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When you deal with us YOU'LL BENEFIT GREATLY from the fact that we listen, and we care, and we will act to exceed your expectations and provide the best customer experience possible.

We'll also welcome your comments (even your complaints), because we firmly believe that every interaction is an opportunity for us to improve our service.


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Hiring a good building contractor is the key to getting the most for your money. The experience, skill, efficiency, and contacts of a seasoned professional can yield dividends for years.

We have set out to briefly cover three points when it comes to building your dream home in the limited space available here:


Selecting Your Land - Finding The Erf That Works For You

Finding the right Erf can involve many, many hours of time and energy. It is always far easier to select a home to fit your Erf rather than adjusting your Erf to fit a home plan you may have in mind. So let's take a quick look at selecting a vacant stand for your dream home. You want to make very sure that the spot you pick to build your dream home doesn't have any hidden problems. Location is a huge factor in your enjoyment of the new home and the resale potential. In fact you may have heard the old property maxim - position, position, position - and it's so, so true.

You can have a look at some housing estates where you can choose your own builder and also design to your own specifications (within their prescribed boundaries) and consequently avoid sometimes exorbitant building costs by going to our page Some Estates.

If you already own a plot or are still searching for the right one there are several matters to consider.

World-wide, purchasers must take into account things like, wild fires, wind, flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, winter ice or summer sun, and so on. But of course most of these don't apply to Gauteng. With our beautiful weather we are able to concentrate more on aspects such as location, length of commute to work, suitability of schools, neighborhood, distance to shopping, building costs, soil conditions and rates and taxes. Some plots are special because of the view they offer. Other locations may be important for personal reasons.

In this short article several aspects of vacant plots are considered, aspects that are easy to overlook in the enthusiasm of getting going on your new home.

Ground Conditions

If a building is to be constructed in an area with clay soils one should be aware that clay soils have been found to expand 23 cm or more if subjected to long cycles of drying or wetting, thus producing powerful forces that can shear foundations and lift lightweight buildings. Some soils with high organic content may, over time, compress under the building load to a fraction of their original volume, causing the structure to settle. Other soils tend to slide under loads.

Soils that have been modified in some way often perform differently, especially when other soil has been added to or mixed with existing soil, or when the soil has been made wetter or drier than normal, or when cement or chemicals such as lime have been added. Sometimes the soil under a proposed building varies so greatly over the entire site that a building simply cannot be constructed safely or economically.

Soil and geological analyses are necessary, therefore, to determine whether a proposed building can be supported adequately and what would be the most effective and economical method of support.

If there is sound bedrock a short distance below the surface of the construction site, the area over which the building loads are distributed can be quite small because of the strength of the rock. As progressively weaker rock and soils are encountered, however, the area over which the loads are distributed must be increased.

Do not purchase an Erf if you have even the slightest suspicion of soil condition problems - it can cost you a small fortune.

Subdivision Constraints

You should check for any title deed conditions and restrictions. These can be crucial to what you can do on a plot, even what kind of house can be built on it. Normally, you’ll have to sign a document acknowledging that you agree to abide by the restrictions before you get title to your land. The sales agent may not tell you or may not even know that there are any restrictions. At other times agents may make a big thing of telling you how great the restrictions are, and how they really add value to the property. But what they may not tell you is that no restrictions are worth the paper they’re written on if they’re not enforced. 

You should therefore ask for (and get) a copy of the draft title deeds if a plot interests you. And before you buy read these carefully. There just might be some constraints, or lack of them, that would make the property unacceptable to you. As a final step, check with other homeowners in the same subdivision or area and see just how effectively the conditions and restrictions are enforced.

The House and the Plot

You need to visualize how the house will fit on the plot. You need to also take into account local ordinances and National Building Regulations, which place other restrictions on your design. These dictate the amount of empty space required in the front, back and sides of the home under consideration.

If there are, or will be, houses on adjacent plots, you should check how much privacy you’ll have. A decent fence might be all you’ll need. But when an adjacent house suddenly has two stories or when it’s above yours on a hillside, the neighbors may have a great view of your back or side yard — and also perhaps into your bathrooms and bedrooms.

If you’ve already decided on a floor plan, check the orientation of the house relative to the sun and the street. The street usually dictates how the house will sit on the lot. If you pick a lot for its view, find out what protection you have to prevent someone from building in front of you and blocking your view. The recent Natal court ruling on view blocking is of great interest to anyone with a view. But who wants to get entangled in protracted lawsuits. If you find a plot problematic, or the house you want just isn't compatible with the stand - walk away.

Hillside Plots

Hillside plots are attractive because they often include a view. One of the main drawbacks of scenic hillside houses is the strong possibility of persistent winds, especially in the afternoons. These are often strong enough to be downright annoying. Strong winds blowing against windows cause noise, and when the winds are continuous, the noise can become depressing. So look out for this.

You can expect to pay a premium for these plots in two ways:

1  The price will be higher than comparably sized lots.

2  You’ll have to move more dirt and pour more concrete than normal.

If you are going to build there, be sure to have an engineering study done to find out how the foundations should be done and what the costs will be. Another concern you should have with hillside plots is the steepness of the driveway and the cost associated with building it.

Ground Water, Grading and Drainage

How can you tell if ground water is present? If the plot hasn’t been graded clear of vegetation, be suspicious when you see a heavy thicket of greenery. Ask to see any engineering reports made on the plot or the subdivision. Talk to neighboring property owners to see if they’ve had water problems during the rainy season. Also, check what happens to water from an adjacent plot located above yours. If it runs on to your plot, ask what’s being done about it. If you’re not satisfied, find another plot—or you may be faced with a lake in your yard when the rains come. The presence of ground water will often also mean extra expenses for foundation and drainage. And, if not taken care of properly, it can be a source of problems later on.

You’ll need adequate drainage from the plot. And getting involved in pumps to get the water back up to the storm drain in the street can be expensive. These sump pumps are also often noisy and cause maintenance headaches. 

Above-Ground Utilities And Utility Boxes

When a plot of land is being subdivided there will sometimes be a set of power poles and lines running along one or more sides of it. Lots along those sides will then have the power and telephone lines in front of their houses. Utility boxes are also often forgotten when people look at a piece of property. In new developments with utility wiring run underground, the power company must put their transformers someplace. In some areas these may also be underground but, if they’re not, they’re an eyesore, especially if the box housing the transformer is in front of your house. 

You don’t have much to say about where utility boxes will be located, but at least you can see where they are when it comes time to select an Erf. And remember, when it comes time to sell, prospective buyers will see things like this.

Traffic Noise

Traffic and traffic noise will affect the resale value of the property. Take the time to find out what future traffic patterns are planned around any Erf you consider. Stay as far away from freeways as you can and at least a block away from what could become a major arterial.

Outside noise can come from sources other than traffic. Railroads, even those several blocks away, can generate noise you’d rather not have. Also check how close the Erf is to an airport - commercial or military - any excessive noise can affect the resale value of the property in the future years.

Always remember that there is a continuous cycle of buying and selling in the property market. The main contributing factor is due to the fact that normal folks generally buy a minimum of three homes during their lifetimes. Broadly speaking the first one is the starter, one then upgrades to something bigger to accommodate your children, after which the children leave home and the house simply becomes to big for two people.

Corner Erven

There are pros and cons about corner erven. You have one less abutting neighbor but you also have two sides of the house facing a street, making for more maintenance of lawns and shrubs; at the same time, your backyard becomes visible from the street.

These erven are favorites for people who cut corners, either on foot or on bicycles. It may take a fence to stop them and a fence may not be aesthetically pleasing to you, or inline with your vision of your dream home.

If you buy a corner Erf and the front of the house faces the same street as the garage, be sure the garage side of the house is away from the corner. You may have to reverse the floor plan to do this. There are several reasons for this:

  • It’s safer to back the car out of the driveway.

  • The side of the house away from the garage is often more attractive from the street.

  • The garage side is where you’re more likely to have garbage cans—items you’d rather not have on the street side of the house.

Your Erf and Vehicle Headlights

While driving at night in a residential neighborhood watch where your headlights hit, particularly on high beam. When they hit the front of a house with sidelights around the door, there will be a flash of light in the entry. When they hit a bedroom window, special attention to window coverings will be needed if sleepers are not to be bothered.

Curving streets and intersections have the potential for this problem. When checking out a Erf, see if cars coming from either direction will be directly facing the side or front of the house. If so, you’ll need to be careful of window placement in bedrooms and entries.

While upstairs bedrooms won’t generally get the full brunt of headlights, they will get some of it. And, if the street is on a grade, even they may not be spared.

There are three types of corner erven to watch for:

  • In a common four-way intersection, all the corner erven will have headlights swing across them as cars turn. Even houses on erven next to those on corners may be affected.

  • When the Erf faces the end of an intersecting street, you’ll have to be careful of the house plan you select because headlights of cars coming up the street will hit the front of your house. And you may just have second thoughts as concerns the possibility of a driver who is inattentive and forgets to turn. In general, these are not the most desirable erven on the block.

  • About as bad is an L where both streets end. Houses on corner erven will face down one of the streets, with the same considerations as the previous situation.

A cul-de-sac is attractive for young families because the closed end can be a relatively safe place for the kids to play. But, for erven at the end, headlights will swing across the fronts of the houses as cars loop around the cul-de-sac. You'll have to watch where you place bedrooms in your design.

Country Erven

When the Erf you’re considering is outside a metropolitan area, you need to remember water, sewer, gas, electricity, telephone, and roads. If you have to drill a well, you need a back-up plan in case the water you get is not potable. If you require a septic tank you need to know if the soil is suitable. The seller may be able to guarantee these things; otherwise make any offer on the Erf subject to your approval of test results.

But before you do that, find out what the utility companies will charge to get power, gas, and telephone to the Erf. Also, find out what the costs will be to have a road extended to it.


Find out if there are any servitudes on the Erf and, if so, what they mean to you. Sometimes it means you have to give up any use of part of your property; other times it means you can’t use it for some purposes. 

Find out before you buy. Be a pain in everybody's neck, but find out - after all it's your hard-earned money at stake.

Containing Building Costs When Designing

Probably the first thing you should realize about building is that construction costs are higher in some areas of Gauteng than in others. The cost of building a home must take into account the variables like labour, material, equipment, climate, building codes, likely job conditions and standard markups in that area.

The second thing is that whilst larger buildings obviously cost more than smaller buildings they generally cost less per square metre than smaller buildings. The prime reason for this is that costs do not rise proportionally with increases in the plan size of a building. As an example, let's take the Preliminary and General items expressed as a percentage of total cost. These tend to decline with an increase in size and cost. A practical illustration would be the construction of two buildings. One for R500 000.00 and another for R1 500 000.00:

Building A

Cost : R500,000.00
Foreman’s salary : R10,000.00/month
Construction time : 3 months

Percentage of on-costs = R10 000 x 3 ÷ (R500,000 – (R10,000 x  3))
= R30 000.00 ÷ 470 000

Building B

Cost : R1 500 000.00
Foreman’s salary : R10 000.00/month
Construction time : 5 months

Percentage of on costs = R10 000 x 5 ÷ (R1,500,000 - (R10,000 x5))

And there are also many other areas in larger buildings where cost reductions may arise due to various savings.

Expensive Building Floor Plan

When consideration is given to estimating the total construction cost of a building probably the single biggest factor to consider is the shape of the outside perimeter. Generally, the more complex the shape, the more expensive the structure per square metre of floor area. The illustration on the left typifies an expensive design. 

Let's illustrate this a bit more by taking a look at two designs that are exactly the same square metres in size viz. 200M2.

Yet the top illustration is going to be far more expensive due to the shape of its design.  Reasons for the increase in costs are:

Building design 1
  1. The first (top) building has a higher perimeter/floor area ratio and will require approximately 6% more external walling to enclose the same floor area than the bottom one.

  2. Setting out costs will also be increased by as much as 50%.

  3. Excavations will cost between 6% and 20% more.

  4. Drainage costs will increase by approximately 25% due to the extra manholes and extra length of piping needed.

  5. Additional costs will also result from other elements of the building such as the walling and roofing due to the work being complicated by the shape.

It can therefore be comfortably concluded that the irregular shapes of buildings add to their overall cost.

Building design 2

The shape classification of multiple story or split-level homes is based on the outline formed by the outer most exterior walls, including the garage area, regardless of the varying level. Most structures have 4, 6, 8 or 10 corners,  Small insets not requiring a change in the roof shape can be ignored when determining the shape.

Note: Generally, square metre calculations are made from outside the exterior wall and do not include decks, porches, garages, basements, attics, and bonus rooms. These should be calculated separately as they cost less per square metre than the house itself. Sometimes advertisers include these to give the impression of additional value. 

Other factors like whether the foundation will be for normal soil conditions, floor, wall, interior and exterior finishes, roof cover, interior partitions, doors, windows, electric wiring and fixtures, rough and finish plumbing, built-in cupboards, supervision, design fees, permits, and the contractors' contingency, overheads and profit also come into the equation. 

Single-family homes vary widely in quality, and quality of construction is a major cost variable. These quality factors relate to design features and construction details that can make a building both more desirable and more costly. When more than basic design elements are present, one must classify the quality higher than would be warranted by materials alone. For example, a circular room costs more than a square room, even when made using the same materials.

And of course, swimming pools, braai areas and beautiful reception rooms will make any home a homeowners dream abode - but they cost. The places to pay most attention to are the kitchen, the bathroom/s, and your general internal and external decor. Any estate agent will tell you that these are the rooms and features that sell a house. And remember you can put beautiful, but inexpensive features by just using your imagination. Take a look at the photo hereunder.

Building With Fireplace Depicting High Ceilings

Fireplaces and high ceilings combined with an open plan design give a home a look of warmth and a feeling of space.

This is actually a very, very small room. It's evident by the closeness of the coaches to the fireplace. In fact the wall is just about .75M from the coach. And check the spiral staircase - another space saver. It's the open plan and the high ceilings that create the impression of spaciousness.

We sincerely hope that this very short précis on some of the influences of design on cost will assist you in understanding some of the elements that play a role in determining building costs.

So let's take a quick look at some feature areas.

Designing Your Kitchen 

Your kitchen may be large or small, frugal or expansive. But, it is where any home user spends more working time than any other room. And it is where it is easy to make design mistakes that can make a home, or parts of it, inefficient and unduly expensive.

Whereas kitchens were once private places solely for food preparation and dishwashing, they are now often multi-purpose, well lit, open spaces used for everything from entertaining to surfing the net. A modern kitchen serves as an ideal hub for the home, where the person preparing the meal is no longer placed in isolation. 

A poorly designed kitchen can be a nightmare that you'll have to live with for a long, long time.

As kitchens have taken on larger roles, they have grown in size as well. There is nothing more reliable to date a home than the size of its kitchen. Even traditional food preparation tasks involve a range of equipment we once never imagined. From microwaves to food processors to bread makers, many countertops have become so crowded that there's no place to put the cutting board! To create an open, versatile, modern kitchen, you almost always have to enlarge the initial envisaged space.

Use the following kitchen design tips only as a guide.

To get a good idea on all the possibilities, visit builder's show homes. Not only will you see the latest in layouts and finishes, you'll also get a pretty good idea of what's popular. That popularity usually translates to higher resale value later on. You can also get ideas from remodeling and home fashion magazines. Home shows offer another opportunity to get ideas.

As you find ideas you like, place sketches, notes, brochures, photocopies, etc. in an idea file. Later, a designer can help you try to work all your favorite features into a good kitchen plan. Bear in mind that basically, contractors tend to be strong on construction but weak on design. Architects are of little use unless they specialize in kitchens and in remodeling rather than new construction. While their designs are often glorious, they are famous for designing things that cost much more than the budget allows. There are, of course, exceptions to all these generalities.

Counter Space: Even large kitchens are difficult to work in if there isn't enough counter space. Plan to cover as much of the area not occupied with appliances with counter tops. 

Choosing Countertops

Countertops are generally made from materials that are durable and, in most cases, easy to maintain. If you're looking at countertops, the material you choose will depend on your budget and the appearance and serviceable qualities you want.

Stone Types

Natural stone, such as granite, is considered to be the height of elegance and will last longer than most kitchens. Stone, however, is very expensive and requires some care. 

Storage: Squeeze as many cabinets into your design as possible. You should also think about the placement of cabinets in relation to appliances. Deep cabinets that can hold plates should be located near the dishwasher, and large cabinets with slide-out drawers should be placed near the oven. The fewer unnecessary steps needed to complete a task, the smoother the function of your kitchen will be.

Built-Ins: Built-in ovens, microwaves and storage for small appliances will make your kitchen appear less cluttered. Waist high sliding shelves that hold mixers and toasters can quickly get small appliances out of sight, but keep them easily at hand. Built-in storage for foods like potatoes and onions, and bread storage cabinets will also give the kitchen a cleaner look.

Roll-Out Pantry: If there isn't enough room for a closet pantry, many cabinet manufacturers now make roll-out pantries. These can be pulled out to view the items you have, but rolled back again. If there isn't room for any type of pantry, consider converting a closet outside of the kitchen to a storage area for fine china, large pots and infrequently used items.

Lighting: An easily overlooked design element is good lighting. Under counter lighting and clean halogen lights can make the space appear larger and more comfortable.

Sinks: A small kitchen does not have to have a small sink! A large sink will make it easier for you to clean large pots and pans, and is a great place to stash the dirty pots before you have a chance to rinse them. If you are in an apartment or a small house, a large sink in the kitchen can serve double duty as a utility sink.

Here are some kitchen 'Do's and 'Don'ts

The following list covers a number of the considerations that should go into the final decisions about kitchen design layout and implementation. It is not meant to be a list of absolutes. Sometimes you'll want to compromise because an item simply won't fit with the plan you really want and sometimes because you've got your own pet idea that's counter to the item in the list. The decisions are a very personal thing with you and your house will reflect that.

  1. DO put the dishwasher adjacent to the sink. While there isn't as much rinsing of dishes needed before they go into the dishwasher as there was a few years ago, it's hard to imagine loading a dishwasher where nothing gets a preliminary rinse or scrubbing. When they're wet and there's a separation between dishwasher and sink, it means extra attention to keep from dripping on the floor. And most of us would like to be able to scrape the dishes into the sink and then not have to take steps to reach the dishwasher.

    You'll often see dishwashers in the same counter as the sink but separated by a metre or so. That's just plain unfriendly and unthinking. And you'll see them in a cabinet at 90 degrees, which is a way to avoid putting them in a corner but it still doesn't solve the drip problem nor the need to take a step to load the dishwasher.

  2. DON'T put a dishwasher in a corner. It is a common unfriendly thing to have in a kitchen. You'll find this in an unbelievably large number of kitchen designs. The problem is that when the dishwasher door is open there are cupboards and cabinets that are unreachable so that when the dishwasher is unloaded you have to handle dishes and pots and pans twice to put them away...once to set them on the counter and then, after you've closed the door, to store them in the cupboards that were blocked before.

  3. DON'T put a refrigerator in a corner. Often when a refrigerator is in a corner, its' door won't swing past straight out - it will hit the wall. There are shelves on refrigerator doors and these will limit access to the interior of the refrigerator when the door is only as open as it can get when it hits a wall. If this is on the freezer side of a side-by-side refrigerator, the door shelves will not let you pull the inside bins or shelves out more than part way.

  4. DO leave space in front of an oven door so that you can stand there when you're taking something in or out. If you haven't had the experience of trying to take a large roast out of a hot oven when you have to stand to one side, don't start now. It doesn't work. You should be able to stand in front of the oven, open the door, lean over and reach whatever's inside.

    The same problem of getting something out of an oven also happens when it's mounted too close to the floor.

  5. DO have convenient landing areas for the stove top, the ovens and the refrigerator. Ones where you don't have to walk around a door to set things down.

    For the stove top this is usually easy, the adjacent counter is convenient. For ovens it may take a little more planning to be sure that there's a counter next to the cabinet that has the oven in it.

    The same goes for the microwave oven. But you may have another out here if you put a pullout shelf just below it where you can set things you're putting into or taking out of the oven.

    For a refrigerator things can be more complex. An adjacent counter won't work for a side-by-side refrigerator (you would have to walk around an open door to reach it). A counter, which is in front of the refrigerator and no more than a step away, is ideal. 

  6. DO keep the distances short:

    • between the sink work area and the cooking area,

    • between the sink work area and the refrigerator and

    • between the sink work area and the microwave oven.

    And don't have an island or peninsula you have to go around. The distance from the refrigerator to the cooking area or the refrigerator to the microwave oven are not as critical because you move food between them less frequently. Having any of them separated from the sink by an island or peninsula is most unfriendly.

  7. DO remember smaller kitchen appliances. We are getting and using them more and more. Do make sure there is room on the countertop for them when they're in use and, if you want them stored off the counter when not in use, be sure you have a place for that.

  8. DO, if space is available, have a kitchen desk-type area where you can keep cookbooks, recipes, and appliance instruction information. And don't forget a place for the telephone and perhaps even for a computer. The latter, in today's cyber environment, could well be a part of a larger system which provides the means of high-speed Internet connections to every room in the house as well as home-wide intercommunications and alarm systems.

  9. DO watch kitchen corners where above-the-counter cupboards and below-the-counter cabinets will go. In both cases a little planning can avoid virtually inaccessible corners that plague so many homes. Cupboards shaped like trapezoids can fit into a corner and have 45-degree doors that allow easy access. If you plan properly you may well be able to use the bottom of such cupboards for small appliance storage.

  10. DO carefully consider the kitchen layout in terms of traffic, both within the kitchen and between the kitchen and the rest of the house - there should be no through traffic where people are working. Look at the work areas discussed earlier and add to those another consideration, people collecting dirty dishes from the eating area and carrying them to the sink and dishwasher. This eating area may be an island, a peninsula, a table in an adjacent breakfast nook, or of course the dining room.

  11. DO consider cabinet access carefully. You may want a walk-in pantry and, if you have room, go for it. And do take a hard look at using pullout shelves in cabinets wherever you can. They just make it so much easier in accessing whatever is stored in them.

  12. DO remember lighting. It should be substantial and not an after thought. Can-type floodlights work fine, whether in a flat or a sloped ceiling. Don't forget the kitchen sink, it deserves a light of its own and do consider what you can put under cabinets over the counter work areas. There are unobtrusive lights that make a much more enjoyable workplace.

  13. DON'T forget switches and outlets. You decide what to have and where they should go, don't leave it solely to the electrician. He might or might not give you what you want if you don't speak up. He will know about codes and be sure that you're ideas are OK in that respect. It's worth taking the time to plan ahead.

Choosing Your Flooring

The most commonly used materials for flooring are carpet, wood, vinyl and ceramic tile. There are also some less commonly used alternatives. The look, quality and performance of each material differs greatly. As you select your flooring it is helpful to understand which materials will accommodate each room’s function. Understanding your options will help you make good functional and decorative choices for every room in the house.

Most homes today use a variety of flooring options. Each room serves a different function, so the flooring material you choose should match each room’s function and style. Keep in mind these factors when selecting the flooring for each room: cleaning ability, durability, longevity and moisture resistance.

  • Kitchens are high traffic areas prone to dirt, spills and slips. Several flooring options suite kitchen needs. Vinyl is a popular choice because it is easy to clean and has more bounce to help prevent breakage. Tile and hardwood floors are also good options for kitchens.

Vinyl comes in a vast variety of colors and styles. Vinyl is easy to maintain, and is relatively inexpensive. But there are several disadvantages to vinyl as well. Vinyl may show wear after only a few years. Vinyl can easily tear, dent, or come unglued. Many people also dislike the fake-looking patterns and commercial look often associated with vinyl.

  • Dining rooms are often seen with wood or tile flooring. Each type is wear resistant, and less prone to stains than the other flooring materials.

Wood floors, once covered by carpet in the early 1900’s have made a strong comeback. Wood flooring can now sometimes be found throughout the home and can provide added benefits and appreciation. Wood floors have a long life, and can be refinished or stained several times. Wood floors are also both elegant and durable and stains can be applied to match any decorating style. The one disadvantage is that a wooden floor may require periodic refinishing.

  • Living rooms are often the centerpiece of a home with several different functions from family entertainment to formal receiving. Flooring should match the room’s décor and purpose. Carpet and hardwood floors can oblige both styles of living rooms.

  • Bedroom floors are less likely to have traffic concerns than most other rooms in the home. Carpet is the traditional use for bedrooms, but wood and ceramic tiles used in conjunction with decorative rugs are now being used more widely.

Carpet still remains the most popular choice for bedrooms. Carpet flooring is composed of two layers: the top layer called the face pile, and the bottom layer generally called the backing or underfelt. Keep in mind, the heavier the weight of the face pile the more durable and expensive the carpet will be. There are several advantages to carpet. Carpet is comfortable, warm and often the least expensive of all flooring options. There are also disadvantages. Carpeting can absorb moisture, stains easily, and collects dirt, hair etc.

  • Bathrooms require waterproof floors in case of overflows. The floor needs to be washable and slip free. Vinyl again is a conventional choice with ceramic tile gaining in popularity.

Ceramic tile is the final common flooring choice. Ceramic tile is a natural product made of clay, minerals and water designed and formed into shapes. The tile's strength is determined by the body’s thickness and structure. Today’s manufacturers are able to produce a wide selection of colors, shapes, sizes and textures. Larger tiles, strips and borders are being used more frequently. Ceramic tile floors can take a tremendous physical beating while maintaining an elegant and stylish look. Durability, ease of cleaning, and a great assortment of colors and styles are a few of the advantages of selecting tile. Tiles are unfortunately relatively expensive, noisy, cold and hard underfoot.

  • Stairs and hallways are the final area of the home that needs careful consideration when choosing a flooring material. These areas are obviously going to see a steady steam of traffic, and will require a durable stain resistant floor. Inlaid vinyl, hardwood, and ceramic flooring are great choices for the hallways and stairs.

Bathroom/s Design

Though the bathroom is usually the smallest room in the house, its cost is the highest per square metre. For packed into that small area are generally quite expensive fixtures, fittings, surfaces, and accessories. It is also very labour intensive with plumbers, electricians, and wall and floor tilers coming into the labour equation. 

Your goal should however be to make your master bathroom a place that welcomes you morning and night with its warm atmosphere. So have fun with your master bathroom design; and since this is your indulgence and a place to retreat, throw caution to the wind just a little. 

Plan for lots of storage space - cabinets, drawers, shelves to store all  your hygiene products. Cabinets that have molding and glass fronts increase the appeal of the bathroom by giving it more character. Decorative knobs and pulls can also add to this appeal. 

Use soft, natural colors in your bathroom. By using natural colors overall, bright accessories, such as towels, curtains, vases, can be used to liven up the room without clashing with existing decor. Fill the room with scented candles, plants, flowers and art. All of these extras help beautify your bathroom.

Ceramic tile is a rich choice for flooring. Again, use a natural tone such as ivory or taupe. This will keep the bathroom light. If you think ceramic tile will be cold to walk on in the winter, consider scatter rugs in the areas where most needed.

Compact Well Built and Designed Bathroom

As with kitchens you will pay more for a larger bathroom. However, more square metres is not always the solution, bathrooms of all sizes can be functional and stylish. Take a look at the bathroom at left. It's very, very stylish but economical on floor area. Notice the shower is above the bath. When looking at bathrooms let your lifestyle guide your design without going beyond space and budget.

All bathrooms are a combination of planning and products - your budget may preclude some of the nicer amenities, but standard equipment when well chosen can turn your bath from ordinary to extraordinary. If you have money to spare you can make your master bathroom large and roomy, and include such luxuries as a whirlpool or soaking tub, a steam shower, separate vanities, storage, and large windows or skylights. A sitting area with a comfortable chair gives the room a luxurious touch. Being able to take a break and sit down after a relaxing bath is nice. You could also add stylish furniture pieces.

No matter what the actual dimensions of your bathroom, it's the arrangement of elements within, that determines how big or small the room feels. A modest-size bathroom neatly configured can feel spacious, while a large bathroom poorly planned can feel cramped. Following are guidelines for placing the essential bath fixtures.

  • Toilet/Bidet:

    • Try to allow enough clearance from the center of the fixture to a wall or adjacent fixture on either side.

    • Leave an area of clear floor space in front of the fixture for sufficient knee space.

    • Private toilet compartments should measure at least 1M x 2M.

  • Basin:

    • Allow at least .5M of side clearance from the center of the basin to a wall or other obstruction.

    • Ensure that vanity height will fit the user. 

    • For double-bowl vanities, try and leave almost a metre between the centers of the two bowls.

  • Bath Tub:

    • A bath-tub should be large enough to use comfortably. Think carefully before fitting a shorter than standard bath - you may be short but the next buyer may not. 

    • Leave a clear floor space either parallel or perpendicular to the bath. 

    • If a built-in seat is planned on one end of the bath, increase the width of the clear floor space by the added depth of the seat.

    • For whirlpool tubs with control panels, leave an additional third metre of clear floor space beside the control panel for easy access - or perhaps put these panels against a wall.

  • Shower:

    • Shower cubicles are sometimes very, very small and uncomfortable to shower in. If you are critically short of space put the shower above the bath. 

    • Shower doors should always open outward, into the bathroom.

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