With Albury 1 now completed and buyers set to receive their Vacant Possession (VP) letter this month, we list down our top 10 renovation tips and tricks to not only ensure uniformity in your facade, but also capital appreciation of your home.
By Khalil Adis
I know most of you are excited about the Vacant Possession (VP) of your home this month, judging by the amount of reactions, comments and enquiry we had received over at Albury @ Mahkota Hills’ Facebook page.
However, I would like to share the following excerpt from my book, Property Buying for Gen Y, before you move in:
“Many people have the perception that renovating a home has to cost an arm and a leg. In the past, I have seen clients who had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hacking walls, adding a certain design feature such as cascading waterfalls and what not believing that all these will enhance their property values.
They had the impression that when they sell their property in future, they can include all these renovation costs and recoup their spending. Well, guess what? Valuers do not take into consideration how much you had spent on your home renovation, unless it adds value to your property such as repairing beams and columns, leaking roofs, doing additions and alterations that adds space (usually for landed homes) and such.”
While I understand you might be feeling ecstatic as you will soon be receiving your house keys, I would like you to keep your emotions in check so that you do not spend beyond your means when it comes to redesigning your home facade.
When doing such renovation work, do bear in mind this will impact the overall facade and the uniformity of the entire township development. Here are my top ten renovation golden rules:
#1: Less is more
The rule of thumb when it comes to renovation is not to spend more that 10 per cent of the value of your property. For example, if your had bought a property worth RM200, 000. You should not spend more than RM20, 000 for your home renovations.
#2: Doing additions and alterations (A&A) will enhance your property values
Valuers do not take into consideration how much you had spent on your home renovation, unless it adds value to your property such as repairing beams and columns, leaking roofs, doing additions and alterations that adds space (usually for landed homes) and such.
If you want to see an immediate capital appreciation of you property, this is the first thing you must do. The money spent on doing additions and alterations (A&A) goes a long way as every additional space adds value to your property. It also makes sense as you will need the additional space as when your family gets bigger. So forget those lavish ponds and fountains. Do an A&A instead.
#3: Maintain the colour scheme
While you have the freedom to choose the facade colour of your house, I would urge you to maintain the current colour scheme as much as possible as this will impact the desirability of the township development and therefore the capital appreciation of your property.
Imagine how awful the facade of the entire township will look like as you are driving in should your neighbours decide to go with a polka dot theme while another features hideous Roman columns. When it comes to facade renovation, the entire community must have a shared sense of responsibility as one neighbour’s poor design tastes can adversely affect the value of the entire property along the stretch.
If you want to go for other colours, I would urge you to choose light colours like white, beige and cream as they help to reflect heat. Dark colours absorb heat leading to heat gain.
#4: Use neutral colours:
In my course of work, I have had the privilege to pick the brains of some of the top designers and architects in South East Asia. From designing luxury hotels to bespoke residences, they all seem to agree certain colours are easier on the eyes.
So go for neutral colours like black, white, beige and a hint of wood as they speak of luxury and sophistication. Neutral colours are also easy on the eyes and are generally easier to capture the attention of a prospective buyer should you have the intention of selling or renting out your property. If you need to use black, use is sparingly to accentuate your facade. Otherwise, your utility bills will hurt your wallet!
#5: Use sun-shading devices such as fins, screens and so on
We all complain about the hot Malaysian weather. However, there are architectural design tips and tricks that can help you to reduce heat gain in your house. In the field of architecture, we always advocate the use of natural ventilation as much as possible. Air-conditioning should only be adopted once the design basics have been adhered to.
What are they? Firstly, you need to study the orientation of your home. You should choose homes in the north-south orientation to avoid the afternoon heat and reduce heat gain in your house. This facing is the most ideal as it is cooling and reduces your utility bills. Secondly, use sun shading devices like fins and perforated screen panels. Sun shading fins come in either vertical or horizontal claddings and they act as cooling devices to create a soothing micro-climate.
According to the Green Building Index guideline by the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM), horizontal fins are suited for exterior walls facing the east-west orientation as they help to block direct heat gain from the sun. Meanwhile, vertical fins are suited for exterior walls that faces south orientation as they provide much needed shade to cool the facade. It is best to adopt these fins along the entire length on both side of the facade to promote cross-ventilation which can cool the interior of your home.
Other methods you can adopt include recessed windows to avoid direct sun, particularly for exterior walls that are facing the east-west orientation.
#6: Check the site orientation before deciding to install glass panels
While glass panels may give your facade a sleek look, it can also lead to heat gain similar to the greenhouse effect. Glass panels facing the east-west orientation exposes your home to direct sun. This then traps heat in your home leading to an increase in the indoor temperature. This leads to higher use of your air-conditioning system and therefore an increase in your utility bills.
If you do need to use glass panels, the ideal facing should be on the north-south orientation. You should also include window openings throughout the entire length of both exterior walls to promote natural cooling via cross-ventilation. When possible, try to use double-insulated glass panels. Although slightly more expensive, they go a long way as they help reduce heat gain and noise pollution leading to a cooler, quieter home.
#7: Ensure plenty of windows to maximise natural lighting and ventilation
When I was reporting on the ground, I had the opportunity to speak to feng shui practitioners and they all agree that a home that is well ventilated immediately has a therapeutic effect and lifts up the energy in your home.
Windows also help to reduce heat gain. According to the Green Building Index guideline by PAM, the best option for the Malaysian climate is to have recessed windows as they work effectively on any orientations while ensuring plenty of natural lighting. You might also want to include a window on a higher level on the North facing exterior wall to expel hot air and promote circulation.
Collectively, these design features will help to cool your home naturally, reduce your reliance on air-conditioning which leads to long-term cost savings on your utility bills. Most importantly, it will make your home more liveable and comfortable for the entire family to enjoy.
#8: Grow, grow, glow
Having a plenty of lush landscaping is not only visually appealing but also helps to reduce heat gain the natural way. You can start by incorporating green walls on your facade, especially those on the east-west orientation as they face direct sunlight. Green walls are also recognised by LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), an internationally recognised certification programme for buildings for sustainable development. Such design feature not only cools your home from the inside and out, but also filters out harmful dusts and other pollutants. In addition, research has shown that green walls help in increasing your property value.
For landscaping, you can head to the nurseries in Sungai Buloh where you can purchase various plants, shrubs, stones, and other gardening ornaments at wholesale prices. The best plants are those that provide plenty of shade while helping to cool your home, especially for exterior walls facing the west orientation. Suitable plants include mango, palm, durian and banana trees.
Next, look for shrubs such ferns, orchids, hibiscus and such to accentuate your garden. For a finishing touch, decorate your garden with wooden or stone pavements leading to your main entrance. This gives your home a homely and welcoming feel.
#9: Let there be light
Now that you have a well manicured garden complete with lush landscaping, it’s time to add in lights. The right lighting can create a dramatic effect to the entrance of your home. For instance, you should consider using lanterns or indirect floor lights along the sides of your pathway or pavements to highlight the trees and shrubs. This gardening design trick is often utilised in five-star hotels, spas and resorts to create a breathtaking experience. With all these design tips and tricks, heaven can indeed be a place on earth.
#10: Harness the art of feng shui
Lastly, you should consider harnessing the natural energy around your environment to bring in good energy to your home while minimising the bad through the ancient art of feng shui. This is especially true for Albury @ Mahkota Hills as it is located very near to the scenic Broga Hill. According to Prof. Joe Choo, President of the Malaysian Institute of Geomancy Sciences here are the list of do’s and don’ts:
a) Find out your Gua number which is based on your date of birth to choose a property with the right facing and door location to harness positive energy to enrich your life
b) If you are not sure of what is the best colour to use based on your Gua number or date of birth, you may use white, grey, beige and black because these are the neutral colours. For those born during summer and winter, it is best to avoid red colour for summer and blue for winter.
c) Avoid having sharp corners while doing renovation within the house
d) Having a fish pond or water features at the garden at the right spot helps to cultivate wealth and health
e) To create harmony in your living environment, avoid placing stove and basin opposite or next to each other
f) Never place your study table and bed under a beam or next to pillar
g) Ensure your bedside table is either the same height or lower than the bed to have a good sleep
Before embarking on your renovation work, do bear in mind there are state laws that you need to comply with. Failure to do so will result in you having to pay a hefty fine. Here are the laws governing the Nilai Municipal Council:
1. Additions and alterations works without prior approval from the Nilai Municipal Council are against the law and subject to the following:
a) A maximum fine of RM20,000 (Section 70 (11), Street Drainage and Building Act 1974
2. Demolition or removal of unauthorised building (Section 72 (6) Street Drainage and Building Act 1974
Failure to comply with the notice will result in:
a) A maximum fine of RM5,000 or
b) Imprisonment not more than 3 years or both
c) Additional fines at RM1,000 for each day if the above offences remain (Section 70 (13d) Street Drainage and Building Act 1974
d) Fine of up to 20 times the planning process will be implemented during the time of submission (Section 70 (14) Street Drainage and Building Act 1974
Some parts contain excerpt from Khalil Adis’s book Property Buying for Gen Y