House designs

Aligning home designs with new realities

Iconic Nairobi City Buildings, Parliament Towers, KICC, Times Tower from Top Hill on November 23, 2020. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Covid-19 lockdowns have revealed the downsides of unplanned real estate development. In March of this year, site traffic declined as investors avoided crowded areas due to government guidelines on social distancing, which meant real estate developers had to devise new ways of presenting their properties.

Most residential and commercial rental properties have been designed so that space is not a priority. For example, some residents have had to move from a house with unbalanced spaces such as a small kitchen, tiny mixed-use toilet and bathroom spaces but huge living space or vice versa.

At a real estate show I attended last year, one of the clients who visited our booth told us that most architects (mostly men) tend to design houses that ignore the importance of a spacious kitchen, one of the “therapeutic” spaces for women who like to experience their culinary skills.

She said: “We need more female architects to design our homes so that they can balance the rooms accordingly. The male architects seem to design large living rooms with a large TV screen for football.

Pretty unfair. While designing small spaces is relatively true in most areas, it must have been quite difficult for residents who have resorted to working from home this year, while sharing tiny rental spaces insufficient for daily meetings in online and their children’s learning. Most rental apartments also lack enclosures and safety for children to play.

Larger houses

As we embrace the new standard, it is evident that real estate players will also have to embrace changes in architectural design in the post-Covid-19 era, where spacious homes and offices will be in high demand for the purpose reduce overcrowding and prevent future waves of infection.

The concept of working from home is expected to continue, forcing most households to convert their living room, kitchen, bedroom or additional spaces into comfortable and quieter workspaces for everyone, including children who study online. .

Perhaps converted work areas will require prefabricated interior insulation that prevents outside noise, more lighting and ventilation, creating a sustainable working environment. This means that open spaces will be less likely to be considered.

While the future is to have homes that accommodate more functions, it is vital for real estate players to consider building larger homes more than ever, as widespread homeworking becomes popular.

To accommodate the foreclosure experience, real estate investors and owners are now demanding a “live, work, play and invest” environment, commonly referred to as planned developments.

The lack of flexible spaces and efficient living environments is expected to lead to a new demand for planned areas, away from crowded residential spaces.

Continuity plan

Middle to upper income households bought real estate units in anticipation of capital appreciation in the future. Investing in residential homes provides a sense of security during disasters, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, some businesses may not adapt to the concept of working from home as they depend on field offices, stores, factories and housing for their entrepreneurial infrastructure to thrive.

Business owners should consider re-modifying their social distancing spaces to ensure the reduction of mass infections and change in employee shiftwork. This not only protects the health of the staff, but also ensures the achievement of a business continuity plan.

While the architectural design change of building and construction is inevitable after the Covid era, the real estate market in Kenya remains attractive to developers and investors throughout the pandemic.

Developers must therefore adapt and change their way of conceiving real estate, taking into account a health crisis, in order to meet the needs of consumers in residential and commercial development.

Being a long-term development project, developers should focus on an asset class that is very attractive to consumers in order to achieve good risk-adjusted returns.

While the sector was already under pressure before the pandemic, the Covid-19 simply highlighted the resilience of several of its sub-sectors as well as its future opportunities.

So don’t give up too quickly on that spacious and planned real estate investment you’ve been thinking about. Pandemic Uncertainty is a platform for the future preparation of a spacious working environment.

Mr. Onchwari is the Brand and Digital Marketing Manager at Superior Homes Kenya

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