When you are looking for your next home, there are a few key design elements that you’ll want to pay attention to. As you navigate the options for your next condo, keep in mind that the additional spaces (that are considered limited common property) can make a world of difference between two floor plans that are otherwise very similar. The most common of these areas is your balcony or patio – the outdoor space of your own unit – and the amenities that are for the exclusive use of the project’s residents and their guests.
Considerations when a project is being designed:
- City requests and expectations based on the type of building and area
- Building design and applicable outdoor spaces
- The orientation of outdoor spaces and living within your home
- Amenities that will have the highest and best use by the people living there
The reason we mention these criteria is because the features that can be included in the amenities are often controlled by the size of the overall project. The amenity space is calculated based on a percentage of the overall unit sizes. For example, it’s rare for a project to have a large clubhouse and pool, usually because there are few projects whose amenity calculations would allow for such a large amount of space dedicated to those particular features.
Larger features also bring higher maintenance costs, and sharing these costs over time can be very expensive if they are not divided amongst a significant number of residents. These maintenance costs are part of the monthly strata fees, and having those monthly costs run too high can impact your mortgage approval and buying powers.
Every project requires approval from the city’s design panel for overall fit, character and function. This can change some of the exterior features and characteristics that determine the look and space of the outdoor spaces and even the types of doors that connect the inside and outside.
The most important part of the building design is how the outdoor space will interact with your home’s functions. For example, if the outdoor space is designed as predominantly a lounging area, then it might be perfectly-suited off of the master bedroom. A space that’s perfect for grilling on the barbeque, however, would be ideal to have a short distance from the kitchen for easier preparation and clean-up. In other places, the exterior building design could allow for certain units to have a much larger outdoor area due to the building having a step back at a certain level, as seen in the following example.
When planning the building’s amenities, the most consideration is given to how to create spaces for residents that will maximize the use of those areas. Our goal is always to have the amenities to be an extension of your home and we focus on understanding who will most likely be living in the building and what amenities would be the most appreciated by those people.
An example of this is how much space is dedicated to children’s activities. There could be an outdoor playground, indoor art room (the messy room you don’t want in your house), or recreational space that allows for running around and various other activities. Some of these spaces might be built for more than one purpose, such as the recreational area also being used for yoga.
On the other hand, having a great outdoor recreational space that features a fire pit isn’t child-friendly, but it is an amazing feature to have while enjoying a glass of wine in the evenings.
Here’s a short checklist that encompasses some of what we work through when creating these spaces. We hope that this can provide some framework when you’re searching for your next home:
- How much outdoor space is included in your home?
- Is there a specific use for that space, like access from the street for a ground floor unit?
- What do you want to use your outdoor space for?
- Can the space accomplish this?
- Do you need specific features, like a gas hook-up for a BBQ or a hose-bib for watering plants?
- Will the amenities be something that you use on a weekly basis? Do the amenities provided offset another cost, like paying less for a gym membership?
- Are the amenities things that are uniquely available to this project?
Choosing your next home should go beyond just shopping floor plans. Your home is going to be part of a community that has more to offer, and they should meet your needs. Beyond what the interior layout of your potential home is, we strongly suggest that you look closely at what is being offered externally as well, and realistically look at how much you would use those additional features. Depending on your priorities, they could be a big part of your decision-making process.