How to Build a Great Apartment Complex or Condominium

apartmentsI’ve lived in my fair share of apartment complexes here in Madison, WI. I now live in a condo. Some places have been better than others, of course, but here’s my wish list of features that would anyone living in a condo or apartment would appreciate.

If you’re considering putting up some condos or apartments, here’s a good list of things you might want to consider. They’re things your tenants would appreciate.

Here is the list – in no specific order:

  1. Mailboxes in the building. Not outside on the curb but in a closed area, like the entryway of a building. It gets cold and rainy out and it’s nice to not have to bundle up to go get your mail.
  2. Trash and recyclables chutes. It’s not the most fun thing to carry your stinky trash through the whole building to throw it out. Trash chutes rule! You need to make them wide enough though or stuff gets stuck in them.
  3. A doorbell / intercom system that’s easy to use and can go to your phone (land line or mobile) and possibly ring 2 lines at once (or be able to use GrandCentral. It’s nice when you’re not required to have a phone line in order to answer the door. My condo has the entry system on the phone line but it can only ring one phone and you can’t use GrandCentral with it either for some reason. Also, the condo association gets charged like $0.13 per call, which is every time someone rings the doorbell. That’s kind of crazy, I think, so that’s the downside.
  4. A pool, whirlpool, fitness room and clubhouse. All are good to have.
  5. Underground, heated parking with remote garage door opener for both in and out doors.
  6. A locked room for bikes in the garage. You’d lock your bike up of course, but it’s nice to have a place just for bikes that’s locked.
  7. A stall in the garage with walls or curtains, good lighting, a spigot and some power outlets just to be used for either car washing or for working on your car. We’d save money in car washing this way and most places don’t want you working on your car in the parking lot but don’t give you any other place to do it. Cars need to get worked on sometimes.
  8. Have your storage locker in your underground parking stall (in your own – not in someone else’s). I’ve been lucky to have 2 places now that have had this for me. Not all the units in those places were like this but I happen to move into the right units.
  9. Have a place outside that’s designated for trailer parking. Make a special lot in the back, covered by trees or something where you can put trailers so that they’re not an eyesore. Charge a buck or two to have things here if you want.
  10. Don’t put stairways right next to people’s bedrooms and please pad the stairways well so that you don’t hear people stomping up the stairs all the time.
  11. In apartments, let people paint if they want to.
  12. Ethernet, phone and coaxial (cable TV) jacks in every room and that goes double for the living room. Some DVRs and things still need an Ethernet connection. It’s also nicer to use Ethernet instead of wireless (wifi) sometimes as it’s more secure.
  13. In every unit have sort of a “patch bay” for coax where you have an antenna mounted on the roof or in the attic for over the air TV for everyone to tap into, one for satellite and one for cable TV. Then clearly mark the jack for each room and then leave room for the cables so that you can hook things up how you want. Do the same for phone and Ethernet.
  14. In-unit washers and dryers. Don’t have them next to a bedroom.
  15. Separate the bedrooms so they’re all not right next to each other.
  16. A refrigerator of decent size and a good dishwasher that actually cleans the dishes – unlike at one place I was at where I had to hand wash everything.
  17. Built-in microwave above the stove for more counter space.
  18. Plenty of kitchen cabinets.
  19. Wall sockets hooked up to outlets. Have every top jack of outlets hooked up to this switch. Maybe do a dual switch where one goes to the overhead light on the ceiling and the other to the wall jacks. Have plenty of wall jacks, please.
  20. Ample closet/storage space. You’re more likely to sell or rent a unit with ample storage space.
  21. A non-carpeted entryway so that you’re not always cleaning the carpet there. Put in tile or vinyl.
  22. In-ground sprinkler system to keep the lawn nice and green.
  23. Good, thick walls with insulation between units. The condo I’m at now has some special insulation between floors and I can hardly ever hear the people upstairs.
  24. A natural gas plug on the patio/deck so that you can hook it up to your outdoor, gas grill – yes, they can run on natural gas. This way, we don’t have to ever run to stores for propane. My condo has fire sprinklers out on the patios/decks of each unit and this helps pass the fire code and we can have gas grills out there.

Well, that’s it for now – a pretty tall order, I know. It’s kind of a dream apartment/condo feature list or wishlist of sorts.

I may add more things here. Feel free to comment and add more to this list.

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