Tag Archives: Building Materials

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Luxury home market poised for quick rebound

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As with other sectors of the housing market, sales of luxury homes in the U.S. plunged in late March and April as most of the country came under stay-at-home orders. Domestic clientele decided to hold back, and with many other affluent countries facing similar restrictions, including bans on air travel, the pool of international buyers and investors soon evaporated.

Sellers quickly began to pull their properties off the market, further reducing opportunities for sales. In recent weeks activity has begun to revive, however, and industry insiders anticipate that sales will start to rebound by early summer.

At the outset of the economic shutdown, some real estate experts predicted luxury home sales would drop dramatically, perhaps by as much as 30 to 40%, relates the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM). The Institute’s latest market analysis finds instead that sales were down probably between 20 and 25% compared to those of April 2019. At the same time, real estate agents in various luxury markets around the country are sensing pent-up demand on the part of buyers and believe that will result in a surge of new sales once buyers regain their confidence.

Signs of a possible resurgence have appeared in recent weeks. Barron’s reports that while total U.S. housing inventory for sale was down 4% in the week ending May 16 compared to April 1, the inventory of homes asking $1 million or more rose 1% during that same time frame.

Sellers, encouraged by an unexpected demand for properties, especially in highly desirable markets, are starting to list their properties once again. Real estate firms in Colorado and Texas, for example, are seeing buyer traffic for $1 million-plus homes returning to 2019 levels.

In part, the uptick in activity is a result of wealthy buyers wanting to make a change as a result of the pandemic. According to the ILHM, some are moving out of densely populated city centers to more open suburban communities. Others are shopping for a second or vacation home that can serve as a safe haven from environmental threats. Real estate agents are reporting increased interest in beach front, waterfront and mountain area properties. More livable, second-tier cities with thriving economies — such as Austin, Nashville and Boise — also are attracting affluent buyers wanting a more relaxed lifestyle and higher quality of living.

Along with a change in location, these buyers now are looking for larger properties with sufficient space for a home office, gym, entertainment and relaxation spaces, and room for outdoor recreation activities. They also want the latest and best in safety and wellness systems. Consequently, more are opting for single family homes and estates rather than luxury condominiums and townhouses.

Many of these buyers prefer properties that are move-in ready, with contemporary design and integrated smartphone technologies. For that reason, according to the 2020 Global Luxury Market Report from Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, sellers are undertaking extensive updates before buyers move in. Buyers may choose to do additional changes and upgrades as well. As these properties change hands, that should bring more business to interior designers.

At present, multimillion properties are not attracting as much attention as those in the $1 to $2 million price range. But agents are hopeful that will change as cities and countries begin to open up and economic activity revives, perhaps in the third quarter of the year.

Much depends on whether the public’s safety and health can be maintained. Observes the ILHM, “it’s probably safe to assume that we will see a rollercoaster of highs and lows in luxury sales over the next 6 months, especially if a community becomes impacted by a rise in reported cases.”

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Reshaping your business for the new normal

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Even in the most optimistic scenario, the repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic will have a profound impact on how we go about our lives — and thus, on the spaces we live in — for months, probably years to come. We will need to adapt to new ways of interacting with one another and adopt new behaviors to ensure our safety and that of our loved ones and neighbors.

And perhaps as never before, the home will function as the nexus of our daily activities — the place from which many of us will work, dine, shop, workout, attend sports and entertainment events, and worship, as well as relax and socialize with those closest to us.

As a result of these changes, people’s priorities will shift, and that has implications for interior designers and their businesses. At present, health and safety are the top concerns for both clients and designers. A number of firms have already adapted their operations in order to maintain social distancing and minimize on-site visits.

Use of videoconferencing and cloud-based tools for designing, visualization and scheduling has become more widespread. Projects are being revised to allow for longer delivery times for some products and staggered work schedules for subcontractors.

With the summer months approaching, designers may find themselves in high demand as clients try to cram in home remodeling projects while they are away on vacation. Reach out to current and past clients and others on your marketing lists to inform them you are now scheduling projects for the next few months and urging them to reserve a slot now.

While some clients, particularly the wealthier ones, will still want more traditional interior design services, others will be looking to make immediate changes to their living environment in response to the conditions of the new normal. These will include adding or upgrading home offices and home learning spaces, health and wellness features, more storage space and multifunctional organizing furniture and equipment, and fitness areas, as well as outdoor living spaces and minor upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms.

Now is the time to revise your marketing materials and messaging to let prospective clients know the value you bring as a professional, your knowledge of designing for health and wellness, and that their project will be conducted safely and securely.

We’ve yet to learn the full extent of the damage the pandemic has had on the global and national economy. Current projections indicate it will be worse than the Great Recession but perhaps not quite as bad as the Great Depression. Consumers at all socioeconomic levels will experience a sense of loss, although to different degrees.

Those who have the means will be more conscientious about their spending, eschewing conspicuous consumption. The trend in recent years toward more consumer spending, especially luxury spending, on experiences and health and wellness rather than on material goods will likely be more pronounced in the near future. If your current business model is heavily slanted toward product and markup, explore other ways you can add to or modify your menu of services to gain revenue from other sources or methods of billing.

In times of change, when there’s so much uncertainty and worry about the future, clear communication and conveying confidence are essential to gaining clients’ trust. Stay current with what is happening in your area. Let clients know how you are adapting your business to meet their needs and address their concerns. Their lives are changing, and your business must change, too, to retain its value.

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Health concerns are reshaping the housing landscape

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As expected, home sales plummeted in April, the first full month during which much of the nation was under orders to remain indoors. Nonetheless, in some parts of the country buyer demand continued to outstrip supply, and prices increased due to inventory shortages.

Without question, the health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for social interaction are having a significant impact on real estate markets and communities.

April sales of existing homes, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), experienced their largest month-over-month drop in nearly 10 years, down 17.8% on top of an 8.5 % drop in March. The combined blow dragged sales totals 17.2% below those of the previous April. Sales of single-family homes were down 16.9% for the month and 15.5% annually.

While a certain amount of that decline can be attributed to the social and economic restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus, would-be buyers also confronted a shortage of properties for sale. The inventory of existing homes for sale nationwide dipped 1.3% from March and was nearly 20% lower than in April 2019.

That helped to prop up prices for those homes that were for sale. The median price of all homes sold was $286,800 — a 2.2% increase from March and 2.4% increase annually. The median price of a single-family home rose 2.1% over the previous month, to $288,700, but was up 7.3% from the year before.

New home sales, which had plunged more than 15% in March, remained more or less flat in April. Prices, however, continued to come down. The median price of a new home sold, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, was $309,900 (about $11,000 less than the previous month), and the average price was $364,500 (also roughly $11,000 less).

Earlier in the year, tight inventories of existing homes for sale spurred new home sales. However, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage application requests for new homes in April decreased by 25% compared to March and by 12% compared to April 2019. The average loan request was for $334,641, in line with the average sale price cited by the Census Bureau.

Conditions in major metro areas were similar to those in the nation as a whole. Online real estate brokerage Redfin reported that sales of all homes in the 90 metro areas it tracks toppled 22.8% for the month and 22.5% annually. Home prices continued to rise but at a slower pace. The median price of all homes sold was $303,900, similar to the previous month and just a notch below 5% from the year before.

With many major metro areas battling high levels of contagion and fatalities from the COVID-19 virus, buying patterns shifted in April. There were fewer higher-priced homes for sale and fewer prospective higher-priced buyers.

Those looking to purchase a home, many of whom were first-time buyers, sought more affordable properties and/or bought homes in more affordable real estate markets. Some of those markets, says Redfin, saw the biggest jumps in price increases during the month.

In addition, reports Redfin, the health crisis has accelerated the migration from metropolises to smaller cities already underway before the onset of the pandemic. With more employees facing the likelihood of a prolonged stretch of working from home, those who can are relocating to cities deemed to have a higher quality of living, such as Charlotte, Nashville, Dallas and Madison. Some big city residents who chose to go elsewhere for the duration of the stay-at-home confinement may decide not to return.

Taking the long view, industry experts believe real estate sales will bounce back once consumers regain their confidence that conditions are safer and their jobs are secure. Likewise, sellers will return to the market if they see demand is high and prices are stabilizing or improving.

Forecasters foresee the peak buying season shifting to late summer and early autumn, before tapering off as colder weather returns. How that scenario plays out across the country could alter markets and communities for years to come.

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The new normal may be anything but

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Maybe we’ve hit bottom. Three months into the COVID-19 lockdown, it appears that mitigation measures have “flattened the curve.” Measures are being taken to reopen the economy on some level in just about every state in America. How far and how fast this will proceed remains to be seen.

A common refrain is that we are trying to “get back to normal.” That makes sense. Humans are creatures of habit. We don’t like change — particularly when it’s thrust upon us under these kinds of conditions. We want to get back to the way things used to be before all this happened — when we had at least some modicum of control over our day-to-day lives.

There’s only one problem. Those days are gone — if not forever, for a very, very long time. Many of the ordinary activities we took for granted, like strolling through a bustling shopping area or joining packed crowds at a sporting event, will not be available to us any time soon. We need to accept the fact that the new “normal” will likely not look anything like the old one.

That doesn’t mean we will be relegated to lockdown and crisis conditions forever. It just means that the way we do things may be rethought, reinvented, or reimagined. These changes break down into several key categories:

Things That Should Have Been Changed Long Ago. This includes cleaning the New York subway system on a regular basis, sanitizing airplanes from top to bottom, and stopping people with fevers from engaging with others.

Ways to Make Life Easier. Mobile deposits for checks of any sizes and removing signature requirements for credit card transactions fall into this category, as does ordering household staples for ongoing delivery.

Exercising Creativity. Forget the boring white surgical mask. There are now thousands of options for masks and face coverings — from your favorite celebrity or sports team to colored coverings to match your wardrobe.

That’s a Really Good Idea — Why Didn’t We Think of It Earlier? One-way traffic in supermarket aisles and Plexiglas shields between store employees and customers make perfect sense. So do limiting the number of people in any given waiting area, and offering many types of appointments by video instead of in person.

Find Another Way. We can’t go to the mall or eat in a restaurant, so takeout and curbside delivery may be the only option. Sadly, stores and eateries that catered to business lunches or in-person shopping experiences may not be able to make the shift to the new normal. Those that can find an alternative delivery vehicle may not just survive but thrive in the long run.

Shut Down For the Foreseeable Future. No live sporting events. No concerts or theatrical performances. No movies shown in theaters. These are the most disruptive changes and the ones that are likely to be the longest lasting.

How easy will it be to accept a new normal?

Consider what happened post 9/11. We were introduced to TSA checkpoints, the need to remove shoes and laptops for inspection, and the prohibition from carrying liquids of more than 3 ounces onboard. While these requirements can be annoying, we’ve all learned to live with them. We know that when you travel, this is the new normal. The old way of doing things isn’t coming back. Period.

The sooner we can discover how to serve customers in this new world, the better off we’ll all be. Don’t wait for things to get back to the old normal. It ain’t going to happen.

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Infographic: Robots in the construction industry

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The robots are coming, but instead of taking over our jobs, they’re more likely to help us become much more productive. The construction industry is a prime example of this; since construction is one of the most dangerous industries to work in, automating many of the jobs can make the work environment much safer.

In fact, it’s already started, ranging from drones improving safety on a worksite to a humanoid robot from NASA, the Valkyrie, made to withstand the harsh vacuum of space and help us travel the stars.

Construction rental company BigRentz has taken notice of this phenomenon and compiled a list of all the ways construction has adapted to the future. Check out the nifty infographic below and learn all about the ways the robots are our friends.

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Interior designers drawn to top metro areas

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For the second year in a row, during the 12-month period from May 2018 to May 2019, the numbers of employed interior designers shifted dramatically toward the nation’s top metro areas. Demand for designers, as indicated by a substantial rise in hiring, seems to have made it possible for some designers to relocate to more desirable positions and/or locations.

Even though interior design employment has grown every year since 2015, some states have experienced notable declines in employed designers. In the 12-month period prior to May 2018, 25 states indicated a total loss of nearly 2,000 employed designers. Between then and May 2019, 14 states (some the same as the year before) reported 1,500 fewer employed designers.

Some of these losses may have been due to retirements, career changes, life changes, or other factors. But many appear to be a result of designers relocating to greener pastures.

According to the most recent employment and wage estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), of the 3,580 new positions recorded between May 2018 and May 2019, three quarters (2,700) were concentrated in just five states: California (780), Texas (600), New York (470), Colorado (440), and Massachusetts (410). Within those states, by far the greatest number of employed designers work in the major metro areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles, Houston and Dallas, New York City, Denver, and Boston.

These cities were among the top metro areas with thriving economies in 2019. Of course, they also are hubs for many of the country’s largest and most sought-after A&D firms. In addition, they are what urban studies specialist Richard Florida has dubbed “superstar cities” that strongly appeal to the members of the “creative class” who have flocked to them.

Overall, the states with the highest levels of employed interior designers were California (with 9,420, accounting for nearly 16% of all employed designers), New York (5,250, more than 8%), Texas (4830, just under 8%), and Florida (4410, around 7%). Colorado replaced Illinois as having the fifth highest number of employed designers (2370), with Ohio close behind (2330). In the four-year period from May 2016 to May 2019, New York has added 2,280 positions to its ranks of employed designers, California gained 2,030, and Minnesota rose by 1,030, followed by Colorado at 790 and Texas at 760.

States that had notable declines in employed interior designers between May 2018 and May 2019 included New Jersey (down 420 positions), Connecticut (250), Alabama (140), and Tennessee (140). Between May 2016 and May 2019, New Jersey has experienced a decline every year, for a total of 700 positions lost. Some other states that had indicated relatively large drops in employed designers in recent years — notably Florida, Texas, Illinois, Washington state, and the District of Columbia — recorded gains in the May 2019 estimates.

California and Colorado were among the top five states estimated to have the highest mean annual and media annual wages. But they were not the highest. That distinction belongs to Rhode Island, followed by Arizona, with Alaska taking the fifth position. That would seem to indicate that whatever attractions and amenities the top metro areas have to offer, salary alone is perhaps not the main motivator for many designers.

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Early indicators signal mixed recovery for remodelers

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When the economy begins to regain momentum, will demand for remodeling services bounce back? Or, will homeowners proceed more cautiously for some months, waiting to see if conditions improve and the housing market stabilizes?

Industry analysts in recent weeks have proposed both scenarios. At present, a third scenario seems more likely, that some homeowners will want to move ahead with projects right away, while others will choose to wait.

Predictions of what the future holds for remodelers in the coming months varies somewhat by sector. As reported by Kitchen & Bath Design News, officials at the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), in conjunction with its research partner John Burns Real Estate Consulting, foresee a quick rebound for the residential remodeling industry once homeowners allow design professionals and contractors back into their homes.

Analysts at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) offer several positive indicators, cited in the article, to support the quick rebound scenario. After being required to stay in place for weeks, homeowners have had plenty of time to think about the changes they want to make to their homes.

Home values are still high and interest rates are low, making it easier to borrow to fund projects. Anticipating what the “new normal” may be like, homeowners will be in a “cocooning” mode and want to improve health and safety features in the home.

Across the country, local news outlets in various metro areas have run stories on how homeowners and remodelers have adjusted to keep major remodeling projects moving forward. The latest NKBA member Pulse Survey shows a gradual increase in demand for goods and services over the past three weeks, including among designers. Similarly, the most recent ASID COVID-19 Pulse Survey, from the American Society of Interior Designers, finds professionals’ concerns easing somewhat, with fewer experiencing a significant negative impact on their work as a result of the measures to contain the pandemic.

For many contractors, however, the outlook is not so positive. More than 9 in 10 respondents to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) first quarter 2020 Remodeling Market Index (RMI) survey said the coronavirus health crisis has had a noticeable, adverse effect on homeowners willingness to remodel at this time and on the rate at which they are receiving new inquiries. Close to three-fourths (70%) rated the negative impact as major rather than minor.

New projections of annual homeowner remodeling spending in 50 major metro areas, from the Remodeling Futures Program at JCHS, forecast that nationally expenditures will contract in a majority of them this year. Less than a third are expected to see annualized gains, and those of between 1 and 3%. Research assistant Sophia Weeden stated, however, that some metro areas should fare better than others, particularly those in in the Midwest and the Sun Belt.

What emerges from this data is a picture of a mixed recovery in which wealthy and more affluent homeowners who have not been significantly disadvantaged financially by the crisis will want to continue, restart or undertake new remodeling projects, while those of lesser means and/or whose livelihoods have been impacted will put off renovations until their circumstances have improved. Even so, those who anticipate a “quick” recovery believe it will be many months, perhaps some time in the fourth quarter, before business levels return to something like normal.

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As occupancies reached all-time lows, hotel construction hit an all-time high in March

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The U.S. hotel industry recorded 214,704 rooms under construction in March 2020, the highest end-of-month total ever reported by lodging research firm, STR.

The industry’s previous construction peak happened in December 2007 with 211,694 hotel rooms in construction. That level was then slightly surpassed in February 2020 at 211,859 rooms in the final phase of the development pipeline.

“The number of rooms in construction will likely remain high, just as it did during the pre-recession peak,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior VP of lodging insights. “Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry is no longer operating in a record-setting demand environment, so there isn’t the same rush to open hotels and tap into that business. In addition to a lack of guests awaiting new hotels, there are also limitations around building materials and potential labor limitations from social distancing. With all of that considered, projects are likely to remain under construction for a longer period.”

Image credit: STR

The news comes in the midst of the hotel industry’s ongoing nightmare.

The country’s occupancy rate for the week ending April 11 was just slightly worse than the previous week and 70% lower than a year ago, according to STR. RevPAR, or revenues per available room, declined nearly 84% from the same time last year to $15.61.

Revenue per available room in New York was $31.67 last month, a decline of nearly 77% from $136 at the beginning of March, noted The Real Deal, a real estate journal. Los Angeles saw occupancy rates drop more than 74% and RevPAR decline about 85% to $22.78. Similarly, Chicago saw an occupancy decline of 78 percent while RevPAR $12.78. Miami is looking at an occupancy rate of roughly 20% and RevPAR rates of $18.02.

“It’s worth remembering,” Freitag added, “in 2008, the projects that were in the ground continued to get built, while the projects that were in the planning or final planning stages were most likely shelved. We expect the current pipeline to follow a similar pattern and will continue the monitor the number of projects that are halted in the coming months.”

Four major markets — New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Los Angeles — reported more than 6,000 rooms under construction between new builds and expansion projects. New York led with 14,051 rooms, which represented 11% of the market’s existing supply, followed by Las Vegas (9,082 rooms, 5.5% of existing supply).

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VR goes to work in interior design

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Confronted with the need to maintain social distancing and minimize direct contact with clients, many design firms have turned to visualization tools such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) during the past few months as means of increasing engagement with clients and facilitating virtual design planning and decision-making.

This is likely to be merely the first step towards tapping the considerable potential these of technologies. As several recent studies have demonstrated, beyond their function as presentation and communication tools, virtual reality and immersive visual environments (IVE) can be employed in many other ways to aid and advance the design process.

Although AR and VR technologies have been in development for a number of years and are being used in fields as varied as retail, mining, healthcare, and education, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has been slow to adopt to them. So finds a team of researchers led by Mojtaba Noghabaei at North Carolina State University who surveyed industry leaders twice (in 2017 and again in 2018) to assess whether and how their attitudes toward these technologies may have changed as their use has become more widespread.

They found a significant increase in adoption in the second survey results, particularly in residential and commercial construction. Moreover, respondents believed that there would be solid growth in the use of these technologies within the next five to 10 years, especially in healthcare construction.

In relating their findings, the researchers point to several possible new uses for the technologies that would increase their benefit and warrant the investment in deploying them. Linked with the data from building information management (BIM) programs, builders, architects and designers could use VR to show clients the price impacts of changes to certain material choices in real time, thus improving cost estimations and reducing the need for change orders later.

Members of the team also could simultaneously visualize BIM data in a virtual environment rendering them in 3D, helping to identify potential conflicts in design. Using VR, clients could be shown various lighting configurations and their impact on energy costs and management to achieve a better quality of lighting and greater efficiency.

Researchers at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, investigated how IVE technology, which allows the user to interact with the virtual environment they are viewing, could be used to assess safety risks for different users in a particular interior space. They created a virtual two-story residential apartment and then, applying spatial scale perception, had subjects explore the space from four different perspectives, that of a two-year-old, an eight-year-old, an adult in a wheelchair, and an adult with normal mobility.

The subjects indeed were able to detect risks that they otherwise would have missed, had they only used the perspective they were accustomed to. The researchers conclude, “VR has the potential to improve and accelerate the design process by letting the designers and stakeholders experience different designs from many perspectives within virtual environments.”

One of the advantages of using certain types of VR technologies is that you can capture data on the viewer’s experience, thus adding quantitative input to the viewer’s qualitative response. A team of researchers headed by Deborah Wingler in the School of Architecture, Center for Health Facilities Design and Testing at Clemson University conducted a study to demonstrate how VR can be a viable research platform for supporting evidence-based design practices by eliciting both subjective insights and objective data.

Subjects were shown three alternative virtual designs for a preoperative room in an ambulatory surgical environment and asked to evaluate which seemed to be the best design option. Their responses were gathered using surveys, interviews and the data from the VR platform. The data confirmed the viewers’ subjective preference for one of the designs, showing, say the researchers, that VR can be an effective evidence-based tool for helping designers evaluate multiple design options.

These are just some of the innovative ways VR technologies can be employed to assist designers and improve their designs and the design process. They have the potential to improve and speed up decision-making, reduce changes and shorten implementation schedules, minimize errors and risks, and increase return on investment and profitability. No doubt as their use becomes more mainstream, designers will discover many other benefits as well.

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Public restrooms are reopening but may cause more challenges than can be overcome

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As the world awakens from is COVID-19-forced economic slumber, one vital and essential service offering remains largely at large.

Across the country, from California and Iowa to Florida, there is a confusing topic of conversation: To open restrooms, leave them closed, and how to clean them among the clatter of how best to reopen businesses across the country.

In Montrose, Colorado, city officials have entered phase 3 and voted to reopen public restrooms. Earlier during the pandemic, public restrooms were closed.

“As we see more and more people getting out and using the trails around town, and the city parks, we think we can provide a public restroom that meets the needs,” said Montrose Mayor Barbara Bynum.

The restrooms will be cleaned daily through janitorial contractors rather than every other day, city officials said.

In the Heartland, Iowa state park officials said they’re reopening modern restrooms, shower buildings, and cabins starting May 22, in time for Memorial Day weekend, even though the state said it’s only allowing six overnight occupants per campsite unless an immediate family contains more than six.

In Long Branch, New Jersey, beaches are open, but restrooms remain closed. Portable toilets are open to beachgoers, however. Meanwhile, the use of other facilities remains off-limits, including water fountains and playgrounds.

At Disney Springs in Orlando, a shopping and entertainment venue within Walt Disney World, restroom management appears to be on the rise — with the addition of signage — but the facilities remain open at the shops and restaurants there come back online.

In Michigan, five of the state’s welcome center restroom facilities were closed because of maintenance staff layoffs brought on by budget impacts of coronavirus.

The chaos of the typical American public restroom could change forever, Fast Company reports. “The vast majority of commercial bathrooms in the U.S. don’t even include lids on toilets—meaning that every time someone flushes, a ‘toilet plume’ of droplets explodes into the air, coating the surrounding stall (and the person standing in it) and aerosolizing the bowl’s contents, which can be breathed in and ingested by nearby parties.”

Facility management and commercial cleaners have long been aware of these plumes. The best asset in the post-awareness world may be the addition of a seat, not to mention enclosures.

Experts estimate a “plume” can travel six feet in every direction, including up and over any stall and into the next, Fast Company adds. “No amount of handwashing will remove a virus sprayed all over your body.”

Some fixes to restrooms as they reopen include adding touchless flushing, faucets, and soap dispensers; and closing off every other stall or urinal if they’re too tightly packed together.

While these conversations are taking place, the vast majority of Americans say they want touchless handwashing fixtures in washrooms, according to the findings of a Bradley Corporation survey.

Bradley Corporation’s latest Healthy Hand Washing Survey found that 91% of Americans think it’s essential that public restrooms are equipped with touchless fixtures. Sixty percent said their preference for touchless handwashing fixtures has risen since COVID-19.

Nevertheless, businesses struggle with what to do their restrooms as they reopen, The Washington Post says.

According to Steven Soifer, Ph.D., president of the American Restroom Association, most American public restrooms pose an infection risk. The virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in human waste and can linger in the air for up to 14 minutes.

“There’s no standard for public restrooms other than the building code,” Soifer told the Post. “Now we need to extend social distancing to restrooms, and it’s going to be very hard. Even if you limit the number of stalls, you then create a line of people outside.”

Organizations are taking steps to eliminate infection risk, including hiring “bathroom monitors.” McDonald’s is even requiring its restaurants to clean their bathrooms every 30 minutes.

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