The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on how we work, how we shop, and how we socialise. And now, it’s affecting our property preferences, too. A Berkshire-based firm, Structural Engineering Services, has noted a significant rise in demand over the past few months for domestic wall removals, with homeowners looking to shift away from separate rooms, and instead create individual ‘living zones’ within a spacious, open plan setting.
The open plan trend began to decline some years back. However, the crisis has reignited a passion for open and airy spaces, and forced homeowners to become much more comfortable and familiar with the concept of blurred boundaries. Today, it seems clear that many would rather incorporate an otherwise unused spare bedroom into an everyday part of the home’s core living area, creating more space to work, relax, and spend time with family.
A major driver of these shifting preferences is, of course, the fact that people are spending more time at home than they were pre-pandemic. Homes are no longer just somewhere to sleep when the office is shut; they’re places where we spend the majority of our time. It’s natural that homeowners will want to make these spaces as bright, airy, open, and spacious as possible.
However, there is another factor at play here, and that’s that the pandemic seems to have sparked a greater focus on eco-friendly living. According to the BBC, lockdown has ‘focused our minds’ on creating a healthier world, and 60% say that they’re making greener choices as a result of lockdown. Removing internal walls is a top way to make a home more environmentally friendly, maximising the flow of natural light to improve energy efficiency.
John Murphy, Senior Structural Engineer at Structural Engineering Services, says, “We’ve worked closely with homeowners for many years, supporting their plans for home extensions, basement building, and more. But never have we seen such sudden and urgent interest in internal wall removal. COVID-19 has completely transformed the way we live, and we’re thrilled to be able to help people open their homes up more and really get the most out of them”.
It appears that the Structural Engineering Services team are not the only ones to notice the growing preference for open plan living. UK housebuilder St Modwen Homes reports that online searches for ‘open plan house’ grew by 168% between 2019 – 2021. Specific searches for ‘open space home office’ rose by a similar amount as more and more homeowners looked for innovative and creative ways to incorporate workspaces into their properties.
While internal wall removal certainly seems to be the most in demand property alteration service today, Structural Engineering Services are also noting increased interest in other types of renovations, such as extensions. In fact, A recent report by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) found that 20% of homeowners want to create more space by extending the home; something that many believe will help them relax more, and sleep better.