Opinion: Climate change will mean more buyers look for 'cool' homes
- Credit: Getty Images
As more of us take staycations, the recent run of hot weather may be welcome, but the climatic trend behind it is something more worrying.
Despite temperature recording starting way back in 1884, ten of the warmest years in the UK have been since 2002. Despite a few high-profile sceptics, the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is that this is a result of man-made climate change, and even if we adopt all of the measures climatologists say is necessary, the planet is still going to continue to get warmer.
Traditional thinking has Britain as a generally cold country, and certainly the attention of house buyers is more often on how warm a home will be in the winter, than how easy it will be to keep cool in the summer. But with the mercury rising inexorably, expect to see this mindset change – in fact, it already is.
Modern house-building design is all about thermal efficiency, making the house airtight and keeping the heat in. Now architects are grappling with the issue of how to keep us cool in the summer, particularly as more of us find ourselves working from home.
Retro-fitting air conditioning is often an option, but as well as the expense, many are instinctively aware that such electrically-driven cooling simply ends up contributing to the problem.
New home design will soon get to grips with the problem, but if you are selling an existing home, be aware that buyers will increasingly be looking for the ‘cool factor’ – and I don’t mean trendy design features – when they view prospective purchases.
That may mean adopting interior features more associated with Mediterranean homes, such as cool tiled floors. It will mean ensuring that homes have good airflow, as well as thermal insulation on south-facing walls especially (things such as solar glass, heat-reflecting blinds and so on).
The trend towards creating open-plan family rooms with bi-fold doors opening out onto an outdoor living area will become as much about cool temperatures as cool design. The gardens which will increasingly be sought after will be those which offer cool oases of living space rather than the traditional lawn and flower beds.
It may also be that features which up until now have been seen as niche, such as swimming pools, become more desirable. Currently, they are very much a Marmite item; for every enthusiastic swimmer there will be a potential buyer who is put off by the maintenance issues. This may change.
Those of us who have lived in old, substantially-built homes, often with smaller windows, will know that the ground floor rooms remain deliciously cool in hot weather. This factor may start to outweigh the issues of heating such homes in the winter, making them more attractive.
Climate change is a long-term issue which will affect every aspect of our lives. But the increasing summer temperatures we are seeing are already changing the way buyers view prospective homes. Trend-setters have always sought out the cool factor when choosing their homes; now the rest of us are following suit.
Jan Hÿtch is residential partner at Arnolds Keys.