Sunday, May 07, 2006


As much as I'd like to think I could, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to struggle designing this new apartment. Every Chinese apartment I've ever seen has a variety of faults (by my standards) that I'm keen not to replicate:

Socket in Shower

Safety - my number one concern is that the standard of wiring sucks. Most wiring is done the very old-fashioned way of twisting wires together and wrapping with a bit of tape. I've also got a plug socket in the shower, which I'm not too keen on.

Attention to detail - my current rented apartment has wobbly taps, light switches that do nothing, rusting fittings, peeling plasterwork, doors that swing open on their own. My biggest complaint in my office is that the kitchen worktops are made from porous granite. Who knew porous granite existed but this is - spill a drink on it and you can't wipe it all up!

Plumbing - typically this is done without the use of that fine, Victorian, invention - the U bend.

Built-in-furniture - fitted furniture is the standard for bathrooms, kitchens and the like. The only issue is that it's typically built on-site from plywood and fairly low quality. The use of standard units from specialist suppliers is definitely not the norm.

Funky features - It's fairly standard in the UK for people's houses and apartments to be intrinsically fairly plain and accentuated with furniture and accessories. Here people employ a wide variety of infrastructural devices, for example - rope lights - in some cases, set into the floor with a (hopefully) plate glass panel over the top, twiddly bits built into ceilings and walls, etc.

I kind-of have an image in my head as to what it's going to look like when it's finished but I don't know if it's a pipe-dream (because it's going to cost more than I can afford) or achievable (because my dreams are more tasteful than my planning). I'm tending towards a modern design with simple, clean lines.

I also need to bear in mind that if I come to sell it, 99.8% of all potential buyers will be local and, therefore, will neither want some of the features I want (an oven is the most obvious example - most Chinese homes don't have one) nor will they perceive the value in the quality of the features that I want to install.

The one thing that the jury is still out on is YY's desire to have a fireplace. Obviously (as it's a 15th floor apartment) there's no flue, and I find the idea of flueless gas fires to be pretty scary - particularly as there's no regulation of gas-fitters in China.


JP said...

As far as I can tell, if you want to sell it on you'll need to include the following:

slipper cupboard by the front door;

shower cubicle big enough to wash 11 year olds (small ones);

drawer under the hob with wire base to allow all the grease to cover your pots and pans properly;

fifteen different kinds of lighting in the living area (at least) with mysteriously placed switches that only permit the lights to come on in funny combinations.

adders said...

at least you know what to hang above the mantelpiece - but which one?

dB said...

JP's description does cover everywhere I've lived so far.

Half of the lights in the living area should also consist of tiny halogen bulbs that blow every 2 days, causing the circuit breaker to trip out every time.

The kitchen worktops should also be at a comfortable working height for oompa loompas and have the surface area of a small tea-towel.

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