Research suggests changes to the homes and communities of the future


With COVID-19 changing the way that people live and work, new research from Marley has revealed what people value most about their homes and communities in post-lockdown Britain.  Here, Stuart Nicholson, talks us through the findings and the implications for those designing and specifying new homes.

2020 was a year like no other, with COVID restrictions, furlough and health concerns forcing large numbers of people to spend long periods of time in their homes.  The house had to become the gym, the office, the school, and the relaxation space, causing people to re-evaluate where they live, work and how they spend their time.

We set out to explore whether the experience of living through COVID-19 has changed how people value their homes and communities and how this could help inform the specification marketplace.

From our independent research of 2,000 homeowners, social housing tenants and private renters, some clear themes emerged, including the importance of working and living space, the need for higher quality rental homes, growing concern about sustainability and greater reliance on local communities.

homes and communities

Living space
Our research showed that many people are seeking good living spaces, following a reappraisal of their circumstances post-COVID and are prepared to invest to achieve what they want.  With 62% of homeowners undertaking home improvements in the past year, many reported being motivated to create better use of the space they have.  As the pandemic restrictions meant many working from home, this has created issues about workspace and living space confusion and a wish to see more of a separation, perhaps ending the open plan trend.

For a significant proportion of private and social housing tenants, the quality of their property is key. Nearly half (49%) of private and 55% of social housing tenants want greater priority given to better standards, for example, no damp. While almost half of all tenants are seeking high-quality building elements, such as the roof.  This reinforces the importance of giving tenants more power in both the new Building Safety Bill and Social Housing White Paper.

homes and communities

Staying local
Communities have become an essential hub of life, as movement restrictions forced many to stay and shop local. Having experienced what the local community can offer, most homeowners (72%) and private and social housing tenants (69%) say they will continue to stay local in the future.  They also highly value safe and welcoming communities that include green spaces.

Sustainability is high on the list of post pandemic priorities and people are willing to pay the price for it.  In fact, more than two thirds (69%) of homeowners said they are willing to invest in their property to make it more sustainable.  Almost half (43%) of all private and social housing tenants think sustainability is a key area for landlords to focus on with their properties.  It’s also interesting to note that nearly one in six homeowners and tenants think the Government should focus more on sustainability.

Whilst this is just a brief summary of our research findings, it reflects several emerging long-term trends that have been further accelerated by the pandemic.  Together with increased regulatory demands, including the Future Homes Standard and Building Safety Bill, these changing values will play a significant role in shaping the homes and communities of the future.

A copy of Marley’s research contained in a new report, Raising the roof: Homes and communities in a post-COVID UK, can be downloaded here