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I was wanting play around with some multi-family buildings and was hoping to get some input from some of you who build them.

I'm interested in finding out what kind of size constraints you run into most often, number of bedrooms per unit most commonly desired and anything else you can think of that seem to be commonly desired elements.

I realize this is a very general question...think of it as a place to start.

Thank you,

Rick
 

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I have a duplex plan which I like. It is 24x72 with a full basement. Each unit has two large bedrooms and a standard bath. I rent them. I have found that I don't want to rent out a home larger than a two bedroom.

The basement has an exterior staircase and two 4wx5h windows. So it could have up to 3 more bedrooms, but probably just two bedrooms and one office/living room. The laundry is also downstairs, as is another bathroom.

I think these are flexible because they can be split into separate townhouses and sold with a finished basement or a finishable basement. The exterior access staircase is nice because people always bring a lot of belongings with them.

Each also has a 24x24 garage.

You could build the same thing 24x64 and just make the bedrooms smaller. I opted for the 72 because then I have 900 square feet per unit, which qualifies me for the energy star rebates.
 

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I would start with knowing all the ADA stuff, like the 5' radius in restrooms, slope access, larger door ROs.

Carpet comes in 12' wide rolls around here...so I would try to keep the rooms 12' or less in one direction.

Floor trusses will help with mechanicals and any sprinkling...if I joists are used, look at 9' walls over 8' ones. Then you have workable furr down options.

Fire ratings are also big. Stairwells, hallways, party walls (between units),
fire stop blocking, etc.

I find that most architects design one or two units then it is all mirror and flip to get to the size required.

I cadded out the structure you see below for a wall panel company last year. Once you think of an apartment complex as a single unit, flipped and rotated many times, it gets easy to make a successful plan to design / build them.

 

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I have a duplex plan which I like. It is 24x72 with a full basement. Each unit has two large bedrooms and a standard bath. I rent them. I have found that I don't want to rent out a home larger than a two bedroom.

The basement has an exterior staircase and two 4wx5h windows. So it could have up to 3 more bedrooms, but probably just two bedrooms and one office/living room. The laundry is also downstairs, as is another bathroom.

I think these are flexible because they can be split into separate townhouses and sold with a finished basement or a finishable basement. The exterior access staircase is nice because people always bring a lot of belongings with them.

Each also has a 24x24 garage.

You could build the same thing 24x64 and just make the bedrooms smaller. I opted for the 72 because then I have 900 square feet per unit, which qualifies me for the energy star rebates.
Cleveman,
Do you have some basic specs I could look at?
 

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I have prints (paper). Otherwise, you can ask me any questions you want. You can PM me. I can email you photos, but I've never had any luck posting photos here.
 

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Rick, I've been into multi-family for 30 years, trends have changed many times over the years. If you are in the market to design, amenities are the game. Not in just the unit itself but common areas too. Fitness centers, business centers, tanning rooms, carports, garages .... something to sell prospective tenants. If you're thinking of investing, consider student housing where you rent by the bed. For example, take a market where a 950sf 2 B/R apartment on the conventional side might rent for $1000. In the student housing market that same apartment could rent for as much as $1600 (2 bedrooms at $800 each). Primarily I do acquisition rehabs. I see all the pit falls of design, all the pit falls of costly (deferred) maintenance. Water intrusion is the most common problem I see. From a design standpoint, keep the roofs simple, design adequate gutter/downspout and drainage and flash all transitions properly. Water cut offs at each building if not each individual apartment, easy access to HVAC filters, sill pans on exterior doors and keep the trees, shrubs and sprinkler systems as far away from the building as possible. Good luck with your endeavor and feel free to email me should you desire.
 

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Around here a building with more than 4 units has to be done by an architect. I'm sure that could be different in other areas of the country.

I have recently built some 8 and 12 unit stacked condos and also 4 unit side by side townhomes. I'd be happy to share floor plans and elevations if that would be helpful. They are DWG format.


Sam
 
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