New Home Insights Podcast Episode 35 Transcript | John Burns Real Estate Consulting


Episode 35: Design Changes for Life Changes

Transcript

Dean Wehrli:

Welcome to New Home Insights, the John Burns Real Estate Consulting podcast about everything to do with the US housing market. I’m your host Dean Wehrli. So listeners, I swear there will come a day when we are not talking about COVID-19 and its impacts on housing, but that day is not yet here. So today, we turn to the home itself, specifically, how might COVID-19 change how you use your home and what you expect it to do differently in the future? To do that, we’re joined by Bill Ramsey. He’s from KTGY. It’s one of the biggest and most innovative architecture and design firms in the country. So, Bill, first, thanks for joining us.

Bill Ramsey:

Thank you, Dean.

Dean Wehrli:

Why don’t you say hello to the listeners, and then tell them a bit about you and what you do at KTGY?

Bill Ramsey:

Great. Well, hello, everybody, looking forward to the conversation today. I run the For Sale studio out of our Denver office. KTGY has six offices across the United States. Working out of Denver, I oversee the For Sale design and production in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington. We consider a For Sale everything from a single family detached to townhomes and condos, going up into the mid-rise category.

Dean Wehrli:

Right on. And you’re all over the country. I mean, you guys have a national footprint.

Bill Ramsey:

Yes. Yeah, we are nationwide, again, with our six offices. And I believe last year we were active in 46 States.

Dean Wehrli:

So let’s start with a bit of the bigger picture, I guess, kind of a holistic look at what is driving changes to home design due to COVID, and the changes that COVID is bringing to how people live, commute, et cetera. So what are some of these, I guess, changes in the daily lives of people that are changing preferences in our homes?

Bill Ramsey:

That’s a perfect way to start, because we really see the house as a reaction to the way people live. And I can’t think of another time where there’s been greater changes in the way people live in a short amount of time than what we’ve experienced over the last few months, some of the more obvious things being people working from home, obviously, remote learning for school-age children, to even things like how we get our groceries and our packages through delivery, as opposed to going to the stores themselves, and even how we interact with our friends, family, and neighbors through social interaction as well.

Dean Wehrli:

Or don’t interact-

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah.

Dean Wehrli:

And maybe not going to the office too. We’ll talk about home offices a little bit later.

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely. Yeah. And part of that even comes into when you’re not going into the office that implies less commuting, which not only affects how you live the space, but where the space you decide to live in might be located. If you’re not driving into the office five days a week, that could have effects on where you live as well.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. Oh, for sure. So, okay. So let’s just explore these home design changes. Let’s take a walk into the home. Everyone now listening, visualize as we take our journey through the home. And here’s where we need VR. Gosh, I wish we had… We could all put our VR on right now and listen. But without that, let’s just use our minds. And let’s start with the entry. How might home entries change?

Bill Ramsey:

Well, starting with the entry, one thing that we always like to talk about in design is there truly are two entries to the home. There’s the public entry in your front door, which most people think of. But most often, when you enter your home, you’re actually entering from the garage, so your owner’s entry. So there really are two entries to the house, but both of which are we’re seeing a change in how our lives could potentially use those.

Bill Ramsey:

Starting at the front door, some ideas we’ve been throwing around internally and bouncing off our R&D studio as well as some top clients is whether we want to look at bringing back the vestibule, a front mudroom, if you will, where there’s a front door that you come into and then a space where you can take off your shoes and drop some things like that before entering the actual primary living space.

Dean Wehrli:

And the umbrella rack. You know, that umbrella little container will come back.

Bill Ramsey:

Exactly. And also that there’s a win-win there that that could be a potential solution for the Amazon drop off, for the porch pirates, where there’s an area for someone to drop that inside your home without actually having access to the main house itself.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s a great question. I’ve seen a few things on how that’s going to work. What do you think? I think that’s going to be huge. Even without COVID-19 that was becoming huge, now more so than ever. I mean, how are you? What are some of the ways you will actually make that secure drop off space that is inaccessible from the outside but accessible to the inside so it’s secure?

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah. We’ve been designing that into a lot of our homes here for a good amount of time, just for the reason you mentioned, is that’s a real problem before COVID there. In some more multifamily settings, they actually have the Amazon drop boxes and everything in the foyer spaces, but from a single family detached or a more typical housing situation… We’ve looked. There are some great companies that have locker systems that interact with things like Amazon and UPS and even the postal system, but there’s easier solutions to that. There’s things as simple as drop slots or drop rooms that can be connected to a foyer or a garage, where someone could drop something off without actually having access to the main residence itself.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. It’s funny that large apartment complexes have solved that already with the lockers, as you mentioned, but I just don’t see that happening in single family homes. That would be very weird looking, I guess.

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah.

Dean Wehrli:

I would think. How about the other side? How about some things like mudrooms? Or I’ve heard about hand almost like sanitizing areas as you come in from the garage, as you said, the owner’s entry.

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah, absolutely. Again, coming into pre-COVID here is an interesting… because we’ve we’re already exploring the popularity of mudrooms. Historically, a mudroom was something thought of in a snowier climate or something like that. But if you look at how people really live their lives, it doesn’t have any relation to the climate around it. It’s more a location where people can do things like drop off their shoes, kids can leave their backpacks.

Bill Ramsey:

And it’s really an idea of an expanded drop zone, so that doesn’t all end up on the kitchen island, where it does before. And now with everything we’re seeing with all the health concern is it’s a great area to also include a hand washing station or a sink. So you come in, and before you really enter your residence, you’re able to drop all those things that have touched the outside and wash your hands, and do everything you can to create a sanitary entry into the home.

Dean Wehrli:

That does make a ton of sense. Like, our leashes, right? Everybody’s walking the dog four times a day now.

Bill Ramsey:

Exactly.

Dean Wehrli:

So we’ve effectively got-

Bill Ramsey:

A little place for all those things, so they don’t need to clutter up your kitchen.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. Yeah. It makes a ton of sense. I see it in our own house. It’s done in an ad hoc sense, but building it into the floor plan makes all the sense in the world.

Bill Ramsey:

Sure. And it doesn’t need to take up a lot of space either. You can do a lot of these things in a very small amount of space. It’s just using it well, and making sure it’s planned in, instead of added in after the fact.

Dean Wehrli:

Now let’s switch to a space where we have increasingly been spending the most time, which is the kitchen. As some listeners may know, or maybe not, I don’t know if I’ve talked about this, I became a baking enthusiast before COVID, I want to stress that, when I discovered The Great British Bake Off, which I then found had nine seasons for me to watch, which was fun.

Dean Wehrli:

But we all seem to be really focused on our kitchens now, don’t we? And in some ways this just means that we can’t get yeast. So thanks a lot all you bandwagoners. But what are some of the nuances that you see happening to the kitchen because of COVID?

Bill Ramsey:

Well, no surprise that the kitchen has become a focus point, because we’re stuck cooking for ourselves a lot more often. There’s definitely a lot less eating out, and even home delivery is probably a lot less often. But really, the kitchen, we’re seeing conversations in a lot of different directions. Probably the most universal conversation is storage. When it comes down to things like a pantry is, are we looking at larger pantries? How are we looking at storing foods? Is it even potentially with multiple refrigerators?

Bill Ramsey:

One of the more popular solutions we’ve been landing on is actually a multiple pantry situation, where you have a typical pantry within the kitchen for your day-to-day usage items. And then a bulk storage or a Costco pantry, if you will, maybe located closer to the garage or even off the garage, where you can store those large bulk items without having to dedicate that much space within your primary kitchen.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. You mentioned refrigerators, or maybe multiple refrigerators. A lot of homes, a lot of kitchen floor plans, have that designated niche for the refrigerator, which is based on a standard refrigerator width. Do you think we might have to start making it a little more flexible, you think?

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely. I think the flexibility of that space is key. I mean, that standard refrigerator space might be fine for a typical buyer, but there’s going to be people who might want a double refrigerator or a side-by-side. We’re also looking at some things that were pretty popular in the way people actually live, but you don’t typically see in a model, where things like a refrigerator in the garage or a freezer in the garage to help keep… Again, there’s that bulk storage is, “I don’t need all my frozen goods accessed from when I’m in that kitchen, but I do need the ability to store extra frozen goods.”

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. I think that, again, that’s something that a lot of households are probably facing right now. I know we are, where we have… We actually have two, but they’re normal refrigerator/freezer sizes. They’re not nearly enough.

Bill Ramsey:

Sure, exactly. And another interesting topic we’ve been bouncing around is potentially the end of the open great room. For so long, it must be coming 15 or 20 years, we’ve been including that kitchen within the open great room space and wondering if there’s maybe a need to separate that now, at least a little bit. It could be for reasons of washability and sanitary reasons to separate that kitchen from the living space, or just a change in how we view the combination of all these spaces.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s really interesting, because we have been hearing that it’ll be kind of a battle between two competing preferences, won’t it? What you just said is closing it off for sanitary or for health reasons. But then we all kind of prefer that big, open great room space. I mean, so we’ll see who wins, I guess?

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah. And a lot of home design comes into options and target buyers, and you might end up with neighborhoods where you have one kitchen done one way and another the other, so buyers can view what their preference is. And the beauty of systems like that is the popular option always wins out over time, and we can learn from it.

Dean Wehrli:

How about switching over to maybe a little bit of a forgotten space, but the laundry. Do you see that space changing too?

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely. The laundry has almost been one of the cruxes of conversation here, because it feels like half the people we talk to say the laundry needs to now be a larger space, where you’re combining it with other uses. Or maybe it’s a space that can be flexed down in order to provide spaces for other things. So the conversation starts to hinge on, is a laundry room simply a place to wash clothing, where you can make it as small as possible and dedicate space elsewhere? Or is that laundry room really a home management center, where it gives opportunities for other uses, and there just happens to be laundry equipment within that space?

Dean Wehrli:

Well, we’ll talk about schools here in a minute, but also we’ve sometimes seen gym space or workout space be included in the laundry or something like that.

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely.

Dean Wehrli:

So speaking of school, school rooms, for lack of a better term… I mean, we all probably have friends, I know I do, who have become… My kids are older, but I have some friends who have younger kids, and one or both have become part-time homeschool teachers. In the meantime, do you see school rooms, some kind of dedicated space or converted space, I guess, for teaching younger kids, as something that’s going to be a trend? Are you already seeing the demand for it?

Bill Ramsey:

Well, yeah. I mean, I can speak to myself. My wife and I have become mediocre first grade teachers at best, but we see the importance of that space. The interesting thing will be is, is this something that is needed in the temporary and the short term, or is there a mid- to long-term need for it? Obviously, right now, it’s very easy to dedicate some space or a table or something to that homeschooling process.

Bill Ramsey:

But learning at home won’t stop just when the kids go back to school. There’s always going to be homework and all of that. And who knows how dedicated or permanent going back to school may be? So I think the need for a home learning area is a good thing to think about. It’s just making sure we do it in a flexible way so it’s not eating up a lot of dedicated space without a lot of usage.

Dean Wehrli:

What spaces might accommodate these? Is it the loft upstairs that becomes that, or the bonus room or something like that? Or is it a completely new space?

Bill Ramsey:

So I think it’s handled one of two ways. One thing we’re talking about a lot is combining with other spaces. When we talk about the laundry or even the kitchen earlier, one thing’s we’re looking at, is there potentially a workstation within that, where the children can be working or studying but also have the parents nearby to help with any questions they have or simply oversee to make sure they are doing their schoolwork?

Bill Ramsey:

The other side is, again, we don’t want to dedicate too much space to a part-time use. So we’re looking to things like an education nook, or a working nook, where it’s a small alcove off a main area, where someone can sit down and have a little quiet enclosed space to focus without taking up an entire room or without feeling separated from the rest of the family. They’re still a part of that home network.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. And with AirPods, they don’t have to hear if you have the TV on right next to them or something like that.

Bill Ramsey:

Exactly.

Dean Wehrli:

So let’s move to now a space that is probably on the minds of a lot of folks even listening right now, because maybe they’re listening to this podcast not while driving to work, and that is the home office. Is that as transformative a change as many folks believe?

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah. I would put this in probably the biggest change and a change that’s most likely to stick long-term, as so many companies are working from home, or realizing that we can do the vast majority of our jobs remotely. And it provides flexibility that people really enjoy. So even as people are opened up and allowed to go back to work, I see a need for a home office as a permanent need. I think people are going to be working remotely, at least on a part-time basis, going forward. And so we have to decide how that looks into home design. Is there a dedicated home office space? And if there’s two working members of that family, how is that home office shared or split? Or are there two smaller spaces?

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah, that’s going to be tough. The same question for the schoolroom. Does the home office come in lieu of something else, or is it in addition to? Or how might it be accommodated?

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah, it’s going to be hard. We can only add so much to a home. We already have a big problem with attainability. So there’s going to be a lot of need for in lieu of or in flexibility with. Earlier, we talked about potentially that laundry space getting smaller. And we did an internal survey with all of our staff members across the country, where we gave them some options. And one of them was basically your laundry became a small laundry closet, but you were given a dedicated home office space. And that was the majority vote-getter of what people would want to select.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. I think that makes sense. So it’ll probably be lots of options, right? Some people will use a secondary bedroom as… Your guest room is also your office. If you have a guest over then you’re screwed. But otherwise, that might be your office space. It can go almost anywhere as long as it’s… I do think what we’ll see though is it’ll have to be enclosed in some fashion. Don’t you?

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah, at least to have the ability to enclose. But the ability to enclose is so important for things like conference calls and Zoom meetings, where you need to be able to create that acoustical separation and privacy to actually get your work done.

Dean Wehrli:

I’m just waiting for my dog to bark, as my home office space is not as enclosed as I’d like it to be. He’s sleeping right now because it’s hot. But we’ll see.

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah. You touched on that on the guest bedroom earlier. That’s one of my favorite things to discuss when we talk about trade offs, because the utilization of spaces is so important. And a guest bedroom so often becomes an empty 120, 140 square feet that’s only used a few times a year, designing flexibility into that. So you still have that guest space, but while you don’t have guests with you, it can be used for one of these new needs we’ve been discussing is so important.

Dean Wehrli:

Will more home officing have increased demands on home tech and connectivity? I guess that’s not really a completely a floor plan or design question, but will you make allowances for tech changes and tech needs as you’re designing home offices?

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah. One of the points there is making sure that our home itself, the shell, can provide whatever somebody might need to put into it in the future from a technology standpoint. There’s easy and obvious things, like home wiring and stuff like that, but making sure that there might be a space for a rack system or any sort of technology that’s needed… Technology changes so fast. We’re not always trying to make sure the newest things are in our house, but we need to make sure that the houses are designed in a way that people can add whatever they need over time. What we don’t want to do is create the home as a speed bump.

Dean Wehrli:

And that’s so hard because, like you said, you just don’t know what’s going to come next out of Silicon Valley or wherever, that calls for a radical change in how we live and how we design our homes.

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely.

Dean Wehrli:

What is happening in some of the common areas, like living rooms and dens, for instance? Do you see bigger or smarter lofts and living rooms for the purposes of a better entertainment spaces? Home entertainment has become so critical. Is that happening?

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah. One thing that I’ve found fascinating is everyone is home together. And believe it or not, not everybody wants to watch and do the same thing. So you might have the one great room space with two parents and multiple children of different age, and the odds of them wanting to do the same thing is pretty small.

Bill Ramsey:

So we’ll end up seeing different pocket uses within those common areas, where we talked about the learning nook earlier, where that could be somewhere where someone sits down with their iPad and their earbuds and watches something there, where they’re not stuck in their room, but they’re also in an area where they’re not listening to the news that the parents want to watch on the TV. So we’re starting to see the big, open great room is still popular from a way it lives and looks, but within that vast space, the need for people to have a small sense of privacy or just a personal area.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s interesting. So almost multiple entertainment nodes in an overarching same space. Is that what you mean?

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely. Exactly.

Dean Wehrli:

I had not thought about that. My daughter is still angry that my wife and I have not watched Tiger King and she can’t talk about it with us. So I do see your point that we don’t all want to watch the same thing at the same time. But it’s interesting that the kids, the older kids, can come down from the secondary bedrooms, if we do have these multinodal entertainment spaces. And then we’ll have 3D holograms, and then everything will have to change again.

Bill Ramsey:

Exactly.

Dean Wehrli:

Well, speaking of the secondary bedrooms, do you think we will move to somewhat larger secondary bedrooms because those kids, especially older kids, are cooped up all day?

Bill Ramsey:

So again, I think the size of spaces is going to flex one direction or the other is, do we want to make the bedroom smaller, so it’s primarily a place for dressing and sleeping, and use the new space gained to create another space, whether it be a homework studio or even a small secondary TV loft, where the teenagers don’t need to be in their bedroom, but they’re also aren’t worth their parents? Or opposite, are we making these bedrooms larger, so there’s more spaces or activities happening within them? It really is an interesting paradox that you can solve this problem in two opposite directions.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. And we’re going to have to keep our finger on the pulse of what people want in that regard, which luckily, here at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, we do.

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely.

Dean Wehrli:

A little plug there, sorry. I know you guys do too. How about let’s move to the semi-outside garages? You’ve talked about storage areas. Will we see garages be more flexible to accommodate multiple uses, like added storage or maybe indoor/outdoor spaces?

Bill Ramsey:

I sure think so. Part of this is going to be the change of the way we see and use the car. I think there’s a pretty good chance that there’s going to be less commuting in the future, at least on a day-to-day basis, which will create the opportunity for perhaps only one car per family or less usage of that car, which opens up some flexibility in that garage.

Bill Ramsey:

Sadly, I don’t expect any jurisdictions to lower their parking requirements anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean people can’t use that extra space in the garage for the storage we talked about earlier, or some actual flexible uses. One thing we’re seeing in our neighborhood here a lot is we’re not allowed to socialize or be with each other, but just that human need for interaction doesn’t go away. So we’re having a lot of what we consider alleyway happy hours, where everybody opens up their garages and sit in their garage in their camping chairs and use that as a way to interact with each other across the alley, while keeping a safe distance.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s funny. We’re seeing that too in more, traditional community layouts, I guess. You’re seeing so many more people just hanging out on their driveway, or in their garage with the garage door open, and saying hi as you walk by with your dog or whatever.

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah, that is a great tip into one of the trends we’re seeing is actually the usage of the front porch. So much of our current design guidelines and different requirements ask us to use these front porches in our architectural design, but historically it’s really been an underutilized feature in the house. And instead, now we’re seeing exactly what you mentioned, where people are actually interacting, where people sit out on their front porch and neighbors will walk by on the sidewalk and sit down and have that conversation and really are using those spaces to be a part of the neighborhood.

Dean Wehrli:

I just flip it around from public to private. But do you see, I don’t know, things like decks and patios becoming bigger or bulkier or somehow more integrated for that larger private outdoor space?

Bill Ramsey:

So I don’t know if we’re seeing them growing in size, but we are seeing them growing in importance. Even in a lot of our high density, multifamily solutions we’re talking about is that small little bit of outdoor space is so important for people when they don’t have the ability to go out to a large public space. And so when we’re designing townhouses and single families, that yard has become such a key part of the home where the children have a place to play and the family has a place for the dog or a barbecue. And how much can we get that outdoor space to interact with the living environment? So it really is a key portion of living in that home.

Dean Wehrli:

So you really want to see those spaces. Say, all you have is a little courtyard patio. Are you just trying to integrate that more with other parts of the home?

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely. Yeah. Whatever space can be allotted for that, we need to make sure we do the best job designing towards it we can.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. So, okay, so many of these changes necessitate a larger home, or at least they’re made a lot easier by bulking up home size. But as you mentioned, costs and affordability are just huge issues. So, we have to wonder, what sacrifices are people going to be willing to make? Let’s start with this. Let’s start with, will people trade larger home spaces for smaller private outdoor space or just more a footprint from home to lot that is bigger than it may have been before?

Bill Ramsey:

I think the key to that is adequacy. I think people may be willing to trade off gaining some interior spaces that they find more important than they did before with the loss being a smaller outdoor space, as long as it’s adequate. And adequate can mean a lot of different things to different people. But I think the key is to make sure that they still have something that they need in that realm there.

Bill Ramsey:

I think you really hit on the primary crux of the situation, though, is going to be flexibility. It would be too easy to simply make the houses larger and include all of these features at the same price point. But if that was the case, I probably wouldn’t have a job. Instead, what we’re doing is looking at, what flexibility can we give to buyers so they can choose what it is they want in their house? Do they want that larger laundry room where they can combine spaces? Or are they okay with a smaller space dedicating that room to another need? Same thing with the yard and like we talked about with parking in the garage earlier as well,

Dean Wehrli:

You’re still going to have to make that decision though, aren’t you, in terms of, okay, we flexed this by having the secondary bedroom double as an office, or the laundry as an office. You’re still going to have to determine what folks want. Or do you think you will be able to make just truly completely flexible spaces, that it can be almost anything they want?

Bill Ramsey:

Every time we design a house, there has to be decisions made as to who the target buyer is for that and what their wants and needs might be. Once we get into that, there’s always options for how it can be customized. But you’re starting with the direction for what you think that person’s going to want from their house. I think the key is, though, a guest bedroom doesn’t become a home office just because you put a desk in it. There’s different needs and things you need to design towards to truly have a home office. And I think that’s where things have failed in the past, is people think if you simply take the closet out and remove the door that that guest bedroom is now a home office, where really it might be able to function that way but not at top productivity.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. But the counter is going to be this need for flexibility and the speed of changes. So, I mean, do you see, I don’t know, something crazy, like, we got a master bedroom, but after that you get four additional spaces. It can be den, bedroom, office, whatever you decide. Do you ever see it being that flexible?

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely. I can look at communities we’ve designed right now across the country, where your template or your starting base packages have three car garage, and there might be somewhere 5 to 10 or even a dozen more options for how to convert that third car garage space to different things, whether it be home offices or dedicated spaces for unique needs. I think that’s an easy example to give. Because of the third car garage, you could still be happy with a two car after that. But it’s a good example of what really we can provide in flexibility for buyers, where they get to make that choice for how their house lives.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. But that’s going to butt up against the increasing need for builders to maintain costs. And one of the ways they’re doing that is to decrease that customizability in some cases.

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah, absolutely. Every great idea still has to be a part of the budget. The number of sales meetings we’ve been in, where, “If only we could add another bathroom into that bedroom, but we can’t add square footage or costs.” It all comes down to, how does this work into the budget to make sure that people can afford it and builders can afford to build it?

Dean Wehrli:

Now let’s get to my favorite part. This is where you get to tell the future, and the listeners and I get to tell you how dumb you are when you’re wrong. So, I mean, we always have to be careful, don’t we, about reading current trends into the future. For instance, every time there’s a gas crunch, and something happens in the Middle East, and price of gas goes up, a bunch of people pontificate that no one is ever going to buy a home in a distant suburb again, and they’re wrong every time. So we have short memories. But which of these COVID-impacted home design trends do you think are going to last?

Bill Ramsey:

Oh, it’s such an important thing. I actually remember after 9/11, the conversation was that we would never build high-rises again, and the entire country would be six stories or less, and how silly that looks in retrospect. But it’s a great point, because we don’t want to design now for something that will feel out-of-date in the very near future.

Bill Ramsey:

And so we have to look at all the ways our lives have changed in the last few months. What’s going to stick and what’s going to be important over the next few years? I think the easiest and probably hardest to argue with is working from home. Again, so many people are forced to work from home full-time right now, but when that starts to ease, it’s pretty hard to imagine everyone going back to work full-time, at least as a norm across the country. So many people are working from home and reaping a lot of the benefits from that. So understanding how to create a home office or home office space there is so important.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah, I agree. I mean, honestly, I can’t think of another thing that we’ve talked about that is I feel real confident in saying, “That’s going to be something that lasts,” maybe drop off spaces, secure drop-off spaces. But otherwise, a lot of these things, other than home officing, they could be ephemeral. We just don’t know. Like, hanging out on your porch, is that going to outlast COVID?

Bill Ramsey:

Only time will tell. My gut instinct tells me we’ve actually learned a lot about the importance of interacting and gotten to know our neighbors and stuff. But really, time will tell. Another thing that I do see having true lasting power, though, is the rise in importance of things like sanitation and hand washing. I can’t imagine a flu season coming around without there being more concern about everybody washing their hands when they get home. So I think that’s going to have a lot of lasting power as well.

Dean Wehrli:

So the mudroom or the return to of the vestibule, those kinds of things might last?

Bill Ramsey:

Absolutely. I would be amazed to see that go away.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. Okay. Anything else? Anything else that you feel even… How about we do like this? Anything that you think is almost certainly going to be a short-termer?

Bill Ramsey:

I think the interesting one there to talk about is home learning. I have a hard time imagining home learning at the level it is now being a permanent need. I think there will always be need for homework stations and things like that, but true home learning I don’t imagine being something we’re doing on a full-time basis going forward. So the need for flexibility in that design is going to be so important. Should there be times where people are sent home for short periods of time in the future, the ability to do that at home is going to be a great feature. But you’re going to want to design that into your house in a way that you’re not losing a space that could be dedicated, or at least shared, with something else.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. That’s a great point, actually. I mean, that’s something that just can’t. If we’re going to work from home, or if we’re not, we can’t be full-time or part-time teachers at home. Those two things can’t mesh well at all. As I had mentioned, the friend of mine that has become a eight hour a day teacher now says, “I can’t do this much longer. I won’t have a job.”

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah, it’s very hard.

Dean Wehrli:

So, okay. So this has been fascinating. I wish we had more time. Like you said, time will tell. We will see, I’m sure we’ll come out of this with some major changes, but I’m also guessing that most of the things we change now won’t be around in 5 or 10 years either. We’ll see, though.

Bill Ramsey:

Yeah. We’ll see.

Dean Wehrli:

Bill, this has been huge, very helpful. I really appreciate it.

Bill Ramsey:

Great. Thank you so much for your time.

Dean Wehrli:

Absolutely. That’s it for now. So until next time, I’m Dean Wehrli, and this has been the New Home Insights podcast. Thanks for listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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