Making the most of your site
OK, I will admit it, I am a bit of a design nazi!!.
I love good design, but more passionately, poor design or lack of consideration and sympathy for the environment disappoints and frustrates me more than any other area of the building profession.
I recently viewed an award winning apartment in Melbourne and to say it was a design disgrace is an understatement.
Where developers push the boundaries (no pun intended) to maximise the use of available land and airspace, they drive architects, planners and designers to decisions that are seldom aligned with the end user.
By end user, I am talking about the owner occupiers, the pennants and the community at large.
The unit I was asked to evaluate, had several glaring design elements which were certainly not considerate of the liveability of the space or of general traffic flow around the floorplan.
Who designs a bedroom where once furnished with typical contemporary furnishings, it is not possible to useably place a bedside table at either side of a queen bed. Where the introduction of a single bedside table makes the built in robes inaccessible.
But the issues don't stop there.
The master bedroom is built back from the building facade, with natural light and ventilation achieved through the 4 meter by 1 meter hallway to nowhere. This 4 square meters of valuable floor space is provided as access to the master bedroom window. Quite bizarre.
The list goes on and on. Finishes in the unit are reasonable and again are touted as being designed by an award winning interior designer. God help us!
Flooring is timber in the living space with carpeted bedrooms and tiled wet areas, pretty standard, but the flooring used is of such poor quality, that it is all but unusable. Installing furniture and normal cleaning result in damage and marking of the finishes which will be a renters nightmare and an owners money pit.
Built in wardrobes are a high point of the apartment being of good quality and functional design, however other area of cabinetry leave a lot to be desired. The laundry recess see a standard 600 mm space for the installation of a washing machine, but the intrusion of the hinges remove the ability to install the machine without dismantling the doors.
Finally, the kitchen sink is a single tub farm style sink which are all the rage. Please take my advice and spend some time considering the practicality of these fixtures. They look great and are extremely functional if you want to clean large items such as BBQ grills, but be aware, it takes about 5 liters of water just to get coverage across the base of the large cross section sink, just to wash a few pieces of flatware and cutlery. Not at all eco friendly, and with many units now basing utitlity charges on hot water usage, very hard on the hip pocket.
There are some redeeming features of this inner city dwelling, but overall I could not rate it as a successful, innovative or intelligent use of space.
As owner builders, plan carefully and discuss your requirements with your architects of design professional. Be considerate of the impact on the environment, the use of natural features and the footprint you will create. Use wind, slope orientation to your advantage and leverage naturally occurring conditions to achieve the best outcomes for your family and the community.
Being an owner builder is a privilege, and you have the opportunity to create something quite special and unique.
Please choose carefully.
Best Regards and Happy Building,
Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.