Q: Given the unprecedented 24 months we’ve seen. How do you think the future of BtR design changed due to COVID?
Jason: Home life, home schooling and home working became in important and necessary part of everyday life. These have been facilitated by the house type range offering natural light, garden and public amenity space, as well as home office requirements for work and schooling, away from the main family space.
Q: What are the first design steps you take when trying to ensure a BtR development contributes to its wider community, as opposed to segregating tenants from it?
Jason: Simple Life has always facilitated a tenure blind integration into its development house type designs, ensuring high quality elevations, styles, treatments and landscaping to create a sense of place; blended into a development to enable a full suite of housing needs. This is further complemented by open space for the wider landscape needs, good pedestrian, cycle links and access to public transport.
Q: BtR development design is forever evolving to match the current trends of today’s tenants. What do you see as being the key design trends that will emerge for the BtR sector over the next 5 years?
Jason: The ability for further flexible home space and the expanding home office, with the onset of greater choice of flexible working now being offered by many employers.
Q: We have seen a rise in health & wellbeing amenities being offered to tenants. How do you think these can be provided at a manageable cost to the investor? And how do you think we can measure this?
Jason: The Simple Life and single family homes model is very different from city centre BtR apartment schemes which have a lot of all-inclusive managed amenities. Additionally, the target market and needs of the customer are arguably very different. Simple Life focuses on low amenity which avoids inflated rents, making homes more affordable. Development locations are decided based on the existing local amenity, giving choice to residents.
Health and wellbeing for us isn’t all about additional amenity space, it’s about peace of mind for our customers that their homes will not be sold from beneath their feet, that they have a landlord that they can trust, that they are allowed pets at no extra charge, that they are allowed to set up their own business from their rental home, that they can make their property their own and feel at home within their neighbourhood and that they feel part of a community.
Q: We’re seeing an ever-increasing demand from the government, investors, and local councils for the BtR industry to contribute to handling the climate crisis. How do you see the design of a BtR evolving to match this requirement and is it possible to design a carbon positive building?
Jason: The response by the government in December 2021 has established the base line for Future Homes and how the industry needs to respond to deliver net zero. The greater use of low carbon technology such as solar panels and heat pumps will be a significant departure from gas, which has been the stable source of heat for many UK properties for many years. By embracing low carbon technology the industry will see a significant reduction in emissions; but of greater significance will be more efficient properties; and lower cost of energy bills for end users.
As for the carbon positive building, with current technology, this will only be achieved in the current environment by offsetting; however this is a rapidly moving field and will become target in time.
Q: Do you have any closing thoughts and/or personal opinions on the direction of the design of developments within this sector?
Jason: It is an exciting period for the sector, with the quality of offer only going to improve, with the implementation of low carbon technology and the evolving need for the home user.
Article written and published by UK BtR: https://ukbuildtorent.com/2022/02/23/design-qa-with-jason-berry/