Let There Be Light

We at Talk Magazine have endured the dreary Shanghai cold all too often and what we have learned is that keeping in high spirits when the days are short and chilly requires an external provocation. To that we say, “Let there be light,” and as autumn draws close again, we sought the help of professionals in bringing some sunshine to our homes.

There is no bigger impact, no change more elegant, no aesthetic more inviting than the introduction of more light. If you have always had an itch to renovate, but needed a legitimate incentive to do so, this may just be the time, as another Shanghai winter creeps closer, and the dark, gloomy nights get longer. Why not install clear glass windows in optimal spots to add a sense of spaciousness and warmth to your home? Doing so would translate into a less than gloomy autumn and winter season (and we’d all love that).

Yes, it may take a bit of planning and preparation (not to mention the necessary authorisation from your landlord), but the investment will yield many benefits including a smaller utility bill (since you will be harnessing the sun’s rays for heat and illumination) and a happier you.

Still, there are many questions involved with taking up a project like this. Where should you install a new window? How big should it be? What kind of glass should you use? From where can you purchase the materials?

Talk spoke to Jack Yang (pictured), Partner of Shanghai MiCA, Property Management Co. Ltd., a company that specialises in introducing light to predominately Western style spaces and renovated lane houses around the former French Concession. Asking what the most important things are to consider in committing to a project like this, Yang says that the first rule is to understand where the best place is to have your window installed. “A house that faces the south will get the most sunlight from the day. Because of that, it yields two options for optimum window placement: either around the front door or the ceiling.”

Determining the size of the window is the next order of duty, as it will also determine the impact that the sun has in your home. For most lane houses in the former French Concession, a roof is approximately 2.4 meters by 1.8 meters and Yang says that expatriates tend to gravitate towards entire glass roofs above the kitchen. “Although it may seem intense to allow a pane of glass to encompass the entire roof, smartly designed shutters, which can be bought from wholesale furniture market such as Jiandao Shitou Bu (1263 Wuzhong Lu, near Zhongshan Xi Lu) can also be installed to control the flood of light.”

Purchasing double-pane glass and other materials for the window is another important aspect of the renovation that must be considered, and which many expatriates may in particular feel enthusiastic about, knowing that there are ways they can not only better insulate their houses in the long, cold winters, but also block out that incessant Shanghai traffic. Yang’s company uses a combination of sources, which includes ordering from online sites such as www.shanghaihomeexpo.com and ordering custom-made pieces from Shanghai MiCA Property Management Company.

And the biggest surprise is that this investment really doesn’t cost all that much. “A project such as this is relatively affordable, costing anywhere from RMB 2,000. In terms of duration, the estimated time for completion can be as little as one month with sufficient planning and preparation,” says Yang. “[But] if you start now, you should be able to have your desired window installed before the cold sets in.”

And when that happens, hopefully you’ll be basking in the rays while inside your happy, sunlit home.

Jack Yang Partner at Shanghai MiCA Property Management Co. Ltd. Rm 706, Renada Building, 38 Pingwu Lu, near Xingfu Lu. Mobile: 186 1609 0741. Tel: 6225 5060. Web: www.mica.sh.cn

Currently Jack Yang Partner has 1BR to 4BR renovated lane houses available for rent for between RMB 7,000 –80,000 in the former French Concession and Jing’an Area. To see houses renovated like the one pictured, telephone Jack at 186 1609 0741.

Finding the Light Home

Can’t afford a RMB 7,000+ per month townhouse, but still looking for a nice cheerful apartment with a lot of light? Here are a few tips to choosing the right place:

  • Look for an apartment with a south facing window to get the best quality light in your home.
  • Don’t skimp on the size of your window when choosing a place.
  • If you’re looking for somewhere to make a long-term investment but can’t afford a house, choose an apartment on the top floor, with the potential of having an additional window built in the ceiling at a later date. Be sure to get authorisation from your landlord and onsite officials.
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