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time to renovate your home
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Got big dreams for fitting your perfect kitchen, or putting in a modern bathroom? We have got some inspiration to spur you on. But first, get to know the jargon and permissions you’ll need by following our quick step-by-step guide.

Renovation nation

External alterations and structural changes must be approved by the developer and Dubai Developments Authority (DDA) prior to work being carried out. Usually, external alterations are not permitted above the ground floor, or if it means the villa is no longer in keeping with the community, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make big structural changes.

A refundable deposit prior to the issue of the No Objection Certificate (NOC) is the norm. This is refundable upon the completion of the works – as soon as they’ve been checked for health and safety, environmental, and community compliance. Emaar, for example, requires a Dhs5,000 deposit.

Factor in administrative/NOC fees, from Dhs1,000-3,000 per application, depending on project scope and documentation urgency.

If you plan to extend, enclose a balcony, change structural walls or increase the Built-Up Area (BUA) of your villa you will need to obtain approval from Dubai Development Authority (DDA) which costs from Dhs700 including a deposit.

Your contractor will need an entry permit, which they should apply for themselves. However, bear in mind that in some cases the developers might request the details of the permit to be registered online when applying for the NOC, so you’ll want to speak to your contractor about this.

Ask the contractor

Choosing the right professional to do your refit or renovation can be a minefield. We asked some of the best in the business for their advice.

How can I pick the right contractor for me?
“As well as looking at images of their previous work and asking questions about their experience, you should ask to visit an active site to discuss their project,” says Mark Heather, Director of The Big Fitout. It’s a good sign, “if they give suggestions based on what they’ve done to a similar villa before, it means they’re thinking about any issues which may arise in trying to get the result you want.”

How long will it take?
“Ask for an honest time frame and get it in writing. The contract should include the project delivery date plus a penalty clause for late handover, or if the finished work is not up to scratch,” advises Martin Hibbit of Another Level Technical Services.

How much will it cost?
“If you have a project in mind, that’s a good starting point. Make sure you get a full costing upfront. Ask to see samples of the materials/fittings to be installed to check the quality is in line with your brief and the costing. A make-good Defect Liability Period (generally 12 months) should also be factored into the contract, which obliges the contractor to fix any problems without any additional cost to the homeowner,” says Shane Curran of Interact Group.

What are the usual payment terms?
“Typically, you are looking at 40% on contract signing, 50% progress payment upon completion of the defined scope of works (approximately 90%), and the final 10% post snagging. If you’ve requested specific materials or a custom order, you may be asked for a larger advance, so make sure you understand what is included in the bill of quantities (BoQ). When discussing variation orders (VO), which will come up, make sure you have a well-documented arrangement and quotes before starting,” reveals Kym Jackson Shen of Haute Bohème.

What licenses are required?
“Your contractor needs a DED license as opposed to a free zone one so that they are accountable. Plus, they’ll need a valid trade license with the correct categories for the work they will do,” says Mark. For example, internal home modifications that involve structural changes require a general fit-out, while contractors altering electrical works must be registered with DEWA.

What insurance should contractors have?
It’s important to check that your contractor has an at-risk policy. “A good contractor should carry public liability cover typically for 1M or more) along with workman compensation coverage, so they are insured for damages to the client’s property, plus any injuries sustained on-site by workers,” explains Mark.

Questions you must ask

Ask to see permits, insurance, and copies of all documentation pertaining to the company’s legal right to operate, and to complete your project.

Get a clear perspective on the decision-making process. Some contractors will want all the details confirmed before the project starts, whereas others may be more fluid, but this can cause conflict if a change means having to redo completed work.

Be aware of the possibility of any additional costs from day one – ask the contractor for ballpark costs so you don’t get a shock halfway through the build.

Check out the company by asking to see testimonials. Go and view their finished projects and talk to previous clients.

Find out how the project and on-site staff will be managed so you won’t be left to do it.

The minimalist bathroom

Karen Pissara from Dubai based interior design studio Design K renovated the guest bathroom in her Springs 14 villa
“The starting point was the oversized round mirror with its black metal frame in a matte finish. I simply fell in love with it and, as such, it became the impetus for the design of the bathroom.”

Teaming a cool palette of black, white, and grey (with a flash of greenery), the bathroom has a functional yet stylish design, with its wealth of natural light and fuss-free finish boosting its chic credentials. All the matte black sanitary ware was sourced from BAGNODESIGN on Sheikh Zayed Road.

“Many people are currently opting for this finish for their bathroom fixtures, from taps to showerheads.” But some finishing touches can be relatively hard to find here in the UAE if you don’t know where to look. “I had to source the black matte door handles for the villa from the UK,” says Karen.

“But there are now some suppliers in Dubai who are offering a similar type of product,” Karen called upon City Palace Furniture in Jebel Ali to make the bespoke, handle-less cabinets. “I’ve been working with them for eight years and rate their work very highly,” she explains. “I love the tongue and groove look of the doors and the handle-less aesthetic adds freshness.”The matte ceramic basin was also sourced from BAGNODESIGN – “it feels so much nicer to touch than glossy ceramic, in my opinion” – as were the simple yet stunning rectangular matte wall tiles, while the mosaic floor tiles were bought from Casa Mia.

The biggest challenge of the entire project was adding the honed finish marble countertop. “It came as one big slab and when marble is transported this way it can be easy to chip.

Unfortunately, when it arrived there was some damage, so the supplier needed to source a new piece, which added some extra time to the schedule.” When it came to the accessories, a few choices of Aesop products, a black hand towel, and a potted plant for a touch of greenery were all that was needed to make the bathroom well and truly guest ready.

Want to turn your bathroom into a calm and soothing retreat?

Interior designer Karen Pissarra talks us through the basics…

Step 1 – Prepare a mood board for the look and feel you want to create, and then research and draw up a list of all the different items you need to buy. If you’re seeking some specific pieces that are essential to the look, keep in mind that they may take up to eight weeks to order, so be sure to factor that into your timings.

Step 2 – It’ll be much easier if you keep the plumbing in the same places. If your design really doesn’t allow for this, bear in mind that it’ll take more time and money to relocate.

Step 3 – Tiling the floor? Insist the existing door frames are removed so that it’s laid properly below the door frame and not retrofitted around it.

Step 4 – Always check that the waterproofing sealant has been applied correctly and check it as you progress. Even a small nick in the waterproof membrane with a tiller’s trowel will compromise its integrity and may result in a leak.

The modern kitchen

How an awkward, hexagonal-shaped space in a Palm Jumeirah apartment was transformed into a beautiful yet functional kitchen

When Dina Sidani and her family bought their three-bedroom apartment on Golden Mile, Palm Jumeirah, they called on Nisrine El Lababidi of Harf Design Studio (harfnoondesignstudio.com) to renovate it. “The original kitchen was dark and outdated,” ina reveals. “So, we wanted a fresh, modern space with a better layout for my family’s needs and we had the perfect chance to do this prior to moving in.

“The brief was to remove all of the original cabinetry (but to reinstall some of them in the pantry for increased storage), remove the tiles entirely, retile, design the layout of the kitchen to best fit their daily use with a coffee corner, a bigger oven space, and a small breakfast corner,” Nisrine reveals. “It also needed to be well lit and to make use of each and every possible storage option.”

Nisrine and the couple chose to work with German kitchen company Kaiser due to their high quality yet affordable and customised approach. Space presented a challenge due to its hexagonal shape, so the team ensured every corner was utilised, with the clean look benefiting from details such as modern stainless- steel handles and Miele appliances.

Want your own sleek kitchen?

Nisrine El Lababidi takes us through the steps of installing a new kitchen:

Step 1 – Choose the company that will supply your kitchen and designs it with them.

Step 2 – Apply for the permissions and approvals for your contractor from the developer. Expect two weeks, sometimes longer if there are any paperwork and design issues.

Step 3 – Once you have approval, order your materials. Calculate out at least three weeks, which can extend to six to eight weeks if you are ordering outside the UAE.

Step 4 – While you are waiting you will need to purchase the tiles that fit your new design scheme, as well as any new appliances and light fixtures.

Step 5 – Have your contractor remove the existing tiles, retile, and install your lighting connections. Be warned, this by far the messiest part of the project.

Step 6 – From there, it’s a smooth process. The kitchen can be installed within a couple of days and appliances delivered thereafter. Made-to-measure countertops will be the last to arrive.




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