How has Covid shaped property design?

Coronavirus has had a marked affect on how people want to spend their work and leisure time and has shifted priorities for building design.

Gardens, recently seen as a nuisance and best avoided by some, are now sought after for the offer of private open air space and open plan is falling in popularity as working from home becomes a necessity.

Environmentally friendly properties are sought after as well as features that promote a healthy lifestyle, both physical and mental and give a sense of family togetherness. tells of a recent survey by the Royal Institute of British Architects which shows that most of the homeowners surveyed (70%) thought their home environment and its design affected their wellbeing, especially mentally, during the pandemic.

This survey found that the most popular things looked for in home design with the lessons learnt in the pandemic were:

  • Reconfigure the existing space (23%)
  • Close in open plan spaces (9%)
  • Make more open plan areas (14%)
  • Increased environmentally friendliness including natural light & soundproofing (40%)
  • Flexibility of space (ie, moveable room divisions) (8%)
  • Creation of office space (17%)
  • Room for extended family (7%)
  • More personal space (12%)

This of course applies to all property to a greater or lesser extent. Residential properties need to be prepared for working from home and potential periods of isolation. Commercial properties on the other hand need to be as flexible as possible. Not many businesses will be willing to sign up to long leases, so bespoke fit outs become less palatable. Retail premises are becoming more redundant as online continues it’s inexorable path, so redevelopment as alternative uses becomes attractive.

Perhaps we could solve two problems in one and convert unused retail buildings into homes, just like the conversion of offices to homes became popular.

Industry also needs to follow the new safety protocols, this inevitably means more requirement for space for those that survive the economic tsunami. Amazon has just built three new warehouses in the North of England and plan to take on 7000 new staff. Their warehouses are mammoth, the biggest being in Tilbury clocking in at 2 million sq ft!


This shift in requirement and therefore design will ripple through to all aspects of the real estate profession. From finding investors to fund schemes and proving the profitability of schemes to targeting the end purchaser and ensuring they will be willing to buy the property that is produced.

Financial Modelling plays its part, shorter lease lengths, break clauses and the increased possibility of changing tenants must be factored in.

Adaptability both of financial model and buildings is key.

We cannot cure Covid, I sincerely wish that was in our skillset, but the experts who can are working on that. What we can do is equip you with the tools to adapt your financial models and be able to make well informed, clear and considered decisions quickly.

Real Estate Development & Financial Modelling Course

Construct a robust real estate financial model to assess the financial risk and return profile of development, re-development & refurbishment projects.


Royal Institute of British Architects

Cambridge Finance