Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEIGHBOURHOOD - www.raw­son.co.za

South Africans, says Bill Raw­son, Chair­man of the Raw­son Prop­erty Group, are as sus­cep­ti­ble to trends and styles in home de­sign and dé­cor as any other peo­ple in the world, even when they do not re­al­ize what is in­flu­enc­ing their choices.

This be­ing the case, said Raw­son, any home owner want­ing to add value to his prop­erty, par­tic­u­larly if he is about to sell it, should con­sult with an ex­pe­ri­enced es­tate agent on what fea­tures buy­ers to­day re­gard as pop­u­lar and if pos­si­ble en­sure that these are in­cor­po­rated in his home.

On the ques­tion of colour schemes, Raw­son said that al­though white, off-white and sooth­ing neu­tral toned plas­tered walls are still the first choice of most home own­ers, face brick is again prov­ing pop­u­lar be­cause it of­fers big re­duc­tions in main­te­nance, par­tic­u­larly in the coastal ar­eas. And in the lower and lower mid­dle price brack­ets, he said, face brick is an ob­vi­ous choice.

Pas­tel shades, said Raw­son, are now very much in favour and it is com­mon these days to find that pale greens, blues, pinks and yel­lows are in­creas­ingly used. In cer­tain mod­ern houses, par­tic­u­larly those on the At­lantic Se­aboard in Cape Town, there is a grow­ing ten­dency to be re­ally bold on one or two in­te­rior walls, giv­ing

them strik­ing red, black or other strong colours.

Ceil­ings, said Raw­son, have come a long way in the last two decades and no mid­dle class home these days can af­ford to have hard­board ceil­ings with peg joints. These, al­though per­fectly ef­fi­cient, are seen as suit­able only for af­ford­able hous­ing. There is, how­ever, a grow­ing ten­dency for ceil­ings to be re­moved al­to­gether and for the trusses to be sanded and painted, thereby mak­ing an at­trac­tive ceil­ing. This move, he said, usu­ally in­volves adding in­su­la­tion to the in­te­rior roof. Wood strip ceil­ings are also ac­cept­able to­day in work­rooms, gym­na­sia and fam­ily rum­pus rooms but are gen­er­ally re­garded now as un­suit­able for liv­ing rooms and bed­rooms.

Light­ing, too, said Raw­son, has en­tered into a new era, one in which hang­ing lights and chan­de­liers are in­creas­ingly seen as old fash­ioned. Re­cessed down light­ing is now what most peo­ple pre­fer and it is al­most es­sen­tial to­day for such lights to have strength level

ad­just­ments on the switches. With power costs ris­ing so fast, LED lights are def­i­nitely the smarter choice.

Nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, es­pe­cially wood, stone and thatch, are now highly prized and there is a grow­ing ten­dency to clad both in­te­rior and

ex­te­rior walls with the beau­ti­ful white, light brown and honey coloured stone that we in South Africa have avail­able to us. Nam­bian stone, said Raw­son, is now be­ing ex­ported all around the world.

The trend to­wards nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, added Raw­son, is es­pe­cially no­tice­able in floor­ing; solid nat­u­ral wood floors are to­day one of the first in­stal­la­tions un­der­taken on most up­grades and there can be no doubt that they do add greatly to the value of any home – in most cases in­stantly adding more than dou­ble the in­stal­la­tion cost. Lam­i­nated wood floors, said Raw­son, have of­ten been seen by many as a cheap al­ter­na­tive, but the plain truth is that they are to­day so well made that it is of­ten dif­fi­cult to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween them and gen­uine wooden floor­boards.

The qual­ity of tiles, too, said Raw­son, has also im­proved out of all recog­ni­tion, but judg­ing by the plans he sees, they are now not quite as ac­cept­able as they used be in the liv­ing and com­mu­nal ar­eas. They are gen­er­ally kept now for bath­rooms and kitchens only. Sur­pris­ingly, added Raw­son, fol­low­ing the trend in Europe where wall­pa­pers are al­most de rigeur, wall­pa­per­ing is com­ing back into fash­ion here, es­pe­cially in the more up­mar­ket homes. Cer­tain wall­pa­pers are ex­tremely smart but also very ex­pen­sive.

Full length glaz­ing, es­pe­cially when it forms part of a slid­ing alu­minium framed door, is def­i­nitely an­other of the main im­prove­ments that home up­graders tackle. Alu­minium win­dows and door frames are prob­a­bly the most pop­u­lar new fea­ture that as­pir­ing home up­graders can in­tro­duce and the big ad­van­tage is that not only are they aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing but un­like wood they are main­te­nance free and do not jam as a re­sult of warp­ing or ex­pan­sion due to mois­ture.

The use of alu­minium slid­ing doors, said Raw­son, ties in with an­other highly de­sired im­prove­ment/trans­for­ma­tion and this is quite pos­si­bly the most im­por­tant: the abil­ity to make a home suit­able for in­door/out­door liv­ing and en­ter­tain­ing. Fully glazed slid­ing doors link­ing with out­door pa­tios, which in turn link with the gar­den, are re­garded by many as an es­sen­tial on most homes to­day.

Sim­i­larly, said Raw­son, open-plan in­te­ri­ors now al­most al­ways add value to a home. These days an open link from the liv­ing or din­ing ar­eas to the kitchen is re­garded as a bonus as it en­ables the fam­ily to talk to each other while food is be­ing pre­pared. How­ever, as a corol­lary to this, it is es­sen­tial that the fin­ishes and fit­tings in the kitchen be up­mar­ket and at­trac­tive: gran­ite, mar­ble or ex­pen­sive wood coun­ter­tops, alu­minium ex­trac­tion fans and tim­ber cov­ered façades are big draw cards and add value. It has to be re­mem­bered, he said, that for many peo­ple the kitchen is the most im­por­tant room in the house.

The main fac­tors which will im­me­di­ately de­tract from the value of the home, said Raw­son, should also be ad­mit­ted and all the ev­i­dence shows these are damp spots on the walls and cracks.

“It will,” he said, “of­ten be said by sell­ers or es­tate agents that cracks can be eas­ily reme­died and are not se­ri­ous, but shrewd buy­ers, quite rightly, dis­trust such state­ments and if there is ev­i­dence of cracks hav­ing been plas­tered and painted over they will be par­tic­u­larly sus­pi­cious. This is per­fectly nat­u­ral be­cause there have been some very un­for­tu­nate cases where even homes ap­proved by bank val­uers have de­vel­oped se­ri­ous cracks in the first one or two years af­ter trans­fer.”

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