We caught up with the experts to find out the most important things to consider before you start renovating, from obtaining the right permits to choosing the right contractors you need to read this before signing on the dotted line
Whether you’re keen to redo the kitchen, add a pool or build your dream walk-in closet, don’t reach for the hammer just yet – there are various hoops to jump through and boxes to tick – so make sure you have all the necessary permissions in place first.
Different developers and communities have varying requirements but to get you started, follow our quick step-by-step guide:
Structural changes are usually a no go
External alterations and structural changes are usually strictly prohibited (so you can forget about vertical additions or changing the structure).
Factor in the fees
A refundable deposit (Emaar, for example, requires a Dhs5,000 deposit) prior to issue of the No Objection Certificate (NOC) is the norm. This is refundable upon the completion of the works – as soon as they’ve been checked for health and safety, environmental and community compliance
Factor in administrative/NOC fees, from Dhs1,000-3,000 per application, depending on project scope and documentation urgency
Dubai Municipality approvals (including architectural/structural drawings, affection plan and permitted area schedule) are the next steps once an NOC is obtained – don’t just take the NOC as a green light. It costs from Dhs700 including deposit.
Get the contractor permit
You’ll also need a contractor entry permit. You can apply for this once the NOC has been issued. Required documents include copies of the company’s trade license, owner passport copy, labour card, vehicle registration(s) and workers’ Emirates ID.
Ask the contractor: What you need to know
Choosing the right professional to do your refit or renovation can be a minefield. We asked some of the best in the business for their advice.
How long will it take?
“Ask for an honest time frame and get it in writing. The contract should include the project delivery date plus a penalty clause for late handover, or if the finished work is not up to scratch,” advises Martin Hibbit of Another Level Technical Services .
How much will it cost?
“If you have a project in mind, that’s a good starting point. Make sure you get a full costing up front. Ask to see samples of the materials/fittings to be installed to check the quality is in line with your brief and the costing. A make-good Defect Liability Period (generally 12 months) should also be factored into the contract, which obliges the contractor to fix any problems without any additional cost to the homeowner,” says Shane Curran of Interact Group.
What are the usual payment terms?
“Typically you are looking at 40% on contract signing, 50% progress payment upon completion of the defined scope of works (approximately 90%) and the final 10% post snagging. If you’ve requested specific materials or a custom order, you may be asked for a larger advance, so make sure you understand what is included in the bill of quantities (BoQ). When discussing variation orders (VO), which will come up, make sure you have a well-documented arrangement and quotes before starting,” reveals Kym Jackson Shen of Haute Bohème.
What licenses are required?
“Internal home modifications involving structural changes require a general fit-out or technical license while contractors doing electrical works must be DEWA registered. A civil contractor license is needed for major internal changes/extensions/exterior work,” explains Martin.
What insurance should contractors have?
It’s important to check that your contractor has an at-risk policy to cover any sub-contractors, plus third-party building insurance and workman’s compensation insurance for on-site labour. Insurance requirements may be specified by the developer or community manager, so don’t assume anything.
Things to consider before choosing your contractor:
- Ask to see permits, insurance and copies of all documentation pertaining to the company’s legal right to operate, and to complete your project.
- Be aware of the possibility of any additional costs from day one – ask the contractor for ballpark costs so you don’t get a shock halfway through the build.
- Check out the company by asking to see testimonials. Go and view their finished projects and talk to previous clients.