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Q&A with Handy Mac: All about alterations

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Basil, Carina and Chris are keen to do minor alterations

Basil wants to do some minor alterations:

Q: We live in Constantia, and our home requires some renovation work. The guest bedroom, at the end of the property, has one door, accessible from the main house. We would like to install another door which would allow outside access to the guest room. Having no experience of the building industry, could you suggest how best to proceed, and which firms to approach?

A: You need to decide if you’re going the full nine yards from a plan point of view and whether you use a registered contractor or Joe and his bakkie. I believe any changes to openings, doors or windows should be on a plan. I’ll put you in touch with a retired architect who can help. Once you have clarified that point, contact me again and I will advise about contractors.

Carina and Chris are also looking at alterations:

Q: We are forced to make changes to our bathroom, which has only a bath and no shower. We are still thinking about what would be the best option – either a shower-over-bath option, or replacing the bath completely with just a shower.

In terms of the possible resale of our property – hopefully years down the line – we are not sure whether it would be good or bad to have no bath at all in a Pinelands home. 

We have four bedrooms, and the master bedroom has a shower en suite. We hope to create a flat to rent and this room will then be part of the flat (it adjoins the former garage and domestic quarters). This shower room and bedroom will then be lost to the flatlet.

We are not very practical and have to proceed carefully. We have sat on these plans for easily 10 years, but depleting pensions are forcing our hand.

Is it wise, for example, not to have a bath at all in terms of resale value (in what would then be a three-bedroom house with one bathroom plus a self-sufficient one-bedroom flat)?

Have you ever had feedback on a construction firm called ABC (name changed), which advertises it gives a 20% discount to pensioners? We are thinking of engaging them. 

Lastly, thank you for the weekly column and Facebook page. From the latter we have gleaned the information about Steuart McLennan (retired architect in Rondebosch), whom we hope to approach in terms of the flatlet.

A: There are many different facets to your question.

Firstly, the idea of a flatlet: you need to consider the initial outlay versus investment income. This is not my field of expertise, but I am sure you have an adviser. From a practical point of view, do you want to have a tenant living right in your space? You also need to check the regulations around a second dwelling.

Funnily enough Mrs Mac and I have been discussing whether to renovate one of our bathrooms and remove the bath. You never know who is going to buy your home in the future, but any family with young children will want a bath, so I think it is essential to keep one. Having said that, I hate showers over baths.

I have yet to find one where, at some stage, you don’t end up with water on the bathroom floor. Yes, you can put up shower screens, but this makes accessing the bath more difficult and as we get older we have the problem of getting old bones up and over the side of the bath.

Finally, regarding the company that you mention, I cannot find them registered under that name on the Building Industry Bargaining Council compliance site, so that means they are probably non-registered or non-compliant. Nobody is going to give 20% discount unless they have built it into the price first.

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