Tom highlights how our homes have become the centre stage of our lives and how we can learn from this pandemic to reshape the housing landscape to meet the new needs of our society.
We’d had an excellent start to the year when Edinburgh closed its doors. We were enjoying multiple new sites being progressed through planning and we’d recently welcomed our new Director of Planning & Strategic Engagement, Mario Wolf to the company, whose addition was a sign of our forward trajectory.
Like millions around the world our team immediately began working from home, to do our bit in “flattening the curve” of coronavirus and it has been this way since. The subsequent instruction from Boris Johnson which brought about a national lockdown caused the most fundamental change in the way people live overnight. The reality set in that what was about to happen would be unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes.
Now, as then, those risking their own lives to save others are at the forefront of our minds. Never have we been so proud of our NHS. Our thoughts and most heartfelt condolences are sent to all those who have lost someone during this time, and we hope those who may feel like they are losing their selves in isolation find their way through. But as we extend our gratitude and our thoughts, I find myself thinking; what exactly is “the new normal?”, it seems to change every day. I doubt I am alone when I say this, “I hope we do not come out (of lockdown) the same way as we went in. I believe there are many positive changes in the way people live their lives at this time, and what is for certain, our homes are very much in the spotlight.
Our homes are being tested on a national stage and everybody is watching. They are doubling as workspaces or tripling as workspaces and schools, alongside being a safe haven from the world outside, which at this moment can be a scary place. At Custom Build Homes, we wanted to understand how people’s homes have adapted to meet today’s new demand. Over the course of the last ten weeks we have seen many people turn their living spaces into gyms, yoga studios, art studios, offices, classrooms, and even pubs! It got us thinking about our mission. We aim to enable people to access a home which is designed or customised to be suitable for their individual needs now and in the future, a home that is well designed, sustainable and affordable.
We realised this pandemic could offer us, as a nation, the chance to step up and take control to change the way new homes are designed and built, moving forward. The cold reality is that our housing is not suitable for other aspects of our lives which are ordinarily catered for by gyms, workplaces or schools. They are not designed to be lived in as much as they are basic shelters. At a time of confinement and quarantine, design can often be forgotten. Now more than ever could the power of well-designed homes be used to highlight how our lives could be enhanced as a result? The new normal of homecooked meals, exercising at home, meditating, families being together in the home and a better work life balance can become permanent, if our homes allow it.
We don’t yet fully know how this pandemic will play out. But we can be certain that it will have a massive social consequence and that lasting change, whatever it may be, will change the way we view our homes forever. Practices like remote working and home schooling will no longer be for the select few, they will remain, at least at specific times, the norm into the future. Our thought processes have changed, we now look upon our homes as places to move through and around. They are no longer units, but places in their own right where areas for families, zones for work and outdoor spaces for exercising should be considered in their design. We must now engage properly with the opportunities we have under the new Right to Build legislation which gives powers to consumers in England to design and create their own homes and local planning authorities are obligated to provide new permissions on an ongoing three-year cycle.
As such, we ask everyone out there, help us keep the good aspects of our “new normal” and sign up to our demand register at www.custombuildhomes.co.uk/demand today.
It’s your right, and the time is right now!