10 Cautionary Tips for Viewing Showflats





Interior Designers do a lot of important jobs, one of which is making show flats look good. By working their FF&E (Fittings, Furnishings & Equipment) magic, they could make the inside of an Iraqi prison look like the Westin Stamford. So how do you see past their veil of illusion? Follow these 10 tips from H88:


I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the Govt is planning to regulate the showflats for the newly launched condos. Many first-time buyers assume that what you see in the showflat is what you get. Sadly, that’s usually not the case.

Showflats (or “show galleries” as the developer likes to call them) are an essential marketing tool for most developers. There are some really awesome ones we’ve been to and some not so awesome ones. Basically, if the location is not so good (i.e. far far away), you can expect a lavishly done showflat, especially for the mass market ones.

Usually the developer’s marketing team and the developer’s architect work together to create the showflat. No prizes for guessing which side came up with the idea to remove the doors and the walls!

Here’s some things to keep in mind the next time you visit a condo showflat:


1. Always Carry the Correct Floor Plan With You


DeLeedon Gallery

Some show galleries look amazing, like this one at D’Leedon.

Get the brochure, ask your agent to flip to the correct unit floorplan and step in. As you walk around the showflat, refer to the floorplan to note which walls have been removed.

Usually the walls between two adjoining rooms have been removed to make the space larger. Or they put a glass wall in between to create the illusion of space. We’ve even encountered showflats where lift shaft walls have been removed to make the place look more spacious.

Sometimes so much hacking and adding has been done it’s hard to tell even from the floorplan!
Always check with your agent, if they have been paying attention during the agents’ briefing they should know.

Also if the floorplan is detailed enough, you’ll notice that structural walls have a thicker outline or are thicker than the rest of the walls. Such walls cannot be removed or the whole place will collapse. Take note of the location of the structural pillars too, sometimes they are omitted from the showflat.


2. Remember That ALL the Doors Have Been Removed


Balcony without doorsNote the lack of balcony doors. Always ask your agent where the balcony begins.

The front door, the balcony door, the bedroom door, the bomb shelter door and the bathroom door all disappear into thin air when the showflat is built. It’s not because someone broke in and stole them. It just makes the place look bigger.

So always imagine the amount of space a door will take when you swing it open. Can you even step into the bathroom without squeezing uncomfortably? Is there anything built in the showflat where the door should be, like a sofa, a side table or standing lamp?

3. Note the Finishing of the Floors, Cabinetry, and Bathroom. The Appliance Brands Too.

KitchenUsually most condos will throw in built-in oven, cooker top and hood. Some even provide washing machine and dryers.

The type of finishing will be indicated at the back of the brochure, usually in fine print. Read it carefully to see what will be included. Most developers include such details like marble for the floors, timber for the bedroom floors and so on.

Check to see what appliances are included which aren’t. Responsible developers will paste a sticker to indicate that the item is not included. Don’t assume everything will be provided for.

It will be a good to have an idea of the quality of the appliance brands too. Do your research. Upmarket kitchen brands are Ariston and Teka. For bathroom brands –  Duravit and Hansgrohe.

4. Note the Balcony’s Planter Box

BalconyThis balcony even has a sign that tells you that the balcony’s wooden slats have to be approved by the condo management. Good job!

Balconies these days come with a planter box. Technically these are for growing plants. Some showflats put wooden floorboards to increase the balcony space. Good developers actually put fake plants in.

Agents usually tell us it is up to the condo management to decide whether these floor boards are allowed, and in most cases they are. Still, it pays to be sure of such things.

5. Wall Mirrors are Used to Make the Space Larger

Mirror WallsThe pillar here is wrapped in mirrors. Do you see it?

Been to showflats that look like a house of mirrors? Wonder why? Well, mirrors are used to create the illusion of space. Small rooms will look bigger if the walls are mirrored. So don’t be fooled!

Mirrors are used to hide things as well, we’ve seen a structural pillar wrapped floor-to-ceiling in mirror. So take special note.

6. Private Enclosed Space and Fence

Scale model of garden

Check the model to see how the fence of the garden will look.

Most of the time, the showflat’s private enclosed space (aka garden) do not come with fences, check with architectural model and your agent as to where they would be and how they would look like.

More questions to ponder: Will there be an awning? Will it be transparent or opaque? Will it cover your garden fully or partially or not at all?

Don’t forget they also remove the sliding doors leading to your garden, so your bedroom/hall is not as open and airy as they would like you to think.

7. Take Note of the Height of the Ceiling

Ceiling. Little architecture joke: Only architects and prostitutes look at ceilings.This showflat’s ceiling looks pretty realistic.

Some developers are known to increase the height of the ceiling to make the space look bigger. Others don’t bother doing a ceiling at all. Again there are no actual dimensions reflected in the brochure/floorplans to indicate ceiling height. So this one you have to take the developer’s or agent’s word for it.

The future Govt regulations should come in handy for this one.


8. That Bed is Not Really a Bed


An image of the bed that is purportedly not a bed. Looks pretty bed-like to me though.

Will a king-size bed fit in this bedroom?

Ever sat on one in the showflat? We have. It’s not a real mattress. What size do you think the mattress is? King, Queen or Super Single?

Seldom does one see a full-size king bed in a standard condo showflat. Obviously it will make the room much smaller! So think about how your new King or Queen bed will fit. Bring measuring tape if you are the thick skin sort and are not afraid of embarrassing yourself.

Consider also the second bedroom too, especially showflats with two bedrooms. The second bedroom is usually tiny. Some developers like to put a small custom-built day bed in there which we always find weird. Is it a sofa or a bed? It’s too small to be a bed, yet too large to be a sofa. Strange don’t you think?

I9. Thin Walls, Bigger Room

An image that doesn't show thin walls, because that's like, impossible. It's a bed.

This showflat uses glass to separate the bathroom from the master bedroom, making the room look more spacious.

Some showflats have walls thinner than usual to make the room big. Some of them use glass to create the same effect.

How thick should a wall be then? Well. if it looks like you can punch a hole through it with your fist, it’s too thin! We’re joking of course. Wall thickness should be somewhere between 10 to 12 cm. Structural walls are thicker.

The floorplans do not indicate the exact width of walls. Again you have to take the agent’s or developer’s word for it.


10. Snap Photos


A scale model of the condo


Take photos of the showflat for reference. How else will you remember what the showflat looked like 3-4 years later when you collect your keys?

What should you focus on? The finishing, the appliances, the walls, etc. All those things we mentioned above.

So, now that you know all their tricks, you’re ready to go. Approach that show flat with caution and ask a lot of questions. Best of luck!

Visited a show flat that looked too good to be true? Comment and let us know!

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