Before Covid-19 hit the country, health and wellness trends were already making their way into home building. But now, builders say consumers’ experiences with the pandemic may accelerate the mainstream adoption of health-focused products and design.
With all of the messaging about washing your hands, wearing masks, and disinfecting surfaces on the news and social media, it makes sense that health and wellness are on homeowners’ minds. While home design does not change fast enough for it to address COVID-19 today, there is no doubt that a national event of this scale would affect how consumers relate to their homes: It is already changing how people are buying them as realtors turn to digital tools for marketing, according to Realtor.com.
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The antibacterial 80 CFM Roomside Fan with SurfaceShield uses LED lights to disinfect surfaces while it cleans the air. Harmless to humans and pets but deadly to bacteria, fugi, and mold, the LEDs from Vital Vio shine from above to minimize the number of germs lurking on shower curtains, toilet seats, and sink handles.
Home builder Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki, founder and principal of tst ink, llc., says that the coronavirus pandemic may become this generation’s World War 2 in terms of reshaping American life. Instead of jumpstarting the age of the automobile, however, the pandemic may usher in a new life centered around the home.
“For starters, we are all spending more time at home and gaining a greater appreciation for, or frustration of, all the things that come with that,” Slavik-Tsuyuki says in an NAHB Best of American Living post. “Themes like safety, social isolation, health, and hygiene [are] taking top spot on the list of things consumers say are most important.”
Door handles are high-touch surfaces, so Kwikset offers a collection of door knobs and handles finished with Microban technology. The company claims that the finish keeps a door 99.9% cleaner than unprotected surfaces because the finish penetrates the cell wall of bacteria and disrupts its growth and reproduction. Approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the antibacterial finish is safe for humans, and it will not wash or wear away, according to the company.
Ken Perlman and Lesley Deutch, principals at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, say that they believe that the current stay-at-home orders and focus on health will shift what consumers want in a home. After speaking with 90 other real estate professionals, they came up with five shifts in consumer preferences, including multigenerational living, home offices, and healthier homes.
“Healthy and sustainable living have been among the fastest-growing trends in home building and community design in recent years,” Perlman and Deutch say in a newsletter on the company’s website about five key shifts in design due to COVID-19. “Think: the rise of the community gardens, the farm to table movement, and fitness on demand. Expect the current pandemic to move that trend into hyperspeed with a particular emphasis on the home.”
Though the best way to stop the spread of the virus is through hand washing and covering coughs, the virus can live on plastic and metal for up to three days—all very common materials on high-touch surfaces such as door handles, sinks, and toilet units. There are also reports of the virus living in feces, making a clean bathroom environment and antibacterial products even more important.
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According to manufacturers, products with antibacterial glazes, or sanitizing settings can help reduce the amount of potentially harmful bacteria, virus and fungi living in a household in combination with regular manual sanitizing.
PRODUCTS rounded up 7 offerings that are both functional and fit in with the latest health trends:
With a high-temperature sanitizing cycle, the 24-inch Fully Integrated Built-In Dishwasher can kill up to 99.999 percent of bacteria found on dishes, according to the company. It also includes a steam setting that loosens debris to eliminate the need to presoak, reducing water consumption.
With an antimicrobial-glazed seat and a self-cleaning bidet wand, the Niara by Dyconn is designed to increase toilet sanitation. The unit also automatically opens and closes, or users can use the kick-button as another hands-free option.
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Builders can add a LG’s Steam Clothing Care System, aka the LG Styler, in a laundry room or walk-in closet to give homeowners a place to sanitize bulky items, such as couch pillows, rugs, and dry clean-only clothes. The smart, WiFi-enabled appliance removes allergens and 99 percent of bacteria from fabrics.
Within two hours of exposure to bacteria such as Staph, MRSA, E. coli, and VRE, Paint Shield by Sherwin-Williams kills 99.9 percent of the bacteria, and the paint will continue to kill them even after repeated exposure, according to the company. The paint’s protective properties last up to four years.
Locelain, a new sintered countertop line by Lotte, is made of 100 percent natural minerals and raw material. Its nonporous surface is bacteria and scratch resistant even without sealing, and the company says homeowners can prepare food directly on the surface because of its hygienic properties.