Architect's Guide to Easy Living

Private Property South Africa
Marco Pellegrini
Text by Marco Pellegrini (Pellegrini Associate Architects)
Gone are the days of our previous generations where a home was merely a place to live and sleep. Today's successful homes offer far more options in terms of design and features that will truly add value to your lifestyle.

Firstly, it is important to understand that in South Africa, there are factors such as crime and our need to ensure our personal safety that impact significantly on our daily lives. When we enter our homes we expect a sense of security, tranquillity and openness, synonymous with easy living - and easy living is our goal.

Easy living Guide

OPEN PLANNING Sometimes open planning works fantastically while in other instances it misses the objectives. There are rules to follow, but essentially the success is governed by the 'feel' the architect can achieve regarding the quality of space. True open planning should allow someone working in the kitchen direct access to the veranda i.e. the entertainment area. Old-style design, where the two spaces were separated, and the men sat out on the veranda while the women toiled away in the kitchen, is now being replaced with open plan areas for easy living.

CLIENT COMES FIRST The Architect must never forget this, while at the same time steering the client in the right direction. Bad decisions affect lifestyle and can result in poor re-sale value. Beware of an architect with an attitude - this could spell disaster. The architect should make useful suggestions that help to persuade the client to consider the various options available to them.

MAXIMUM USE OF SITE This is the critical tool the architect uses and is like 'putty in his hands'. Sites are expensive and 'bad siting' decisions are paramount to throwing your client's money away. One must do the best to achieve views, aspect & privacy. Remember that a great sea view in the Umhlanga/Ballito area is worth approximately R1.5m i.e. filling a site with 1 metre of soil for that great view may give a 1:20 profit ratio. True skill in conceptual design is what distinguishes a good 'designer' from a bad one.

OUR KIDS ARE SPOILT Gone are the days where a family shared a bathroom. Today's upper market new homes demand that all bedrooms are en suite. Boys generally like to shower and girls generally like to bath. A three metre by one metre shower/basin/toilet for a boy's room is a small price to pay for the rewards. It is essential to design bedrooms properly to cater for adequate cupboard space and a workstation or homework area.

LATEST EQUIPMENT Ensure that your kitchen can take a double door fridge/freezer with a water point. The latest fridges give chilled distilled water and distilled ice on tap - Johnny Black is much better with distilled ice. Fit an industrial purifier for it will be money well spent. Consider a gas stove - those on the Food Channel cannot be wrong. DVD systems are inexpensive and great entertainment. A few years back I designed the hi-fi to be in the family room. Today I prefer to have the DVD/TV in a separate room. Don't forget to consider the surround sound wiring. Piped music that also filters out onto the veranda is a very enjoyable feature to have.

TEENAGERS The trend today is to try and keep teenagers at home and out of mischief's way, so providing a separate room for them with big screen TV, DVD, lounge suite, sleep area for friends, and even a pool table is a good start.

STYLE A valuable home must have a specific style. Be it Victorian, Georgian, Bali, Tuscan, etc. - the style must be carried through, even to the light fittings and furniture. Styles have positives and negatives. If all the design considerations are met, your style of home will have value. The fashionable trends of European architecture are almost over and our quest for a true South African vernacular architecture continues. The way forward is simple minimalist i.e. architecture with the accent on glass and natural products such as cementations walls and stone. For example, roofs should be simple and must afford good overlay protection.

VALUE Until recently our formula at Quail Valley in Mt Edgecombe was R1m land value + R2.5m building cost equalling R8m in total value - incredible returns due to specific conditions. Applying all the principles as explained in this article, especially in gated developments such as Simbithi Eco Estate, will continue to afford unbelievable returns. So plan well - it will be well worth the effort.

Marco Pellegrini qualified at Natal University. Pellegrini Associate Architects has operated from Umhlanga Rocks since 1989 and specialise in upmarket residential property developments. Marco is on the panels at Mt Edgecombe Estate 1 & 2, Zimbali, Simbithi, Kirtlington, Princes Grant and others. Marco is married with two children.

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