Amenity, amenity, amenity
The new buzz word in property, especially in Build to Rent. By definition, amenity is something that makes our lives more pleasant and comfortable. In the new age of living, where large-scale mixed use developments have replaced rows of houses along a high-street, a well-considered amenity is as important as the age-old question of location, location, location.
In most BTR developments, where actual apartments are fairly generic and often spatially constrained, a well-designed resident amenity can serve as an extension of your living space and become a neighbourhood hub for the community.
One of the questions I often get asked at the beginning of the project is: “What amenity should be included within a Build to Rent scheme?”
It’s easy to jump to conclusions and match what the competition is doing but I would suggest before deciding on what amenity offer you would like to introduce in your development, consider this:
1. Who is this for? Most people settle in a particular area and when moving will naturally gravitate to the same area/location they are currently living in. This means that the majority of target client information can be compiled from the people already living in your development location. Who are they? What do they do? How old are they? Asking these questions will help to develop a better understanding of those whose needs you are addressing early on.
2. What conveniences are already located nearby? An on-site gym debate is something that always comes up and over the last 10 years has become more of a must-have for new developments. However, we all know that space is premium and if you can let a commercial unit to a professional operator or there is already a large big-brand gym nearby it might be easier ( and certainly more cost-effective) to agree a subsidised membership structure than build you own. Same goes for other considerations such as on-site cinemas, cafes and beauty rooms that have become synonymous with PRS.
3. What are the architectural limitations of the space? Most amenity space is allocated during planning by the architect but is not actually designed until an interior designer gets involved on the project, usually 1-2 years down the line. This is a major problem and a sad example of cutting-corners that has become the norm in the development process. As such, I always advise my clients to consider the zoning and interior spatial arrangements early on in the process to make sure you maximise the architectural features such as light, height and volume. An interior designer can advise on what activities would suit each space best and make the most of more compromised, left-over areas.
Addressing these points as early as possible in your Build to Rent development process is instrumental to long-term success of the scheme, both social and financial.
By taking steps to understand your building’s interior potential early on you can not only help to propel the scheme forward faster but provide a saving of both time and construction budget in the longer term.