Condo landscaping tips for curb appeal
Residents of multi-part condominium towers share the same front door. It should be on every condo management and board of directors to-do list to keep the front entrance up to date and in A-1 condition. After all, maintaining the curb appeal not only ensures that owners get the pleasure of arriving and leaving their homes on a daily basis, but it also reduces annual maintenance issues for management. It also enables brokers to brand listings within the home with a new face. The return on investment is always favorable.
The problem for many GTA condominiums is that their current outdoor spaces don’t match the investments they’ve already made in renovated lobbies and corridors. As a result, residents are starting to ignore the entrances to their buildings, and there is a downward spiral of tired looking hardscape and eyesore patchwork repairs.
One of the easiest ways to cheer up a tired entrance is by adding outdoor awnings. They not only offer sun and snow protection, but can also develop a new branding for the apartment with selected colors, logos and lettering.
Working with an experienced awning company is critical to establishing the required signage and awning regulations. A good rule of thumb for design is to avoid awnings that sit more than 21 inches from the wall of the building at the base. More than 21 inches would create an awning angle that is unacceptable to the local community building department.
Awnings can also illuminate an entrance with the latest LED pot lighting attached to the underside of the soffit. These pot lights can be built into new LED wall lights that harmonize like a steel planter with the landscape lighting and the illuminated letters on the front of a focal point.
There’s more to it than that
Consulting a legal survey to determine the property line is an essential first step in any improvement project. A main entrance could actually be on the city property. Many of Toronto’s condominiums were built under special development agreements that enabled local right of way to be built.
In order to renovate such an entry, the project managers need to obtain a series of building permits and allow an engagement agreement between their clients and the city. This will ultimately protect the investment from damage that could be caused by future underground utilities or improvements to the street scene.
Careful planning, options for high and low design costs, and a “look at me” approach to street design will quickly transform any curbside project into improved property value.
Curb Appeal Case Studies
Following the feel and taste of the lobby interior is always a great way to advance the design of the exterior of the entrance. Imagine inside and outside as one space, despite the seasonal climate.
In the Citysphere Condominiums, an existing landing, ramp and railing were not functional, the landing was too small and the ramp too narrow. A first step was to improve access through an extended landing and a wider wheelchair ramp and railing. Existing granite paving stones were recycled when creating the new landing and ramp. Dry-laid granite and other permanent stones are preferable to mortar.
The use of de-icing salt has been so intensified by snow removal companies that mortar joints are quickly eaten away, leading to ongoing maintenance problems. The advantage of dry-laid paving stones is that repairs can be easily carried out on site without having to knock out existing surfaces that are stuck to a concrete base. Matching new stone or concrete to old can prove impossible as these surfaces age and change in tonality.
In the downtown market square, the flooring of the interior lobby renovation was completed with dramatic, alternating horizontal sections of see-through porcelain tiles. The goal was to reproduce this pattern in the outside paving stones and to include a new welcome mat made of durable, long-lasting porcelain paving stones of the whole season that extends to the side of the road. A dramatic acrylic light box blends the aesthetics of the interior design with the exterior and provides much-needed entrance lighting for the shady pedestrian zones that lead to the front door.
Kent Ford is the founder and CEO of Kent Ford Design Group Inc., a Toronto-based landscaping and project management company. (www.kentforddesign.com). He can be reached at 416-368-7175 or [email protected]
Photo: Unique plant materials like Arnold’s Promise Witch Hazel bloom in full, fragrant bloom in February and last for weeks.