every three months during the summer, requiring considerable work and attention. There’s a lot of imitation woods now that are very good quality, made of plastics or ground up bits of timber. They’re easy to lay and look after, and there’s no thermal expansion in the sun. The only issue is they don’t feel quite as nice on your feet. A lot of angst for expatriates renovating houses arises from communication issues with contractors. Our own architect understood what we wanted, but he wasn’t on site most of the time, and problems arose from getting contractors here to understand we were building to European design specifications and standards; your design brief needs to be very tight. I only use European contractors, electricians and plumbers; they’re a little more expensive than the local guys, but you save in the long run, because you get very good quality work – and exactly what you want! Property is so expensive in Hong Kong – if you can afford to buy here, is it still a good investment? Hong Kong is one of the most expensive markets in the world and it’s driven, like any market, by supply and demand. There’s still not enough supply, and too much demand, which means prices continue to rise. Government measures to slow this down and discourage foreigners from buying have reduced the number of transactions, but prices haven’t necessarily gone down. The government is selling land to developers at a high price and for developers to make their margin, they have to sell at a certain price, which keeps prices high. Is Hong Kong a good place to buy? The short answer is yes: if you buy in an expensive market and it keeps going up, you’re going to make a lot more money! My clients are generally expatriates who were owner-occupiers and have returned to their country, or overseas investors that have bought property in Clearwater Bay. They’re British, Germans, Japanese, Australians, from the Middle East – a whole mix. If you have rental income from a Hong Kong property and you live elsewhere, the differential in the cost of living means you can have quite a nice lifestyle, because rents are so high in Hong Kong! The other reason for buying or renting in Clearwater Bay is lifestyle, of course. It’s good value for money relative to the island, and it offers greenery, space and proximity to a beautiful national park. It’s a quiet part of Hong Kong because there’s only one road in and out, no restaurants – just a few noodle shops – and only one supermarket. Commercial structures are forbidden as it’s all conservation, country park or village land.
Otherwise, development is strictly controlled – village houses and villas aren’t allowed to be more than three stories high – so there’s a lovely rural feel to it. But it’s still possible to be in Central in under 40 minutes. Traditional village houses have all sorts of restrictions in terms of space and overall footprint, so how did you go about making your own place feel individual? We’ve played around quite a bit with the interior of the house, and the way the spaces function and flow. The ground floor is an entertainment zone, with the focus on a sleek, open-plan kitchen and built-in dining area. We took the idea of a Chinese- style round table and gave it a contemporary twist by making it square. There’s comfortable seating downstairs, but once we’ve eaten dinner we all
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