PART THREE: Getting the specification right
Now we have the right property designed and approved, we can start designing the specification for your customer. As suggested, if there are different buyers for different types of property then be prepared to have different specifications to suit. I tend to go and see what my immediate competition are doing; more of a sense check than anything else. You will no doubt see some good ideas, as well as some bad, but one thing is for sure – specification is so subjective you will never find the right ‘answer’. However, as you ‘know’ your buyer you are two steps ahead of other developers who could be rolling out a ‘standard’ specification.
One area I do feel strongly about is designing for the market and not for personal preference. As such, it’s best to always hire a professional! Interior designers know what is on trend, what is working (and what is not!) and leaving this crucial role to someone who is not trained (office administrators, PAs or the boss’s partner) is not a good idea! To keep costs down, there are freelance interior designers whose fees won’t be extortionate (I know loads of them!) and it will by far make up for it when you are selling for gross prices, not net!
Reviewing your layouts is also an important exercise - don’t just leave this to an architect. Having good interior designers and estate agents looking over these is advisable as they will see things that may not work, or may suggest ways to make the space more efficient, bearing the target audience in mind. Again, I have seen too many properties where the layout simply doesn’t work or radiators are in the wrong place. Getting this wrong is frustrating and easily avoidable with a little bit of due diligence beforehand.
Lastly, kitchens and bathrooms. Yes, they are very important and yes, you should surround yourself with great companies. Both kitchen and bathroom companies will be vying for your business and you should probably get them to design them individually for you – after all, they do this for a living daily! I’d always of course sense check and sign them off.
To finalise this section, I’d like to include the communal areas in specification. So many developers pay little attention to communal areas, but I would argue that this is the most important space. We have all heard that ‘buyers make their mind up within the first 3 seconds’ of visiting a property. Well, if the property is in a block of flats, or you must go through a communal area to arrive at the property – getting this right could make or break a sale. And if you are completing the development and you are likely to have property for sale, there is even more reason to get this communal area looking amazing! I have seen empty communal areas (or worse still, bland!) and the area has no soul – a big no no for would be buyers. For relatively low cost you can dress the area with artwork, lay rugs down and add texture (and don’t forget to get the place smelling nice!) so when any prospective buyer views, they can see the development is well maintained and this will add value to their property.
This blog is part of five easy to read segments:
Blog 1 of 6 - Making a development that outsells your competition 3:1
Blog 2 of 6 - Know your customer, know your property (Part two)
Blog 3 of 6 - Getting the specification right! (Part three)
Blog 4 of 6 - Marketing & Branding that packs a Punch! (Part four)
Blog 5 of 6 - Pricing, Pricing, Pricing! (Part five)
Blog 6 of 6 - Conclusion