Case study: Renovation No.1

Cape Town, City Bowl 2001

The biggest advantage of buying off plan is that you skip the transfer fees. These continually creep up in SA (reaching up to 11% of the purchase price).

We were a newly married couple, with minimal budget and getting your foot in the door in Cape Town was not easy – even back then. We did stick to our guns with where we wanted to live and eventually found this little development.

The biggest risk of buying off plan is that the developer can go bang, which he did. We were relatively lucky in that most of it was already built, but had to add in some payments to get the finishes done.

It was my first lesson in how finishes are the main factor in how successful a build is. Almost any structure has potential when in building stage. It’s the choice of windows, heights, wall and roof finishes that can kill a building.

Sadly, the closer the building came to completion, this started to emerge. Everything was cheap and nasty. However, we had insisted on completing our own finishes and I was in heaven. Every little detail was much considered and planned. We did have a limited budget, so I had to compromise on many things.

The good

  • The first time I left a ceiling open to gain height.
  • Tweaking floor plan design. It’s amazing what one wall change can do. A scale drawing is all you need to realise full potential of a space.

The bad

  • Ceramic tiles that look like something they’re not – in this case terracotta. Tiles that look like wood? Don’t. Do. It.

The ugly

Melamine kitchen. It was my last and only foray into these horrors. Anything is better – even painted ply. I’m going to put it down to being new to renovating and being overwhelmed with choices.

Final word

This space became too small for us and the traffic too noisy. But once we got the taste of being able to create our own space, we wanted more.

For more on the next project, click here.

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