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Turn your house into a home: Tips on doing up a Lantau village house

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HomeSolutions property agent Kelly Merrick advises Katrina Mercado on doing up a Lantau village house.

Arranged across three floors, each of 700 square feet, plus a 700-square- foot roof, one of the big draws of a village house is the living space it provides.

“People can lease or buy a whole village house or simply choose one or two floors,” HomeSolutions property agent Kelly Merrick opens. “More than one family can live in the same house with separate entrances to their homes. Of course, more space allows for the inclusion of more features and appliances, and larger rooms.”

Built to home extended families, village-house interiors were originally broken into multiple small rooms but there is the option to open them up by removing interior walls and, according to Kelly, many village houses have already been updated in this way.

“There is no procedure to apply to the government in order to be able to make changes to a village house’s internal living spaces,” she says. This means that families have the luxury to personalise their space to suit their needs. Removing non-structural walls will make a house feel more spacious and maximise floor-plan potential.

While an open-plan layout will create more space and improve the flow of light, Kelly advises that kitchens and bathrooms are what really make a village house – this is where you should focus your renovating dollars. Kelly also suggests that homeowners install split-type air conditioners that both heat and cool rooms. “This is a huge selling/ leasing point, especially during winter and the cost difference is negligible.”

Internal renovations and replacement of existing windows and doors are quite common but Kelly warns that the government no longer allows residents to create additional living spaces on the roof or in the garden. “At this time, no new rooftop structures are being approved by the government,” she says. “Non-declared structures are officially illegal.

“Previously, the government allowed residents to declare extra spaces and have them inspected by structural engineers every five years to qualify for a grey area of legality,” Kelly adds. “If you rent or buy a house with structures that have been properly declared, you may keep the spaces as long as they meet the inspection requirements. Properties are inspected for safety reasons – to prevent dangerous materials like metal sunshades from flying off during typhoon season.”

Residents also need to be mindful about safety when creating living spaces in in-title areas [like gardens]. It’s important, for instance, that no public accessways are blocked.

“As a tenant, be sure to always ask permission from your landlord prior to making any changes. If you’re a homeowner in doubt, it’s a good idea to chat with the village chief to ensure his approval and support,” Kelly concludes. “Always review current building and government policy for each home before making renovations.”


CONTACT

• HomeSolutions, www.homesolutions.hk

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