Around this time every year (well, most years), I dedicate myself to purging stuff I no longer use, wear, or need. My general motto is, for every gift I receive for the holidays or otherwise, something I already have needs to go—ideally in the recycling or donation bin. The goal is to at least maintain the level of clutter in and around our house, and especially in my home office … and even more so given how much time I have spent there these past several months. I get a little twitchy when the walls start closing in.
That process is even more poignant this year as I consider the results of a recent study of more than 300 home builders Pro Builder conducted with Home Innovation Research Labs. Simply, we wanted to know which of the COVID-required or -initiated practices builders took up in the early months of the pandemic will remain as restrictions relax and the industry returns to a version of pre-virus normalcy.
Like my personal ritual, home builders appear ready to purge a good portion of what they’ve done in the last 21 months or so, whether because they can or they no longer feel the need to keep them.
Case in point: 62% of builders reported adopting virus-mitigating practices on their jobsites to help “flatten the curve,” while 49% said they took similar measures in their design centers and sales offices. Coming out of COVID, only 21% will maintain those practices on jobsites and just 17% will do so in their facilities.
On the flip side, and not surprisingly, the majority of builders that expanded their stable of suppliers due to pandemic-driven supply chain issues and materials price volatility don’t expect to scale back when those crises abate.
As for their products, much of what consumers demanded of homes (and what new-home builders were uniquely able to deliver) to meet changing lifestyle needs is likely to remain, including a greater emphasis on indoor air quality and occupant health, floor plans with at least one dedicated office (and likely another), spaces for remote learning, and more and bigger outdoor living areas—results validated by other recent industry and consumer studies I’ve seen.
And while fewer than one-third of the builders surveyed initially adopted measures such as remote or work-from-home options for their employees, video conferencing among internal staff, better pay and working conditions to retain their people, and skilled labor recruitment and training, those that did integrate those practices and policies are likely to retain them going forward.
Of course, the decision to keep or purge is up to each builder and is far more complex than deciding whether that ratty college sweatshirt deserves another year in the closet. I only ask that you consider whether now is actually the right the time to let go of the stuff that got you through the pandemic.