How COVID-19 has Boosted These 7 Hot Building Trends for 2021

Morton Steel Buildings 1

2020 was the year for the record books, in so many ways both “good” and “bad”.  Namely the emergence of COVID-19 had a profound effect on our lives and applied a nearly ubiquitous need to evaluate our lives; how we live at home, how we interact with our families, co-workers and our communities at large. 

One very true story is that 2020 fundamentally changed how we live in our homes and forced upon many of us, a deep review and re-evaluation of our living spaces. We had to pivot our lives, shrinking the geography of our key activities, now working, schooling, exercising and playing all from home. Multi-tasking daily activities with multiple people all in the same space forced us to reflect, dissect, and evaluate how we live in our homes and how we ultimately want to feel in these spaces. 

Let’s take a look at emerging trends on home design and home building for 2021 from the impacts of COVID-19. 


Trend #1 – The Rise of the Home Office 

Due to physical distancing requirements of COVID-19, commonplace work commuting and daily work patterns dramatically changed for millions of people nearly overnight.  With the meteoric rise of online meeting platforms like Zoom, which rose from 10 million to 200 million daily users in less than 1 year, it’s easy to see how the #1 Building Trend for 2021 is the need for home office space. 

Trends we expect to see are more of a focus on functional room design, room redecorating for suitable Zoom backgrounds (so people don’t accidentally get stuck in meetings with the Potato Head Filter On), lockable doors to keep unwanted traffic out, and the use of fabulous backyard prefab sheds built from kits which have come a long way from grandpa’s dusty gardening and tool shack. 


Trend #2 – Increased Focus on Outdoor Spaces 

Building material shortages due to the pandemic occurred in some sectors due to labor issues on the manufacturing side. Other shortages occurred because of the near panic buying of all materials focused on the DIY outdoor renovation and construction projects. 

With millions stuck at home, “I’ll do that later” home improvement projects all of a sudden became totally feasible. No more shuttling kids to school, appointments, sports games and social outings meant massive amounts of free time around home. Home owners leaned in and en masse, began to build outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and patios. The added bonus to this trend is it greatly expands usable living space for more outside working and relaxing. Bonus when the house is full! We don’t see this trend going anywhere but UP for 2021. 


Trend #3 – Comfort over Brand

With COVID-19 forcing millions to spend significantly more time in their homes plus causing an increased demand for building materials and home decor, consumers have become less brand loyal and more focused on procuring building materials. For example, wool bricks that can be produced with less environmental impact and are more resistant to cold climates are becoming more popular as a sustainable alternative. People are less concerned with the brand and more concerned with minimalistic function and high performance characteristics.

As pressure mounts on traditional supply chains for accessing building materials, it has also resulted in the increased search for “alternatives”. According to several market reports, the green building materials market is expected to reach $1 trillion in 2021. Eco-conscious construction trends and the increase in non-residential green buildings in the U.S. is driving the explosion in demand for green building materials. Non-residential buildings compose 40-48% of green buildings in the U.S. up from 1.4% in 2005. This green construction trend is responsible for over 3.3 million jobs created in 2018.


Trend #4 – Prefab for The Environment 

We expect to see a HUGE boost in post-pandemic building using the construction methods of modular construction and prefab building, which was already steadily on the rise over the last several years. 

Modular manufacturing typically occurs in enormous, airy buildings, with plenty of room for distancing, thus allowing business operations to continue to supply the market with modular and prefab building kit solutions. With COVID-19 affecting millions of homeowners with job insecurity, many families are looking to reduce their monthly overheads. Modular or Prefab building methods and kits are time-efficient, typically cost less than building a standard home from scratch, are durable, have lower insurance premiums, provide flexible living spaces for multi-purpose use and provide handy owner-builders to add in much of their own labour efforts. 

As manufacturers continue to refine their home building kits for modern appeal – you only need to google “Barndominium”, we only see this trend on the rise for 2021.  


Trend #5 – 3D Printing 

Building information modelling (BMI) has taken over the architect and building industry, giving these professionals the ability to construct a building in virtual space before building it in real life. They’re a fundamental re-thinking of the design and production process and amplifies the power of design for efficiency and sustainability.

Combined with the already popular trend of 3D printing, it is expected to gain traction in the U.S. and Canada in 2021 and beyond. The applications of 3D printing building materials or building themselves are as wild as your imagination will let you go. Check out “The World’s First 3D printed Neighborhood in Mexico”.


Trend #6 – Indoor Air Quality 

Would you believe that with the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 90 percent of most people’s time is now spent indoors? This puts health, wellness, and indoor air quality right on track for one of the top trends of 2021. 

Poor air quality in buildings has many contributors; paints with volatile organic compounds, poor air filtration and ventilation, leaky buildings causing mold and off gassing of construction glues and building materials containing certain types of plastics. 

Indoor air quality dovetails perfectly with our other trend of quality not brands, as more people begin to make the link between their time spent indoors, the materials around them in their homes and the quality of air. We’re excited for this topic to trend in 2021 because it brings even more attention to sustainable or eco-friendly building materials such as natural insulation, no-VOC paints, and natural building materials like bamboo, cork, and hempcrete. 


Trend #7 – The Mighty Tiny Home 

To wrap up our Top 7 Building Trends for 2021, we’re putting the tiny but very significant cherry on top of our list – Tiny Homes! We know they’re a trend that’s here to stay and after the deep economic impacts of COVID-19, more families are turning to creative solutions to lower their housing costs. According to an article from Linchpin SEO, home sales in April 2020 fell by 18% but home prices rose 7.4% compared to last year. 

Creative solutions that are trending for 2021 are taking life on the road with outfitting vans, retired school buses and making over travel trailers into living quarters. We see more and more builders focused on providing shipping container home building services as well as customized tiny homes on wheels. If you can manage to pair down your “stuff”, you no longer need to sacrifice luxury and comfort to go tiny.