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Planning and Layout

Planning and Layout: The Blueprints for Success

In today’s dynamic real estate environment, architectural design and floor planning can make or break a project. Every square foot counts, so detailed planning is an absolute must.

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What may have worked 20 years ago will almost certainly miss the mark today. Heck, what worked even 2 years ago is now potentially behind the times in BC’s constantly evolving real estate market. For even the most experienced of builders, it’s no longer good enough to guess what plans will satisfy market demands or regulatory requirements.

A fundamental understanding of the current real estate environment is necessary, along with thorough planning to meet current and future market needs. A small investment in thoughtful, meticulous planning will produce 3 awesome results:

  1. Greater efficiency and lower construction costs.
  2. More appealing design and increased functionality for the end user.
  3. Properties that end users will pay top dollar for.

Let’s talk about the how and the why for each point.

Greater Efficiency and Lower Construction Costs

How:

A thoroughly-planned project will reduce construction cost in two distinct ways:

  1. By utilizing the industry’s best materials that are most applicable to your project.
  2. By consulting the expertise of industry-leading people.

The expression “they don’t build ‘em like they used to” couldn’t be more true. They build ‘em better now, because there are many different systems and materials today that didn’t exist just a few years ago (see this Architect Magazine article for more information on cool 2016 building materials!). Today, the modern builder is faced with a greater number of decisions to make.

The construction cost savings really come from carefully planning out building materials and features to match a target market. For example, granite countertops are really nice – but if you’re building houses for young buyers on a budget, it might not be an item that they’d value or be willing to pay for. As such, it would a poor investment choice for you.

On the other hand, consider a case where you’re building luxury homes for affluent middle-aged professionals. Granite countertops would help achieve the “wow factor” when selling the houses, and is a feature that your target market would expect and be willing to pay for. It would be a good idea to include the granite countertops for this market segment, and would positively benefit your bottom line since the premium you could charge on the more expensive material would represent a higher profit amount than with laminate.

Studying your target market is the best way to minimize construction costs because you will eliminate unnecessary expenditures by only using materials and features that your target market will pay for.

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Furthermore, thoughtfully planning out a floor plan can help minimize construction costs by maximizing space-efficiency. For example, reducing unnecessary corners in a room will likely increase square footage, reduce costs, and simplify the building process.

Consulting the right people is paramount in the planning stages of a project. Consider all the different jobs that need to be completed, and ensure that experienced and reputable people are making key decisions.

Project planning involves a multitude of perspectives from builders, framers, architects, marketers, lawyers etc. Researching service providers (by looking for testimonials and positive online reviews) will help ensure you get results at every step of the way.

For example, a highly experienced architect will be able to take market research from a marketer and turn it into a floor plan that will meet the market’s needs and maximize the efficiency of the space – saving you construction money in lost efficiency and unnecessary building expenses.

Why:

Lower construction costs are good for your bottom line, and an intelligently planned project will increase the market’s demand for your project – solidifying your position as a market leader. The results are highly favourable for both the short and long term future.

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More Appealing Design and Increased Functionality for the End User

How:

When researching your target market, create detailed buyer personas (check out this awesome Hubspot article for a detailed look at how to create personas!). Understand how they think about buying or renting whatever property it is that you’re offering (for example, how an affluent retiree thinks about purchasing a house to downsize, or how small local businesses think when they look for a place to rent) is critical to meeting their needs.

Understanding what clients need will make it easy for you to choose which features to include, which building materials to use, and what floor plans best suit their needs. Consider the affluent retiree who is downsizing: they likely have considerably more money to invest than a first-time homebuyer. As such, they place a higher value on comfort and convenience, and are willing to pay for it.

Let’s assume that after studying their thought process, you determine that they are looking for something that will make them feel comfortable, safe, private, and give them a sense of pride when having guests over for dinner and a bottle of wine.

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What type of features, materials and floor plans would best suite them? Well, they do not want to feel like they are purchasing something “cheap”. HardiPlank siding, engineered hardwood floors, and quartz or granite countertops would likely be better suited to their needs.

To ensure a sense of safety, consider including a smart doorbell. To help entertain, consider enlarging the kitchen and ensuring there is a secondary bathroom near the kitchen/living room (separate from a private ensuite bathroom connected to the master bedroom). For comfort and convenience, consider placing the master bedroom on the main floor.

Understanding your target market’s thought process and pain points will allow you to meet their needs better than your competition.

In addition to understanding which features and materials your personas will appreciate, consider functionality from the perspective of your personas. Think about how personas live their day-to-day lives, and ensure your project considers functionality that is commonsensical to your personas.

Would sliding doors increase functionality over French doors? Would a nine-foot ceiling make a big difference to your persona over an eight-foot ceiling? Is the design of the house appropriate to where the view is on the piece of land? It’s hard to sell a poorly designed property, and yet it happens all the time in real estate. Scrutinize your plans thoroughly before you build.

Why:

It’s been said many times that people do not buy products, but rather, they buy outcomes. For example, a person who buys a luxury car is likely not purchasing the car solely because it has a bigger engine or better handling. They are purchasing a sense of pride, something that shows other people that they think differently and appreciate craftsmanship. Therefore, it is important for car manufacturers to understand the thought process that goes into purchasing a vehicle.

For real estate, this concept is the same. Understand what people want, and why they want it. This will guide your decision-making and allow you to include the correct features on the correct floor plan, and build using the correct materials. This will set your project apart from others and create desire among clients – positively impacting your profitability and long-term success.

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Furthermore, a dysfunctional plan costs the same to draft as a functional one, and it’s a lot easier to find and correct problems before the property is built. The only difference is that the functional design will sell faster, more easily, and for more money than the dysfunctional one. Invest in proper planning to make your life a lot easier.

Property That End Users Will Pay Top Dollar For

How:

End users constantly have to weigh out their priorities and make valuations from option to option. The more value they perceive, the more they’ll be willing to pay for a property (up to their maximum budget, of course). If your project is intelligently planned, you will meet a greater number of priorities that are important to your target market.

Whether you’re building a luxury residential subdivision or a commercial warehouse complex, you will be able to charge a higher premium for your product if it ‘ticks more boxes’ than your competition. Furthermore, your thoroughly planned project will stand out among the competition as being the most desirable option. The old saying goes “buyers write offers on properties they like the best” (not 8th best).

Quite simply, know your target market. Invest in market research to determine what is important to them. This will guide your decision-making process throughout the planning phase. An understanding of your target market will provide the context you need to make informed decisions with floor plans, features, colours, services, price points, and more.

Why:

Investing time to research your target market and plan the best possible project is favourable for a multitude of reasons. You can charge a higher premium for your product, improving your bottom line and ROI. Also, you can be the provider of exactly what the market needs, when the market needs it. This significantly boosts your reputability, and positions you as a local industry leader.

 

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