Posted by John Meagher on Mon, Sep 09, 2013 (360 PROPERTY GROUP) :
The age old debate about whether size matters in the era of affordability is more important than ever in the apartment market. At a time where everyone is watching costs to maximize value in every aspect of life from the supermarket (home brands are booming) to the choice of holidays (who said caravan parks are dead?) and now it’s the developers turn to balance size of apartments against costs and therefore affordability.
The question is where to draw the line – and when does smaller become too small? There is a way to walk this fine line and still create desirable apartments that will be eagerly snapped up. Let’s start with the basics before we get onto some very effective design and creative thinking that will make a difference to maximizing the liveable space in any apartment. The first critical point for any developer with aspirations to go smaller and more affordable is will the bank fund the end purchaser and to what level of LVR (loan to value ratio) on the sale. It’s no good creating the most beautiful designed compact apartment in the world if few people can buy them and banks have tightened their rules on lending – focusing on size and use. The bottom line is depending on the location, apartments less than 45 square meters are often subject to a higher LVR and end use might dictate on lending practices as well – with student accommodation and service apartments facing tougher lending practices. Once we’ve cleared this hurdle now the opportunities are endless.
Small doesn’t have to mean cramped. Clever designs can create volumes of space – and often it’s in areas that are overlooked, like smart storage and cabinetry solutions (I’ve attached a pic below of great ideas recently seen), the end result is a focus on maximizing the general living areas to create the feel of space. Natural light is the key to liveability – especially in the bedroom and living spaces.
Remember apartments are just glass boxes in the sky, so let’s use the light on offer. Smart developers are increasing the height of the ceilings in the main living area and often including a mezzanine bedroom (see picture) – generating significantly more volume of space.
Other developers are creating balconies with the ability to close them off from the elements better creating an extension to the main living space all year round, and not just in summer. Outside the actual apartment there are ways of substituting the lack of internal entertaining space. Increasing the use of private and communal living rooms, offering residents the chance to socialise when they feel like it on a bigger scale. The fundamental principal in these and other design features is to create the feeling of light and space and a design that is timeless. The design may look on trend at the time of purchase but will need to be timeless in order to maintain appeal by the time construction is complete and purchaser take possession. Fundamentally the issues around size can be resolved, with careful planning with a professional project team to create a point of difference and to determine whether demand for the products exists in that area to suit a key demographic target. Small can be beautiful.