Tips for Property Developers (From an Architect)
Looking back to his most successful development project Grant Erskine gives his advice on making the most out of the space you have in a property. Today, he talks about the use of mezzanines and sleeping to utilise vertical space, while still maintaining the defined sleeping and living areas, preferred by tenants.
Amy: With the project we just discussed, what is the big takeaway message for property developers and investors? What can our viewers learn from it?
Grant: The main take away from that and something that people tend to ask me about is the mezzanines, the sleeping lofts we did. If you are going to develop a property then a full height sleeping loft – i.e. one that somebody can walk under – is worth considering and ideally you want them over the door because it’s space that is not being used.
Amy: Sleeping lofts are really popular right now. Everyone’s trying to find more space and get more money for their buildings and sleeping decks and mezzanines are a way of doing that. I saw a lot of them when I was in America and they're becoming more and more popular. I like this way of living, personally.
Grant: It delivers a really nice product. We talk a lot about ‘products’ in our industry. It’s not a room, it’s a product. It’s a lifestyle. It’s how people imagine that they will live. And one of the big things that a lot of tenants like is having their living space and their sleeping space separate. So, they don’t want to have friends around who have to sit at the end of their bed.
Amy: It’s about having defined zones.
Mezzanines As Counted Usable Space
Grant: When you are developing a property, the bare minimum to get a sleeping loft to be counted as usable space, is about three metres but really you want it to be three and a half. So that’s roughly a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five mil. for your build-up and then another one-point-five above.
This is a bit of a grey area.
There is case-law to support counting a mezzanine as usable space but for our project, the HMO License Officer refused to count it. That didn’t matter to us though. We had planned for that eventuality and there was enough floor space without the mezzanine.
In this case, there was no risk in it.
An Alternative To A Divan Bed
Grant: I have this thing about divan beds. Why would anybody have a divan bed? A good joiner can easily knock up a raised bed. So, you go and buy a set of drawers from Ikea or wherever you want to buy from and say to your joiner, ‘I want this bed to be higher than that set of drawers’.
He builds up a raised deck, you stick a mattress on it and you’ve got the space under it for a high set of drawers. When you are developing a property, clever ideas as to how you can use the verticality of the space to increase usable space are very important.
Amy: And that’s especially true when you are looking at shared housing and multiple occupancies. As we said just now, getting as much practical use out of the space – practical use and storage – is ultimately what will sell that property to renters or to buyers.
Grant: It’s not only just with HMOs, though. We are doing these in private homes as well.
A Child’s Room
Grant: We’re saying to people, ‘Look at your kids’ bedrooms. Why not think of them as being like a bunk bed?’.
Amy: I’m thinking about one for my daughter’s bedroom as you’re speaking.
Grant: There could be a little desk underneath and there could be a little sofa. Even a little fold-out Z-Bed – a fold-out sponge bed for friends to sleep on. A mezzanine can give them a little bit of extra space under the bed that normally wouldn’t be used. The child, of course, has to be old enough to get up a few steps – say, nine, ten, eleven but it will give them that extra useful space in what could otherwise be quite a small room.
Amy: Yeah, that’s a great tip. Thank you for that, Grant.