As Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a-changin’”. The ways we think about apartments and townhouses now, are different to the ways they were thought about in the past. The way we think about them in the future will be different too.
To get an insight into what the future holds for people purchasing property off plan, we spoke to David Shearer, the Director of Project Planning at Independent Projects.
According to David, the future of buying off plan is likely to be all about flexibility and choice. We’re not just talking about a wider range of high quality residential developments to choose from. There could actually be a much greater level of customisation within those developments.
“I expect it’s actually going to be a lot more like buying a house and land package,” says David. “We anticipate buyers will expect more choice and developers will deliver. When you buy an apartment or a townhouse, you won’t just be choosing a colour scheme. You might have the option to pick from a range of different floor plans created by 4 or 5 different architects. Eventually we could see totally customised architectural plans and interior design, as developers look for an edge over their competition”
“Ultimately, in the next 5 to 10 years, I think we will see new residential developments offering buyers the option to work with an architect to design their own space. Rather than buying a pre-designed 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, you could be buying a space, and then have the ability to customise the interior fit-out to meet your personal needs and tastes.”
“Where do you want your kitchen? Or the bathrooms? And how many bedrooms do you want? You could have an amount of space that would normally hold a 3 bedroom floor plan, but you might not need 3 bedrooms. You might prefer to have a huge factory-style open plan living area. You’ll be able to do that.”
Essentially buyers who want the choice, may get the option of a blank canvas, and be able to design their own fit-out. You can see something similar happening on the Gold Coast, where people buy higher end apartments as empty shells, then refit the space on their own. There is a recent article from the Australian about a 1043m2 luxury penthouse which is being completely gutted before it goes on the market, because it has a much better chance of being sold that way. The main difference here would be having the option to work with architects and designers to customise your space before it is built and as part of the purchase price.
We are already starting to see movement in this direction. Independent Projects is currently working with a team of architects on this sort of project on a site in the Inner South, close to the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. The project could offer buyers a level of choice we haven’t seen in Canberra before. The project is likely to offer a range of 2 and 3 storey terraces typologies, all with a dedicated ground level garage area. Part of the project could involve a design competition amongst local architects and designers where buyers will be the judges. The idea is to allow buyers to choose the design, theme and colour choices that appeal to them.
Often a large proportion of the ground floor of terraces is garage space, but not everyone needs a large garage. So there may be the option to convert that space into an additional living area, or a make it a multi-use area. By doing this, you would also be activating the driveway, which could end up becoming more like a shared zone, with people, bicycles and cars sharing that space. If you’d like more information about this project, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
David also envisions an increasing focus on energy use. “I think we will start to see a move from energy efficiency into energy production. People are getting more and more conscious about their impact on the environment and their monthly running costs. In the future, we will see more properties being self-sustainable. As the technology improves and costs come down, it will become easier for people to generate and store their own electrical energy to power their home. They will still be connected to the power grid, but won’t have to rely on it.”
Ultimately these changes will be driven by buyers demanding more choice and by savvy property developers differentiating their product to provide those buyers with a more personalised offering. They will do that by increasing their focus on flexibility, design quality and choice, and allowing purchasers to have more interaction with the homes they are buying.