Planning, Investigating and Maximising Space: Advice from a Commercial-to-Residential Development

Planning, Investigating and Maximising Space: Advice from a Commercial-to-Residential Development

Recent reflection on my client’s commercial-to-residential property development in Fleet, Hampshire, has brought to light some key advice any property investor and developer needs to hear. Watch our ‘behind the scenes’ YouTube videos to keep up-to-date with our progress as we transform this former office into 44 stunning apartments. 

1. Assess your site’s existing features.

When working with an existing building, it’s always important to consider what you already have to work off. You don’t want to gut out the whole building without first surveying the property for things you can keep or adapt. For example, in my client’s office-to-residential conversion, their site has lots of windows, a great bonus when designing residential flats. They have so many, in fact, that they will have to panel some of them out where they would like to install walls to create apartments.

Top Tip: Carefully consider the existing windows. Can you incorporate these into your plans?

Instalments such as windows can be costly to replace, and planning to get new windows can be difficult and timely. Therefore, it is worthwhile to carefully consider what you can do with the ones already in place. 

The location and number of windows can also feed into your planning. In my client’s project, we have worked together to consider how best to lay out the 44 apartments. Windows should preferably be in living areas such as the bedroom and living room where tenants will spend most of their time. Kitchens are better suited towards the back of the room, where there is less likely to be a window.

2. Be conscientious with your site’s waste.

Moreover, when developing a property, stripping out the old and bringing in the new will create a lot of waste. This waste can not only be harmful to workers but our environment too. You want to be a conscientious developer and consider how you dispose of your waste. Something as simple as having different large recycling bins on-site for easy disposal protects the environment and protects your workers. You can sort waste such as cabling, air conditioning ducting, electrical waste, copper and plasterboard.

3. Assess your site’s structural integrity as early on as possible.

It’s also important that you understand what you are working with and the current structure, integrity and condition of the building you wish to develop. When I sourced this great project with my client, I knew it was important to understand the building’s structure. We dug down into the concrete slab flooring to see how thick it is, what it is made of and whether it was currently reinforced to find crucial information about the integrity and structural support of the building. Our findings will also feed into the structural engineer’s report on the overall fabric of the building. This ensures that once we start building and putting walls up, we won’t affect the structure of the building. 

Considering all of the above is vital for any property development, not just commercial-to-residential conversions. No matter what your plans may be for the property, if they require an approved planning application, it’s best to get these in as early as possible. This ensures your planning is approved as early on as possible into the development and doesn’t cause any delays.

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