So you have finally decided to own a house. It could be that you found an amazing house that you just had to buy, or as in most cases you will now begin house hunting. Ask anyone who has been down the road of buying a new house and they will tell you how difficult it was and how long it took. Even more so if you live in a highly populated country with real estate selling at sky high prices, regardless of location and view!
While we all have an idea of what our dream house would look like, chances are slim of that being the reality unless you buy a plot and custom build your house. If you are however looking at buying an apartment or any other house that is provided by a builder as a ready-to-move in option (immediately or in a few years time) then there is not much you can do except look up as many houses as possible. Like we did for a year. In the process, I learnt a few key things to look out for, from the design perspective:
1. Location : While location is a very important criteria in a house hunt, it is usually so for the cost factor, or the accessibility. However, this also plays an important role in helping you design your house later on. Is your house surrounded by greenery or roads or high rise buildings (built extremely close to yours). Is it near any factory or high traffic road. While these factors don’t matter while renting your house, it definitely matters if you plan on living there for long. Simple elements like Light and Ventilation will highly depend on location.
2. Layout : Yes you cannot build it the way you want, but different builders offer different layouts and you can choose the one best suited for you. Green landscaping around the house or the apartment is important to look at, as it infuses the much needed break from the concrete jungle. Similarly on the inside, you need to make sure the floor plan suits you. Like how big or small you want your kitchen to be, are balconies important to you and as we noticed in many cases, is there a toilet right next to the kitchen!? We noticed that finding a house with a good floor plan was the toughest! In case of an apartment complex, look for ones that have sufficient spacing around the building so your windows and balconies don’t open into the the neighbors house!
3. Natural Light : Extremely important, once you choose a house with good natural lighting it makes it very easy to bring in the right kind of decor. This is where Vaastu or Feng Shui helps as it encourages you to find east facing homes that welcome more sunlight. But other factors such as the windows available in the room also matter. Look at the available windows and glass materials being used. While you can custom with stained or frosted glass, it is best to go with clear glass for unobstructed flow of light.
4. Ventilation : Right after light, the windows also provide vital cross ventilation. This is extremely important not just for you but for your clothes and furniture as well! Most newly built homes have a lot of moisture trapped inside, this can lead to fungal formation on your wooden furniture or your clothes. A well ventilated home helps against this unfavorable outcome.
5. Availability of choice : Look for builders that allow you to make internal modifications for your house. You should be able to have a say in the tiles for the toilets, the living area flooring and even the paint colours. This is important as having to rope in workers to do these jobs yourself can prove to be herculean. Also by choosing these elements, you can ensure not only does it match your taste but also serve practical purposes like making the room appear more lit. Many builders offer flooring options in wood, tile, marble and granite. Choose according to usage and lifestyle. Understand that maintenance is different for different materials, if you want them to last long. You can also play with different flooring options in different rooms.
6. Involve yourself : A lot of people seem to think that complete involvement is not needed when you are buying a house, where all you have to do is choose and then pay. But that cannot be farther from the truth. Involving yourself at every stage will help you correct everything from how many electrical points you need to the spacing between your tiles and even uneven walls! Involvement from early stage not only ensures quality, but also helps you know your house inside out during the decor process later on.
7. Check Finishing : No matter how expensive the material being used, if your builder does not ensure good finishing, the house will always look average. Best way to check on finishing is by visiting the builder’s finished properties. Talk to people who have moved in and bring together an objective analysis. A house with great finishing will need lesser than most when it comes to decor.
8. Model House : Many builders offer a peek into their model apartment/villa/house, while your house will not look like that unless you use the exact same decor, it will help you understand the potential of your empty shell better. Simple things like how much space is left in the bedroom after the bed and wardrobe is placed? Is there space for a marble counter in the toilet? How will the open kitchen look with modular? And is the balcony big enough for you and the plants!? Taking a peek into the model house will help with many such questions about the floor plan and space utilisation.
Well, I hope this helps you with your hunt for that dream house. Ensuring the above can make sure you move into your new home stress free 😀