Whether alone or with a partner, there comes a point in every person’s life when s/he intrinsically feels that it is time to fly out of the family-nest and start on a journey of independent home-making.
When one decides to buy a property, instead of renting one, there are invariably a number of responsibilities one must take on, not the least of which is the cost of the property, the type of contract of purchase (whether the place is freehold or not, for example), the type of building itself (whether it’s an apartment, a maisonette, a town-house, etc.) and the standard of the finish.
A property can be in shell-form, it can be semi-finished, finished, or furnished. When choosing a property to buy, it is important for the individual to take into account not only the budget, the locality and the type of structure, but also it’s potential. That is, the actual area of the plot, where the rooms are located (especially if the kitchen/bathrooms are already there), and whether any walls can be torn down and the rooms re-arranged.
If one, for example, prefers an open-plan kitchen/living room area, and the plumbing for the kitchen is already installed in a very small room, one has to ask an architect/contractor whether it would be possible to move this to another space, how much it would cost, and whether the game would actually be worth the candle.
Another very important psychological issue to tackle is the commitment and responsibility issue. When one buys a property, it is usually with the premise that one will be living there one’s whole life, which is why most people tend to prefer buying a house in shell form or semi-finished – in order for them to be able to finish it exactly as they see fit, from the roots up, so to speak. The priorities are for one to have solid walls and a ceiling. All the rest of the details (and expenditure) are to be faced afterwards.
What most people seem to be unaware of is that after the contract is finally signed (usually after a 3, 6 or 12-month ‘promise’ or ‘konvenju’), there are a number of little things which one must take care of almost immediately, in order for things to move smoothly. This is the case even when one is not going to live on the premises at that particular moment. For example, if the property already has an installed electricity and water system, one must go to the ARMS (Automated Revenue Management Services) Department in order to put the water and meter readers in the new owner’s name. If the property had a previous owner, it is also important to take photographs and to take an accurate reading of the meters as soon as the old owner hands you the keys. This then has to be handed to ARMS since the previous owner will be responsible for this final bill.
Another issue to be tackled is to change all the locks. This should be done immediately, since you cannot be fully aware of who actually has a copy of the keys to the property, it is better to be safe than sorry. On the other hand, if you plan on having workmen staying on the premises to handle certain jobs when you are not there, you might consider giving them a set of keys and then changing the locks after they have finished the job.
When you finally move into your new abode (after having purchased at least some basic furniture), it is important to change your ID card, to notify the bank, your work place, your TV / telephone / internet supplier, your hospital, the Tax Department. Also, don’t forget to update any online accounts that you might have, so that any new purchases and all your mail will be delivered to your home without too many problems. If you also bestow a new name on the property, it is important to notify the post office of your particular locality.
Once all of this practical nuisance is over – the real work begins. Transforming a house into a home is no mean feat, and one must use all of his/her creativity, resources and thoughts towards this aim. Wall colours, furnishings, draperies, lights – all of these and more have to be planned and purchased to achieve what one considers to be a ‘dream-home’, which is, after all, what most of us wish for.
Also, read about Property in Malta: To Buy or to Rent?