How Covid-19 is changing what we need and want from our homes30 Sep 2020

During this year’s lockdown, as our homes became ‘our castles’, many of us started to pay more attention to our surroundings.

We noticed what we liked and what we didn’t like about our properties, what we needed most and what could improve our quality of life.

Some people, for example, have found remote working to be good for their work-life balance, and an increasing number of businesses have embraced this seismic shift. So, how has the arrival of a pandemic affected New Zealanders’ housing needs and wants?

Here’s some food for thought for homeowners who are looking to win the hearts of buyers with well-planned, on-trend renovations.

The end of open plan living?

This year has shown us firsthand the pros and cons of having all members of our household at home simultaneously. Open plan living has been on trend for several years, but some buyers may feel the need to have separate spaces now and will be looking for a property designed to carve out some personal space when needed.

Functional home office design

Anyone who has tried working from home when children are around knows how challenging the lack of privacy can be, particularly when you don’t have a dedicated home office to work out of. The home office is predicted to become a major interior design trend in the future, as millennials prefer flexible or mobile workspaces according to Even if you aren’t targeting the millennial market, in these Covid times adding an elegantly styled home office could be a worthwhile investment.

Thermal comfort and energy efficiency

With more people working from home and realising just how cold their homes can be when sitting at a desk all day, thermal comfort and energy efficiency have become top of mind. Buyers may favour properties with low noise pollution and good indoor air quality, as well as increased insulation, draught-proofing and double or tripleglazing. If you are looking for ways to add value to your property, these are key factors to consider.

Nature, health and being more self-sufficient

During lockdown, easy access to outdoor spaces was truly a godsend, especially for families with young children. In the post-Covid world, outdoor areas will no doubt remain popular for entertaining guests, children’s play areas, outdoor exercis and vege gardens. “A growing preoccupation with exercise and health could see more people thinking about the impact internal environments can have on our well-being – prioritising natural light and access to nature,” says architect Tara Hipwood.

For some there is an increasing desire to become more self-sufficient. "This could lead to more people becoming interested in producing their own energy at home using solar panels or other renewables," says Hipworth.

Again, these are all great ‘extras’ that you could implement in your renovation project.

Happiness and wellbeing

This year’s events have highlighted the importance of taking care of our physical and mental health. We learned that our homes can be our sanctuaries – a haven from the stresses of daily life. There are many ways to bring Zen into a home using natural light, calming colour combinations and the all-important indoor-outdoor flow.

How you can add value to your property

To date, the New Zealand property market has defied economists’ predictions, with median prices up in every region in August and buyers coming out in force, motivated by low interest rates, the removal of LVR restrictions and a desire to have more space or a bigger backyard.

This article is featured in Harcourts' Property Focus Issue 5, 2020.