The COVID-19 pandemic has had a destructive effect on most industries - and construction is no different.
The sector, an important driver of growth for the economy, experienced significant hardships at the peak of the outbreak exposing the brittle relationship construction has with broader economic trends. Despite this, the industry has displayed a strong sense of adaptability and resilience, establishing a path towards recovery, which could well include utilizing the lessons learned during the pandemic for positive change.
Pre-pandemic housing problems, of course, remain a problem, predominantly an urgent pressure to address the housing shortage and deliver high numbers of quality homes. However, a change in consumer demands needs addressing as a greater awareness of sustainability and new hybrid work patterns have led towards shifting preferences for greener homes and smart home technology.
A green light on sustainable property
A widespread increase in awareness of environmental issues has impacted all sectors as sustainability is rapidly becoming a deciding influencing factor on consumer behaviour. Naturally, when buying property – the biggest investment most individuals will make in their lives – buyers are increasingly searching for more sustainable features in their future homes.
For example, research conducted by Redrow revealed that nearly two thirds (63%) of buyers would prefer to purchase a green property if possible. Interestingly, the research also found that an overwhelming majority of 82% would be willing to pay more for a home with satisfactory sustainability features in place – with 25% of buyers prepared to pay at least 6% premium for a home that helps them ‘go green’.
While adopting sustainable construction practices contributes to the reduction of a negative impact on the environment, there are also further long-term financial incentives to owning a greener home, which prospective buyers are looking to tap into. Lower energy consumption generates long-term savings from reduced running costs and protection from sudden increases in global gas prices, thus achieving greater economic sustainability.
Needless to say, there is a clear demand in the market for the construction industry to build greener. However, there is also a regulatory necessity. The World Green Building Council has set a target of net-zero carbon buildings, with all new buildings operating at zero carbon by 2030. This means that getting ahead of the curve and consolidating a reputation for being environmentally friendly could go a long way towards adding value for businesses in the construction and development sectors.
At the forefront of smart tech
Once considered somewhat niche, smart technologies are another trend on the uptick. Furthermore, the demand for the integration of digital technologies has not just derived from gradual consumer shifts but as a result of substantial cultural transitions initiated over the course of the pandemic, as digital technologies have been ever more important in people’s professional and personal lives.
Industries and businesses across the world have accepted the fact that we must adapt the way we interact with one another. Staying safe while maintaining an element of productivity has meant revaluating how – and where – we work. Flexible working has become the new norm meaning the role of an individual’s home has become significantly pertinent. This has pushed buyers’ expectations towards digitalised amenities that provide a comfortable environment that facilitates the dynamics of our family, social, and professional lives.
Therefore, new-builds will increasingly require seamless integration of intelligent technologies, that use internet-connected devices to enable homeowners to monitor and manage their home appliances, energy efficiency and security systems. Construction companies must be observant of advances in technology that consumers will progressively demand from their homes of choice.
As with all emerging trends, the drive for more automation and tech within residential properties presents both challenges and opportunities for the industry. But ultimately, as homebuyers’ technological demands continue to evolve, so too must our housing stock.
Homes have been relatively slow to benefit from the green and digital revolutions until now. The shock of the pandemic has allowed consumers to take stock of what is truly important to them in a home. This offers the industry an opportunity to re-assess current standard practices of construction to keep up with growing trends. Moreover, transitioning to more sustainable practices and adopting smart technologies will enable them to remain competitive by meeting ever-changing consumer demands.