Save Money When Buying In Israel. Your Designer Will Tell You How.

Buying a home in Israel is a momentous occasion. Whether you live  in Israel, are making aliyah, or buying overseas,   it is a very important event, and of course, should be done correctly.


 While real estate agents, lawyers, and friends will all have advice to share, consulting your interior designer is an important step before signing on the dotted line. Being an informed shopper means you are spending wisely. Consult with your interior designer before you buy, to make the best purchase possible, know exactly what is included and help negotiate lower prices.


A home in Israel is either bought as a completed existing home, or "on-paper". When buying on paper you are buying a home that has not yet been built, or is partially built and you are buying the home based on plans that exist "on-paper". One advantage often touted is that you’ll be able to customize your home and make changes to get exactly the home you want.


 Here is a list of a few important points to keep in mind, to avoid unpleasant surprises later when buying "on-paper".


1.  "Marketing Plans" Are Not to Scale

The plans you will likely receive at first are "marketing plans” and may  not present the home accurately. They are colorful, and marketable, but the furniture drawn is extremely small furniture, and not of realistic size in order to make the property seem larger.


  • Make sure that the plans have measurements of the room sizes. Convert these to feet and inches if that makes it easier to understand.

  • Clarify that the measurements are ‘neto’ (meaning, the useable space on the floor. A walk-in closet or small bathroom can decrease in size dramatically if they’ve included space taken up by walls etc).  

  • Measure rooms in your current home to help visualize the size.

  • A few basic furniture experiments can be useful. Measure the size of the beds you have now. Would you go any smaller? How much other furniture do you want to fit in the room- clothes closets, desks, toy storage? Video game or TV screens? Ditto for dining room sets- what size chairs do you have and how many would you plan on seating on a regular basis? What about a kitchen table? If you’re planning on shipping any of your furniture (or you already own pieces that you’ll want to incorporate into your new home) measure these pieces - your sofa may be double the size of the one pictured in the cute floor-plan. This information can highlight differences between your expectations and the floor plan you’ve been shown. 


Stay focused on the black-and-white numbers of how much space you’re getting, to prevent you falling for a dream of ‘two sofas, a coffee table, and china cabinet- just like this drawing, all in six meters!’


2. The included "Standard" (Hebrew-STON-DART) May Not Be Up To Par.

"Standard" is a concept spoken of a lot in the building industry. Some building projects use the lower end of building materials such as floor tiles, wall tiles, sinks, faucets, kitchens, etc. This is called "standard".


What is supplied is minimal. The tiles may be of inferior quality, likely to break after a couple of years- long after the builder has disappeared.  Even if the quality is okay, you may want something with a more sophisticated look to set the tone for the design of your home.  A significant amount of money may need to be spent in order to make changes to get it to the level that you would like.


3. Items Are Not Included

Items such as shower doors, towel racks, and medicine cabinets, which you may expect to be included in the price, are likely not included. It is important to know what you will and will not be getting for the price that you pay. The additional add-ons, which may sound trivial, add up quickly.


3. The Kitchen Will Cost More

The kitchen drawn in the marketing plans is a suggested plan, and if you research closely, it is  not likely included in your home's technical specifications and price. Most building projects offer a standard kitchen, sized closer to a kitchenette, at times with one sink. Cabinets above the counter top are another item that you may assume is included but isn’t. The formica kitchenette being offered can be credited for an amount that will cover a fraction of the kitchen of your choice.  Most homes do not come with a "real" kitchen and by the time you design and order the kitchen you want, there may be significant additional expenses.


4. Changes Are Costly

The building companies may charge for every move or change of a plumbing point, an electric point, any added doors, extra tiling, non-standard tiling sizes (such as large tiles, or mosaic tiles), wall changes, and basically anything that is slightly different from their standard plans.


The "problem" is that once you sign with a contractor, they can charge significant amounts for the changes. 


5. Compounded Changes

 A particular upgrade, may bring about additional costs. For example if you choose to upgrade your bathroom tile you will likely be paying more for the tile, and more for the labor, and more for custom tile plans which the contractor will require.


An upgraded kitchen will cost more for the cabinet type (three drawers instead of two shelves), cabinet amount (ten cabinets, not just three), countertop amount (your extra three cabinets need to be covered with extra granite), sink amounts (want two sinks?), backsplash amounts (more tiles to go above your extra three cabinets and granite counters). All of the above will add on labor costs, including installing the cabinets, tiling, changes and additions of electric and plumbing points, as well as sinks.


If you install American appliances, changes to the electrical and plumbing plans will be needed, and additional points will need to be added.


Awareness is the key.

Before moving ahead and signing, you should be consulting with a qualified designer in order to understand exactly what is included in your technical specifications, and in your future home. You must understand in advance how much more you will need to spend in order to complete the home based on our own standard of living. This is not within the field of expertise of your lawyer or real-estate agent. Do this before signing on the dotted line.


Once you have the awareness and the knowledge, there may be room for negotiating. If the project is trying to sell, you will be able to ask them for additional electric points, plumbing points, free reign on changing walls and more. This all depends of course on the stage that the building is up,  to when the purchase takes place.

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