IN PICS | Young couple revamping old Pretoria CBD flat into a luxury apartment, gaining fans for ingenuity
They convinced the owner to sell it last year to turn it into their dream home
While the Pretoria CBD is filled with a mixture of the bad and the good, a couple saw the beauty in an old and rundown apartment which they are renovating into a luxurious penthouse without spending too much.
Anna-Lize Mennsink, who was born and raised in Pretoria, said her husband had a dream to live in the city centre and after seeing a 180m² apartment in the CBD, the couple pleaded with the owner to sell.
Despite the apartment being in what may be regarded as not the "best part" of Pretoria, the couple bought the 11th floor apartment in May last year. That is when they started to save money to change it into a classy penthouse with a spectacular view of the Jacaranda City.
“I am obsessed with Pretoria city. We love it and there are so many beautiful buildings. It is one of the cities with the most embassies so it has an international presence. Where in the world can you buy an apartment and overlook the city's skyline? In Cape Town it is only for the rich. In Pretoria the apartment blocks are affordable,” Mennsink said.
Her husband, a fine artist, designed the renovations and lay-out of the rooms to create their ideal home and managed to get contractors referred to them by people they know.
To save money, they avoided hiring a project management team and instead ran the project themselves with four contractors.
In December, the breaking down started which included changing the floors, preparing the walls and painting.
“When it comes to old buildings, you need to redo the plumbing because the rusted pipes must be replaced with copper pipes. Then we moved to the floors, preparing the walls and painting.
The four-bedroom apartment includes a sunroom which they have reconfigured and enclosed with stacking doors for indoor-outdoor living. There are two bathrooms with stylish showers, taps and an oval free-standing bath. A new ceiling was installed while some walls were painted black for dramatic effect. The newly built kitchen will have a quasar silestone quartz top.
The entire project, including the purchase price, has cost the couple R1.2m. Keeping costs down was due to finding the best deals, comparing prices and taking advantage of Black Friday specials last year, Mennsink said.
“When you find a space you need to renovate, you can negotiate on the price, and if you know what you are doing you can optimise the space. We found the stack doors from people on Instagram and we took a chance because they were expensive. We purchased everything ourselves because we are specific about what we want. You have to make sure you buy the right thing.”
Despite the city centre being more prone to crime, Menssink said she is aware of the dangers and they will not stop her and her husband from living in their dream home.
“I am not fearful because I feel there are other places where it’s even worse. In apartment blocks, you have neighbours and people are aware and everyone is in everyone’s business. If something happens, people will stand up for you and someone will attack your attacker,” she said.
This is not the first apartment the Menssink’s have renovated as they own four apartments in Pretoria. Their goal is to own 30 apartments by the age of 50, Menssink said.
The couple, both age 30, have fully paid off their first apartment in Annlin and own others in Rietfontein and Zambezi which they have rented out to tenants.
“Thank the Lord we haven’t had too big of a blunder when renovating this apartment. Since it wasn’t our first time, we knew about the pipes not being too good in the block. We were prepared. However, my husband was in hospital in December and that was a hiccup we didn’t see coming. I am so grateful to the contractors who kept on going and I didn’t have to manage everything so intensely.”
Since starting the project, Menssink has been documenting and sharing weekly progress on her TikTok and Instagram pages. She said the project is expected to be complete by the end of the month and they will move in on March 1.
“I thought it’s a cool project to share with people and I am super-excited. I said I will take the chance. People have been kind and encouraging and they love it.”
For those considering flipping apartments in a CBD, Menssink advised them to drive around and compare. Once you have found your preferred building, survey its condition over two years to ensure it is being well kept. Once the perfect apartment is found, she advised speaking to the caretaker of the building to get in touch with the owner.
“Look at the financials of the building and if it has outstanding levies. If the financials look good and the building and garden are well-kept, try to get a two- to three-bedroom.
“We prefer an apartment from the third floor up for safety reasons and we always want one with a porch so we can be outside. There are many cool blocks in the CBD.”
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