Braai areas sizzling with style

Samantha Barnes

SUMMER is on the way and with that the opportunity to celebrate warmer weather with a braai. One of the nicest, most cost-effective ways of sprucing up your home for the whole family is adding a braai or entertainment area.

My Home sought the advice of professionals in the building and design trade on building an entertainment room the hassle-free way.

Horror stories abound: of the occasional builder running off with the cash deposit without completing the job, slapdash workmanship, workmen who don’t turn up, and being overcharged for labour and materials.

There is a need to sort the good guys from the bad when having building work done.

Port Elizabeth couple Herman and Ricky Schoenmaker have just had an indoor entertainment area built – in a week. But three to six weeks would be a realistic expectation, they say.

Getting building plans passedThe Schoenmakers didn’t need a building plan approved. They upgraded an existing area, which already had an approved plan.

Gillian Adendorff, of Adendorff Architects and Interiors, said it was essential to check – whether building a new structure or adding on to an existing building – that it was in accordance with municipal regulations.

“This may require drawings to be submitted to council, so ensure you have the correct information for the building regulations/restrictions for that site,” Adendorff said.

Wait for approval before commencing building work. Should approval be denied one can face penalties as well as the demolition of the structure that has been built.

A building plan can take weeks or months before being approved or declined so anyone contemplating building work must take this into account when estimating project timelines. It is advisable to consult with a reputable builder or designer prior to beginning a project.

“The cheapest quote may not be the best,” Schoenmaker cautioned. Rather appoint a reputable builder who finishes the job.

Andre Willemse, of Precision Builders, offered pointers on deciding on the size of your entertainment area. “This depends on various factors like the size of the existing house, your family size, how regular and how big you like to entertain and of course your budget. The size of the braai room must be in proportion to the rest of the house. I would say you should not go smaller than 3m x 3m.”

Features to consider

Schoenmaker suggests: “Make a list of what you want. At the end of the day small things can make a big difference.”

They had a tap fitted in their entertainment area so they could wash their hands.

Other considerations were storage, a bar fridge, and a dining and seating area.

“Always have adequate space next to the braai as a work or serving area,” Adendorff says. She recommends a “prep bowl”, reducing the need to walk back and forth through to the kitchen while cooking or entertaining.

The Schoenmakers had stack doors installed for full flexibility. Although sliding doors are a cheaper option, Adendorff advised keeping in mind that only one section will open.

“Roller canvas, although allowing for a flexible space, is not that secure and does not have a very long lifespan compared to a structural door or sliding system,” Adendorff said. “But again it depends on the style of the building or home, as well as the budget, security requirements and the aesthetics of the space.”

Willemse suggests roll-up canvas as an option to save on costs, especially if the room is not very big. “On good weather days, you can roll it up and your room will feel bigger, especially if it walks out on a swimming pool area or a nice garden. “

Design style While facebrick is practical, there are a wide range of finishes available to add your own personal stamp.

The Schoenmakers are happy with their style choice. They created a feature wall by tiling one wall with sandstone rivens. They suggest sticking to the basics in terms of design style.

Adendorff said while facebrick was considered a dated finish on most contemporary houses or structures, its low maintenance still made it very popular in the building industry.

For a more contemporary finish and style, she says, paint manufacturers produce a wide variety of products, including eco-friendly paint, natural textures and finishes, and colour ranges.

“An alternative option is cladding,” Adendorff said. “There are a variety of products that can give the ideal look or feel, which range from natural or manufactured stone cladding, timber, PVC materials, tiles aluminium etc.”

Willemse said building materials ranged from the very affordable to the very expensive, imported stuff. “You buy what you can afford or what you are willing to pay.”

TrendsAdendorff says current trends include decked seating areas, landscaped gardens and seating spaces, pergolas or structural canopies, low maintenance gardens and plants (indigenous with gravel/ground cover), clean lines and blurring the lines between the inside and outside.

PracticalitiesNo one wants a smoky entertainment area.

“Make sure the correct cowl and flue lengths are used to prevent smoke from being blown back into the space,” Adendorff advised.

The orientation of the site is important as this determines the door and window sizes and openings. It also determines whether the entertainment area gets sun or is exposed to wind, which can impact on the internal temperature and the feel of a space.

Whatever your budget or design style, there are plenty of reputable building and design specialists in Port Elizabeth whether for building renovations, design or supply of materials. Enjoy your new chill room!

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