Mudrooms are out.
Instead the real estate world is giving a hearty welcome to disinfection rooms—the same physical space that mudrooms took up in a house, but now they’re being rebranded as a place for homeowners or their guests to take steps to prevent any possible covid germs from being spread.
Naturally, this means hand sanitizer and hand washing stations, but in the luxury tier it can also mean shoe bootie machines that cover your shoes with temporary shoe covers, branded face masks and gowns to wear over your clothes.
As one example, a Beverly Hills listing partnered with the nearby Beverly Hills hotel to provide gowns, face masks and cleaning products with the hotel branding on each amenity. The home had been asking $18.7 million as its latest offering price, but was then removed from the listing service and advertised as a rental for $49,500 per month.
Multi-family buildings have responded just as quickly with extra cleaning for high-touch areas, even in public spaces that previously weren’t ones that received frequent cleanings. The Continuum on South Beach, for example, has a sanitizing butler to disinfect beachfront furniture and table surfaces between each use. The solution they use is designed to disinfect lounge chair cushions quickly due to the fast evaporation of the formula.
The Continuum has also rolled out an appointment app for booking workout times in the resident-only gym. Each time block is for the pre-booked residents only and once the time slot is over the gym is disinfected before the next time slot opens up. Residents have to have their temperature taken at an automated health kiosk before entering. Anyone with a body temperature above 100.4 degrees isn’t allowed entry.
Covid-killing robots are the next big trend to make it to multi-family buildings. Wielding the germ-blasting UV-C lights, they are making their way into elevators, package rooms and even personal residences. Ultraviolet lights comes in three forms based on the wavelength of the light. UV-A is what causes human skin to tan after long exposure, and the other two (B and C) don’t make it into the earth’s atmosphere. But UV-C, when manufactured correctly, can kill just about any pathogen it comes in contact with. The crucial word here is contact. The UV-C lights must come in direct contact with the pathogens to kill it.
“A virus is really small so it can dodge the light, depending on if it is in water or air,” says Brittany Saboe, a molecular biologist and Director of Scientific Research, Backbone Systems Group Inc. “With UV-C you either have to go big or go home.”
She’s referring to the surge in residential uses, such as disinfecting packages that are delivered to a storage room (as is common in multifamily buildings). If boxes are on top of each other or the crevices created where the sides of the boxes fold up on each other aren’t directly exposed to the UV light, there is the opportunity for small pathogens to exist. “If there is any kind of shadowing, it isn’t going to be effective,” says Saboe.
Miami Worldcenter is a 27-acre development currently in progress that has already deployed UV-C robots for its existing public spaces. These LightStrike robots by Xenex cost about $125,000 per robot and can also be requested for use by current residents on an as-needed basis in their own units.
This is all part of their initiative to build a COVID-conscious hotel and residential building. One of the 11 skyscrapers in the development will be a 55-story, $500-million tower called Legacy Hotel & Residences at Miami Worldcenter, which will come with a $60 million, 100,000-square-foot medical center.
“The entire tower will be built with touchless technologies, antimicrobial materials, hospital-grade air purification and filtration systems throughout all areas,” says Daniel Kodsi is the CEO of Miami’s Royal Palm Companies, the developer behind the massive project.
UV-C isn’t limited to autonomous robots. There are smaller devices for smaller areas on the market as well. The Continuum, for example uses wands as part of their cleaning routine.
“The UV wands are used to disinfect high-touch public areas, such as door handles, handrails and in bathrooms throughout the property,” says Rishi Idnani, managing director of the Continuum on South Beach. “In addition, our housekeeping team utilizes the UV Wands to protect the employees on shared devices and equipment used within the organization.”
There are also consumer-sized products on the market for personal belongings, such as the Coral UV 3-in-1 Sterilizer pictured below. This one has been approved by the FDA and EPA, but Saboe cautions buyers to make sure whatever they purchase has the correct approvals.
“You want to make sure what is being produced by that light is within the germicidal range. If it’s a really cheaply made product then you run a risk,” says Saboe.
Saboe adds, “These lights can damage your eyes and your skin. Exposing that to yourself multiple times definitely isn’t good for you. Over time, depending on the doses you’re exposing yourself to, it can cause some serious damage.”
As the above perks become commonplace, the next big decor trend just might see the use of copper-based metals coming into fashion. Copper products, including brass, have self-sterilizing powers. Called the oligodynamic effect, ions within the metals can destroy living cells, including viruses and bacteria. Might copper replace the stainless steel trend? It’s possible, since, as Saboe points out, “Stainless steel does not inhibit anything from growing on it.”