Whilst the real estate market can be difficult to navigate, and house prices are at the mercy of financial markets and psychological shifts, one thing stands true. Good design will always increase the value of a home.
As reported recently in Domain, “Good architecture can add as much as 20 per cent to the value of a home. And overall, architects make great homes to live in, and love, and enjoy and delight in. Good design will always increase the value of property, as you can see by the way (they) always mention ‘architect-designed’ when they’re being sold.” says the NSW president of the Australian Institute of Architects Kathlyn Loseby.
So, what is good design?
In general terms, good design is based on functionality, visual impact, longevity and cost-effectiveness. More specifically, good design includes special architectural features like cathedral ceilings and visually exciting entrances, flexible space planning, high-quality finishes, fixtures and fittings, and ergonomic and environmentally sound decisions.
Good construction will always win out over poor detailing - good design is as much about what you cannot see, as it is about what you can see. And as well as the right location (location, location) being one of the key factors for a sound investment, the design of a property (residential or commercial) will play a major part in determining property investment returns.
There is an increasing demand for sophisticated design. Whether this has stimulated, or is reflective of, the current trend for home improvement TV shows, the fact remains that people are turning their love of fashion, travel and technology to the interiors and exteriors of their home.
Renovations and new builds have to live up to the design expectations we see on TV and in magazines, and the aesthetics also require functionality, liveability and longevity (which not only means that the design has to stand the test of time, it also has to live up to expectations of being environmentally friendly too – leaving a smaller footprint).
Investors are becoming much more aware of the maintenance and running costs associated with a poorly designed residential investment property. Replacing cupboard doors, cheap fittings and fixtures and faulty appliances and repairing of building façades are common and expensive, and can be avoided if an investment in good design is made from the outset.
Home owners too are increasingly concerned with the higher costs of running poorly designed homes (an instantaneous electrical hot water system is cheaper to install than a gas hot water system but significantly more expensive to run). Poor insulation is also a common cost-cutting element that home owners no longer want to accept. North facing properties instantly capture a potential buyers attention, as does solar power, drought tolerant landscaping and integrated technology.
Councils too are becoming more design literate, focused on quality of design, environmentally sustainable design outcomes and the contribution a property or development proposal makes to the urban context. The issuing of ‘conditional permits’ requires developers to retain the architect for the life of the project in order to mitigate the risk of the outcome being inferior to the design specified in the original planning permit.
Importantly, good design does not always equate to more expensive construction costs. Of course high end materials can greatly effect the end price, however a high quality design team can deliver creative solutions throughout the design, documentation and construction phases, resulting in a building which meets the highest design standards. It’s often the default and generic solutions and materials that are often specified to reduce costs that end up costing more in the long term. High quality and detailed documentation and a thorough scope of works for a project can help to manage expectations, expensive variations or a dilution of quality.
Good design is not about design for design’s sake, it’s about being aligned with market demand, cultural preferences and future influences. A design team needs to be well briefed about what to design. A better quality building means a more efficient building, with natural light, better ventilation and a healthier navigation of climate control too.
Good design achieves higher prices and faster sales.
When it comes to selling your home, evidence has proven that good design commands a higher premium. “Design is a real differentiator for today’s home buyers and they are prepared to dig deep if they can see design having a tangible effect on their lifestyle,’ says Albert Hill, co-founder of The Modern House. “More than ever people are looking for transformative experiences and so the enthusiasm for investing in a great home space is not surprising.”
Architect-designed homes have been seen to achieve significantly higher prices across the board, and even more in the $1.5 million plus bracket. According to The Modern House, “A well-designed home considers the relationship between indoor and outdoor living spaces, exudes a sense of ‘spatial drama’ – think high ceilings, volume and natural light – and is decked out in well-curated fixtures and furnishings.”
Good design provides for outcomes that function well, feel right, last the test of time and are cost effective to use and maintain. It encompasses every inch of a property, from the space planning to double glazing to low-energy lighting and insulation and sound separation.
There’s a huge value-add from designing something that makes the best use of a location, produces great, light-filled spaces, prioritises sustainability to keep running costs down, and ensures adaptability for life changes into the future.
Good design simply makes good sense.