Thursday, April 05, 2007

Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Architect: Part II

Let's wrap up our list of questions that you should discuss with your architect as an early part of the design process for any project:

5. Is this design suited for any in-unit electronics upgrades I may want to offer?
Reliable technology and sophisticated fulfillment centers make offering HDTVs, home theater systems and other upgrades easier than ever, without putting property owners in the electronics business. Upgrades installed prior to move-in show residents you appreciate both their lifestyle and their time, but require some forethought to ensure you're providing the appropriate level of pre-wiring.

4. Will I have to allow individual satellite dishes on residents’ balconies?
Regardless of the terms of the lease or HOA bylaws, the FCC gives residents the right to mount a dish on their balcony, unless a central satellite TV system is already distributed to each unit. Your architect should plan for a 12’ x 14’ climate-controlled room in the clubhouse or basement to accommodate the necessary equipment.

3. How will access control be managed? Can I pull regular reports from each entry?
Properly managed access control to common areas and resident floors is possibly the best security feature a developer can offer, especially in mixed-use projects. However, as fewer residents use traditional landline phones, be aware of how this trend affects your building's access control systems (as well as burglar alarms, satellite TV and other building systems).

2. How can I use technology in the leasing office and clubhouse to create a vibrant community atmosphere and a lasting impression on my prospects?
You know it’s important to create a powerful impact that entices prospects and encourages a sense of community among residents. Multimedia theater rooms, distributed audio, custom lighting, gaming centers, wireless hotspots and digital signage are all ways to make your clubhouse the main attraction.

1. Can I provide the high-quality telecom services that my residents expect?
Residents are more connected than ever before. Although technology isn’t often the primary reason a prospect chooses to live at a given location, poor services can frustrate residents and increase turnover. Telecom industry standards dictate the distance that signals can travel between connections. Ask your architect to include small rooms for distribution equipment that are typically no more than 150’ from the further point of any unit – this will enable your service providers to meet these standards and provide quality phone, video and Internet services to your residents for years to come.

As with all the other materials and resources used in a project, there are always more questions to be asked and more considerations that can be given to the technology that goes into today's buildings. Above all, it's important to understand the needs and expectations of your residents - as well as those groups that represent your next wave of renters - to give your team the best gauge of which technologies might not yet be the best fit for your business versus those that have become absolute essentials.

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