The present lockdown means virtually all of us are testing our homes in ways that seemed the stuff of fiction until recently. It is inevitable that all of us will be affected by the lockdown and it seems inevitable that what we want from our homes will be fundamentally affected. Being confined and working from our homes with partners and children will test our lives and homes and change what people want or need from their homes.
Housing by its nature will take time to change but now will be a good time to speak to your tenants and homeowners. How do they feel that their homes have coped with the stress, what they like, what they miss, what could be improved or changed? It will not all be about working at home it is likely to be about light, air, soundproofing, private space in the home and ability to exercise. Communal facilities for laundry, small lifts, and other facilities may be unattractive. Housing Associations are well placed for this conversation with a large mixed tenure and active involvement with the homeowners and tenants
Will families be happy to buy in large blocks with little or no external space? Some will not have a choice but work is likely to be more home based for all of us. Will this mean an exodus of families from towns and cities where they can afford to move? Those who want to may be attracted to apartment schemes where there is active open space they can use. It may be some of the approaches tried after the war with streets in the sky may become more attractive. Take a look at the Barbican in London to see how this can be achieved successfully.
By asking now we can start to plan for what people want and need in their homes; it is unlikely that the current homes are entirely fit for what people want and need. We need to try to plan for what they will like in their homes because the market will be challenging even once things return to normal. Confidence will have been knocked and people may be less certain about their future career and security. It is likely that this will affect whether people are happier to rent than buy and a flexible approach to tenure may be another factor in the peoples approach to their homes.