Clever Ideas for More Functional (and Saleable) New Apartments

Clever Ideas for More Functional (and Saleable) New Apartments


Apartment developers will always face a quandary. How to make apartments that stand out in their price range, yet fit neatly into the development budget.

With a bit a clever and creative thinking, it’s easy to make any new apartment more functional, energy efficient and eye-catching, without a hit to the budget bottom line.

Here you’ll find an outline of some of the simple, yet surprising, improvements that we’ve helped developers implement into both medium and high-density developments to make them more practical, functional and unique.

A bit of clever thinking can add that special touch, that wow-factor that means a faster and more profitable sale.

Light, Airy Apartments Mean Healthy Profits

At Smarter Buildings, we’ve definitely noticed a growing interest in the health aspects of a home. A big part of this how the building incorporates and maximises sunlight and natural ventilation.

Even with the health aspects aside, it’s no surprise that buyers notice light, airy apartments.

Though as many medium and high-density apartment developers will testify, incorporating good amounts of sunlight and natural ventilation into all apartments can be a tough ask.

However, there are a variety clever options that can help. Take for example the use of automated windows, blinds and even skylights to improve the control of natural light. People are naturally drawn to spaces that are filled with light. Natural light can make small spaces feel larger, and by introducing automated window coverings you can have the benefit of a light filled space which can be easily transformed for privacy.

 Healthy And Efficient Alternatives For Heating And Cooling

When it comes to heating and cooling, the default option for many apartment developers is standard reverse-cycle air conditioning. The economics are understandable.

But what if you could provide equally effective heating and cooling without the ill effects of circulating dusty, dry air. Plus, provide it in a way this is both more efficient and cost effective.

Here’s just one example of the many choices available, particularly when it comes to heating.

Take a common apartment bathroom. Nobody wants to wake up to a cold bathroom, especially in winter. One option is having heating embedded under the tiles, effective but expensive. Another is installing heated towel rails, a nice luxury touch, but it does little to heat a room.

The clever alternative is to mount a panel heater to the wall directly below the towel rail. This way, you’re killing two birds with one stone. It’s effectively heating the room and drying the towels at the same time.

Now let’s do the figures. A panel heater might set you back $400. For underfloor heating, you might be looking at $2,000. A heated towel rail might cost you $600, and it won’t even heat the room.

We’ll say the panel heater in the bathroom is included in the price of the apartment package. By proving the effectiveness of the panel heating option in this way, you can then carefully place power points for panel heating in each room to show its potential, rather than the expense of installing them in each room. Integrated well, it’s an effective heating method that’s not obtrusive and budget friendly.

Effective Lighting Choices For Function And Efficiency

Well-chosen, functional lighting can add a real wow-factor to an apartment without straining the budget. In fact, effective lighting choices save money both in the installation and in long-term efficiency.

The interior design aspects of lighting are important in the aesthetics of an apartment, but functional aspects of good lighting design are often overlooked.

It’s not just about the choice of light fitting, but what it’s meant to achieve.

From a development point of view, it’s important to start by considering what spaces you’re trying to light up and the most effective type, size, style, shape and colour rendering output for that space.

By basing your lighting choices on function rather than purely aesthetics, you can gain a lot more bang for your development buck. In four out of five cases, the important aspect of choosing the right light for a space is not about the fitting itself, but about its output. Choosing a light that is functional for the space is critical.

The biggest single mistake we see being made is over lighting an apartment. To take an extreme example; putting in nine down lights in a lounge room that rarely if ever get used. The ambient light of a lamp is a much more functional and attractive option for most people in most situations.

In some cases, we’ve inspected projects where there are more than 100 lights on the plans. We’ve used a functional approach to achieve the same (if not better) results with almost half as many lights.

There are also potential savings here, both in terms of the cost of the fittings themselves and energy efficiency.

The Future-proof Apartment

Future-proofing an apartment can prove another important selling advantage.

Let’s consider one example. When it comes to connecting a home, WiFi is getting better and better, and it’s amazing what you can achieve with it.

The one area where it’s best not to rely on WiFi is when it comes to smart TVs and streaming services. When asked how to best maximise the data outlets for a recent development, we suggested only adding data points where there is likely to be a smart TV and in the study – perhaps two data points in the lounge room where the resident might be running multiple TV and streaming services. For anywhere else in the apartment, modern WiFi will do just fine. Having data points in every room just isn’t necessary or even particularly useful.

The placement of power points might seem like a minor thing, but as with light fittings, it’s important to consider their placement from a functional point of view.

For example, there’s no point having a power point at one end of an island bench to plug in appliances, but having no power point on the wall where a coffee machine can be placed. Everybody has a coffee machine these days.

Clever Automation Ideas

Incorporating some clever automation ideas into a new apartment development can really make an apartment stand out from its competition.

One simple idea is to use sensor lighting in windowless rooms and utility areas, such as the toilet or walk-in pantry. Automated sensor lighting does two things. One, it’s convenient. You don’t even need to install a light switch. Two, it’s an energy saver, as it switches itself off automatically. It’s the kind of simple, yet effective detail that can really stick in a buyer’s mind.

When it comes to security and access control options, there are a plethora of choices. It can be a big subject, and beyond the scope of this article. However, one example you might not have considered is incorporating access flexibility for Airbnb guests.

One of the biggest challenges for many Airbnb hosts is that they are required to be there to physically greet guests and let them in to the apartment, leave the keys and pick them up again afterwards. It goes against the whole Airbnb concept of enabling others to use your apartment while you’re not there.

With modern access control systems, hosts are able to text a guest an access code that is valid for a defined period, say 48 hours. This can be incorporates with an automated message to greet the guest. The system can be easily programmed to limit guests’ access to particular spaces such as the car park and foyer, and the options for customising the system to suit are many.   

What you’ve just read is really the tip of the iceberg of what a little clever, functional thinking can do to turn an average apartment into something special in the eyes of a buyer.

To find out more ways to improve your spaces, download the first chapter of Sam’s book Homes with a Heartbeat for free.