We all know that low price and high quality do not always go together…
but when it comes to affordable housing, you can lower development costs without sacrificing quality.
Mixed-income affordable housing development in the U.S. consists of diverse housing units such as apartments, condos and single-family homes for people of various income levels.
To successfully develop mixed-income, tenant-based affordable housing, designers and developers should focus on the conceptualization of the project and think long term, not short term, using better quality materials that will stand the test of time and save on maintenance costs.
Here are four ways of lowering affordable housing development costs without sacrificing quality.
1. Design holistically from the start
Ninety percent of construction problems—and budget overruns—stem from a lack of organization among the main groups working in a project. This can be easily avoided.
Put on your project management hat. Align all the consultants at the beginning stages of the project, not when problems arise. Make sure all of them—from the civil engineer to the interior designer and everyone else in between: mechanical engineers, electricians, plumbers, landscape architects—are on the same page.
2. Minimize customized designs
Use cost-effective, modular construction methods such as simple, repetitive structures, standard materials, premade windows and modular fixtures. For example, design the same kitchen for all units regardless of the number of bedrooms, and use good quality, long-lasting modular kitchen counters and cabinets, as well as standard toilets and tubs. The less you customize, the more you save.
3. Think maintenance
Design thinking about how the exterior and interior spaces, structures and fixtures will be maintained. For example, if you design a 24-foot high entrance that calls for a beautiful lantern porch light, how will the light bulb get changed? You have just made that entrance more difficult and costly to maintain.
4. Use accessible, universal, local materials
Trendy styles can be tempting, but they can also be costly in the short- and long-term. Choosing a fashionable floor tile is more likely to cost you more up front and in the back end when you have to replace it in two years only to find it is no longer available on the market.
Affordable housing development calls for easily accessible, local, universal materials and fixtures that have been around for years and thus have staying power. The same goes for the exterior: choose local plants that fit the climate and that require less expense to keep.
To sum it all up:
Affordable housing and quality can go—and should go—together. The secret is in using good design and planning practices, thinking long term and paying attention to every detail.