Communal Areas of Apartments

Communal Areas of Apartments

11:07 AM, 1st February 2012, About 13 years ago 1

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We have all seen the dreaded coir carpet that has shrunk around the edges in trendy apartment blocks. The concrete planters that were bound to fail, the dreary, minimal halls crying out to be broken up with some better lighting and artwork.

But let’s get practical.

Carpets are still a more popular and appropriate product. As much as wool keeps its shape better, you can’t beat a felt backed polypropylene. Mr Tomkinson’s Mardi Gras was the staple of the house building industry 20 years ago- yes the velvet was a bit stripey but the colours were great. And, when it was pulled from the rack, it didn’t come apart like Sureclean did. A good old loop polypropylene, bleach cleanable in a dark brown shade really works in communal halls. It’s stuck down all over and easy to fit. Joins on loop piles do have a greater tendency to be more obvious, but properly stuck down there shouldn’t be any fraying. Just remember to tell your cleaner to not use the beater brush on the hoover- it’ll pick the loops apart over time.

Paint and paint some more, in fact 3-4 coats. This may sound excessive and expensive but it will last. Take a tip from the housing associations that use this technique. Same development, same houses- but housing association units had more paint than the private.

Poor lighting not only affects your mood, it can also be dangerous. The last thing a landlord wants is a lawsuit. Whether it’s LED on all the time or a PIR system, make sure you have an emergency lighting in place too. Do check your outside lighting, the brighter the better. And while we are on subject, would your tenants know what to do in the event of a fire?

If it is an old property, make sure tenants aren’t utilising free supply of electricity when you are not around- ie plugging their electric heater into the power source in hall.

Lastly, as mad as it sounds- have you checked that your keys work? I have known a landlord who couldn’t enter the building as tenants had changed the outside lock without informing anyone. If you are remote from site and don’t rely on local agent popping around from time to time, make sure someone has access to communal areas.

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22:06 PM, 2nd February 2012, About 13 years ago

Having just been hauled over the rack by Building Control whilst building some new-build flats last year, I would also comment that the following might be considered in communal areas:

 - a self-opening window linked to the fire alarm circuit, to allow smoke to escape
 - motion-detection internal lights
 - black or darker-shade strips on the edges of steps, to assit people with limited sight or during a fire
 - a large sacrificial layer of coir matting by the front door, to clean shoes as they come in
 - I used a natural-oil solid-wood floor for my entrance hall after the matting. It can take a beating and although it will scuff, this can be repaired with varnish, whereas lacquered wood looks good initially and then goes into a decline. Wood floors can also be stripped and re-polished every five years or so and will come up like new.
 - a decorative window around a front door or a clerestorey layer above looks good and adds more light, and there are some nice designs around for patterned opaque glass. Stained glass still works really well, especially if you get direct sunlight onto a hall or landing.
 - build in under-staircase strorage for cleaning materials etc.

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