A recent article from Kephart, a design firm in Colorado, explored the differences between condo residences and apartments (Condo vs Apartment Design). A primary item they found was that condos focus on permanency, similar to the design of a single-family home, while the design of apartments focuses more on temporary living. Additionally, the location of the dwelling and the demography of the community play a major role in the overall design.
Here is a short guide that lists their results.
EXTERIOR STYLE – CONDO – More traditional and timeless architecture; low maintenance materials; thoughtful landscaping with attractive plantings; APARTMENT – Eye-catching colors to attract renters and add to curb appeal.
PARKING – CONDO – Many options for homeowners, such as garages, tandem parking spaces, permanent spaces. APARTMENT – Variety of options not a priority, garage itself is amenity, not the parking spot.
INTERIOR DESIGN FEATURES – CONDO – Extra storage space near unit; personalization of hallways, entries, stairwells and front doors; entry to community is comfortable and looks more like entrance to a boutique hotel; higher-end materials, finishes and appliances. APARTMENT – Storage space not as important, little personalization in common areas, such as hallways and front door. Entry design needs a “wow” factor to generate interest.
AMENITIES – CONDO – Efficient, well-equipped fitness space; No leasing office; Amenities designed to put less burden on HOA or homeowner’s expense; location of clubhouse determined by desire for privacy and ease of access for owner; valet and/or doorman. APARTMENT – Large fitness room, Leasing office is large and easily seen; lavish amenity space to appeal to renters; smaller staff at front desk; clubhouse should have “wow” factor near building entrance to attract renters.
UNIT DETAILS – CONDO – Offer optional finishes as custom packages; optional kitchen layouts and flex room spaces; unit sizes are often larger and a wider variety of floor plans; more storage spaces and fewer studios; balconies are larger and able to accommodate a table and chairs; actual dining space may matter more due to demographics; bedroom size larger to accommodate king or queen beds; higher quality sound-proofing and insulation; more efficient energy and mechanical systems; higher quality lighting design. APARTMENT – Little or no optional finishes; pre-set floor plan; standard unit size with smaller mix of units; balconies may be an added feature; standard sound-proofing; standard lighting package and energy efficiency systems within code to minimum standards.