Developers say that as the focus of companies get centred around reducing costs like transport, office rentals and workstations, the option of work from home may increase in the coming years.
In a post-Covid world, real estate developers have gone back to the drawing board to redesign homes. The future-ready houses are slated to have a separate study, kitchen garden, storage room, powder room, contactless elevators and home automation systems to name a few.
Akshaya, a Chennai-based real estate developer, has already made changes to three of its ongoing projects, where 2.5-BHK and 3.5-BHK apartments are being made to accommodate a separate small room for work. Akshaya chairman and CEO T Chitty Babu told FE, “We are replicating office environments at home. So basic infrastructure like electrical points, WiFi and broadband connectivity, air conditioning, power back-up and privacy, which are a given in an office, will all be available to our customers at home”.
Developers say that as the focus of companies get centred around reducing costs like transport, office rentals and workstations, the option of work from home may increase in the coming years. “IT services currently spend $500-$800 a month on an individual’s transport, on work space given and office rental. If they want to reduce cost they may probably increase the work from home culture over the next five years and then we need to provide homes with that facility,” T Chitty Babu said.
The pandemic, developers say, has increased the demand for self sufficient homes, which are currently doubling up as offices for most. Also, with the emphasis on self-reliance given the fear of contamination has got the developers to think of new ways to make the home well facilitated for ease of living.
Godrej Properties, for instance, is thinking of introducing space for kitchen gardens in the upcoming projects so that people can grow their own vegetables from the comfort of their homes, and also making a separate storage room by the kitchen where people will be able to store their provisions. Anubhav Gupta, founder, GPL Design Studio, Godrej Properties, said, “All these thoughts have come from the practical difficulties that people are facing. Imagine having your own kitchen garden which decreases reliance on outside vegetables and fruits, or having a store room where one could store supplies of a month or two, which is what people have been doing currently.”
Builders are going into minute details like what kind of a door should be fixed into the room, which minimises the outside sounds from entering the room and maintains privacy.
While pandemics could be a once-in-a-lifetime situation, one can never be sure and therefore by having these amenities, developers hope to make houses future-ready. Reeza Sebastian, president (residential business), Embassy Group, said that design interventions in residential complexes will now include planning out a strategy to relook at optimisation and efficiency. “De-densification is certainly going to be the focus both for residential and commercial real estate by implementing social distancing norms.”
Sebastian added that high-rise buildings were originally designed to organise as many people as possible in one place, while health and hygiene were not a consideration. “In times of pandemics, it is necessary to reduce contact with everything that is used in multi-storey buildings elevator, elevator buttons, door handles, surfaces and, above all, neighbours,” she said.
Giving a sneak peek into the future, developers said elevators will no longer require operation through buttons and can be controlled through mobile phones.
Godrej is also considering re-modelling homes to have a washroom or a powder room just before the living room, around the entrance, where people entering the house could first use it. Washing cubicles are also being envisaged just outside the houses in Akshaya.
At Shapoorji Pallonji, the move is towards reviving 3-BHK apartments, in which one room can be used as an office. At present, 50-60% of the company’s residential portfolio is two bedrooms and 20-25% is 3-BHK. The company is planning to increase the share of three bedrooms by 5% going forward.
While most of these additions will form part of the design layout and may not attract steep additional cost for the buyers, some cost it will be. For the additional workplace, Akshaya will be charging its customers Rs 100 per square foot, T Chitty Babu said.