WAUKESHA — The roles homes have played during the coronavirus pandemic have evolved from a place to eat, sleep and watch TV to a school and workplace — and new home designs are reflecting families’ changing needs.
Kathy Raab, executive director of the Metropolitan Builders Association, said some families have had their children move into a shared bedroom to free up a room for a home office or have taken a bonus room and converted it into a classroom.
David Belman, president of Belman Homes, said with more people at home during the pandemic, they are investing in the place they are spending most of their time, such as by putting in a really nice recreation room, a bar or a workout room in the basement.
“The things you can do at home without going outside and exposing yourself to those risks,” he said.
They are also taking into consideration the health aspect of their home and selecting materials that present fewer health concerns. Belman gave the example of using quartz countertops, which don’t absorb as much bacteria as other materials. Another new feature on the market is a UV light that can be installed on a furnace that kills all of the microbes to improve air quality.
A “command center” where laundry can be done, muddy shoes removed and a dog bathed is also highly desirable in modern-day homes, Raab said.
And with more life happening in the home, more purchases have been made to support that change.
“I think everyone is buying more things online and buying in more quantity, so they will need more storage so walk-in pantries are huge,” Belman said.
As shopping habits change, a new room may be desirable just for those food and toilet paper deliveries.
A new floor plan for Belman Homes includes a delivery room with an additional exterior door that would have a smart lock-set on it. The delivery company would either be given a code or can message the homeowner upon their arrival to have the door open. The delivery person could place items on the drop zone or on the built-in shelving. Any refrigerated items could be added to the refrigerator as well. The delivery person would not have access to the main door to the home.
For other homeowners worried about what they may bring into a home, a decontamination room can be built with a separate doorway into a bathroom and a built-in bin for clothes to be discarded in, to keep the home environment safer from outside contaminants.
Even without COVID-19, Belman said a decontamination room has a role in people’s lives, such as if they like to work outside and get dirty.
“What can you do differently? What are other things that you can offer people to help with this because this isn’t something that is going away imminently?” Belman said.