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With so many international buyers from all corners of the world, it is no wonder that we are observing a wave of home personalisation. Having witnessed the completion of Dubai’s first freehold developments in 2004, I have seen the gradual progression and improvement by developers in terms of finishing, but one has to remember that the original prices of these properties were extremely modest and therefore materials were much more basic than today. Hence there is an opportunity and a natural urge to upgrade and refurbish homes, not only in accordance with the property’s age but also to satisfy one’s personal taste and style.
It is becoming common place to find villas being upgraded, including the outdoor space. The leader in this area is Emirates Hills as Emaar was the first to sell plots and allow buyers to build their own bespoke villas. Communities such as the Palm Jumeirah, Arabian Ranches, Emirates Living and Green Community regularly unveil beautiful villas with home improvements such as Poggenpohl kitchens, marble bathrooms and infinity swimming pools, all of which add value, comfort and desirability for present and future homeowners.
Here we take a look at the remodification of an apartment in the popular Old Town area within the central business district. On the doorstep of The Dubai Mall and close to the Dubai International Financial Centre, the location is superb and appealing to young professional couples or as a pied-à-terre for travelling executives.
The British family who bought the two-bedroom apartment loved the area but weren’t keen on the dark cabinetry and joinery, particularly in a relatively small space. Familiar with high-quality finishing in London, they embarked on a revitalisation that makes this property truly unique and probably the most tasteful and elegantly presented in Old Town today.
Upon entering the apartment, you are taken aback by the brightness of the open-plan living area, which has been designed to maximise the space available. White marble flooring, coffered ceilings with bespoke crystal chandeliers and specialist architectural lighting give the apartment the feeling of space and luxury.
The interior has been beautifully designed using cream and dusky grey furnishings carefully selected to create an atmosphere of comfort and glamour. An uninterrupted view of the Burj Khalifa is the icing on the cake. The bespoke kitchen provides a breakfast bar, integrated Miele appliances including a full-height, glass-fronted drinks fridge, and Italian marble worktops.
Two good-sized double bedrooms have inset silk carpets recessed within marble borders, while the clever touch of mirrored wardrobe doors creates a feeling of space and light to the dressing areas.
Bespoke joinery has been installed throughout, replacing the typical dark-brown finish with a contemporary and sophisticated light grey lacquer. The bathrooms are completely new and have been finished using book-matched marble. The standard sanitary fittings have been replaced with rain showers and contemporary white glass fittings.
For some, the bother of going through home disruptions or overseeing such a project is daunting, but there are always people who can
“I would always advise a potential buyer to ask the developer about the restrictions on remodifications before making a purchase.”
guide you or you can simply purchase the finished product. The procedure with Emaar in this couple’s case was very straightforward.
The difficulty is in finding a contractor that you can trust to do a good job within the time frame required and this is where a tried-and-tested recommendation means a lot. Once the drawings and proposal are submitted to the alterations department, it can take between two weeks and six months to receive an approval depending on the developer. In some instances where there is major renovation work, you may also need Dubai Municipality approval.
A security deposit is required, which will be refunded by the developer after inspection and approval of the completed project. I would always advise a potential buyer to ask the developer about the restrictions on re-modifications before making a purchase.
There is no hard and fast rule among developers — each differs in procedure and permissions — and the rules can also change.
Owners should be sure to go through the proper channels when considering renovation or extensions, particularly on villas. Whereas in an apartment building access will be denied to contractors without the relevant permissions, villas can be accessed quite easily — but do not be tempted to cut corners because without a no-objection certificate from the developer for any works being carried out, the process of selling your property could be compromised at a crucial moment.
Returning to Old Town, it was remarkable the apartment next door was gutted and was going through major renovations. So is this the latest trend? I make a reference to London, not only due to the nationality of my client but also based on my recent visit to various high-quality projects for sale there. With the emphasis on finishing and presentation, the properties are in demand because you can’t help but love them, despite how prices have risen over the past five years.
In my line of work I meet an array of clients, some new to Dubai, and they expect to be offered high-quality specifications for the prices being commanded, particularly in some of the more iconic buildings such as the Burj Khalifa. If our real estate market is to go through another cycle of adjustment, then it is surely logical that those properties with distinction will become among the most sought after.
Dubai is a thriving, energetic, modern city whose character is reflected on its residents. With this comes a passion for individualism and luxury and hence my belief is that we will see the same transformation with residences, as has taken place in other global hubs.
Source: Helen Tatham, Special to Property Weekly
The writer is a Managing Partner of Prime Places Real Estate