Is the Open Floor Plan COVID-19’s Latest Victim?

Home builders recently surveyed by The Harris Poll on behalf of leading real estate website indicate current and post-pandemic home buyers will be valuing residences with more walls, doors, and overall privacy ― the polar opposite of the immensely popular open floor plan that buyers have been preferring over the past several decades.

The catalyst for the 180-degree shift in perspective is the family experience caused by the stay-at-home orders affecting every state in the country. “As people spend more time at home during the pandemic, buyers are realizing which features of their homes are working and not working,” according to Zillow®, which also cited statistics revealing new construction that offered the chance to personalize home features saw their Zillow listing page views grow by 73 percent over last May.

Spring 2020 saw the home’s function shift from a place for the family to relax away from work and school life to adding school, home office, gym, and playground to its purposes. YouTube has plenty of videos showing newscasters interrupted by unwitting family members or pets during their at-home broadcasts, demonstrating the need for privacy to literally a wide audience of fellow homeowners.

The survey results reveal approximately 30 percent of homeowners admitting they would consider moving to a home with more rooms after spending additional time at home because of coronavirus orders. The latest findings are a significant departure from previous Zillow research, which found that the share of for-sale listings mentioning open concept layouts more than doubled since 2015.

Builder Berks Homes agrees with the findings that people will want more rooms after the pandemic and believes homes built after coronavirus will see the return of doors ― especially for dedicated home offices as more people work from home full-time. For example, companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have announced employees can work from home through October 2020 and beyond.

“Open floor plans are changing. People are feeling like they need more privacy, so we’ll see more doors – especially for home offices – more insulation for noise control and separate spaces to keep the kids busy while parents work,” says Katie Detwiler, VP/Marketing at Berks Homes. “More people will work from home in the future ― period. There will need to be space and privacy to accommodate that.”

Jennifer Pyatt with Pyatt Builders doesn’t think open-concept living will vanish completely, but thinks it will be done differently in the future to give buyers the best of both worlds: privacy and openness.

Zillow Design Expert Kerrie Kelly adds that features such as barn doors will continue to be popular, as they give people privacy while preserving an open-concept space, allowing rooms to serve multi-purposes for a variety of evolving activities.

Berks Homes is also already thinking of ways to incorporate separate spaces in homes to keep germs away from main areas. For example, adding mud rooms to garages as a space to take shoes off, wash hands, and get clean before even entering the house. Detwiler points out that as the coronavirus has increased the need to keep the home clean and free of germs, there’s likely to be an increase in double masters or ensuite guest bathrooms in effort to keep guest germs away from the rest of the house as much as possible.


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