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There is no shortage of quality property on the market in Dubai. Most come complete with the essential items that most people take for granted: floors, ceilings and walls. But there are also properties on the market that do not have these in, otherwise known as ‘core and shell’. There are villas in Arabian Ranches such as the Polo Homes, as well as penthouses in Oceania on the Palm Jumeirah that are shell and core.

The reason that these properties are released as such is debatable, but it does offer a unique opportunity to buyers. Their prices are lower as the property is no the finished product and they are often in high-demand areas. It can be easy to be dissuaded from purchasing a core and shell property, not only because of the work involved but the difficulty in getting exact information about the exact process in transforming a hollow building into a home.

Most people want to know how long it is going to take and how much it is going to cost them. To take the issue of time frame first, this has a number of variables. It will depend on where the material is going to be sourced from; tiles that are sourced locally are going to take a lot less time than marble that is ordered from Italy.  Depending on your involvement, the design stage can take anything from 2 weeks to 2 months, before any work has even begun on the property.

Secondly, the budget also has a few sets of variables. A decision must be made on the standard of material you are looking to use, for instance marble can cost you anything from AED 200 per square meter to over AED 1,000 per square meter. A new kitchen can cost you anything from AED 25,000 to AED 500,000.  Although your designer should be able to guide you on this, you should still be aware of market prices so you can agree on a budget.  Get a minimum of three quotes for everything so that you can compare and bargain.

When it comes to the FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) then this should also have a resemblance to the quality and style of the floors and ceilings. Your budget for furniture should be included in initial discussions so that you don’t make the common error of overshooting your budget when you get to this final stage. And don’t forget to agree on the design fee for all this work too, this should be agreed upon at the beginning and preferably paid in installments.

After agreeing on the time frame and the budget of the project, the next important step is to create a schedule. With so many different jobs that will require your attention, it is necessary to have a schedule with dates of completion to keep on top of things, and these can be seen roughly in five steps.

The first part of the house to be installed will be the air conditioning ducting (pipes that carry the air from the main unit to the outlets in each room). Once this is complete the ceiling will have to be put up, after the central lighting and spotlights have been agreed upon.

After the ceilings are done, the walls will be put in next. During the early design stages, you will have probably decided on what rooms will go where in the layout. The main thing to consider at this stage is the ‘functional design’; making sure that the layout of the house will be practical. For instance, you don’t want your dining room to be the opposite side of the house from the kitchen.

The third step is doors and doorways. These are an essential part of the design too, and it is vital that the profiles match the general design of the house.  The acoustics of doors must also be considered, especially in the bedrooms as you will want to keep as much sound out as possible in these rooms.

During the fourth stage the flooring is put in, this is done last to make sure it is as clean as possible and not damaged by any further heavy works taking place in the house.

Lastly the furniture, curtains, wallpaper and other decorations are installed. Again, extra time should be allowed for this process especially if some pieces have been ordered from overseas or are being custom made.

All of the above is a rough guide to the interior design process of a shell and core home.  Is it worth it all? There is probably no better way of making a personal mark on your home than being involved in every step of the interiors, without building the home from scratch. If you have the time and the money, you can create a home that is unique to your style in every possible way.

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