Beth G. Kopin
Inches to Metric: Zionism Through Design

Inches to Metric: Buying a Home in Israel #2d-What?

This is the final section on WHAT to look for in a new home…

The following items are important:

  • Elevators
  • Parking
  • Access to your apartment
  • Waste/Recycle
  • Sun exposure/view
  • Wind
  • Last but not least WATER ISSUES

The elevator

Jerusalem is an extremely condensed city. Most people live in multi story buildings, some units may be multi story as well. Newer buildings are built with residential elevators none/few with freight elevators. This usually causes concern for new US homeowners, (it did for me) doing renovation or moving into a new home in Israel. Trades working in your building will have to carry  materials/furniture up or in our case down the stairs or use an elevator. Elevators are tricky because they are usually small 3’x3′ or 90cm x 90cm and can’t hold much weight. If you buy in an older building and do renovation check the access trucks and trades have to your building and how difficult it will be to bring in materials. Often cranes are needed…

Shabbat elevator

Consider yourself lucky if your building has two elevators. With two elevators a dedicated Shabbat elevator it is not as much an issue, one is usually dedicated for Shabbat and the other as you please. If you use electricity but others do not in your building and you only have one, you will have to wait patiently for the shabbat elevator or use the stairs. You need to time when you get on, the elevator needs to go though the cycles to come to your floor each time.


Parking is always an issue. Some newer buildings provide indoor parking for one or two cars, some only offer street parking or outdoor covered car ports. Check how busy the street is at night and see if guests can easily get to you. If you prefer bus, check closest routes.

Access to apartment

Our parking has a ramp, luggage rolls easily into the elevator lobby then into our apartment. The outside of our building has a ramp from the sidewalk as well. We wanted to be sure we and our guests could enter our home without requiring stairs if needed. Most older buildings have a multi stair entrance.


is done differently in Israel. There is usually a large waste dumpster in each building or next to it. Recycle is still a young industry. You can recycle paper and plastic (not glass or metal) easily but the containers are on the street, rather unsightly and never close to your building.

Is your apartment light/dark during the day?

How close is your building to the next building, can your neighbors see into your terrace/backyard? It is important if you value your light, privacy and quiet time. Big shenanigan, our immediate upstairs neighbor never seems to care when she waters/weeds her planters, often water and mess end up on our deck…


Certain apartments are situated in windy zones, when looking for your new apartment check wind conditions. Sometimes the winds are so strong it is not enjoyable to sit on the terrace or in the garden.

Water issues

I’m occasionally called in by prospective clients to look at several apartments to help them decide which is best to buy. When I enter a new space I immediately look up at the ceilings then windows. I check for cracking, bubbling, darker spots, signs of water damage. We are in the Middle East and everyone assumes there is no need to waterproof. Au contraire! The waterproofing industry is a newer concept in Israel. Most buildings including public buildings have some water issues. Most of Israel uses flat roofs, during the rainy season some of our friends have dripping ceilings and water dripping down walls from improperly sealed window openings. On another note water may wick up the wall from the floor, the subfloor is made out of wet sand which if not allowed to dry properly will wick up your walls.

Stay tuned for HOW!

About the Author
Beth Kopin is a trained interior architectural designer from the US. She has experience in the design/construction world that spans thirty years, and works and lives in both Chicago and Arnona, Jerusalem. She commutes regularly between the two cities. She brings her work ethic, training and US standards to Israel. Beth has surrounded herself with extremely talented trades. Her design team developed a way to CAD (computer aided design) plans in both US and metric standards. This enables both the US born clients (some of which live in Israel, some as second homes), and Israeli trades to better understand the plans, ensuring a more fluid communication. She is able to help bridge the gap of cultural differences, manage expectations, relate often confusing metric standards, as well as all the basic elements of designing a beautiful and functional home.,
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