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Healthy Home Trends: A Builder’s Perspective

Kitchen Rack

If buyers will pay 1% more for healthy home solutions, what should you offer? Here’s what Thrive Homes is doing.

The coronavirus has unleashed an explosion of interest in healthy homes. But unfortunately, many newly constructed and existing homes suffer from a range of problems that negatively impact indoor air quality. In a recent interview, pioneering high-performance builder Gene Myers, CEO of Thrive Home Builders, offered some interesting insights about creating healthy environments.

Make High-Performance Homes Healthier

Thrive Home Builders CEO Gene Myers has been on the leading edge of designing and constructing high-performance, healthy homes for over a decade. In a recent conversation, Myers shared some astute observations about how the concept of healthy home is changing in the eyes of his home buyers, and how building professionals can offer innovative solutions to match shifting consumer expectations.

“Consumers are making a connection between health and home today in a way that they didn’t before the pandemic.” he asserted. “The past several months have been life-altering, and people are making emotional decisions to protect their families.”

COVID has certainly created a heightened emphasis on home as a sanctuary. We’ve been told time and time again that home is the safest place that we can be. But Gene questioned if that is really the case. He pointed out that many newly constructed and existing homes have not been built with health and wellness in mind.

“A lot of these homes use toxic materials that off-gas, they have mold and mildew problems or, here in Colorado, many have high radon levels. Are those homes really the safest place for people to be?”

Keep Indoor Air Pollutants Out

When you get down to it, Gene believes that solving for healthy homes is pretty simple. His expert advice: keep the bad stuff out when you build, properly ventilate once a homeowner moves in, and do all you can to educate homeowners about not bringing toxins (like certain household cleaners) into their homes.

When it comes to a healthy home message, he finds that consumers are ready listeners now. “We don’t need to educate buyers about how important health is. When we point out the healthy home elements of our homes, they get it right away and it’s an incredibly compelling decision-making factor.”

Because the market is so ripe, Thrive Home Builders is doubling down, moving beyond the EPA Indoor Air Plus (IAP) program into real-time radon management, humidity monitoring, and activated carbon filtration to strip out ozone. The company is also offering touch-free faucets and high-tech Japanese washing toilets with bidets.

“We’re not just focusing on IAQ and health threats. We’re now looking at sanitation and holistic wellness from a much broader perspective.”

Innovative Program for Healthy Home Solutions

To that end, Thrive is launching a program called 1% for Health, which provides home buyers with a range of healthy home solutions for a 1% increase in home cost. “Our buyers want to do everything they can for the people they love, and they seem to be willing to pay 1% more to protect their families.”

Gene revealed that younger buyers—Millennials and older Gen Zs—are showing up to purchase $500,000 homes (with a little financial help from their parents and grandparents), with an expectation that those homes will be healthy. To them, good indoor air quality is a fundamental homeowner right.

“They want to control their own environments.” Gene affirms. “Healthy home is a tremendous driver, especially now that the pandemic has profoundly impacted the buyer psyche.”

One of the most commonly requested IAQ solutions: proactive systems with monitors that measure IAQ and, when toxins are sensed, turn on ERVs, vent fans, range hoods, and other mechanical systems. Our buyers are looking for integrated systems that will act and create a solution like Panasonic has created a simple yet robust ventilation strategy to help builders deliver healthy homes. Swidget smart controls and mobile app pair with Panasonic ventilation products to monitor, detect and auto-activate the proper fan when unhealthy air and moisture are detected.  Removing harmful contaminants ensures homeowners breathe the highest quality air around the clock.

Gene has no doubt that consumer demand for healthy homes will continue to drive innovation in the home building industry. He also believes that IAQ codes will follow the path of energy codes, raising the bar and compelling builders across the country to develop creative solutions that solve for health and wellness.
To learn more about Gene’s perspective on the evolving definition of healthy homes and Thrive’s 1% for Health program, register for his webinar on August 20, “Health in the Home: A mid-pandemic reset of how home improves life.”

by Sara Gutterman