Choosing a well-designed apartment in the Northern Districts

So you are thinking of downsizing or buying an investment property or a retirement villa, and have started looking around for a new home. With many new developments going up in the Northern Districts, particularly around Thornleigh and Pennant Hills, I thought I would go over some of the key things you need to look at when choosing your new home.

A well-designed home will improve your quality of life and save you money on both maintenance and running costs. Here are ten things to look at when buying your next property.

First impressions

Does it look good from the street, and fit in well with surrounding buildings and the local character?

Does it appear to be built to a high standard?

Look at the building’s overall appearance and attention to detail when it comes to smaller elements such as letterboxes and staircases. Is it elegant and high-quality? Would you feel happy to live there?

What’s the landscaping like?

Are there shady trees and gardens, and are they well-maintained and in good condition? Is there any shared outdoor space for residents to enjoy?

How big is the entire apartment building?

Ideally you want something that ‘fits in’ with its surroundings, both now and into the future. Also look at how welcoming it is at ground level and what your daily access will be like.

Form and function

Look closely at the layout and the materials. The layout should be functional and well-planned, with good sized-rooms. Circulation spaces, such as hallways and entries, should be generous and easy to navigate.

This is something you ‘know’ when you are looking at an actual property, but is harder to judge when buying off-the-plan. If that’s the case, look carefully at the plans or better still, have someone with a building or architecture background study them for you.

Off-the-plan buyers can also get the measurements of their unit and then check these against existing units for sale eg at open homes.

Another point: banks are often reluctant to lend on really small properties. Many require units or studios to be at least 45 square metres, excluding balconies and carparks. So check with your lender if you are considering a studio.

Finally, look at how much storage space you will have, including built-in storage and space for your own furniture, such as wardrobes. And look at the finishes – are they high-quality, robust and easy to maintain?

How sustainable is it?

A well-designed home will minimise energy use, through the careful positioning of windows and outdoor spaces, and good insulation. A west-facing living room is going to be very hot in summer and expensive to cool, whereas a north-facing one will be cooler in summer and also warm in winter thanks to its orientation. Windows facing east and west are sometimes unavoidable, but ideally should have some shading.

Can you open windows on opposite sides of a space to allow breezes to flow through? Good cross-ventilation can make a huge difference in the hotter months.

And ask about the development’s sustainability rating. Ideally you want a minimum of six out of ten stars in the NatHERS (Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme) rating.

Comfort and privacy

A well-designed apartment should feel quiet, comfortable and secure. Check where the bedrooms are located and if you’ll be able to enjoy a good night’s sleep, and how much privacy there is from neighbours with blinds, screens and hedges. Also consider how much natural light the rooms receive.

Is there good accessibility?

Look at how easy it is to get to your apartment, where the parking is in relation to your front door, and how easy it will be for visitors to find you. What is the security like, and is there a lift? And is there designated visitor parking? All these things will make a big difference to your daily life.

Does it feel safe?

While you want privacy within your home, it’s also good to have some contact with neighbours so you can keep an eye on each other. Are there communal areas and balconies? And are communal areas and carparks well-lit and secure? If you’re living in an urban area, is the street lively, with people coming and going? All these things contribute to a building’s safety.

Is there a sense of community?

A well-designed home will give residents some contact with neighbours, and the local area. Do you have public transport, parks, shops, cafes, a GP, library or local pool nearby? Not all of these will be important to everyone, but think about your own needs and what you want to have within walking distance.

Talk to me

I am always happy to talk to people who are thinking of downsizing and want some advice on how to make the process as easy as possible. Please feel free to give me a call today.


Karen Page
Friendly, caring and attentive, Karen Page is a customer focused professional with a genuine passion for helping people transition through the different stages of their life.