Tips for Efficient Apartment Living
Whether it’s your first time home, permanent home, or retirement property, living within an apartment building can be an exciting experience. Every apartment building is different, but there are so many ways that you, as an owner or occupier of an apartment, can maximise your apartment living experience.
This blogs covers some hints, tips and ideas that we have picked up or heard over the years from our own customer’s experiences of apartment living which may help you to live more efficiently, and decide whether apartment living is for you. We include some steps you can undertake to save money, and tips to make the most of your apartment home.
Building your community
Apartment living is communal, as you share a building with multiple properties, owners and occupiers. Some communities within these buildings may engage more than others. They may have regular meetings, clubs, groups, Whatsapp/messenger Groups, or shared communal facilities that give you the opportunity to get to know your neighbours. Others may unfortunately have nothing at all. When selecting an apartment building, this may be an important question for you to ask, especially if the community aspect of apartment living is of importance to you because you are new to an area or have experienced a close community previously. Remember to be considerate of your community also. Unlike living within a house, the way in which you live within the apartment building could also have a knock-on effect on your neighbours, so you will need to be considerate in terms of noise and living choices, and also how you interact with the communal areas of the building, as the communal areas and structure and fabric of the building are paid for and maintained by all residents alike. If you share your apartment building with like-minded residents that care for your building, and are pro-active in its maintenance, then your building will be maintained much more efficiently and it is likely to save you money in the long run.
Care for your building as if it was your own home
Have you spotted a leak in the communal hallway on the way towards your apartment? Is there a bad smell in the lift? Has someone left personal items within a communal area? Make sure your report issues to your building owner or Managing Agent before they become larger ones. As major repair bills could affect the service charges you pay, and items left in communal areas could void your communal buildings insurance policy if they are found to be a major contributor in the event of a fire.
How would you like to live in a home with a lift, electric gated parking, concierge, swimming pool, leisure suite, gym or residents lounge? As the facilities within an apartment building are paid for by the service charges paid by the apartment owners, some buildings will offer far more benefits than others. When selecting your dream apartment, be mindful that although some of these additional benefits can be tempting, they can also come with additional costs for running and maintenance that your service charges would need to cover. Therefore if you like to keep bills at a minimum, you may want to look for a block with less facilities that will require maintenance or assess whether the private gym within a building is better than the budget gym down the road.
Saving Energy & Money
Bills are one thing that everyone loathes to pay, however there are multiple small changes that you can make while living in an apartment that save energy and can help massively bring the cost of your bills down.
Review your bills – If your gas, electricity, and water bills are not paid for communally via the service charge, then this is one area where major savings can be made. Each year it is recommended you review your bills, tariff and service provider, by comparing with a price comparison tool online – other products that are out there based on your usage. There are also companies out there now who will also regularly do this for you. Changing energy supplier each year can sometimes save you up to 100’s of £’s in the long run.
Switch to LED Bulbs – Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with energy efficient ones like LEDs. These use less electricity and emit less heat than the traditional bulbs.
Check for gaps – Another way to cut down your electricity bill is to check your doors and windows. If there’s a gap between your door or window and the wall/floor, purchase some weather strips to slide under and fill the space to prevent heat from escaping. Please remember however that your front door to your apartment may also be a fire rated door that is there to save your life in the event of a fire, so do not make any alterations to this door without the prior permission of your building owner or Managing Agent first.
Lost Energy – Another way apartment owners and occupiers unknowingly waste electricity is through phantom energy. When you leave things like TVs, toasters, charging cables, etc. plugged in, they still use electricity. When items aren’t in use, unplug them to save electricity or switch off the sockets at the wall.
Energy Efficient Appliances – Nowadays there are such a large range of appliances on the market, however, when selecting a new fridge, oven or washing machine, many shoppers focus more on the initial cost of the product, rather than the long term cost of actually using a product. When selecting any new electrical appliance always check out the energy rating. Those rated A+ are more efficient and will save you money over time in energy bills. Many of these products also now incorporate ECO-settings which will not only help to save the environment, but also help you to save even more money! Did you know that using the dishwasher on a ECO setting actually saves water and electricity compared to handwashing and rinsing in the sink!? Neither did we! So hand wash only when necessary!
Running Water – Be conscious of how much water you’re using. For example, turn the water off while doing things like brushing your teeth; don’t overfill your bath or leave your shower running when you aren’t in it, and use water used for boiling water/pasta to water your plants. It is also important to stay on top of maintenance. Dripping taps, slow leaks, and running toilets can lead to thousands of wasted gallons, so make sure you’re aware of any issues and get them fixed as soon as possible to avoid additional costs.
Temperature – Do you really need your heating on high or could you manage with an extra layer? Even turning down a thermostat a couple of degrees can make massive cost savings. This includes temperature settings on any water heaters, fridges and freezers! Investing in smart technology can also save you from wasting money while you’re away. A smart thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature while you’re gone, smart power strips can be turned off with your phone, and a light left on by accident can be switched off while you’re away as well. Your location of your apartment can also have a big impact on temperature and cost savings, as those units located in between apartments tend to be far better insulated compared to apartments at the end of the building.
Storage & Space Saving
Prior to moving into an apartment we recommend a good Netflix binge watching session of “Tidying with Marie Kondo” and for you to throw away now any item that does not serve a purpose, or bring you joy! Apartments can seem like smaller spaces to live in, however if you can regularly de-clutter and ensure you have plenty of storage space so that every item has a home, your apartment can become a peaceful and enjoyable space and you can maximise every nook and cranny. You would be surprised how much difference beds and sofas with storage space underneath can make, but try not to be tempted to purchase pieces that are too big for each room.
Breathe new life into your home
Whether you are an owner occupier or a tenant within an apartment, you may be restricted in what alterations you can make to your new home when you want to put your “stamp on it”. A new kitchen or bathroom can make a world of difference to your living space, however if you are on a budget or restricted from making changes, there are a few simple tricks you can do to breathe new life into your apartment. These can be as simple as repainting the walls in a fresh colour; Wallpapering just one wall to create a feature wall and talking point; adding plants that will create interesting textures and sensory features (artificials are also great cheap alternatives if you can’t keep real plants alive!); bargain hunting for new furniture on for sale or swap sites, or in charity shops; adding simple colour pops with cushions and throws; opening windows for ventilation; and adding mirrors that can give the illusion of larger spaces.
Owner or occupier?
Do you own a lease to your apartment or are you an occupier of the apartment that pays rent to an apartment owner landlord? Know who to contact when you’re looking for an apartment, don’t just look at the unit—pay close attention to the landlord of the apartment if you are choosing to rent as opposed to purchasing, the landlord of the building, and the buildings Managing Agent too. What is their reputation like? What are their core principles? Are they easy to contact? Avoid future problems by getting everything in writing, documenting the condition of the apartment, and knowing your rights. Did you know that as a Managing Agent ourselves, Realty are only responsible for the structure & fabric of the building and the communal shared areas, but that everything behind the apartment front door is the responsibility of the apartment owner or their letting agent/occupier? If you’re not sure who you need to contact to report matters, make sure to check this in advance.
If you are an apartment owner, you are generally known as a “leaseholder”, as you own a lease to a property, as opposed to owning a physical building. Your lease sets out for how many years you can lease the apartment, how often rent and service charges should be paid, and what things you can and cannot do while living in the building. It is vital you always ask your solicitor to go through these clauses with you when considering to purchase an apartment property. The lease may include restrictions such as prohibiting pets, restricting parking, prohibiting instruments etc. Therefore you would need to be careful to ensure that you would not breach any restrictions should choose to live within the apartment building. The good news is that while this may seem restrictive, these rules are in place to protect residents to ensure that these clauses are not abused, and allow a managing agent to instigate action against any breaches that protect the enjoyment of all residents in their property alike. This gives the leaseholder far more benefits in the event of neighbourly disputes. It is also important that you pass this information on to your tenants/occupiers/letting agents if you choose to rent out your apartment, to ensure that your occupiers do not live in your property in a way that could breach your lease and cause you to forfeit/lose your property.
Pay close attention to your lease especially in relation to the payment of your ground rent and service charges. How often are these payable? How often are they reviewed? Will they increase or decrease over time? Is there any upcoming works envisaged for your building? These are all important financial factors to consider when purchasing your apartment to ensure that these are affordable on top of any mortgage payments and bills. Getting advise from a financial advisor prior to purchasing a property or applying for a mortgage could save you £££s in the long run as they will help you to consider these options.
Changing your Managing Agent
If you reside in an apartment building where the residents are responsible for appointing and selecting their managing agent, then changing managing agent may offer additional benefits in terms of cost savings and efficiency.
Ensure you partner with a professional ARMA (Association of Residential Managing Agents) or RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) accredited manging agent such as Realty that will give you honest advice and guidance about the management of your building.
While we understand it can be desirable to keep all costs down to a minimum, important consideration should be given to the actual needs and long term maintenance of the building. Partnering with a professional Managing Agent such as Realty Management and allowing us to assist you in preparing a long term plan for your development will mean that the development is run correctly and well maintained for many years to come, which in turn could save you thousands within the future and add additional value to your apartment. For a free no obligation quote, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0161 474 7677.