Editors Note: The following content has been provided by Ritchie Clapson (CEng MIStructE), a veteran property developer with almost 40 years of industry experience. Ritchie is also the Co-Founder of nationwide property development & training company, ‘propertyCEO’.
You may have spotted the opportunities of the new and recently improved permitted development rights that enable you to convert existing commercial buildings to entry-level flats or houses… But sadly to say you’re not the only one to do so.
Without further ado then here are five tips to help your beautiful new flats stand out from the crowd, likely increase their value and help them shift more quickly.
- Maximise storage space
Cat swinging is not something that happens much in smaller flats and houses, where storage space also comes at a premium. In particular, larger items like vacuum cleaners and suitcases struggle to find a home and so tend to lie around, cluttering up the place.
Thinking about storage space at the earliest design stage can pay dividends since it can both add value and differentiate you from others on the market. Even the smallest spaces can be used for storage, so don’t feel embarrassed about creating a small or narrow cupboard: it will still be useful.
- Make the most of heritage features
One aspect of converting a commercial property to residential is that you’re likely to inherit a few design features from the host building, often unavoidably so. But rather than being a negative, it’s possible to turn these into ‘heritage’ features that add character.
Think of the New York loft apartments or the old Thameside warehouses in central London. Not so many decades ago, these would have been perceived as about as far from des res as you could get. Today they command a premium, partly because of their location but also because of their character. So, make a point of retaining and celebrating the quirks and features of your building, and it will stand out from the more run-of-the-mill competition in purpose-built blocks.
- Maximise lighting quality
No one likes a poky flat, and now that natural light is a requirement for both permitted development and full planning schemes, its absence shouldn’t be an issue. But you should still take time at the design stage to work with your design team on maximising the amount of light you’re getting into your units.
It’s not just natural light you need to worry about; a few strategically placed downlighters can make a real difference. That said, don’t spend money unnecessarily: I recall one developer who blew a small fortune on sophisticated mood lighting, forgetting that viewings would be happening in daylight hours.
- Install premium appliances
Top-of-the-range washing machines are all very nice, but what about the budget? Well, here’s where branding can work in your favour.
Of course, premium brands such as Bosch, Neff, AEG, and Siemens cost more, and they’re not what most people would expect to find in basic flats. Yet all of these brands offer entry-level models that, while light on features, are heavy on brand cachet and don’t cost a great deal more.
Your customers will notice the brand, not the model, and it can help lift the perceived quality of the entire home.
- Install multi-room Bluetooth speakers
Slipping in a couple of Bluetooth speakers in the lounge and bedroom ceiling allows you to play music throughout using an app on your phone.
The cost is negligible when you include it within the design specification rather than attempting to retrofit, and there’s a small wow moment at play on each viewing when the estate agent flicks on some tunes. It’s not so much the novelty of the solution but the thoughtfulness and quality that strikes a chord, and I suspect that few of your competitors will have bothered.
These are simple ideas but remember to consider these things at the design stage so you can incorporate them from the outset.