Architects Talk: Renovation

Renovation is an unnecessary evil, a cost that we would rather avoid – right? This and future articles will demonstrate that by focusing on making the right renovation choices, the costs will be significantly lower than the benefits to the bottom line.

Anubis Consult was hired in early 2020 to oversee and consult on the renovation of a 22-room boutique hotel. There were a couple of restraints as the budget was limited, and the renovations would have to be made while the hotel was still open – so essentially “room-by-room”.

With a 1.5 million Baht budget, it was clear that we would have to make some clear decisions as to where we would focus. Furthermore, our tasks were to:
Reduce monthly costs
Facilitate increased room rates
Improve the hotel’s green profile.
These three tasks may seem to be countering each other but nothing could be farther from the truth when it comes to a renovation project such as this.

The same principles apply to renovation projects in your own home. If chosen wisely, what may initially seem as an outright cost will improve the welfare of yourself and your family, the look of your home, and lessen your monthly bills for electricity and water.

In this issue, we will give you an overview of the hotel and show you some of the issues where we will direct our attention, and in following issues, our solutions and the costs will be revealed – so remember to get the next issues of the magazine to follow the progress of our work at this lovely hotel.

The Secret Hotel
The hotel is located in a major provincial city on leafy and secluded sub-soi with big family homes around it, and a temple across from it. The hotel was originally built as a (quite big) family home in the 1960s, was converted to a primary school in the late 70s, and then converted again in 2003 into a hotel. The hotel got a minor revamp in 2009 where the premises were expanded with an additional 5 Deluxe rooms situated in the former maids’ quarters and wash rooms at the back of the property. Today, the hotel has a good mix of a few Superior rooms, a dozen Deluxe rooms, a handful of Junior Suites and a big 50 m2 Balcony Suite.

Major roadworks directly in front of the hotel severely impacted revenues in 2016-2017 and nothing but the most rudimentary repairs have been done since 2009, so it shows clear signs of weather, wear and tear. Fortunately, the building itself is solid, so no major structural work will have to be done.

The new owners want to bring the hotel back to its former glory, and in the next couple of issues we shall show you how we will be handling this exciting task.

Outdoor Lighting
The cosy outdoor dining area immediately caught our attention as we arrived the first time; primarily because it has a lovely ambience, but secondly because of the 5 rows of 20 small light bulbs each.

Most of the original 15 W light bulbs have already been replaced with an assortment of LEDs of different make, power, lumen, colour temperature and fidelity. We decided to reap the lowest hanging fruits first, so our first order of business will be to provide them with 100 1W E27 3000 K light bulbs of a better quality than the existing ones.

The expenditure for this is minimal, and the benefits can be readily reaped. The best of the existing light bulbs can be used for bedside lamps and the like, and the remaining ones will be recycled. Once we receive the new light bulbs, we can calculate the energy savings, so more about that in the next issue.

The Manager’s Rooms
Our second focus came as a bit of a surprise to the new owners, as we decided to upgrade the old-fashioned louvred windows in the manager’s rooms.

The first room of this 2-room apartment doubles as a meeting room and office in the daytime, so the air-con is essentially running 24/7, so we measured its usage, which was a staggering 2,500 Baht for that air-con per month alone. Upgrading the entire section of three windows and a row of four top-windows to modern 2-layer insulated windows is costly, but even at a cost of 50,000 Baht, the reduced cost for the air-con will mean the cost has been reaped back in less than 5 years.

Deluxe Room
Next up came the five Deluxe Rooms that had been added to the hotel about 10 years ago. The rooms still look nice and modern, but we quickly ascertained that the owner back then had saved money on two very silly points: The back wall of the bathroom turned out to be a simple wooden wall without any insulation whatsoever, and the top windows letting in some much needed light was a simple, transparent plexiglass roofing, and a mosquito net underneath.

Mold had been accumulating between the enclosed shower and the uninsulated outer wall due to the constant changes in humidity and temperature, and the windows were essentially three openings letting in hot air; clearly, something had to be done.

We now have to come up with some solutions that won’t drain the entire budget on these five rooms alone. We will share these calculations and the thought-process with you next month, where we will also show you some additional issues that we found at the hotel – so remember to pick up the next issue 🙂