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  • Writer's pictureGedaliah Borvick

Do I Really Need a Designer?

Eucalyptus in Nofei Hashemesh (Avi Nefoussi)

My clients were buying an apartment in a project under construction, and asked whether retaining a designer is necessary, as they considered themselves “simple people who don’t need a fancy home featured in Better Homes and Gardens.”

Let’s understand the job of a designer, as that will help determine whether buyers need their services.

Designer Michal Nidam explained, “the first step in buying an apartment in Israel is to understand the goal of the purchase. Is the apartment for your full-time use or is it a holiday apartment? Alternatively, is it an investment, which you will – at least initially – rent out?” The answers to these questions will determine your needs and preferences, and a designer will help incorporate those requirements into the apartment.

When buying an apartment “on paper” as an investment, we generally advise clients to take the basic apartment in its original form, as the extra costs expended to make changes or upgrade systems do not appreciably raise the property’s rental value.

Now let’s focus on buying an apartment or house for your own use. For many people, the home they establish in Israel will be smaller than their present home overseas, so having a professional to help maximize the space is invaluable. In addition, a designer helps clients determine their space priorities. For example, some buyers might favor larger living areas and thus be willing to sacrifice a bedroom to achieve that goal, while others would rather forego some of their living space in order to create additional sleeping areas.

In Israel, the designer is often an architect, or partners with an architect to address the technical aspects as well as the designing elements of the project. Harvard-trained architect and designer Alan Cohl, who also teaches architecture and interior design, described the advantages of an architect who is also an interior designer, by explaining, “I approach architectural design methodology in a holistic manner.” Thus, his global architectural vision enables him to create comprehensive and inspiring design services.

Architect and designer team Oranit Mizrachi and Nofar Krausz shared a number of reasons why it is beneficial to enlist a skilled designer from the get-go. By getting involved in the process early, the designer can (1) guide buyers through the bureaucracy of each stage of construction, (2) save clients time and money through their familiarity with Israeli standards, and (3) maximize every opportunity to customize buyers’ homes in accordance with their preferences.

Alan Cohl went even further, and recommended incorporating your architect and designer into the purchase process, which occurs even before the design process, to ensure that you choose the right home that will address your goals.

The scope of architects’ and designers’ services depends on what you want: they can help you to create a floor plan that works for you, choose tiles, and design a kitchen. Or they can do even more, including designing lighting systems, purchasing appliances, and even furnishing your home. Accordingly, architects and designers offer various plans, including paying by the hour or by the project.

Keep in mind that, just like you need to guide the designer about your goals and tastes, you also need to guide them about your budget. A talented designer can do amazing things, and some of their ideas might be costly to implement. It is therefore imperative that you and the designer are aligned from the outset regarding your financial parameters.

In addition to hiring a designer when buying “on paper,” a talented architect and designer can help you when buying an existing unit that requires renovation.  They can help you design the space and also serve as the project manager, including hiring a contractor and overseeing the renovation project.

The question in this article’s title has been answered: A talented architect and designer adds tremendous value to your home, and we would recommend retaining their services. However, if you’re buying the property as an investment, usually it’s best to take the basic apartment with the builder’s standard finishes.


Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (, a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at


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