How To Spot Winning Properties Like An Architect - Fulgar Architects
Architects specializing in parametric design and business approaches for commercial building designs and real estate Philippines.
real property, winning property, invest in philippines, property investment, architect, site, orientation, prevailing winds, construction,
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How To Spot Winning Properties Like An Architect

You may be contemplating on getting into the property markets here in the Philippines either for long-term family investment or development projects on the side. Although shopping around for good deals, securing a bargain, or trying to pick out the better lot in a village is more about understanding how investment numbers work, the physical problems you later encounter while trying to work on a project with your architect or contractor are as much important in making informed decisions.

The oldest rule of thumb goes with the saying “Location. Location. Location.” But that isn’t really being helpful. What exactly is a good location? How can we just look at a land enough to agree that it is a good spot?

Architects are trained to look into the many conditions of a land and could be one of your better allies in the property markets. They mostly help out with the technical inquiries of the land. As a practicing architect myself, I often get asked about project issues and risks that I thought could’ve been avoided during site selection processes had the buyers only knew how to look for signs in real properties.

So I decided to put together 8 pointers on how to spot a winning property and share with you.

1. Orientation

When you go site hopping, please bring a small compass with you. Generally there are two things to remember, there is a hot side and a cool side to the land. Where the compass points to South-West side, that area is going to be baked from long sun exposure and are mostly assigned to utilities like service entrances, garage, pump rooms, or laundry. The North-East side is the more comfortable side usually assigned for bedrooms, lounge, or patio areas. Knowing how the site is situated could generally provide you an idea on how to match your future building projects.

2. Prevailing Winds

We live in a tropical climate. Sadly most Filipinos don’t realize that but just to reiterate, our winds are unique traits to this country. We have half of the year where monsoon winds come in from the Northeast side called Amihan and another half of the year when the whole thing flips around to Southwest side which we refer to as Habagat.

Knowing how your winds operate in an area depending on barriers and deflections from other structures could reduce your air-conditioning load requirements and thereby reduce your recurring operational and maintenance costs for the entire life cycle of the building.

3. Zoning

Zoning ordinances and regulations normally set the limitations on how you use your property. In essence, you cannot simply intend to develop a commercial establishment on an agricultural land or develop residential housing units in an industrial zone without bearing some of the legal and technical consequences.

The Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) maps out the zoning ordinances and prepares the Comprehensive Land Use Plan guidebook here in the Philippines. It would be wise to update oneself of the restrictions or coordinate with your architect from time to time.

4. Disaster Areas

Maybe there is a good reason why some properties are real bargains and why people are trying to get rid of them. Yes, living near fault areas may not be encouraging but then again when the tectonic plates do move, I believe the impact would be equally devastating to everyone in Metro Manila no matter where you are.

My real concern is something that occurs frequently like flooding. Not only do we experience heavy torrential rains but let’s face it, our country’s drainage and sanitary systems aren’t exactly that efficient. So when you decide to live here, embrace flood realities.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) have an online facility called the Philippine Flood Hazard Maps where you can go check places affected by the 5, 25, or 100 year Flood Hazard zones. This information could provide you the sense of risk involved with your particular investment.

5. Water Run-off

Remember that water seeks its own level. Be observant of level differences not only within the project site you are looking at but also around the area at least a block in radius. Again, being in a tropical country, water management is always crucial to the design of a project. Walk around the streets and observe areas that are higher or depressions where large amount of rainwater might collect. Try to determine if the terrain permits natural water run-off with nearby creeks, river, or pond or if the surrounding ground surface allows enough permeability. See how fences or retaining walls are previously built in the area. If they seem to be tilting but not due to poor workmanship, bearing cracks with eroded reinforcing bars, then chances are that water in the area gets to accumulate in the soil. Best to speak to a local resident and ask about existing municipal drainage or sanitary systems.

6. Surrounding Community

How are the economic conditions situated? It is always good to note the proximity to commercial establishments, restaurants, schools, medical facilities, transportation terminals, road networks and other amenities as well as how the local vibrancy affects the mobility and culture of the place.

Security is definitely a key ingredient. You may want safe access routes with well-lighted roads, hopefully less vagrancy or informal settlers, and definitely with better visibility to barangay halls or police stations. Before you acquire a property, include in your budget plans the cost for surveyors for fencing up the perimeter immediately.

Noise can also affect the sale or rental of a place depending on what your intended project plans are. Of course selling a townhouse project for young couples trying to raise children may not go well with constant noise coming from vehicular traffic such as trucks and motorized tricycles.

7. Neighboring Structures

This is different from the economic activity. What we are investigating here are the physical attributes of neighboring buildings adjacent to the site, in front of the site, as well as to the rear. I’d probably start first by identifying the tallest structure in the vicinity. This gives me a fair gauge as to the allowable building height limit as mandated by local laws as well as the geo-technical conditions of the soil for it to withstand such structure. In effect, that early visual information can already open up the types of project possibilities a real estate can have.

Something to watch out as well are the road right of way to rear inside lots. Sometimes the declared lot area size in the Transfer Certificate of Title may not accurately reflect the amount of square meters you might have to give up for the right of passage.

Are there electrical lines in front of the site that could possibly obstruct future operations or entry of heavy machinery during development and construction stage? Although you can coordinate with Meralco with the transfer of these lines, the request alone can cost a lot of time and money. Related to this, also check to see if the building materials used surrounding the site are fire hazardous or prone to other catastrophic events.

8. Shape of the Lot

As much as we architects are drawn to fascinating shapes of a lot, understand that the irregularities of the lot also proposes complexities in maximizing the potential of the project. Therefore the complexities may propose for a longer time needed to balance the structural with circulations, architectural design, and other utility requirements. But then again, such design challenges from oddly shaped parcel of lands consequently creates the character and the interest in building forms.

Another thing to note that vehicular access and parking areas can take a good chunk of equity away from the frontage of a property. That is why most developers prefer shallow but wider frontage over deeper lots with a narrow frontage because they can manage without the need for a common corridor road to reach the end units.

Share The Architect’s Love

So there you have it. My 8 pointers to help you look an investment site with a technical eye and save you lots of trouble further down the road when you start working with your architects and contractors. If you have anything else to add to the list or would have questions for architects, I would love to hear them! Kindly leave your comments below or follow us on any of our social media accounts. For any inquiries about Philippine architectural or construction projects please feel free to contact us.

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Ian Fulgar

Architect and artist. A bit of a technologist. Ian investigates and innovates the next in Philippine architectural design, real estate opportunities for commercial building design, offices, rental business and special buildings such as museums, resorts, commercial complex, brand stores, apartment residences, iconic investments, or adaptive reuse requirements.

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