What’s Health Got To Do With It?

 It’s been an exhausting, challenging, overwhelming, frightening, confusing, debilitating, depressing, kind of year. Last year at this time most of the United States was shut down for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of us were unsure of what was going on. For myself, I was living through the nightmare of COVID-19. I had contracted it in January while at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas. I went to visit the doctor on January 27th and told her that I knew I had COVID-19. She asked me if I had been to China and when I said no, she discounted my concerns. I was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life and I knew I had COVID-19.

After being diagnosed with pneumonia and on two rounds of antibiotics, I got a CT Scan that showed multiple blood clots in my right lung. I was put on Eliquis, sent for heart and blood tests, and was told to “stay home and don’t go around anyone that could be sick.”  So, I stayed home, which is where many of us have found ourselves the last 12 months. I was referred to another doctor and she agreed I had been suffering from COVID-19.

So, what does health have to do with it?  It turns out, as we have all discovered, a lot. And if you’re building new homes, you’re going to need to make sure that you are aware of all the designs, products, construction techniques, and ways you can build a healthy home.

New home buyers are looking for a home that is built to support their health and wellness by using floor plan designs that allow for “clean rooms” coming in from the garage for groceries, clothing, etc., flexible floor plans, multiple offices, movable walls that allow for privacy, and outdoor spaces that can be used for work, play, school, and entertainment. The homes should incorporate indoor air filtration and purification systems, water purification, humidity control, easy-to-clean surfaces, low-VOC paints and materials, and overall indoor air quality (IAQ). They should use touchless faucets, handles, toilets, and appliances,

A healthy home is an energy-efficient home. And the healthiest home is an All-Electric home, which eliminates the carbon, pollutants, and airborne toxins from gas heating, cooking, hot water, and dryers. It may also be located in a walkable community with indoor and outdoor recreation facilities such as walking trails, fitness centers, and or swimming pools.

One of the most important characteristics of a healthy home is indoor air quality (IAQ) which uses a robust HVAC system that includes air filtration, purification, and proper ventilation. With a MERV 13 filter, these systems can reduce or eliminate common allergens and pollutants such as dust, pollen, smog, and bacteria from the home which improves indoor air quality.

Homeowners also consider humidity control an essential component of a healthy home. Excessive damp indoor air is not only uncomfortable, but it can cause mold and mildew on the inside and outside of walls as well as around pipes and ductwork. Air that is too dry can cause problems such as warped floors to respiratory health problems.

Buyers want easy-to-clean surfaces on countertops like granite, copper, quartz, and Silestone. For floors, that means products such as hardwood, tile, linoleum, cork, or bamboo. And for walls, low-Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) paints are in high demand. VOCs are chemicals that are released into the air and can cause health problems in people with asthma or other respiratory issues.

If you feel overwhelmed by everything going on in the healthy home movement, we’ve created an organization to help you figure it all out. The mission of our new non-profit, Healthy Home Alliance, is to promote the Healthy Home movement by providing marketing, education, and outreach to stakeholders and partners in the building and lifestyle industries. The goal is to facilitate the adoption of the technologies, products, construction techniques, and clean energy sources that will create the optimum healthy indoor environment for residents, as well as mitigate greenhouse gas emissions for the greater good of the planet. You can find out more about our organization by visiting www.urhealthyhome.org.

We’re launching the organization with Healthy Home 101, a virtual event on June 24th from 1 – 5 pm Pacific Time. If you’re a home builder, contractor, HVAC contractor, plumber, architect, designer, energy consultant, real estate agent, marketing & sales professional, or homebuilder purchasing agent, please join us for an informative session on how to design, build, and sell a healthy home!  Register here: http://urhealthyhome.org/registration/

We look forward to sharing with you some great insights into the healthy home movement!  See you online soon!

Virtual Event Marketing: Engagement Is Queen

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about how we live, work, and play. The impact of the pandemic has been especially felt in the event marketing space, where thousands of small, medium, and large in-person events were canceled and many of them went virtual in 2020.

Marketing teams have struggled with how to replicate successful in-person events with online platforms. Many event planners were not prepared for this change and realized that the skills needed to put together an in-person event were different for the online arena. An industry study done by Certain showed that more than half of their survey participants were struggling with attendee engagement during online events.  As a result, marketing teams have to shift their focus to how to better engage virtual attendees to provide better ROI for events.

While measuring event ROI has always been an issue for event marketers, now that events have moved into the digital space the challenge of engaging attendees has increased. Without the valuable intent data that come from attendee engagement, sales and marketing teams are left without the necessary insights to inform their communications and follow up effectively with the customer and prospect attendees.

As more companies focus on putting their events online, they realize that engaging attendees and keeping them engaged throughout a multi-day event is very complex and requires a multi-pronged approach.  If “content is king” then “engagement is queen.”

After attending several small and large-scale virtual events, it became very clear that the virtual events that wanted to provide value through high-quality video production, gamification, showcasing beautiful locations, and high-quality speaker presentations, were the real winners in the space. Those that treated the virtual event like a “large zoom party” were less interesting, not well attended, and you could see the chat rooms emptying out pretty quickly.

The big question is how do you keep your attendees engaged and interactive?

Ben Chodor, president of Intrado Digital Media, the company behind the virtual event platform INXPO, which was used for ASAE’s record-breaking 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & Exposition, has suggestions.

“Virtual events need to be designed with an end-user in mind,” says Chodor, who has a new book, Transitioning to Virtual and Hybrid Events. He invites meeting professionals to close their eyes and envision the attendee sitting in the home office with dogs and kids and doorbells ringing and all kinds of distractions around. The obvious challenge: design something that will keep that person glued to the screen.


Since most of us have been working from our homes for months, virtual events are an opportunity for attendees to be “transformed” to another location. If you can broadcast “live” from an actual physical place, you can show your attendees a world outside their four walls.

Both the Democrat National Convention and the Republican National Convention were successful at sharing their host city locations. The Democratic convention did a video “roll call” of their delegates which transformed us to all 50 states. You can also do the same thing by filming on-site at the venue location you were going to be at or obtaining quality footage from the Chamber of Commerce or venue owner.


Creating quality content is necessary for both in-person and virtual events. Your event speakers must always provide content that delivers real value in exchange for the attendee’s time. It’s even more important that quality content is delivered online, as the content in each session reflects on the overall brand of the event.

To ensure that the content is high quality and provides real value, you may want to offer to provide your speakers with a marketing team member to oversee the development of their presentation to ensure it uses high-quality graphics, photos, videos, etc.

In addition, you should consider budgeting for speaker coaching, professional-quality video and audio equipment, as well as a broadcast-quality studio or help them set up their home “studio” to look professional and inviting. Just as the broadcast network guests spend time in their “rooms,” your speakers need to have a professional room to speak from.

The content of the presentations should provide lots of opportunities for “live” interaction either through moderated chat rooms, polls, surveys, or opportunities to set up appointments.


 In a live event, most of the focus is placed on general sessions and workshops, where attendees gather to “listen” with very little interaction. In the virtual event space, you should pay more attention to the Audience IQ and let your attendees play a part in the delivery of quality information. The audience should be allowed to use their subject matter expertise to deliver additional content to the attendees through live Q&A and requests from the speakers to share real-life experiences with the attendees.

You can use polls, gamification, virtual chat rooms, entertainment, contests, community billboards, and live Q&A to engage attendees. Another great idea is to create a “Virtual Event Online Community” that will act as an online platform for networking, promoting attendees, sponsors, and additional content that can be curated and shared across social media platforms.

It is also important to create virtual experiences for your attendees that they would not be able to get elsewhere. Virtual yoga classes, wine tastings, tours of museums, live concerts, Cirque de Soleil, and other high-value experiences are ways of ensuring that your attendees look forward to your virtual event.

Whatever you use to interact and engage with your attendees, make sure it is easy to use, scalable, targeted to your audience, fun, memorable, and shareable. People like to share their experiences via social media, blogs, and on their company websites, so be sure to include photos, videos, great graphics, memes, and other graphics that can be easily downloaded and shared.

Meeting Your Customer Lifestyle & Wellness Demands in the COVID-19 Environment

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to play a big role in our lives, Americans have realized now more than ever, “there’s no place like home.” In the last six months, shelter-in-place orders and the continuing spread of COVID-19 have made our home spaces more than just a place of rest and refuge. They’ve become workplaces, school spaces, gyms, restaurants, playgrounds, meeting places, dance halls, artist’s retreats, libraries, and much more.

All of this excessive home time has given Americans a lot of time to think about what they want in their home in the future. Many of their demands center around lifestyle and wellness, which they place at the top of their new home wish list. Smart homebuilders can increase sales of their new homes by meeting these demands, while also ensuring health, safety, and well-being of their homeowners. Research about the impact of the pandemic on new home design, reveals that the top four areas that homebuyers want to see changed in new homes are:

  • Safety First
  • Floorplan Design
  • Interior Materials & Products
  • Technology


There has been a lot of research about the short and long-term impact of the pandemic on the home building industry. One of the most in-depth studies was the America at Home Study, which gave insight into a collective changing viewpoint of home and safety as a direct result of the pandemic. The study was hosted online by Gazelle Global Research from April 23 to 30 with a nationally representative sample of 3,001 consumers 25 to 74 years of age with household incomes of more than $50,000.

One of the most important areas that the study focused on was how safe owners & renters were feeling in their homes. An overwhelming majority of respondents said that their home now represented a “safe place” for them. In addition, 91% of respondents said safety from disease is their number one priority in their home. When respondents were asked what is missing that they would like to have and be willing to pay for in a new home, they mentioned separate entrances for family/guests, mud rooms where they can remove clothing and a bathroom nearby to shower before entering the home. They indicated that they wanted control of how they lived in their homes, with special attention paid to cleanliness, indoor air quality, separate spaces for residents, germ-free surfaces, and touch-free entries & plumbing


 Multiple Home Offices

With more people working from home, new home buyers are demanding multiple home office spaces. As the tools to work from home get better, the next generation of buyers will look for homes where living spaces and working spaces are more defined or adaptable. For some families, that might mean multiple adults need workspaces. In the America at Home Study, over 30% of the respondents said they would need office space for more than one person.

Multi-Purpose Spaces & Flexible Walls

Since homes are playing a central role in the lives of their residents, the need for multi-purpose spaces is a top priority. Open floor plans can be difficult to manage lots of varying activities happening at the same time, so buyers are looking for spaces that can easily be turned into a playroom, classroom, meeting space, etc. Buyers would like to have more privacy in those plans, so it would be a good idea to offer flexible walls.  Garages are one of the areas that buyers want to be able to have flexibility, so make sure that there are plenty of design options to make the garage into a gym, office, or classroom. Over 49% of the respondents in the America at Home Study had made significant changes to their garage to meet their privacy and space needs.


With all the emphasis on health, safety, and wellness homeowners are looking for ways to easily and safely keep themselves protected from illness. The America at Home Study found that 73% of respondents are disinfecting their homes more as a result of COVID-19. When respondents were asked what is missing that they would like to have and be willing to pay for in a home, the top results were related to the interior materials and surfaces of their homes that they now find themselves so frequently disinfecting.

Specifically addressed were germ-resistant countertops and flooring (55% overall) highest among older millennials/young Gen Xers (63%) and then millennials (59%) as well as touch-free faucets, appliances and smart toilets being desired by more than half of millennials and Gen Xers.

When looking at interior finishes, you should consider using copper, bronze, and brass that have intrinsic antimicrobial and virus-fighting agent properties rather than stainless steel, which is shown to hold onto the live virus for several days.

Since residents are spending more of their time in their home homebuyers are very concerned about indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and a quiet, healthy environment. They understand the benefits of dual paned windows, high-efficiency HVAC systems, insulated roofs, foam insulation, induction cooktops, and other construction techniques and products that make their homes safer, provide better indoor air quality, and are healthier living environments.

“Today a new home needs to be healthy, built beyond code requirements to deliver the best energy efficient and healthy features available. Fit, connected with the latest and best single application control and Fabulous, able to be completely personalized on schedule, so schedules and the release for sale should be adapted allow for earlier sales in the construction process. Delivering all three, Healthy, Fit and Fabulous homes transforms a homebuilder into a New Home Retailer who builds what today’s new home shoppers really want. If new homebuilders want to increase and continue to grow their sales during and beyond the pandemic, they’ll make this transition immediately and stop building old homes that haven’t been lived in,” said Mike Moore, owner of Moore Leadership & Peak Performance.


Technology has become one of the biggest winners in the COVID-19 homebuilding environment. New homebuyers are more than willing to pay for products that will help them manage their energy, ensure cleaner water and indoor air, and protect the overall environment. In a June 2020 study of 2,000 prospective new homebuyers, Meyers Research found the following:

When asked “How much would you be willing to pay for these features?”, the survey found the following:

Controlled Clean Air Unit:  $800 (66%)

Water Filtration Whole House:  $1,200: (69%)

Circadian Lighting for Healthy Sleep:  $700 (32%)

Virtual Appliances:  $500 (26%)

Net Zero Living:  $30,000 (22%)

Features to Saving Money & Be Green – Would Pay $30K+ (67%)

Nortek Controls has seen an increase in demand for their Elan Smart Home Automation system, which allows residents to control their entire home with an app on their smart-phone.

“A home isn’t smart if it’s not healthy and healthy home is the new home people are looking for today. Premium home control platforms have a wealth of abilities to deliver intelligent wellness solutions and improve the lives of new homeowners.  The solutions available today that address air filtration, water purification, circadian lighting, and sleep/comfort features make a new home today superior to any home on the market,” said Bret Jacob Director of Builder Services, Nortek Controls.

Redefining Events Amid Social Challenges and Beyond

We are all very aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on our daily lives, both personally and professionally.  “Social Distancing” is now a mandated practice that has disrupted the core of many businesses.  One specific outcome of “Social Distancing” is the cancellation of events, large and small. 

How will event cancellation impact business? Your marketing strategy plays an important role in your overall business plan, which includes introducing your product or service.

  • Events are key to an overall marketing campaign and essential to reach defined business goals.
  • Networking/Relationship building is a fundamental component of business development. Personal connection, facial expressions, voice fluctuation, and a handshake (yes, they will make a comeback) are an essential part of creating trust.
  • Events from gala’s to 5k runs are huge fundraising opportunities for non-profit charitable organizations.  The financial impact for these organizations and others that rely on event revenue could be devastating.

In a few months, the COVID-19 epidemic will be behind us and things will get back to normal, albeit a new normal. And that new normal will include things we’ve had to learn and remind us of procedural steps we’d often sacrifice in order to speed up completion.  

  • Online meetings and training will be incorporated with marketing and business meetings.
  • Businesses will ascertain the importance of sufficient lead-time for planning, promoting and executing events, training sessions and conferences. Depending on the size of an event and the new components needing to be incorporated, it can take 2-6 months (or longer) to plan. 
  • Re-scheduling and re-programming canceled events need to start as soon as possible.  Hundreds if not thousands of events in Southern California are going to be vying for new dates, times and programming at venues in an already crowded Summer/Fall calendar.

For now, during this time of “social distancing,” consider supplementing your marketing campaign with staged events. By utilizing a live-streaming, two-way platform you can connect and personally engage with clients for a model grand opening, new phase release, or a small reception to share information on a product or achieved milestone. These assets will continue to be valuable, even after COVID-19 is gone and “social distancing” is a thing of the past!

Think Ahead. Be Prepared. Get Off Your…

The homebuilding industry has been around for quite some time and has gone through its fair share of ups and downs. And it has survived – despite its resistance to change.

Think Ahead. Change IS inevitable.

The notion that “we’ve always done it this way,” is what prevents the industry from being a process innovator and systems thought leader. Harsh? Sure. But having worked in homebuilding for more than 30 years, it’s also true.

Overall, the industry is not good at thinking ahead and preparing for change. For instance, the CALIFORNIA ENERGY EFFICIENCY LONG-TERM STRATEGIC PLAN (CAEESP). This plan is California’s roadmap to achieving maximum energy savings in the state between 2009 and 2020. It was adopted in 2008 – more than 10 years ago. The Plan was known as were the dates for various code changes. What did a majority of California homebuilders do at the end of 2019, before the latest code changes went in to effect? They pulled as many building permits as possible under the “old” code. The absence of thinking ahead, 10 years is plenty of time, there will be a slew of newly constructed homes which will be outdated, even obsolete, by the time they are completed and ready for a family to move-in.

 Be Prepared. Change IS unexpected.

Social Distancing ala COVID-19, need I say more? We’ve had to put in place and adopt ways of doing business, building and selling homes. Embracing technology that has been in use by other industries, has been homebuilding’s saving grace. However, implement technological tools that are readily available into industry processes that have been resistant to change, has fallen short at the implementation stage. Virtual tours are great but lack personal connection. Skype and FaceTime can work in a one-on-one situation, but sales teams have not been trained on how to adjust their in-person sales approach to one that remains professional and on-brand in an online format. Learning from other industries that have been selling and teaching by using live-digital platforms will help bridge our connection with our home buyers. And moving forward, you will have a new mechanism for your Sales & Marketing toolbox, unexpected challenge or not. 

Get Off Your Arse. Change IS leaving you behind.

We will survive this challenge, but let’s learn from it and make strategic changes with the intention and incorporate tools that will advance our industry. Think Ahead. Be Prepared. And take the necessary steps, now. (aka Get Off Your Arse!)