BTR interior design

Maximise the design potential of your Build to Rent development

Anya Sokolskaya
May 29, 2019

BTR Design Advice

Today was just like any normal day - wake up, catch a train to one of our BTR project locations in Manchester to take a walk around with our client to see how the building site is developing. The meeting was a breeze and we were able to pick up on details that were working well and talk through the structural changes that needed to be made to accommodate the interior design concept. It was fast, easy and efficient.

Meetings like this are always a pleasure because they are so rare. More often than not, we as interior designers are picking up the pieces of what is left whilst trying to make best of what is available- windows in wrong places, ceiling heights that are too low or columns in unsuitable locations. The end result will still work, but it could have been so much better with a little more time & foresight.

It’s on days like today that I am reminded that communication between client, designer and contractor, when executed early enough in the development project cycle, is crucial to not only saving cost but delivering a much better designed product.

Right place, right time, as they say.

But what is the right time frame for an interior design project and when is it best to get your BTR Interior Design professionals involved?

1.     Pre-planning to maximise your spatial layout.

Until planning has been granted, many details of the building project are undecided. However, many structural details that later on will become integral to what you can physically achieve within the space get fixed at this point. If you are planning to build a gym, have you allowed for enough ceiling height for services-heavy ceiling that will be required? If you are deciding on the location of the entrance for the lobby, have you considered the location of the reception desk and how the two work together? Little things like this are crucial and can be picked up by consulting an interior design professional on your architectural layouts.

2.     2 Years before completion

Depending on the size of the build to rent project, we tend to get involved between 1.5 to 2 years before estimated completion of the building in order to leave enough time to go through various ideas and to complete the detailed design between 6 to 9 months before completion. This allows for ample time for changes and adjustments but more crucially it allows the client a comfortable 1 to 2 month window to tender and negotiate the building contract.

3.     6 months before completion for FF&E

Buying furniture for projects is very different to buying a one-off piece at a retailer like Habitat or IKEA- most products are made to order and need to be shipped from various parts of the globe. If you have added complexities like bespoke materials or large volumes the manufacturing time increases from 10-12 weeks to a few months which is crucial to schedule in to the development plan. Most factories operate an annual shut-down (around August and December) which can cause chaos if you are planning to complete your building around that time. If you’re procuring from China then expect some delays at the end of January as most factories wind-down or shut at least from 2 weeks before Chinese New Year.


Following these time frames can really make projects run smoother for all involved, provide cost efficiency and most importantly deliver the best possible design aesthetics and functionality. Interior design is a crucial part of the development process and as such needs to be scheduled into the decision making timeframe early enough to avoid the common build to rent pitfalls we come across.

At Ten we encourage our clients to engage early, and we have tailored valuable service solutions to address the early stages of projects.  Call us to enquire how we can help realise the full potential of your current or future projects.