In Summary

Last month, Angiletti Design Studio, posted pictures on the company’s Facebook wall of a house in Luzira they had done an extreme makeover on. The photographs went viral after they were shared by several Facebook users. We sought out the architects behind the makeover, who shared their story with Esther Oluka.

In November 2017, construction repairs started on an old house located in Luzira, a city suburb.
The house’s paint had peeled off, walls weakened, the tiles had lost their red colour, the metallic doors had turned rusty. The house was in poor state! It was constructed in 1998.

Adam Jumba, an architect and partner at Angiletti Design Studio, says the owner of the house approached their company and asked them to have it renovated.
“The owner told us to turn it around into a comfortable home setting for him and his family,” says Jumba.
Currently, the family is staying in a rented apartment in a city suburb.

The state of the old house
Initially, the old Luzira house had two bedrooms, a sitting room and garage. The client, however, wanted space created for two ensuite bedrooms.
Also, the house owner emphasised the kind of designs the architects needed to consider during the building process.
“He told us not to go beyond a budget of $50,000 (about Shs185m) for the renovation,” Jumba says.
However, the construction has so far exceeded the budget since very many changes have been made, including renewing the old roof with new beams and tiles.

Before the team got down to doing any work, they first inspected the roofs, floors, water pipes, and other several parts of the house. Next, they got down to making the house plan.
Trevor Muhumuza, who also works as an architect at Angiletti Design Studio, says when the designs were presented to the client, he burst into laughter wondering how exactly the team was going to bring these drawings into reality.
“He doubted us and worried that this was something that could not easily be pulled off,” Muhumuza says.

Family members and friends of the house owner were also skeptical about the project. Infact, at some point, the team were requested to adjust the “complicated” plans to simpler designs.
“But we also insisted that this was something our team could do,” Muhumuza says, adding, “In the end, the client was convinced and the renovation started late last year,”
The team got a contractor to provide the necessary services, including material and labour required for the project.

The changes made
Some of the modifications that were made included breaking the weak walls and erecting new ones. The garage was altered into a master bedroom which has facilities such as a bathtub, shower, toilet and closet.
“Right above the master bedroom, we constructed a balcony where family members have the chance to see the beautiful lake view at a distance,” Jumba says.

The living room was improved with modern living interior designs and lighting system. Right behind the living room is the kitchen area, which has already been installed with electrical appliances such as a washing machine, fridge and oven. One of the unused spaces in the house was improved to make space for the fourth bedroom, which was built with its own bathroom. As regards to what kind of materials were used during the renovation process, Jumba says some of it includes Wood Plastic Composite (WPC), a building material that mimics wood. “Since we do not have the technology designed for making WPC in Uganda, we imported them from China,” Jumba says.

Wall paper has been mostly used to decorate the interior walls of the house. For the exterior, they used graffiato paste instead of paint.

Also, glass has been used widely in the house project, such as, during the installation of the balcony, doors and windows.
However, knowing the kind of insecurity we have in this country, I inquire from Jumba if it was a wise decision to use glass in the first place.
“This is not your ordinary type of glass. It is burglar-proof consisting of two layers of glass (commonly referred to as double glazed glass) and the laminated type which holds together when shattered,” Jumba says, adding, “So, it would not be that easy to break into.”
The former path-way that had green grass has also been transformed. Now, it has with pavers.

The biggest challenge that the team has encountered on the project has been poor workmanship.
“Some workers are not passionate about their work, and are always making mistakes. For instance, you find that a worker is not doing the tiling or floor levelling the right way. At the end of the day, you may find that a wall for example, is not as straight as it should be,” says Jumba.

For this reason, Jumba says, the team is usually on the site doing supervision and ensuring the project goes as planned. Since some of the construction materials required for the house project are not easily available in the Ugandan market, Jumba says they spent a lot of money and time importing some of the materials from other countries.

What to bear in mind if you are planning on renovating a house:
Trevor Muhumuza, an architect at Angiletti Design Studio, says:
• Hire a professional expert to guide you on what exactly to do for the house.
• It is very important that you inform the construction authority body in your area about the plans. The respective authority will scrutinise your plans and advise accordingly. Since this house is located within a city suburb, the team had to write to Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) seeking permission to renovate the house.
• In construction or renovations, things do not always go according to plan. For instance, the budget may go up than expected. It is therefore important that the house owner is always prepared for anything.