How to Create a Biosecure Post-Pandemic House
The world is going through a pandemic emergency, something not seen in 100+ years. This emergency will change & evolve many things about our daily home lives, and our hygiene habits. As we stay home more often now, houses need to evolve to meet our new expectations and norms.
The term “Biosecurity” describes the cautions that are taken to protect against the spread of lethal or harmful organisms and diseases. Becoming “Biosecure” will be the most important talked about trend of the ’20s as you will soon learn. By adding these biosecurity features fix & flip investors and home builders will create properties that demand a market premium.
Although homes were trending toward being more eco-friendly and “Green” there is going to be a new wave of “Biosecurity” home features in the near future. To have a biosecure home, the home must be designed to keep the outside environment out, remove any contamination that gets in, and prevent its inhabitants from contaminating each-other.
Front Entryway Modification for Biosecurity in our New Homes
The home’s main entrance is the most important area for Biosecurity improvements for three reasons; public cross-surface contamination, delivery reception, and outdoor air contamination upon entry. The front door needs to operate hands-free, keep the air from entering the home when it is opened, and provide a place to receive packages securely. The front door and the entire front entryway needs to evolve.
1. Make the front door completely hands-free to open: The front doors of houses are fully exposed to the general public. With some simple technological changes they can be made more biosecure.
We don’t want to force all our family members, visitors, and service personnel to share a dirty doorknob, so let’s lose this antiquated item first.
First, install a “Smart Lock” which is widely used and available today instead of a deadbolt. There is no need to install any kind of doorknob or handle. Instead, at the bottom of the door install a handsfree door opening device called a “foot pull” so people can open with their foot instead.
The Smart Lock would unlock & unlatch the door when a homeowner is in front of it, and then the person would pull the door open using their foot pull.
Simple modifications to spring loaded door hinges would allow for the door to “spring” open a few inches when unlocked making it easier to open via a foot pull style opener.
2. Install an “Air Curtain” above the front entry door frame: A popular way to keep the outside out when opening doors, is by using some old simple tech already in many commercial retail spaces, the “Air Curtain”.
Surely by now, you noticed the loud blowers and whooshing air hitting your head as walked through the sliding doors at the grocery or department stores. This is the air curtain doing its job.
By blowing a wall of air down the air curtain prevents the outside air, bugs, and contaminants from moving past it inside. There are smaller versions of these air curtains available from around $180.00 and it’s a no brainer addition to any home at that price.
3. Create a bio and safety secured entryway with a secured foyer: The rise of internet shopping has increased the importance of the small piece of real estate directly in front of the front door for receiving deliveries.
Each house should have an enclosed foyer or alcove after the front door, which is essentially a small room with another door that leads into the house. This style of entry used to be popular in cold weather as a simple way to keep the hot air from rushing out and provided space to disrobe your wet and messy winter gear.
For biosecurity purposes, this entryway is designed for “smart & secure deliveries” that are necessary now. Delivery drivers would have a company-issued “digital key” to enter the house’s foyer, but not for the second door leading into the main house.
Companies like Amazon, Walmart and food delivery services would leave packages in a space securely behind the main front door without compromising the homeowner’s personal safety. Amazon already launched a similar service with “Amazon Key” service which is temporarily suspended now. Gone are the days of the evil “Porch Pirates” that steal packages off front porches!
4. Create a decontamination area off of the secure alcove. The new biosecure home will need a place for homeowners to remove contaminated clothing, and other protective gear needed to go outside now.
Instead of the traditional coat closet off the home’s entryway alcove, a secured door would lead to a decontamination room. Biohazard disposal bins for easy & secure disposal of used gloves and face masks upon entry.
Then as the homeowner strips nude, clothes are placed in a small stackable washer & dryer for immediate sanitization. After all, bringing contaminated clothing inside to the laundry room would compromise the bio-integrity of the home. Then a small decontamination shower stall to allow the homeowner to maintain the properties biosecurity.
5. Install Biosecurity stations inside near all exterior doors: Both front and back exits would need only small spaces dedicated to dispense biosafety equipment or PPE (Personal Protective Equipement). PPE Dispensers for Medical gloves, face masks as well as UV disinfecting stations would flank the front door entryways inside the home.
Homeowners need to keep protective gear in a place all friends and family can easily access before leaving. Going outside without safety equipment will not only be ill-advised in the future, but it will also be illegal.
All Appliances and Water Fixtures Have Hands-Free Operation
Anything that needs to be operated by hands or fingers needs to change. Appliances and fixtures that are currently available make this achievable and more affordable than ever. Through a combination of analog & digital solutions, it is possible to make everything in the biosecure home handsfree and automated.
Only recently, setting up “Smart Homes” went from being something only hobbyist and early adopters dabbled in, to a simpler and more affordable setup the everyday homeowner can maintain and operate. If a home was to be designed from scratch to be “smart”, it would have a more elegant and integrated operation and cost far less than chunky retrofits people are currently creating.
1. Setup digital assistants for voice command control of all lighting and connected appliances: This is the easy one and a no-brainer since this is currently what Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Homekit are built to do and do best. All of the house lighting can easily be controlled via schedules, voice activation, and sensor activation.
There are very simple ways that these digital home assistants can detect the homeowners’ presence in a room via motion control activation, and turn on lights, music, adjust thermostats. All new kitchen appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers will be connected to our digital assistants for simple voice control and scheduling.
With smart enabled appliances, everything can be opened with a wave via motion sensors, spring-loaded doors can pop open at our command. Oven times and temperatures can easily be set via voice control or apps, there are appliances already on the market that can take raw and refrigerated ingredients and cook a dish without any human interaction.
2. Water fixtures need to be completely hands-free: An area of great biosecurity concern has always been the kitchen and bathroom. Water fixture designers already began the trend of hands-free and even contactless operation long before the current pandemic.
Currently, there are many wifi enabled kitchen & bathroom faucets to choose from. Simple voice commands or elbow contact can be used to turn these faucets on and off, change the temperature and more. These faucets are currently so advanced you can even say “Dispense 1 cup of water” and voila’, only one cup of water comes out of the faucet!
These types of digital faucets are currently costly but as the demand builds for these, the prices will come down with more competition.
3. New Toilets that are hands-free and toilet paper free: Toilets have not evolved much in the United States since they moved the flush tank off the ceiling and married it to the bowl in the early 20th century. If you have ever traveled internationally you know many other cultures have far advanced past the typical American flush toilet. It’s time for Americans to change the most important seat in the house when it comes to creating a biosecure house.
Already we have the Kohler Numi that does everything described below, but it’s $8,000, which is pretty cost prohibitive. As time goes on, cheaper versions will have the same great features.
Using specialized low-flow toilets would need to use less water to flush which is not only eco-friendly but prevents additional aerosolization of the toilet water and waste. To achieve this goal, a newly available Teflon like spray coat on the enamel which causes fecal matter to slide down and out of the bowl without sticking even while using a lot less water.
Toilets would, of course, feature hands-free flushing either with a photosensor, voice activation or foot pedal flushers. Built-in bidet option to clean the operator instead of using traditional toilet paper. Using paper to clean oneself fell out of fashion after the great toilet paper recession of 2020, water does a far superior job.
4. Hands-free interior doors without any door knobs: Doors will no longer need to be opened by turning a hand knob or handle. A digital solution would be a simpler & cheaper version of current exterior smart locks adapted to be used on interior doors.
Once inside a room such as a bedroom, the occupant can lock and unlock the door via voice command or by a hand gesture near a photosensor where the door handles used to be. The door is pulled open and shut using one of the widely available foot pulls today. Forearm pulls might be used as well for some heavier doors as these are also easy to install and more biosecure than doorknobs and handles.
Built-in Automatic Sanitization is a Necessity for Biosecurity
The Biosecure home will need to be sanitized daily and most rooms immediately after use. People are inherently dirty creatures; we produce all kinds of waste as we leave a trail of shed skin, hair, various oils, and bodily fluids wherever we go.
When a room is used for activities like food prep, eating, bathing, toileting or even sleeping it becomes soiled, dirty and contaminated. The BioSecure post-pandemic house needs to stay cleaner with less effort by its inhabitants.
1. Multiple robotic mop & vacuums installed into the house: In the past 5 years, the popularity of floor vacuum robots have exploded in popularity.
Our Biosecure home will have floor cleaning robot stations built into the bottom of walls and kitchen islands so they can stay out of sight, and charge when people are around, and then spring to action when the room is empty.
As soon as the coast is clear the floor-sweeping robots emerge from under the kitchen island or perhaps from a baseboard in the wall and begin vacuuming the floor. Next, these hybrid robots spray sanitization cleaners on the floor and clean up with it’s mopping pads.
Depending on the square footage of the house a minimum of two per floor will need to be installed.
2. Mini robots are needed to clean kitchen counter food prep areas: On the kitchen counter, a smaller version of the floor robot will be installed in the wall behind food prep areas. After meal prep, the robot automatically springs out from behind backsplash above the stone counter to cleanup.
The mini counter robot vacuums any debris left behind and sanitizes the counter surfaces with UV light affixed to the bottom of the unit. Although the current counter cleaning bots can only UV sterilize surfaces, newer versions are being developed to sweep as well.
3. Mini scrubbing robots for sinks, baths, and showers: In all bathrooms, miniature scrubber bots will crawl surfaces to sanitize at least once per day. These small robots can move across any flat surface and with the use of magnetics, climb up metallic surfaces to clean any shower wall.
Remember, the home builders are not retrofitting these bots into an existing house, this house has bathrooms built to make them friendly for mini cleaning bots to clean. This means the sinks, shower, and bath all have robot friendly partial metal surfaces that our magnetic cleaning machines can easily maneuver to clean.
The bathrooms will be sanitized daily without needing to hire cleaners to clean each week. Current miniature magnetic cleaning bots are limited to outdoor window cleaners, we are assuming simple modifications are made to them for bathroom cleaning soon.
4. Install toilets that are self-sanitizing: They say hands are dirtier than toilet seats, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean your toilet! Toilet seats in the guest baths should have automatic plastic toilet covers like in airports and other public spots.
After each toilet use, the plastic toilet cover rotates to a clean version. Other costlier options are self-cleaning sterilization units. After each use, the toilet seat cover automatically closes activating a UV light to sterilize the seat and bowl.
Thanks to newly invented Teflon coating fecal matter no longer sticks to the bowl, so it stays cleaner automatically.
5. State of the art HVAC system that continuously sterilizes the air: Our biosecure house will have top of the line air processing units that heats and cools the air and sanitizes it as well. The air handler unit will come equipped with electrostatic filters, UV sanitizer light, and of course, HEPA filtration.
combination of these three filtration techniques guarantees to kill 100% of any biological agents that pass through it.
6. Install six stage water filtration system for 100% pure water: We cannot have a biosecure house without securing our water supply. Typical tap water is loaded with dirt, soil, toxic metals, rust, bio-contaminants like fungus, bacteria, even trace amounts of hormones and prescription drugs. The TDS (total dissolved solids) measured in most tap water is between 120 and 500ppm (parts per million). Letting this into the biosecure house would be complete bio-irresponsible!
In the garage or basement, a five-stage whole house water filtration unit is piped directly into the main water line of the house. The first few stages of the filtration remove rust, sand, clay, silt and other particles that are larger and easily filtered.
After these first few stages, the TDS of the water supply would read about 50 – 100 TDS on our TDS meter. Then the water sent through the reverse osmosis stage. this cleans water by using pressure to force water molecules through a semipermeable membrane. After this stage, our water would have a 5 – 10 TDS reading which is very clean.
Anything that is left after the reverse osmosis stage is removed by deionization which removes much of the salts and oxygen from the water rendering it a pure 0 TDS.
The final stage is UV sterilization to kill any viruses, bacteria or fungus that somehow survived the rest of the filtration process. There should be nothing but one hydrogen and two oxygen molecules at this point.
Our water is now clean and secure for the whole family to bathe and drink. No bottled water is required if we maintain our filtration system.
In Conclusion, There is Much more To do…
After the house is built using the systems and ideas described in this article, we could easily call this “The Biosecure House of the Future” and sell a whole development of these properties for quite the premium. But stopping with biosecurity leaves us with a biosecure house that is not very eco-friendly or self-sustaining. In the next installment, we will dive into some incredible eco-friendly & self-sustaining solutions to command the premium listing price these houses deserve.