Owning a property in Singapore is a long and expensive journey, or should I say it is an expensive and long journey. Whatever it is, renaming it doesn’t make it sound better and a huge chunk of our savings and earnings are all invested in our homes.

Designing Our Home (20/100%)

Shortly after we applied successfully for our BTO, we had to wait patiently for completion. As with many people, we were very anxious but, you can’t rush the building process so, I focused my efforts on designing and planning for my new home instead. I download an app called Planner 5D ($40) in the app store where you can trace out your floorplan and played around with designs and colors in 2D and 3D mode and tweaked until we are finally happy with it. Money well spent!

I know it is very geeky but it was actually much easier than you think to use the app. And the Appstore has a 30-day refund policy so if you really don’t like the app you can always get your money back.

Choosing an ID or Contractor (30/100%)

Due to my tight budget of only $15,000, I decided against getting an interior designer for my home. Don’t get me wrong, I did ask a few for quotations but most can’t meet my budget so I had to give up. Who knew Singaporeans have been spending an average of $30,000 on renovations? Also, because I am pretty set on using my designs, many IDs that I had interviewed only shot down my ideas and give you what they deem is a good (template) design.

The conversation usually goes like this:

Me: Ok I want mosaics in the shower. And a fully-enclosed shower screen.
ID: Are you sure? Your bathroom is very small, maybe just a half shower screen will do.
Me: No, we can make it work. I don’t want water all over the bathroom.
ID: Ok, let me think about it and make a shower screen work for you.
Me: ?!?!?!
Me: Ok whatever. I want this two black beams across the living area and move the TV here.
ID: Are you sure? We usually do L-Shape false ceilings and black is weird.
Me: Here we go again…

So, anyway, I was adamant that I can find someone to make my year-long vision a reality and in the smallest budget possible so I went around looking for contractors instead. I am a very stubborn person.

I got a couple of contacts from a popular renovation forum in Singapore and one from a friend. After talking to them, I settled on the one which was recommended because I trust word of mouth more and also got a chance to go to my friend’s place and checked out the workmanship for myself. I also find that I had built a better rapport with this company and Michelle had good suggestions while listening to my ideas.

Hong Interior Design

1 Defu Lane 4 Singapore 539406

Michelle HP: 96870559

So after many rounds of discussions, we whittled down our requirements and brought the cost down to around $15K. Success!

On a side note, I was also seriously considering U-Home at IMM. They also seemed pretty genuine about serving me and the prices were reasonable.

Commencement of Renovations (70/100%)

Due to the fact that this is my first BTO (aka totally empty shell) I had false hopes that we could complete everything in a couple of months if I hired a designer or contractor, but then realized that I had been too optimistic. However, an interior designer or contractor did help with the progress and we are now two-thirds if the way there.

Here’s roughly a breakdown of the items and indulgences we paid our contractor and other people to do:

1. Kitchen

The kitchen is a major item and costs half the budget. But in the end I had the kitchen of my dreams: granite top, high end looking cabinets, beautiful undermount sink with tiled concrete base, frosted glass dish dryer and enough space for a big-ass fridge.

I got my unbranded-but-still-looks-like-high-quality sink from RenoDeals (694 Geylang Road), and my awesome multi-functional kitchen faucet is from Amazon. The cooker hood and hob are Europeace Optimmo, they are just average and do the job.

2. Living Room

We wanted two black false ceilings to run along our long living hall and have cove lights in it. This was a simple request but quite a number of IDs turn down this idea and even said it wouldn’t be bright enough. Yeah, I can safely say now that it has been built, it is freakin’ bright (thank you) and it looks darn good! (This is a self-rated PG blog so I’ll keep my words tamed.)

3. Bathrooms

I just cannot bring myself to love the teeny HDB bathroom, and the horrendously ugly sink. I wanted to take out the sink but it was so new and I am definitely not a wasteful person. Eh, saving the world one sink at a time OK? A fully covered shower screen is a must for me and the common toilet was so small, but I went ahead with it anyway. Then I added a mosaic shower wall so that I can have something else to look at other than that sink. Don’t get me wrong, I love the mosaics but this bathroom still needs one final touch before I can be satisfied with it. Stay tuned!

4. Master Bedroom

So we had this out-of-the-ordinary request to add glass dividers to our tiny bedroom. It worked out great. What’s their purpose then? Scroll down and read the entire post to find out!

5. Painting

Everything looks better with a lick of paint!

6. Plumbing

HDB would have done all the concealed pipes to your kitchen and bathroom but wanted hot water from the yard (City Gas Heater) to our kitchen so that was a little extra. Yeah hot water in kitchen rocks!

(No picture of pipes)

That’s all the items done by my contractor. All the other bedrooms have no additional carpentry or extra work. Now for the additional items:

7. Feature Wall

Concrete is the theme here. We didn’t intend to pay people to do this wall (because it takes too long to convince people this wall would actually look good?!) but it proved to be harder to DIY than we thought. Luckily the guy that did our cement screed was around and, hey presto, our wall was completed in no time, within budget and exceeded our expectations. In fact, Jon said it was the best thing in the house. (I kinda disagree cos I think EVERYTHING is the best thing in the house.)

8. Lighting and Electricals

Our contractor recommended a very good electrician and we trusted him for all our electrical works. Costs came up to around $1500, which was pretty average as we had cove lights etc.

Once again, I took lights for granted in a home and never understood that it was rather expensive. We saved a lot by buying LED bulbs from our friend who is an LED supplier.

9. Flooring

Okay, so I cheated. I didn’t add flooring to my budget because it was sponsored by my dad. Yes, he paid every cent of it and we are very grateful for his contribution. I know, I know, I do have the best Dad in the world and I love and appreciate him very much. So, this vinyl flooring was actually done by his friend at a very good price. Sorry, trade secret so can’t reveal the contractor or the prices here.

10. Curtains

Whoa hey, curtains don’t grow on trees you know? I am still amazed that mere pieces of cloth can set you back $1400. Well, I learn something new everyday and sometimes the lesson is expensive.

My curtain people were from none other than Clementi itself, in fact, just a stone’s throw away from our flat.

First Classic Textiles

Blk 449 Clementi Ave 3 #01-231 Singapore 120449

… and the work goes on

The professionals are done with their part and the next part of adding furniture are all up to us. This was the state of my storeroom which was filled with furniture ordered from IKEA and Taobao through EzBuy.

Right now we are in the middle of the progress. Because we have to work on week days, we only have the weekends to work on the house which isn’t much and progress is sloooooowww. In my next renovation post I will review the furniture we bought from TaoBao and also the little upgrades we did by ourselves.