Great homes for midgets, providing they're slim
It's bad enough when a developer's show flat features furniture fit only for children or midgets. But when there's no mock-up flat and buyers are forced to rely on diagrams and models, the ruse is even harder to spot.
That's precisely the problem facing would-be buyers at The Oakhill, a Lai Sun Development project under construction in Wan Chai where flats went on sale last Friday - promoted with 'furniture layout plans' that feature items much too small for the average adult.
While potential buyers can refer to a sales brochure that contains floor plans without furniture and gives the overall dimensions of the flats, they are being encouraged to view the 'furniture layout plans' on the project website.
But measure the bed in the master bedroom against the scale of the corresponding floor plan and you discover it is barely 1.5 metres by 1.2 metres - at least 30cm shorter than standard.
Putting a standard-length bed in the smaller bedroom would leave no room to walk around the foot of it.
Wardrobes in the master bedroom are only 30cm deep, half as deep as a standard wardrobe and too small to hang a man's suit in properly. In the dining room, six people are expected to cram around a table on chairs which are just 30cm wide.
Designing Hong Kong, an urban activist group, says if the items were replaced with furniture on the market - from IKEA, for example - the rooms would look less spacious on paper.
A disclaimer next to the layout plans on the website says the plans have been simplified and are for reference only.
'The overall design, layout or colour scheme of the development concerned may be changed with all the plans subject to the final approval by relevant government authorities. All layouts, designs, fittings and finishes shown are for reference only and all subject to the final provisions upon completion,' the disclaimer reads. Julian Poon Yui-man, vice-president of Lai Sun Development, had no comment on the Post's findings. He said the company had hired professionals to draw up the plans.
The Oakhill is the first private residential project to go on sale without a show flat for buyers to look at since a raft of government-mandated measures to make flat sales more transparent took effect last month. The project's sales office in Causeway Bay has models of the building under construction, floor plans, and sample kitchen and bathroom tiles.
The new rules covering show flats require only that they be accurate if provided; they do not make the provision of such a show flat compulsory. While developers are barred from including artist's impressions in the sale brochure, they can put them in promotional materials provided there is a disclaimer.
Paul Zimmerman, chief executive officer of Designing Hong Kong, said the furniture diagram was misleading. 'All promotional materials should be covered by the same rules as those regulating sale brochures and show flats. If the plans do not use standard furniture dimensions, they should clearly mark it.'
James To Kun-sun, a Democratic Party spokesman on development affairs, said the government should monitor the promotional materials if a developer does not set up show flats. A floor plan without furniture, which states the dimensions of each room rather than the whole flat, should be made available.