The cost of Amenity Provision within mid-market Build to Rent

Chris Hanson
Build to Rent is a move away from the traditional Private Rented Sector (PRS). There is heavy focus on lifestyle and therefore amenities the building provides. Calculating the cost of amenity provision is therefore of significant importance.

Build to Rent schemes are large private rental housing projects that are designed and built with the customer in mind and look to maximise the customer experience. They are focussed around scale development and institutional owners, and are therefore a move away from the traditional Private Rented Sector (PRS) market. It is very much about creating a product tailored around lifestyle which in turn focuses heavily on brand and the amenities the building provides. Build to Rent is a shift from PRS as the tenant will want to feel they are renting the whole building rather than just their individual dwelling.

 

The Cost of Amenity Provision

The level of amenity provision is influenced by the physical characteristics of the site or scheme, the number and type of dwellings, location, price points and rent levels, market constraints, proximity of local services, other Build to Rent schemes in close proximity and also the profiles and ages of the prospective tenants.

Today’s society and customer base is heavily driven by making day to day life easier, so amenities are becoming more and more important and attractive to tenants.

The following amenities are typical of those found in Greater London mid-market Build to Rent schemes, but please note not all will apply to one particular scheme:-

 

Additional Facilities

Childcare, on-site bike shops, cinema rooms, laundry and dry cleaning are attractive amenities to tenants. These are very often located in space set aside for retail/leisure use with the space fitted out by the respective operators. On large Build to Rent schemes this shell & core space typically costs between 1.25% and 1.5% of the net construction costs for the residential element. Fit out of these spaces will be by the respective retail operators.

Outdoor Space within public realm

The provision of outdoor space is an important consideration to help differentiate Build to Rent schemes, create a brand, retain customers and to also attract long term tenancies. These spaces are helping bring communities together, and also help mould the living experience for tenants. When designing this outdoor space it is important to consider the space, finish and specification to allow for future flexibility of use should the market change. On Build to Rent schemes this enhanced landscaped area with resident facilities and external wi-fi coverage typically costs between 25% to 35% of the external public realm and landscaping works.

The above percentages are reflective of the net construction costs, are based on 3Q 2017 prices and exclude Main Contractor’s Preliminaries and OHP, Design Development and Construction Contingencies.

Material Specification

When specifying materials it is important for these to be of a level of quality and durability that will withstand wear and tear of everyday use and also reflect ease of cleaning, maintenance and replacement, as the scheme will be designed and specified on a long term hold basis.

It is common practice for standardised materials to be specified and supply costs to be negotiated directly between Client and Supplier. This not only helps control construction costs but also provides more certainty around guaranteeing sufficient quantities are available for the development in order to meet the programme, and facilitates quicker and easier replacement materials/parts to be ordered as part of the maintenance regime.

Carparking

Carparking requirements on mid-market Build to Rent schemes in Greater London depend on the scheme’s location and proximity of a transport hub, and in some instances we see no carparking provision at all. Where carparking is a requirement the Land prices in London result in carpark spaces being located at basement level, although it is very common for surface and multi-storey decked carparking to be introduced for viability reasons. Where this is not possible then ‘off-plot’ and on-street carparking is also a solution.

Carpark costs are driven by their shape, size and efficiency of spaces, and also in the case of basement and multi-storey the extent and location of access ramps. The table below indicated typical costs in Greater London:-

Building Efficiencies and Space Targets

The table below compares typical minimum space targets for apartment sizes on mid-market Build to Rent schemes in Greater London v minimum space targets set out in the Government’s Technical Housing nationally described space standards for one storey dwellings:-

Conclusion

Where a Build to Rent scheme has a high level of communal amenities it is important to focus on designing a building which minimises the size of the units themselves but still focuses on generating quality and efficient spaces. This ultimately shifts the spend profile for the scheme, and creates the opportunity for generating savings through building more efficient and smaller buildings to help offset some of the costs for the external amenities. This in turn helps maximise the scheme’s viability.

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