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Things to note before buying a house 
What are you looking for in a home?
Must it be a bungalow, a condominium, an apartment or a penthouse? The actual area and size will depend on the size of your family as well as your own personal requirements. Think long term. Maybe you and your spouse require just a one-bedroom apartment at this point in time but plan to have two children later. In that case, a two-bedroom or even a three-bedroom is a better option
Why do you need one?
Are you purchasing it to reside in it? Or do you view property as an investment and you are looking at capital appreciation. If you are buying to reside in it, you may consider a 3-bedroom apartment. But, if you are planning to rent it out, even if you can afford a 3-bedroom apartment, you may want to settle for a 2-bedroom because the chances of giving it out would be easier. Also, if you are looking at capital appreciation, you should consider making the purchase in the suburbs, where the price appreciation will be higher than in the case of prime property
Where is it going to be?
Have you decided in which city or state you want to buy your home? Are you looking at a place where you can eventually retire? Are you considering your home town or a rural or semi-rural set-up? In that case, do you want to buy land instead and construct your own home? If you are purchasing a home in a rural set up or in an area where you are not currently residing, you may have to give a Power of Attorney to someone you trust to handle all the property matters.
If it is a resale, have you taken a good look at the inside?
Are you happy with the size of the rooms? Would your furniture fit into this house? Does this home receive adequate sunlight? Would you prefer your entrance facing a particular direction? Are you happy with the flooring, wiring and the tiling? Is the paint peeling? Has the plaster cracked? Are you happy with the plumbing? Is there any evidence of termites? Does it have adequate number of bathrooms and toilets? If you had to do work in the house, get an estimate of how much that is going to cost you.
Have you taken other factors into account?
If it is an apartment, you will have to check out the building too. Is parking available? Is it open or covered? Is there any security provided by the society? Is security provided round the clock? Do you know anything about your neighbours? Is the building well maintained? Does it have a garden? Are you on the lookout for a housing complex that also has a pool and a gymnasium? Is the monthly maintenance affordable? What about water supply? Is it 24 hours?
Are there many power cuts in the neighbourhood? What is the distance from your home to the market? Are you comfortable with it? Are you children's schools nearby? What about a hospital or nursing home? What is the distance from the main road? Would you prefer it as far away from the main road as possible. Is public transport easily available? Is there a club nearby? Is there a bank branch in the vicinity or at least an automated teller machine (ATM)? Are you happy with the greenery? How far away is it from your workplace?
Grasping the area concept
Buyers of real estate should be very aware of what the builder or seller implies when he talks about area. What area is inclusive of and what it is not is the first clarification a buyer should seek. For instance, a builder may tell a potential buyer that his quote is based on an area covering 3,000 sq ft. And, it may seem like a bargain. But what the builder may be referring to is super built-up area while the unfortunate buyer is under the assumption that it is the amount of area he will get in his apartment.
The various "types" of area
Carpet area is the least inclusive. It will tell you exactly how much of space you will have in your home. It is literally defined as the exact area within the walls of your home. To illustrate, if you had to lay out a wall-to-wall carpet, how much area would it require? That's carpet area.
Built-up area goes one step ahead and includes carpet area and the area being occupied by the walls of your home. Hence, the total area of your home including the area of the walls.
Super built-up area is what builders often talk about. It is inclusive of carpet and built-up area. It also includes all the area under common spaces - the apartment's proportionate share of the lobby, staircase, elevator and corridor outside the apartment.
The confusion arises over the fact that what is exactly included under this definition is left to the discretion of the builders. Some may even include the terrace, security room, electrical room or pump room.
The total area of these "extras" is taken into account and divided by the number of apartments in proportion to their size.
What you must be aware of
Old buildings generally have a higher percentage of carpet area (around 80%) to total area as compared to new buildings, where it could be as low as 65% to 70%. So when you compare quotes, compare carpet area to carpet area, not carpet area to super built-up area.  
Speak the same language as your builder. There is no fixed ratio of super built-up to built-up or carpet area. The market practice is that the ratios are on the super built-up area and are marked down. That means, if the super built-up area is 100 and the carpet area 80, the latter is 80% of the super built-up area. Generally, the ratios in the market are 70:30 (super built-up to carpet). But, builders have been known to go as low as 60%. So a quote on a 3,000 sq ft apartment could mean a carpet area of anywhere from 1,800 sq ft to 2,400 sq ft.  
Always ask the seller exactly how much the super built-up area and the carpet area amount to. And then ensure that this break-up appears in the Agreement of Sal
Scouting for an interior designer 
Anybody and everybody is a designer today. So scouting around for a genuine one is no easy task. With no government license required to practice, individuals are free to masquerade as designers. In India, a designer might hold a three-year diploma or may have completed a part-time course through a polytechnic.  
An affiliation to the Indian Institute of Interior Designers (IIID) is one way of ensuring some professional responsibility of the designer concerned. Designers who are members of the IIID are obliged to follow the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct laid down by the body.  
Individuals with a five-year degree in architecture may also practice interiors and for major works involving demolishing of internal walls it's advisable to consult one. Since professional credentials are not easily verifiable, your best starting place is the grapevine. Ask friends, relatives and colleagues to throw up some names. Did you like the way a friend's house was done up? Ask him for a reference
Here are tips which will help you get by
Question the designer as to his experience, the name of the institute from where he passed out and the type of projects he has handled.  
Looking for something offbeat? Design firms with signature styles may not be suitable. A big name might not be apt for someone with conservative tastes. Don't make a decision based on photographs and 3-D images. Lighting, a bunch of flowers and slight shuffling of the furniture can make the appearance deceptively glamorous, which could be a far cry from reality.  
Ask the designer for references and make a trip to the homes of previous clients. Preferably visit an ex-client who had done a job of a similar size as yours. Ask what existed before and how it was changed. Did they have any problems? Was he adamant or to suggestions? Did he stick to his budget? Was he accessible, punctual, and prompt with the deadlines? If the end result looks mediocre, take the hint.  
Look for honesty, clarity of thought and a professional attitude. Some designers might not value your interaction and involvement in the process while others are able to implement ideas effectively.  
A willingness to experiment with innovative ideas is also something to look out for. A designer relying too heavily on formulas may be unable to provide dynamic solutions. Then again, if you know exactly what you want, go with the designer who can implement your ideas speedily.
Give him an idea of what you would like done and then request him to give a ballpark figure for a quote. Get quotes from a couple of them and look into the reasons for the discrepancy.
Ask him from where he plans to get his materials and if he can produce bills for each and every payment made.
Once you shortlist a designer, you can request him to draw up a blueprint, which he may do for a fee. That should help you make your final decision.
Most importantly, you must be very comfortable with your designer. His task is more than just selecting and arranging furniture, fabric and accessories. His aim is to let your home reflect your personality and speak about the person you are or aspire to be. The only way you can achieve this is to work closely with your designer and ensure that he understands your requirements clearly to provide the best solution
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