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From offices to outdoor spaces, see COVID-19’s impact on homebuilding at Parade of Homes

2021 fall parade of homes.jpg
Posted at 5:44 AM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 06:44:33-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Homebuilders around the Kansas City, Missouri, area are seeing increased demand for office space and outdoor space as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bruce Rieke of B.L. Rieke Custom Homes said clients are often working from home and want a dedicated space from which to work. In some cases, clients use their home office space as a classroom for virtual learning or homeschooling.

Outdoor spaces like covered decks or patios with comfortable furniture, fire pits and TVs are gaining popularity as families feel more safe gathering and entertaining outside during the pandemic because of proof the virus is less likely to spread outdoors.

Rieke said those outdoor spaces should feel like an extension of the home.

“Outdoor spaces are very important, but they want it to feel good because they’re going to be there a while,” he explained. “It’s like going to your vacation home, kind of like your resort.”

You can see the new trends in home building during the Kansas City Home Builders Association’s 2021 Fall Parade of Homes Greater Kansas City, which runs until Oct. 3. The annual event highlights 200 newly built homes in the area. It allows visitors to tour each home for free and see what’s possible in homebuilding.

“You’re learning from your clients on what the trends are,” Rieke pointed out. “We try to keep on the trends from reading and watching different stuff, and of course the internet helps too. We’re always trying to stay on the edge of what’s coming.”

Rieke admitted building during the pandemic brings its own challenges. Labor and material shortages mean Rieke is facing the longest lead times of his 30+ year career. All the while, demand hasn’t slowed down. The Timber Rock development he’s building in Lenexa, Kansas, has continued to sell plots throughout the pandemic.

His advice to someone building a home right now is to be patient, write down questions for your builder, demand transparency from the builder, and pay close attention to what your builder sets aside in “allowances” for carpet, tile, fixtures and other features in their estimate. He said costs often go over estimates because those allowances are set too low.