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Holiday Villa Dos and Don’ts

In a popular tourist destination, pool villas are in high demand. But it is not sufficient simply to buy or build a house and then join a rental program.

The success of any villa, ensuring excellent reviews and repeat clientele, is dependent not only on marketing and management, but on the design of the property itself. And creating a villa that is suitable both to be lived in by the owner and also rented out when they are not there can be a tricky business.

It involves planning from the design stage onwards, balancing the owner’s long term needs with those of the high end traveler staying only a few nights, and creating a space that is both personal to the owner and appealing to the tourist market. A lot of the requirements are unobtrusive and technical; while others mean that owners may have to accommodate design features that they may not previously have thought of.

Below, we compile some dos and don’ts for each area of the villa, as a useful checklist to bring when consulting your architect or management company.

Grounds and gardens

  • DO construct a high perimeter wall around the property: privacy and security are essential for most villa guests. Plant cover can be used to make a more attractive boundary. Walls also help to keep animal intruders such as snakes and stray dogs out of the villa grounds.
  • DO keep the garden a low maintenance space. Landscape gardeners can advise on the type of plants that will provide flowers and foliage with minimal care.
  • DO provide lots of covered outdoor spaces, such as salas (gazebos), terraces and outdoor dining areas as guests will spend most of their time outside.
  • DO install a swimming pool. This is an absolute must for the holiday market. Experience shows that villas with no pool are almost never rented out.
  • DON’T make a deep swimming pool. Deep pools are technically more difficult and more likely to incur problems with leakage and so on. A depth of 1 – 1.2 metres is sufficient to allow swimming but is also shallow enough to accommodate play.
  • DO consider a children’s pool with a proper barrier to the deeper area.
  • DO provide sufficient outdoor lighting for evening use of the pool and garden, as well as for safety reasons.
  • DO consider offering a barbecue for guests’ use.
  • DO provide covered parking, as both the sun and rain in Krabi can damage vehicles.

Decor

  • DO stick to a natural, neutral palette, with splashes of rich colour. Pastel shades are a no-no for this type of tropical villa.
  • DON’T clutter the space: in addition to being easier to maintain, there is not so much for guests to break or damage.
  • DO factor lockable owner storage areas into the house plan, so that you have somewhere to keep personal belongings when you are not there.

Technical

  • DO install a transformer, which is needed for safe and stable electrical supply. You may not run all air conditioning units at the same time, along with several laptops and other electrical equipment, but guests will.
  • DO construct a “technical room”, to house all electrical controls, water pumps, pool equipment etc. so that they are easily accessible in case of problems. This can also function as a storage room for garden tools and so on. It should be separate from the rest of house and lockable so that children cannot access it.
  • DON’T install dimmer switches in any room: they don’t work with energy saving bulbs. You may then wish to consider having alternative soft lighting – lamps etc. – in some rooms.
  • DO offer a master key or key card system: with so many gates and doors on a single property, it can be hard for guests to keep track, and confusing to find the correct one if they return in the dark.
  • DO install high speed wireless internet access throughout the property; this is now as essential as air conditioning for the international traveler.
  • DO also offer a network LAN cable in addition to a Wi-Fi network as this can occasionally malfunction.

Special needs

  • DO consider the needs of younger guests. Children may require extra security in the kitchen and around the pool area, as well as high chairs and cots, which should be available on request.
  • DO make the property wheelchair accessible: avoid interior steps (also easier for cleaning and maintenance); offer wider corridors and doorways; and at least one entrance should be floor level or ramped.
  • DO offer a bench in a shallow area of the pool for both wheelchair users and older guests to sit on.

Kitchen

  • DO provide a coffee machine, microwave and water dispenser in addition to the usual stove, fridge and sink: these are the number one visitor requirements.
  • DO consider providing picnic equipment.
  • DO provide plastic glasses, plates and cutlery, both for children and for use around the pool.
  • DON’T think it is necessary to air condition the kitchen or living room areas: if they are designed with high ceiling and large windows, natural ventilation may be sufficient – and more pleasant.

Bedrooms

  • DO consider providing a mixture of bedding: both doubles and singles, or even bunk beds if space allows.
  • DO consider adding a sofa bed to accommodate children or extra guests.
  • DO provide a personal safe in every bedroom, and invest in a more reliable expensive one, that is big enough to fit a laptop and ideally with an interior power socket for charging.
  • DO provide an iPod dock and DVD player.
  • DO make sure flashlights are in all bedside drawers in case of power outage.
  • DO provide extra power sockets in bedrooms for charging electrical equipment.

Guest communication

  • DO label remote controls and consider having simple written instructions for operating various equipment.
  • DO consider adding notes about energy saving and environmental protection regarding towel and linen changes.
  • DO prepare a “house book”, not only with practical information about the property, but personal recommendations for dining and excursions: this is a wonderful way to welcome your guests.

Home Insurance Claim – Deductions for Depreciation / Wear and Tear

Can an Insurer / Loss Adjuster make deductions from your home insurance claim? That depends!

Traditionally, all home policies were sold by Insurers which paid for a loss but with deductions always made for depreciation on buildings and contents which meant that you would have received approximately the second hand value of lost or damaged items.

In today’s modern insurance environment, policies are now generally sold on a ‘new for old’ basis – this means that you are entitled to replacement or repair as new and will therefore benefit if you claim for lost or damaged items.

There are normally some exceptions within a home policy however where new for old will not apply and you may only be entitled to a lesser sum. Such cases are usually as follows:-

1. CLOTHING, SHOES & BED-LINEN
Most home policies do not provide new for old cover on these items and will deduct for wear & tear on these items (Insurers can only do this if the policy stipulates that they will make such deductions so it is worth checking). Such items will usually have a short shelf life and Insurers may make substantial deductions unless the items are less than a year old at the time of loss / damage.

2. UNDER INSURANCE
If you are not correctly insured for the correct amounts, your policy is likely to state that you will not be entitled to claim for new replacement values on the basis that you are not paying Insurers the correct amount of premium for the risk that they Insure and they will be entitled to penalise your claims settlement and many will do this by making deductions for wear & tear on claimed items.

3 CLAIMING FROM A THIRD PARTY
If someone else causes damage to your property (such as a vehicle driver crashing into it) you may choose not to claim from your home insurance but to claim from the Third Party directly. If you do this however, you are likely to find that the Third Party Insurer will only pay settlement of the claim based on second hand value / less wear & tear rather than new for old. In view of this, if your insurance policy does cover the damage, it is better to claim from this in the first instance as you will be entitled to new for old from your own insurer which should leave you better off and will also mean that Insurers will argue the claim out in the background without you having to get involved in potential liability disputes.

HOW MUCH WILL BE DEDUCTED?
There is no simple answer to this but a logical way in which most Insurers / Loss Adjusters will calculate is by considering the average lifespan of an item and then based on the actual age of the item, calculating a pro rata settlement. For example, if a pair of shoes had an average life span of say 2 years and they were a year old, a deduction of approximately 50% could be made as they are halfway through their average life expectancy.

Contents items will usually have a much higher level of deduction made as they will tend to have a much shorter average life expectancy than a building item (ie a roof may have a life expectancy of 100 years which most contents items will not have anywhere near this!).

Building Envelope Failures Contributing Factors

Water related factors of deterioration to buildings may take the largest toll on structures which are snow, rain, moisture, internal condensation, and humidity. Biological factors include fungi, bacteria, and insects. Chemical contributors may include oxidizing agents, i.e bleach, reducing agents, i.e. sulfides, acids, i.e. bird droppings, bases, i.e lime, salts, i.e. chlorides, or even chemically neutral substances such as fat or oil. Solar radiation, air quality, freeze thaw effects and wind are other environmental contributors to building deterioration.

The majority of building envelope failures can be attributed to water, in one of its many forms (gas, liquid, and solid). The sources of water that could affect a building envelope include:

Water ingress and absorption. Water ingress is typically a function of moisture load and enclosure resistance. Most materials or systems have the capability to absorb some water for a defined period of time without degradation..If absorbed moisture is allowed to sufficiently dry prior to the period which degradation will occur, then these materials could achieve reasonable durability despite the absorption of water. Enclosure assemblies can show signs of water entry due to forces such as gravity, capillary action, or wind blown water. Material deterioration can occur if the water ingress cannot be managed or drained to the exterior, or if materials do not have the capability to store water without degradation.

Condensation. Condensation occurs on a surface with a temperature below the dew point of the air in which it exists. The likelihood or extent of condensation is related to the relative humidity of the air and material temperatures. Problematic condensation within building envelopes is often related to uncontrolled air leakage, vapor diffusion, rain penetration, or snow melt. Condensation is typically controlled through the careful design and installation of air and vapor barriers.

High RH levels. Although condensation is typically the result of high micro climate RH levels, situations can exist where materials are damaged due to sustained high RH levels without condensation (i.e. mold growth)

Deterioration factors in concrete

o Physical processes – freeze / thaw, abrasion, thermal cracking

o Carbonation and ingress of chlorides, leading to a risk of reinforcement corrosion in the presence of water and oxygen

o Chemical attack – includes the external attack of sulfates and acids, and internal attack of alkali aggregate reaction.

Deterioration factors in steel

o Corrosion is a major deterioration factor in steel, which need a combination of water and oxygen to corrode.

o Corrosion may be provoked by particularly aggressive environments.

Deterioration factors in timber

Main durability risk factors in timber are moisture, insects and fungi. From these, the following durability issues can arise:

o Deformation of members due to moisture movement

o Fungal decay (dry and wet rot) and insect attack ( wood boring beetles and termites)

o Structural performance phenomena can occur like reduction in strength and stiffness.

Air and Air Pollutants

Air and its components – oxygen, nitrogen, and other by-products can be an agent for deterioration, as well as a transportation mechanism. As a transportation mechanism, air can bring moisture, water, and pollutants to areas of the building envelope that would normally be protected from these agents. Moist air traveling through a building envelope can result in mold growth on organic materials or corrosion on metallic materials. Common air contaminants include chlorides in maritime climates, sulphur dioxide from vehicle emissions, hydrochloric acid near manufacturing plants, nitric acid from fossil fuel combustion, and chlorine in pool environments. Buildings located in environments with these high concentrations of reactive contaminants can experience more rapid degradation of a variety of building envelope components.

Wind

Wind plays an important role in the service life of building materials. Enclosure design requires consideration for peak loading as well as cyclical loads that cause shortened life from “overworked” materials. Wind loading can also cause depressurization of enclosure cavities, which can increase air leakage, water ingress, moisture movement and condensation. Wind pressures are also responsible for uplift on roofing assemblies and wind driven rain that can penetrate unprotected areas.

Biological and Ecological Agents

Molds or fungi, as well as rodents, insects, and birds can affect the service life of building materials. The presence of fungi, tempered air and moisture (typically above 22% moisture content in wood materials) can cause deterioration of organic materials and unacceptable occupant health conditions.

Insects, birds, and rodents can damage materials by digesting, gnawing, nesting or depositing corrosive droppings. Vegetation in the form of vertical vines or horizontal landscaping can significantly impact building fascades and structural elements due to root growth.

Temperature

Extreme temperatures or temperature fluctuations can cause significant movement in materials like copper and vinyl, creating deformation of materials, and unintended gaps and hole at material junctures. Freezing temperature can lead to frost heaving, ice jacking, spalling of masonry and damage to brittle materials. Excessive heating of materials (i.e. metal flashing and roofing can lead to “bleeding” of materials onto finished cladding, and material cracking, bulging or ridging. Extremely hot temperature, such as those that might occur in building fires can have a multitude of detrimental effects with respect to service life. These temperatures can temporarily or permanently change the physical properties of materials, making them ineffective for their intended use.

Solar Radiation

Material selection and the assembled enclosure can be greatly influenced by UV radiation from the sun. When material absorbs radiation from the sun, energy is produced that can cause a chemical reaction and material property changes (i.e., becoming brittle, yellowing, chalking, or fading). Most assemblies with UV sensitive material require the use of a covering material (i.e., metal flashing over exposed roofing membrane), limiting building aesthetic and design options. Other materials have limited service life as a result of UV degradation (i.e., many sealant materials and water based paint finishes). Conversely, night sky radiation can also cause heat loss and problems with condensation and corrosion in some roofing assemblies (i.e. zinc roofing)

Chemical Reactions and Incompatibility

Although chemical reactions are not a specific environmental agent, they are typically coupled with environmental agents to cause damage (i.e. corrosion).

For example, galvanic corrosion is a typical problem with incompatibility between metals, or the use of pressure treated wood and zinc coated fasteners. Other compatibility issues include the use of various coatings, caulking, and membranes in contact with each other.

Positive Aspects of Agents Affecting Building Durability

There are some positive side effects that impact the service life due of building materials. For example, patina corrosion protects copper roofs, temperature shifts dry moist materials, landscaped or green roofs protect UV sensitive roofing materials, wind cools buildings, and water running over zinc strips minimizes algae growth.

HOW CAN DURABILITY AND SERVICE LIFE BE IMPROVED?

The main culprits that can rob durability are poor workmanship and lack of knowledge of the properties of materials. It is important to identify the problems that manifest themselves as shortcomings in our traditional materials and look for opportunities to improve material performance in housing and buildings. Explore new techniques, materials, components and systems that promise to improve durability while reducing life-cycle costs. Develop methods for accelerated assessment of materials, components and systems that reflect in-place builder installed performance. Greater attention should be paid to details which influence how a structure deals with water run off and drainage.

Building components require varying degrees of maintenance, repair and replacement during the life cycle of a building. The extent and intensity of maintenance, repair and replacement varies significantly, depending on how appropriately the service life of materials, assemblies, and systems are harmonized, and how accessible they are for periodic maintenance, and replacements.