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Pandemic reveals demand for UK home transformations

New research commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects reveals the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic on how people want to live and work at home.

08 October 2020

New research commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) reveals the significant impact of the coronavirus pandemic on how people want to live and work at home.

UK homeowners are increasingly demanding environmentally efficient properties that better support their new ways of living, as well as their mental health, happiness and family cohesion.

The RIBA’s research exclusively reveals that the majority of homeowners (70% of survey respondents) believe the design of their home has affected their mental wellbeing during the pandemic.

Spending more time in their home has made people more stressed (11%), anxious (10%) and depressed (10%); they’ve found it harder to relax (9%) and it’s negatively impacted their productivity (6%).

The RIBA’s research sought to understand the mental and physical benefits of living in a better-designed home. The findings highlight that 23% believe a better-designed home will increase their happiness; they'd be able to relax more (31%) and sleep better (17%).

Insights also revealed that with working from home now the ‘new normal’ for many, 15% want to improve the design of their home to help them be more productive. And with families spending more time together at home, more than one in 10 (11%) believe making changes to the design of their home would help them to live more harmoniously with others in the house.

Environmental Psychologist and Lecturer at University of Surrey, Eleanor Ratcliffe comments:

“For many of us our home is our favourite place and an important part of our identity. Over recent months our homes have had to become the workplace, school, and gym, and yet still be a place to relax and recover from all the everyday stresses and strains - impacting entire households. The RIBA’s research demonstrates that many people realise that their home in its current form does not cater for all these different uses and users. A home design that reflects who you are – your values, needs, and interests – can make people feel good about themselves. A home that meets one’s needs because it is appropriately designed can also make people feel more in control, and that is especially relevant when life feels uncertain.”

Eight out of 10 respondents (79%) identified one or more of the changes that they’d now like to make to the design of their home after lockdown, these include:

  • Nearly a quarter of homeowners (23%) would reconfigure their existing spaces. A fifth want to create more space by extending their home.
  • Nearly one in 10 (9%) would change their open-plan design in favour of creating separate rooms. In contrast, 14% would like to make their home more open plan.
  • 40% want more environmental-design features, including improving the amount of natural daylight, improving the energy-efficiency of their home and improved sound-proofing between spaces.
  • 8% would like more flexible living eg rooms that can easily be divided.
  • 17% would create an office space to support working from home.
  • 7% want to be able to accommodate an extended family including parents, grandparents and grown-up children.
  • 12% need more personal space.

Ben Channon, RIBA Chartered Architect, Head of Wellbeing at Assael Architecture and author of book, ‘Happy by Design comments:

“As architects, we understand that every family is unique and the design of their home must be tailored to fit their specific needs. We’re trained to be creative and practical problem solvers and will add value, not just financial, but also to your quality of life - ensuring that your most sacred space works for you and your loved ones. We will help you to make your home more usable and, put simply, a nicer place to live - ultimately making you happier and healthier.”

RIBA President Alan Jones said:

“It’s clear that the impact of COVID-19 will affect how and where we choose to live for years to come. For many of us, our homes are our sanctuaries, and this new research commissioned by the RIBA clearly indicates that many people are keener than ever to adapt and improve their homes. I strongly encourage homeowners to seek professional expertise to make their dreams a reality. RIBA Chartered Architects and Chartered Practices offer the highest standards and assurance in the UK. They can support homeowners every step of the way, whether they are extending their home or building a new one from scratch.”

Kunle Barker, TV Presenter, property developer and design advocate comments:

“Good design in our homes is crucial for our wellbeing. This year, through forces outside of our control we have been able to connect with the spaces most personal to us, and it’s natural that many of us are now seeking to improve them. Whether it is an extension, refurbishment or a new garden room, your journey should start with at least a conversation with an architect from an RIBA Chartered Practice. By working with an architect you will not only get the design and standard of work you need, they will, in all likelihood, save you money.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Press contact: and
  2. The research was conducted among 1500 UK homeowners aged 24-64. It was commissioned as part of the RIBA’s ‘Work with an Architect’ public awareness campaign. Read the Executive Summary of the research here.
  3. Facts about RIBA Chartered Practices and Architects:
    • RIBA Chartered Architects work to a strict code of conduct set out by the RIBA and those who work for RIBA-accredited Chartered Practices meet the ultimate quality standard in the UK.
    • They not only design buildings but also oversee projects from conception to completion (on time, on budget).
    • Highly-skilled and professionally-educated, they will ensure you maximise the potential of your home (setting them apart from non-architects)
    • Your architect will help you get the most from your investment (depending on what matters to you, the client)
  4. It’s easy (and free) to search over 3,900 RIBA-accredited Chartered Practices for a practice that is right for you and your project - via
  5. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates.

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