A 10 Step Plan to Renovating in Israel
Contributed by: Shira Dromi
Olim! Your rent subsidy is coming to an end. It’s now time to buy your first home in Israel and take advantage of the low mortgage interest rate that is part of your Aliyah benefit. The Israeli property market is new to you and as a first time buyer you might be conflicted; is it better to buy a new dwelling or is it better to re-model and renovate an existing one?
New olim, prefer to renovate and upgrade an existing dwelling to suite their lifestyle and needs. Renovation is a very complex process, especially if you decide to manage it yourself. The renovation process requires decision making on such matters as selecting professionals to carry out the work, picking the right materials, the color scheme, etc. During renovation you will need to consult with different professionals: the engineer who should approve breaking down walls, an electrician regarding changing the electrical system, a plumber about changing the water system, an air conditioning technician about a/c unit placement, the carpenter about the carpentry and the designer about suitable materials for the kitchen, furniture, flooring, furnishings and more.
Where do you start? It is important to know that like any complex process, there must be clear working stages outlined and detailed planning of each stage.
Stage 1 - Introductory Meeting
An initial non-obligatory meeting with you, the client in your home. Your architech or designer must have a thorough understanding or your needs, desires, and expectations. Your lifestyle and habits; entertaining, sleeping arrangements, storage, work requirements etc. must be clearly understood even the smallest details.
Stage 2 - Measuring the House or Apartment
An authorized professional is sent to measure the house or apartment and obtain accurate measurements of the structure before planning begins. The existing floor plan must be documented because it is the foundation upon which the planning will be based. Recording all existing measurements saves the client time and most importantly, prevents costly mistakes.
Stage 3 - Interior & Exterior Design of the Dwelling
The designer will make several “inspiration boards” to show the client the kind of mood and atmosphere they are aiming to create, and to show the materials and colors they intend to use, both inside and outside, as required. It is customary to give up to three alternatives. Together, you will examine, modify, add, and subtract details in order to create the final plan which will become a set of detailed plans.
Stage 4 - Building Construction Work
If the renovation work requires breaking down walls, it is important to bring in a construction engineer. The construction engineer will inspect the structure, go over the plans and finally approve them. It is best to do this in the early stages of the renovation.
Stage 5 - Choosing Building & Design Materials
This is the fun part! Together with the designer you will pick the kitchen, flooring, tiles, bathroom fixtures, light fixtures, etc. Listen to your designer's suggestions, go for quality items wherever possible. If you already have items picked out, let you designer know so that they can prepare the quote accordingly.
Stage 6 - Detailed Planning and Work Plans
The detailed planning phase starts after the client is certain and has signed on the final sketch. The designer or architect converts the selected sketch into a set of work plans. The set includes: demolition, construction, electricity, lighting, plumbing, air conditioning, ceilings, carpentry work, bathrooms, flooring, tiling, window and door specifications, and more. These work plans are very detailed and include special instructions for execution, materials, and dimensions of what the client has purchased such as sanitary, flooring tile sizes, and more. This set of plans will be used by the contractor and is an important document that helps prevent mistakes.
Stage 7 - Building Materials List
The work plans will be made into a building materials list by the designer in order for the contractor to give his price estimation. Just like the set of plans, the building materials list details all the required work according to topic: Demolition, construction, electricity, lighting, plumbing, air conditioning, ceilings, and so on. The contractor will write the cost next to each item. This way the client can fully understand how much each item will cost.
Stage 8 - Selecting a Contractor
It is important to bring at least three contractors to see the house or apartment for renovation. We recommend bringing only authorized, licensed contractors. Most likely a licensed contractor will not disappear in the middle of the project, and will be responsible for his work. It is important to see the renovations done by the contractor and speak to some of his customers before deciding.
Each contractor will receive a detailed set of work plans and quantities list, which he will return to the customer with detailed pricing. This enables the client to compare prices between the different professionals and choose the most suitable contractor for the job.
We recommend signing a contract with the selected contractor, to set the price and time frame of the project.
Stage 9 - Project Supervision & Monitoring
It is important to have for the work to be supervized. The designer will come regularly to ensure the work is being carried out according to plan. Supervision must be done before critical points of the execution: Demolition, building, electricity, plumbing etc. If have sufficient budget, consider hiring a construction inspector/site manager who will come daily and ensure that the work is being done according to the plans, building laws, codes and standards.
The last supervised meeting will be done with both the contractor and the client present. This is to ensure that the work is complete, and meets the client’s satisfaction.
Stage 10 - The End of Renovation
Hallelujah! The work is done and you can start enjoying your new home! Get comfortable and show your family and friends your beautiful home. Renovating is a challenge but renovating when you are a new immigrant is even more challenging. The good news is that after surviving the renovations, you’ll have a newly designed, comfortable home and sanctuary in Israel, allowing you to forge ahead with other aspects of your Aliyah.
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