Modern and functional: During the pandemic, new houses ensure an optimized quality of life


As more buyers move from the far north, local builders say the demand for modern homes in the Richmond area is growing. Photo courtesy Homesmith Construction

The year-long pandemic has changed the way we work, live and socialize. It has affected all industries, including housing. Factors that were important to homebuyers 13 months ago are giving way to new ways of thinking and living.

Nationally, according to the National Association of Home Builders, several key trends, including the average size of the home and the number of bedrooms and baths, reversed course due to COVID-19. New homes grew and the proportion of homes with three or four or more bedrooms increased.

However, locally, some homebuyers are more interested in “smaller spaces but better equipped with more practical spaces,” said Nathan Wiley, executive director of Blue Ridge Custom Homes.

Others are opting for more space and “rethinking how they use their homes,” said Vernon McClure, founder and owner of Main Street Homes.

Thanks to interest rates plummeting to all-time lows, McClure’s company saw a huge surge in home sales over the past year. “They were phenomenal last year, even if the cost went up [construction] Products, ”he said.

One thing that home buyers are looking for is energy efficiency.

“This trend is going to be here for the foreseeable future,” said Wiley. “Solar energy was hard to spot in our market for years and now we see it here. The interest in solar energy is greater than in the last 20 years. “

Homeowners are also demanding other features such as improved HVAC systems, water heaters and Energy Star windows and appliances, as well as efficient lighting that uses less energy than traditional lightbulbs.

“Houses are also being insulated better and thicker. New houses are being tested [air] Leak, ”said McClure.

The National Association of Home Builders also points out traits that span health and wellbeing, from zone heating to indoor air quality sensors to promote energy efficiency.

Modern attraction

In areas like Los Angeles there is a big push for modern architecture. And builders see that “trickle in here,” said Wiley. “We see that the demand for this product is getting stronger. I think it will grow. “

The look is very clean and simple with square edges, flat roofs and floor to ceiling glass.

“You see a lot of brickwork and not a lot of wood,” said Wiley.

Since the pandemic, many people have been moving from very populous areas to smaller, more suburban areas because they “don’t have to work in the same city they live in,” said Vanessa Poe, vice president of architecture at Richmond Hill Design + Build.

More and more people are moving to Richmond from New York City, she said. “You are looking for a slightly different architectural style. The modern age and / or the modern farmhouse attract more. “

This model home from Homesmith Construction in RounTrey reflects the growing demand for modern architecture in the area. Photo by Ash Daniel

The popular modern farmhouse style combines traditional design with elegant elements, often with a white facade with contrasting black windows. Photo courtesy Biringer Builders

McClure sees the same trend: “We looked at where people are from and about 40% were from out of town, areas like Maryland, New York and New Jersey, denser areas.”

In the Richmond area, the modern peasant style has surpassed the ubiquitous artisan in popularity. The modern farmhouse has clean and simple elements, often with a white exterior and contrasting black windows.

“It’s based on the farmhouse 80 years ago but has some modern elements in it,” said Wiley. “It has gables and large surrounding porches. Inside, it’s simpler with fewer decorations and fewer crown shapes. “

Before COVID-19, homes were “more about entertainment and now we’re designing more to live with,” added Poe.

Spaces that were used for specific purposes are now flexible spaces.

Open floor plans like this one at Winterfield Park are a mainstay of modern design and remain popular with homeowners. Photo courtesy Main Street Homes

Amid COVID-19, builders have also seen greater demand for semi-open floor plans where dining rooms can be converted into offices, with French doors or pocket doors to close areas when it gets too noisy. Photo courtesy of Richmond Hill Design + Build

Technology and function

Before the pandemic, homeowners downsized and disappointed, but since COVID-19 they have been issuing

The bathrooms are also seeing changes.

In recent years, the flooring has moved from hardwood floors to luxurious vinyl plank floors that can withstand water and wear and tear.

Mudrooms are just as popular as dog washing stations. “During the pandemic, everyone has adopted pets and animals are family members,” Poe said. “In addition to the dog wash stations, they’re adding a dog bed nook in an empty space under the previously closed staircase. They’re also adding more leash storage and a drop zone near the door.”

Nowadays, buyers often forego a bathtub in favor of a larger shower. Photo courtesy Biringer Builders

Mudrooms and drop zones are popular features with today’s home buyers. Photo courtesy Main Street Homes

Pet ownership has increased during the pandemic, adding to the appeal of designs that take dogs into account, e.g. B. turning the empty space under the stairs into a dog bed corner. Photo courtesy Main Street Homes

Other trends include double offices, nooks and crannies around the house for everything from reading to the gym, and gourmet kitchens as people eat more at home.

Homeowners are also looking for technology in their homes. “You could spend up to $ 100,000 if you want to take the technology to the point where you can control just about anything like lighting, heating, air conditioning, window treatments, and so on,” said Wiley.

Since the pandemic, homeowners have also been adding theater rooms, home offices, and swimming pools.

“In general, people who were forced to stay at home have come to realize the things they don’t like about their home,” said Wiley, adding that they are now including those features.

Cross-generational homes are on the rise and offer master suites on the upper and lower floors. “We also make washrooms on the first and second floors, or we can put a small, stackable washer and dryer in the master,” Poe said.

On the flip side, people are looking for new townhouses that have outside spaces and activities to help them distance themselves. “Dog parks are a must in these parts of town,” said McClure.

A hard copy of this article appeared in Casa, a special house and home supplement to the Chesterfield Observer.

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