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Designing a Residential Building for Rent: Things to Consider

December 16, 2019    |   Panny Antoniou

There are many differences between designing a building for sale and designing a building to rent.

This article will look at some of the factors to consider when designing a new build rental property and how this differs from designing a new build building for sales.

Residential buildings to rent generally have a greater provision for communal spaces and facilities than those which are designed for sale. In addition, tenant turnover means that fixtures and fitting need to be more durable and a proactive management strategy is needed in order to ensure the most efficient possible service and customer experience. There are also a number of subtle differences depending on who the target market is for these rental properties.

Student Accommodation:

Student accommodation is very different to other forms of rented accommodation. Units are smaller in size with most flats featuring en suite bathrooms in each rooms with shared kitchen and living facilities. Many new custom built student accommodation also now features communal living areas, gyms, games rooms, laundry rooms, and flexible study space depending on the budget.

Retirement Homes:

One of the major benefits of retirement homes for any investor/developer is the high occupancy rate for stabilised assets with an estimated 98% of units occupied. One of the major features of retirement homes when compared to other kinds of purpose built rented accommodation is the increased provision for communal space. This is due to the increased time which retired people typically spend in communal areas. These shared amenities and communal areas are often coupled with events aimed at increasing human interaction, with additional services on offer including meal plans, 24 hour medical assistance, and cleaning and maintenance services.

Family and Professional Sharer Homes:

This is the largest category of build to rent apartment types with many differences depending on the target demographic, as well as any rules which are put in place by the local council relating to homes in multiple occupation or other rental rules. Often large units are designed with professional sharers in mind with similarly sized bedrooms located on opposite sides of the apartment and communal space in the middle. In apartments such as these, unit size, specification, and amenities are far more important when compared to student accommodation. There is also far more variety in unit size with different numbers of bedrooms in different units within the same development.

Other Considerations:

Another important thing to consider when developing a residential building is the different levels to any property. Each floor of the development has different things to consider when looking to maximise the rental income of the property. For example, the ground floor of a development is usually part of what can sell a property to amenity conscious renters. For example, the presence of a communal workspace, members gym, lounge area, or community space can be an important attraction or differentiator for people looking to rent. The upper floors are especially important as these are the parts of the building which attract the highest rental values. Lower ground floors and basements are also important as this is where you can include additional amenities such as parking facilities.

One further thing to consider is the location of your development, does it have adequate public transport facilities to allow residents to commute to work? In addition, is the area one where you will get maximum value from your development and what other works will you have to do? Could there be a provision to improve the public realm as part of your remit as a developer and would this add value to your investment? Furthermore, could there be scope for a mixed use scheme containing more office and retail space in addition to residential apartments to rent?

All these factors and more are important to consider when looking at designing a new residential property. Here are Robert Irving Burns we have significant experience in helping many different developers to create the property which is right for their needs with recent successes including The Interlock at 35 Riding House Street. In addition, we also work together across our departments to create the ideal mix of units to maximise your return on investment.

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