Adam Hinds, Co-Founder & Head of Project Management, LifeProven Wellbeing Property Consultancy
The top five building design factors associated with better quality of life
Background to the science behind Health & Wellbeing in the home
We conducted an academic study with Dr Brendon Stubbs (one of the world’s most highly cited and influential mental health researchers by Reuters Web of Science), by issuing a survey to a control group of 121 residential properties strategically located across the UK. The survey captured a wide range of building design, fit-out, placemaking and operational housing data as well as sociodemographic (e.g. age, sex, income), lifestyle (e.g. physical activity), and mental and physical health data from residents all over the UK. We then calculated the Spearman correlation co-efficient; which are scored from 0 (absolutely no relationship) to 1 (perfect relationship). In research, it is virtually impossible to score 1 and scores of up to 0.2 equate a small correlation, 0.21-0.4 a moderate correlation and scores above 0.4 a large correlation. To put these numbers in context, a correlation of 0.4 has been associated with passive smoking and cancer or physical inactivity with being overweight.
Why is storage so important for your Build to Rent residents?
Because without sufficient storage, your residents have possessions which cannot be put away, increasing the amount of clutter within their homes. Overtime, this clutter creates stress and anxiety which can lead to depression and a lower overall quality of life.
Therefore, having the ideal amount of storage throughout each of your properties is key to enhancing your residents overall housing experience, customer satisfaction and wellbeing. Fortunately, now that you have read this information, seen the data and understand the importance of storage to your customers, you can make targeted decisions within your design and delivery process for future new builds to ensure your storage provisions actually enhance your customers quality of life.
What storage should your design team be considering?
The main storage provisions that consistently receive the greatest number of customer complaints is shortages in general household storage; and since Covid-19, home office storage provisions.
To combat general household storage shortages, key considerations must be provided by your architect with their RIBA Stage 2 – 4 designs for items such as ironing boards, irons, laundry items, vacuum cleaners, suitcases, children’s play equipment, prams, additional entertainment furniture used intermittently, out of season clothes, seasonal bed linen, books and even outdoor furniture or equipment.
Properties without a dedicated home office require consideration around the integration of flexible overnight and weekend storage provisions to accommodate for the additional office equipment now being used in bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms. The architect should be considering how office equipment – such as desktops, laptops, printers, stationery and books – can be used during the day and easily stored away for the evenings, removing all potential clutter from the room(s).
Although these two aspects consistently received the greatest number of customer complaints, the following storage considerations should also be made by the architect:
- Kitchen storage (without impacting surface preparation area)
- Bathroom storage
- Laundry storage
- General household storage
- Clothing storage
- Home office storage
- Outdoor storage
- Communal storage (if in an apartment block)
- Bicycle storage
- Flexible storage for changing circumstances
Flexible storage for changing circumstances
Historically, homes and apartments have been designed with limited excess storage provisions for the residents. What you see is what you get. This limited storage provision may have been sufficient for your residents at the time they moved in, however overtime their personal circumstances may change and their storage requirements increase. For example, they have a child or take up a new hobby such as cycling or playing the guitar.
This change in circumstances usually results in residents leaving your accommodation in favour of a larger home – resulting in lost revenue from your asset.
However, by adopting a flexible storage approach in your homes and buildings, you can provide excess storage options internally, externally and within communal areas so your customers have access to additional storage as their personal needs change, ensuring they can stay a happy paying customer for longer.
In communal buildings, this can be adopted by integrating discrete storage units throughout communal areas and basements that customers can hire as their needs change. The benefit to Build to Rent providers of providing excess storage is that you create an environment where customers can be retained as occupants for longer, as well as generating additional income from non-productive areas of the building.
When should you consider storage provisions?
The earlier storage considerations can be made within a development, the better the outcomes for you and the customer. By adopting early, the quantity surveyor can better apportion construction costs to ensure the budget is invested in the building aspects which provide the greatest benefit to the customers quality of life. It also ensures storage provisions are protected throughout value engineering; whereby less important building aspects can be scaled down first. Early adoption also provides the design team with the greatest amount of time to consider the design solutions, ensuring discrete and cost-effective solutions are found.
The quality of life benefits of your building for your customers can also be further leveraged, by proactively communicating the expected social value outcomes within your planning applications to your Local Authority, to your ESG investors and within building your marketing material to your customers.