With the emergence of COVID-19 mandates in 2020, a Honolulu homeowner and his family discovered that their new residence, designed and completed a year earlier by Graham Builders, offered flexibility beyond their expectations.
The major project began with the teardown of a 60-year-old house, followed by a new design that maintained the aesthetics of the neighborhood. The primary goal was a residence in which the couple could gracefully age in place and accommodate family members. Having recently cared for elder family members, universal design was essential.
Little did they know that their design decisions would have a tremendous impact on their lives when the 2020 pandemic blanketed the globe.
STAY HOME, WORK FROM HOME
Shortly after the family moved into their new residence, COVID-19 became a national crisis. When Hawaii’s first stay-home, work-from-home order was released last March, the homeowner found himself in need of a remote office space. His wife also wanted additional space to sew masks for loved ones.
Because the homeowners and their design team produced a plan that allows individual privacy, a bedroom on the second floor served nicely for his needs. The accessible mother-in-law suite on the lower level was repurposed as a sewing room.
The homeowner works in the IT industry, helping medical professionals, call center staff and other admin to work remotely.
“Home design plays a large role in this transition,” explains the homeowner. “In order for physicians to see patients through telemedicine and for secure call center staff to receive calls away from the workplace, each employee is required to have an environment that is isolated from others, including their family.”
This requirement spans other privacy-intensive (compliance regulated) professions such as legal, financial and insurance occupations. Even employees who process transactions on a credit card machine require privacy.
Ensuring client confidentiality requires an environment separate and secluded from the employee’s family members and other occupants. A securable, acoustically isolated guest room with high-speed internet connectivity can fill the need for a private office when there is need.
BUILT TO ADAPT
Designed to accommodate a diverse variety of occupants, this residence has proven eminently adaptable during the recent national crisis.
As working from home becomes the new normal, home designs should include spaces where functions can be adapted as needs change. This also broadens the ability for jobs, as no longer are we limited to jobs solely in Hawaii. Many companies list “remote” as a location for their job offerings. Many employers are seeing that with today’s technology, the best candidate for the job may not be located within driving distance of the companies physical location.
“The pandemic has many companies and organizations rethinking the need to invest in office space,” observes the homeowner. “I keep mentioning to people how fortunate we were to have our new Graham Builders home during the pandemic — not only to have a space to make masks, but also because it allowed me to work from home comfortably and securely. It’s a great space.”
Founded in 1990, Graham Builders remains the only local general contractor honored with Better Business Bureau Hawaii’s Torch Award for Small Business Ethics, and was also Oahu’s first design-build general contractor with a certified aging-in-place specialist on staff. You are invited to register for Graham Builders’ free “Building Your Home for Life” seminar, scheduled for Saturday, March 6, at grahambuilders.com/seminar, or call 593-2808.