Building & Renovating

6 Things You Can Change In a Condo Unit

You don’t have to be stuck with your turned-over unit—there are countless design possibilities for your condo home

Original Article: Katherine Lopez & Hannah Dormido Photography: Sam Lim & Miguel Nacianceno (main photos)

So you’ve finally invested your life savings into your first condo home. You’ve completed the down payment, secured all the legal documents, and been handed the key for the turnover. And when you open the door—the unit is completely bare.

Don't be surprised, as almost all condo units are turned over almost bare (and your broker should always show you a sample of the condo unit in its bare, turned-over state as opposed to the dressed-up model unit). And do not fret, as you can change the finishes, paint, and even the room configurations of most condo units, depending the building administrations’ rules and regulations. In some buildings with relaxed rules, the only things you can’t change are the electrical wiring, plumbing, and windows.

But first, know your building’s rules and regulations about unit renovations. “All units have their own specifications and limitations when it was built. There are areas especially on plumbing and electrical that connect each unit with each other na dapat hindi magalaw pag nag-renovate ka,” says decorator Grace Moslares. “Sometimes, there are guidelines that are not ideal for a unit owner, so they should determine this early on,” adds Joy Adriano, an interior designer. Joy suggests that the homeowner consult with an interior designer especially if there are rules that the unit owner does not understand, so that both of them “can interpret the guidelines for the owner and design around the restrictions.”

“When all of these have been done, the contractor will be given a Notice to Proceed which outlines the scope of work to be done in the unit, as well as the duration of the contract as requested by the contractor,” says Joy. Here are six things that you can change in a condo unit—provided you run these by the building administration first.

Flooring finish

Most turned-over condo units have either neutral-toned ceramic tiles or laminates as flooring finishes. But these could easily be upgraded to other types of flooring—from imported ceramic tiles, natural wood, Machuka tiles, or even natural stone (you’d need to get approval from admin first). Even bathroom tiles can be changed, but you’ll have to waterproof the base flooring first, to protect your neighbor’s unit beneath for any possible leakage.

To see more of this home, click here. 


Some condo units are turned over with rudimentary gypsum ceilings, but some don’t have any ceiling treatment at all—aircon ducting and piping are exposed, and you can see the beams and the cement slab from the upper floor. You can create your own ceiling treatments—from dropped ceiling treatments and lighting coves to false beams—or you can go the industrial (affordable) way by leaving your ceiling open and painting your exposed ducting and piping in one color.

To see more of this home, click here. 

Room partitions

If you are unsatisfied with how your condo unit is laid out in terms of bedrooms and living areas, you can actually change the configuration of the walls, as long as these are not structural walls, and you get prior approval from the condo admin. If you want a quick fix, you can define new areas by adding sliding doors or simple wall partitions of wood or gypsum.

To see more of this home, click here. 

Bathroom fixtures

As long as you don’t change the piping locations of the water and bath fixtures, you can change the water closet, shower fixtures, bathtub, shower enclosure, etc. as long as you have these approved by the building admin beforehand. Just make sure you hire a professional to re-install these fixtures properly.

To see more of this home, click here. 


Condo units are turned over with bare bulbs as lighting. To add more flair to your new condo home, change these to pendant lamps tapped to the lighting socket. You can even play with different types of cove or ambient lighting, especially if you re-design your ceiling.

To see more of this home, click here. 

Kitchen backsplash and tiles

Most turned-over condo units have kitchens without backsplashes, or tiles in the most basic colors (usually white). If you want to add drama to your tiny condo kitchen, change the tiles to match your color palette and interior theme, or add a luxe look by installing marble or granite.

To see more of this home, click here.

PHOTOS Paolo Feliciano (floor), Kerwin Yu (ceiling), Miguel Nacianceno (partitions), Vincent Coscolluela (bath), Jilson Tiu (lighting), Sam Lim (kitchen)

More on

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