Building a house? These are some major features to take note of, when you’re designing the structure and the space.
The excitement of building a house from the ground up can bring on mixed emotions – the stress from planning might send chills down your spine, while you might feel hopeful thinking of living in a beautiful and comfortable space. Designing its interiors also comes with different considerations, as compared to retrofitting the interiors of an apartment. Kelvin Bing, design director of Renaissance Planners and Designers, says that for landed properties, it’s best to choose “professional design firms as they have relevant knowledge of various statutory requirements of various ministries. He adds: “If the requirements are not met, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) may not grant occupational permit to the homeowners.”
SANITARY DRAINAGE SYSTEM
Have a clear knowledge of the existing sewerage system before house construction begins. To adhere to national water agency PUB’s code of practice on sewerage and sanitary works, appoint a Qualified Person (QP) – a registered architect or professional engineer – to make a request for the Sewerage Information Plan, and conduct a thorough investigation of the development site to ensure that construction will not affect any sewerage drainlines serving adjacent premises.
As a necessary precaution against house burglary, security systems such as closed circuit surveillance cameras (CCTVs) are recommended to be installed at not only the main entrances, but also at the backyards and staircase areas. Designers at Black N White House suggest planning installations early as it involves electrical wiring work to be embedded into the walls and false ceilings of the house, and should be done before painting works are completed, or furniture is shifted in.
Two- and three-storey landed houses can only be built up to 12m and 15.5m respectively, with the topmost floor or attic being 3.5m high. With no restrictions on floor-to-floor height requirement (as per URA’s envelope control guidelines, a building envelope being the threedimensional limit in which the design of the house needs to be kept within), you may add more mezzanine floors within your house if you wish.
When it comes to landscaping outdoor areas such as gardens, and balconies, take note that vertical landscaping and water features require good drainage systems for easy maintenance. Derrick Lim, principal designer of D’Marvel Scale, advises homeowners to consider adding weatherproof electrical cables and power points to illuminate areas where planters are located. Underground pipes are also essential in allowing excess water to be drained away, preventing problems such as flooding. Thomas Tham, design principal of White Corporate, highlighted that in line with URA’s Lush (Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises) 2.0 programme – which seek to encourage more pervasive greenery within residential, office, retail and hotel developments – a particular area in the house to consider greening is the car porch roof. Under the guidelines, an open balcony or garden is considered usable space as long as it remains opento- sky and unenclosed. Read more at www.tinyurl.com/landedhousingguidelines.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF AN ARCHITECT WHEN BUILDING YOUR HOUSE?
Registered architects in Singapore are called Qualified Persons (QP); they have relevant training and expertise to advise on building works, and can submit site plans to the relevant authorities, include the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore for the general safety of the project, the National Environment Agency for issues on environmental health, and the Singapore Civil Defence Force for clearance on fire safety, among others. So, if you are hiring an interior designer to build your house, do also appoint a QP to submit structural and building plans to relevant authorities for approval. Such careful planning will prevent heavy civil penalties, hefty financial costs needed to rectify such issues, and unnecessary misunderstanding and disputes.
For a guide on good practices to follow when carrying out building works in landed housing estates, visit www.tinyurl.com/begoodneighbours