the primary concern, translated into housing design through the use of materials that are easy to clean and redesigned entrances and exits with places for people to clean up before entering the main portion of the house and to drop off packages.

The new study also showed that an overwhelming majority of renters want to become homeowners with the number of people planning to move doubling since April with 87% preferring single-family homes.

“The increased demand for new homes comes with a changing demand for what goes inside those new homes,” Keenan said. “Buyers want more storage space. They crave better technology. There’s a palpable need for more multipurpose rooms and spaces that just work better.”

People “want their house to function like a Swiss army knife,” Keenan said. From rooms that do double duty to furniture that can be converted to different uses, “They’re focusing on wanting more flexibility.”

Outdoor Space

Couples with children were the largest group of renters who want to buy, 60% compared to 50% of renters overall, and couples with children were more willing to pay more for a better home office, one with a door and with better soundproofing.

There also was a noticeable spike in people who want more community outdoor space, with dog parks the top choice followed by small neighborhood parks.

“We can now rethink community spaces and design them with more outdoor activities and resources to help residents live safer and more fulfilled lives,” Sward said. 

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