Renovasi Sekarang atau Nanti?

•January 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Banyak teman menanyakan hal ini pada saya ketika mereka pindahan ke rumah baru. Saya cenderung untuk selalu menjawab “sekarang”, sebelum mereka masuk ke rumah baru dan jadi malas merubah apapun di rumah itu karena semua barang sudah tertata rapi.

Kami merenovasi semua apartemen yang kami beli … kami menyesuaikan desainnya sesuai gaya hidup kami sebelum kami pindah. Karenanya, ketika membeli rumah atau apartemen kami SELALU memasukkan biaya renovasi dalam budget beli rumah dan pindahan kami.

Ada banyak manfaat langsung dan jangka panjang dari merenovasi sebelum anda pindahan:

– Anda pindah ke tempat yang kondisinya BARU dan sesuai dengan gaya hidup dan personal taste anda

– Biaya perawatan dan perbaikan rumah berkurang karena semua yang salah atau sudah usang dari rumah itu sudah dibenarkan sejak awal.

– Anda lebih mudah menemukan kontraktor untuk mengerjakan proyek yang agak besar bila anda sekaligus melakukan perbaikan dan upgrading sebelum pindahan, daripada memperbaiki sesuatu sedikit-sedikit dengan minta bantuan tukang yang bekerja sendiri dan seringkali tidak reliable dan hasilnya kurang memuaskan.

– Dan ngaku aja deh … kalo sudah pindahan dan semua furnitur sudah ditata rapi, kita jadi tidak terlalu peduli terhadap hal-hal yang sebenarnya kita tidak suka di rumah tersebut karena sudah malas pindah2kan furnitur dan bersih2 debu konstruksi. Orang tua saya contoh paling pas untuk kasus ini … kamar mandi di master bedroom mereka ‘tu benar2 di bawah standar – shower-nya terlalu kecil (sangking kecilnya, tiap kali balik badan kepala kita kejeduk tembok atau pintu, atau sikut kita terbentur), lantainya licin (papa saya beberapa kali jatuh, satu kali jatuhnya parah sampai pintu shower yg terbuat dari panel plastik retak dari atas ke bawah dan pintunya ga bisa ditutup lagi), ventilasinya tidak cukup sehingga handuk tidak benar2 kering dan bau tidak hilang sampai berjam-jam kemudian. Tapi bukannya manggil tukang atau kontraktor untuk membenahi safety hazard ini secara permanen, mereka malah pasang selotip di bagian pintu shower yang retak, dan menaruh keset anti licin di seluruh lantai kamar mandi, sehingga kamar mandi ini benar2 nggak karuan bentuknya🙂  Akhirnya saya yang ga tahan … saya panggil desainer interior untuk datang dan menunjukkan gambar ke orang tua saya bagaimana kamar mandi mereka bisa jadi kinclong dan kelihatan lebih besar dengan renovasi yang hanya makan waktu 2 minggu. Untungnya mereka setuju u/ merenovasi total kamar mandi itu. Dan sekarang, setelah lihat hasilnya, mereka sering bilang, “Dulu kok nggak kepikir ya …?”  Tapi ya begitulah kalau kita sudah tinggal dan nyaman di rumah, kita malas merubah apapun di rumah itu, bahkan ketika perubahan itu sebetulnya sangat diperlukan.

 

Tapi tempat saya sudah bagus, nggak perlu direnovasi!

Memang kadang2 anda membeli rumah/apartemen yang tidak perlu direnovasi lagi (mis: apartemennya memang baru jadi, atau baru direnovasi oleh pemilik lama). Well, that’s great! Tapi sebelum pindahan, pikirkan hal ini, “Apakah korden-nya perlu diganti? Apakah lantainya perlu di-varnish ulang? Apakah warna dinding perlu kita rubah? Apakah semua keran air masih berfungsi baik? Apakah kondisi lighting memadai, atau perlu diganti?”  Ketika renovasi tidak diperlukan pun, anda punya kesempatan untuk menaruh “trademark” anda di rumah/apartemen yang anda beli. Pekerjaan2 yang saya sebut ini sederhana, hanya butuh beberapa hari, dan efeknya bisa luar biasa besar terhadap suasana rumah.

Kapan anda harus menahan diri u/ tidak merenovasi

Namun demikian, saya tidak menganjurkan anda merenovasi ketika budget anda sudah dihabiskan untuk membeli rumah/apartemen baru tersebut, dan tidak ada dana tersisa dari budget itu. Kadang2 biaya renovasi membengkak karena harga material tidak menentu, atau ada pekerjaan tambahan yang sebelumnya belum diperhitungkan – kalau anda tidak ada dana lebih, bisa jadi beberapa pekerjaan harus dikorbankan, atau malah dikerjakan tapi tidak tuntas, jadi hasilnya pun tidak bisa anda nikmati.

Saya juga tidak menganjurkan anda mengambil pinjaman / berhutang unutk merenovasi rumah. Renovasi bukanlah investasi yang akan mendongkrak harga properti anda, kecuali kondisinya sudah tidak layak sementara anda ingin menjual rumah ini dalam waktu dekat.

 

Saya harap artikel ini berguna. Kalau anda tidak terinspirasi untuk merenovasi sebelum pindahan, setidaknya saya harap anda mengecek kondisi rumah yang anda beli sebelum pindahan, dan bertanya pada diri anda, “Hal2 kecil apa yang bisa saya lakukan untuk menjadikan tempat ini lebih nyaman dan sesuai dengan gaya hidup saya?”🙂

 

Renovate Now or Later?

•January 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Many friends asked me this question as they’re moving into their new home. My personal inclination is always to say “now”, before you move in and can’t be bothered to change anything because all your stuff has been moved in.

We have done this to every apartment we bought … we renovate and customize it to our way of living before we moved in. For this reason, we always include renovation cost in our whole purchase and moving budget.

There are some immediate and long-term benefits to renovating before you move in:

– You’re moving to a NEW place that suits your lifestyle and personal taste

– Lower maintenance and repair cost in the long run, because everything that was wrong with the place you bought had been corrected

– It is easier to get a contractor to commit to a larger project, changing and fixing everything before you move in, instead of having a one-man-show handyman or moonlighting contract worker do patch-up jobs at your place.

– And admit it … once you’ve moved in and all the furniture and stuff are in place, you will be complacent about the things you don’t like about the house and won’t bother fixing it. My parents are perfect example of this…. they hate their master bathroom – the shower is way to small (seriously, you can’t turn around without bumping your elbow to the shower door or the wall), the tiles are very slippery (my dad fell badly one time, breaking the plastic shower door while falling), there’s not enough ventilation so towels don’t dry and smells don’t go away for a very long time. But instead of getting a contractor to re-design the space and make it work for them, they patched up the shower door with duct tape, continued to live with bruised elbows and the damp smell, and put anti-slip mats all over the bathroom floor – making the bathroom seriously beyond ugly. It wasn’t until I get an interior designer to come and show what that space could look like with some two-week work that my parents agreed to have their bathroom totally hacked and re-built. Now they’re wondering why they didn’t do that earlier …. but I know why. It’s the “can’t be bothered” syndrome that comes with having settled down in the home🙂

But my place is great, no renovation needed!

Some times you buy  a place where renovation is absolutely not required. That’s great! But before you move in, you should think, “Should we change the curtain? Do we need to revarnish the flooring? Should we re-paint the wall? Do all taps work and don’t need to be changed? Do we want different light fixtures on the ceiling?” Even when renovation is not needed, you may want to make the place “your own” by adding some personal touches before you move in. It takes only a few days to get these type of work done, but it can make a BIG difference to the ambiance and enjoyment of the space.

When you should NOT renovate

Having said that, I would advise you against renovating when you have maxed out your budget to purchase a house and don’t have extra cash in the bank. We don’t support the idea of getting an extra loan just for renovation. Renovation is not an asset that will bring up the price of your property, unless the place is in bad shape and you’re planning to sell it in the near future.

I hope this enlightens you, if not to renovate before you move in, at least for you to really have a thorough look at the place you’re about to move into and think, “What final touches can I add to make this place my own?”

 

 

When A Big Contractor is So Clueless About Paint

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I am entering my fourth year of stay in Singapore, so naturally less and less things about the people here fascinate me to a point where I feel compelled to write them on my blog. But my recent four-week unfinished debacle to get my building contractor re-paint my wall (which they had to cut out to fix some choked pipes) is too far beyond belief not to immortalize here🙂

The story goes that my family moved into a brand new condo, where the building contractor still needs to fix every defect within 12 months time. Then another family moved into the unit right above ours, and found out that their washing machine drain pipe was choked. The only way to fix that was for the contractor to cut out my ceiling – the only access to that pipe. So I really had no choice but to say yes, after all the contractor was obligated to bring into previous condition whatever mess they created.

Anyhow, in the process, they not only ripped and re-plastered my ceiling, but also chipped some of my wall paint. So naturally I asked them to fix that too.

Now … this was made tricky because my wall paint is a custom color that no longer existed in the ICI Dulux catalog. We had ICI created that custom color through a color sample. So, repeatedly, I explained to the defect-fixing supervisor (whatever you call this position …) that he would need to come by to get the color sample, bring it to an ICI shop to get that color re-created.

I repeated the same explanation at least 20 times over a period of one week (and really, 20 times is NOT an exaggeration. I probably explained this way more than 20 times!), and his responses were:

“Ok lah, I understand. Tomorrow I come and show you the ICI catalog, you just choose lah!”

“Ok lah, just give me the color code and I’ll buy for you.”

The guy just never seemed to understand, no matter which version of English I use (American English, Singlish, British English, a mix of English and Malay, broken English, sign language, verrrry sllooooow English), including showing him the paint catalog that wrote in big bold letters: WE HAVE CUSTOM-COLOR CREATION SERVICE, that the color code and catalog would do no good because my wall color doesn’t exist either in the catalog or off the rack!

Anyhow, three weeks later, after many phone calls – from the polite to the angry, plus a very firm e-mail to the management company, the guy was finally convinced that he needed to come by and pick up this so-called color sample. After two failed attempts to show up, he finally did come (hurrah!!!), then TRIED TO CONVINCE ME TO CHOOSE A COLOR FROM HIS CATALOG.

Again, I repeated my explanation, trying to speak as slowly and nicely as my patience could hold, that he needed to bring my color sample to the paint shop so they could re-create that color.

Then he asked me, “You still got leftover paint or not?”

To which I snapped and asked, “IF I STILL HAVE LEFTOVER PAINT, WOULD I BE ASKING YOU TO ORDER MORE??”

Cutting story short, after several more explanation of this custom-color creation concept, he nodded. He seemingly understood and took my color sample. Two days later, he said he’s got the paint colors and arranged a time to finish the work.

On that specified day (just this afternoon, actually), they did show up and immediately started sanding and painting the ceiling. Job well done.

Then the guy opened the paint can for the wall color, and then called me, “Ma’am, I think you give us the wrong color code.”

I saw for myself that he had bought a milky white paint for what was supposed to be a beige wall! Apparently, instead of ordering a custom-color Barley White like what I had asked, they ordered a BARELY White off the rack!   I looked at him in disbelief. Obviously this guy was totally oblivious to the explanation I mentioned for who knows how many zillion times and was pre-occupied only with his own ideas and solutions (which included re-painting my whole kitchen, or even my whole house, with a new color because he couldn’t find my color off the rack).

I tried not to scold the Singaporean way, but was very clear in pointing out that he had not been listening to me at all, and that I was utterly upset that an issue over a can of paint had taken more than 4 weeks to resolve just because he refused to listen to me.

Then, in an apparent panicky mode, he asked his two workers to find whatever leftover paint they still have in the complex, and while I wasn’t looking they quickly painted the affected wall with the closest color they got. Then, with a big smile on their faces, the supervisor told me, “We found your color Ma’am, please look.”

Absolutely perplexed that they could come up with my custom wall color so fast, I approached and looked. In their attempt to make a quick fix, they had patched my BEIGE wall with some COPPER color! When I asked what on earth made him think that COPPER is the same color as BEIGE, he said, “But the paint is still wet Ma’am. When dry it will be the same color!”

That’s it. Then I lost it. I told him that since he’s picked up absolutely NOTHING out of my repeated explanation, I demanded to speak directly to someone in his team who knows about paint. So I spoke to Mr. Teng, his paint supplier, who immediately agreed with me that every paint company has a custom-color service and that he could provide such service within a few days. So obviously, the problem lies with the defect-fixing supervisor dude who either have a hearing problem, a serious memory block, or couldn’t understand my English.

And by the way, if you’re wondering which lousy contractor this was, it’s Great Earth, which builds many big projects in Singapore. Definitely we won’t be buying another property built by this company.

Things You Should Spend Money On

•November 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

When decorating your own home, just like many other things, it’s easy to go over budget and spend all the money you have (or the money you don’t even have!) on the absolute best.

On the contrary, it’s also very easy to go with the bare minimum  … just buy the cheapest plastic thing that you need and happen to fit the space. This is something I’m totally against at, because our family invites a lot of guests and throws a lot of dinner. The house must look tasteful and coordinated, even if we don’t spend top dollars on it.

On certain things, I do believe we should spend the best that we can afford (we can afford being the key here🙂 ). On other things, if not most things, we just have to learn to compromise.

What are these “things” we consider important? Here we go:

The Important Stuff

1. Quality workmanship. We have learned to only work with reputable contractors by fair tender, only choosing those who have worked on projects that we have personally observed and confirmed to be five-star quality. Crappy workmanship leaves you with doors that don’t latch close, shower floors that don’t drain, ceilings that are full of brush marks, etc., etc. These will give you a lot of grief if you just leave them like that, or cost you way more money on repair and maintenance in the future. Just invest on doing it right the first time, or not do it at all!

Is the more expensive contractor a better one? In Singapore, generally speaking, YES. But to make sure you’re not simply getting ripped off, you should tender your renovation to at least three different contractors – with very clear job scope and list of materials, so they all come back to you with apple-to-apple quotation.

2. Mattress. Buy the best mattress you can afford. Test them by lying down on each mattress, get your partner or friend to see if the mattress supports your spine well while lying down on your back and on your side. Make sure the manufacturer gives you long-term warranty for the spring mattress (usually it comes with a minimum of 10-year warranty). A good spring mattress should last you at least 10 years, if not a lifetime, better than buying a cheap mattress every few years.

However, note that the best mattress doesn’t have to be the most expensive. My individual pocketed spring mattress with pillow top on both sides cost no more than $1000 (it’s Airland, by the way🙂 This mattress supports my spine really well, which is super important for me who has a history of back and shoulder pain. As much as I like the quality of five star hotels’ mattress, I always miss coming back to my own mattress🙂

3. Sofa. We spend most of our family time on this sofa, so it has to be big enough for the three of us (plus a few guests, occasionally) to sit comfortably. It has to help us sit upright and give us firm back support (because of my back pain), and yet be comfortable enough to take a nap on. It has to be easy to clean … after all we occasionally spill drinks and crumbs on it.

Again, the best sofa may not be the most expensive. In a country where people generally think that a great sofa cost no less than S$5,000, we have used the same $1,400 sofa for five years. The sofa still looks new – no stain, no discoloration, the foam as good as new.

4. Lighting. Lighting is essential to support our functions in the house as well to create ambience, so invest on good lighting installation, preferably energy-saving, before you move in. Once you move in, you won’t bother changing them because it’s a hassle.

We currently live in a rented apartment where the landlord puts light fixtures right where the cable is…. a big difference to our previous apartment which has dimmer switches in the living room and bedroom, on-the-counter lighting in the kitchen so that I never have to slice vegetables with my back blocking the overhead light, and strip lights over each bathroom mirror so it’s easy for people to put on make up and shave.

Again, this doesn’t mean go buy $1000 fixture for every corner of the house. In our previous home, our halogen downlight cost just some $20-30 each during a sale, and it has served us in a similar manner as the $200-300 ones🙂   Now we decided to go all energy-saving, using only low-wattage CFL or LED. No halogen. Costs more per bulb, but no halogen heat and less electricity cost … it pays off in the long term.

5. Dining set. This is another focal point for family activities, so the chairs have to be comfortable so people don’t rush to leave after they finish eating. It has to be easy to clean, durable, low maintenance, and appetizing. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. To us, it means chairs with high back support, no fabric cushion so we don’t need to clean, no arm rests. The table should sit 6-8 people, is sturdy, and easy to clean.

Ta da … here’s my apartment :-)

•August 24, 2009 • 4 Comments

Some people have been asking me how come I write about home design and decor without even featuring my own home, not in this blog and not in some flashy Singaporean design magazine ..🙂

Despite our wish to have our first home featured in a Singaporean design magazine, we decided otherwise because we didn’t want to give our interior designer the credit for it. She ran away without completing the job, and never supervised or control the quality of the contractor’s work. For me, who lived in Jakarta at that moment, and my husband, who travelled out of Singapore 75% of the time, this was a major, major bummer.

Yet, the fact is that at one point we were her client and wouldn’t be able to stop her from showing off the magazine pages (if there’s any), telling people that she did our house .

However, now that we have moved out from this apartment, we wanted to “immortalize” our first home before the new owner started their renovation🙂

This was a 1,625 square feet four-bedroom apartment in West Coast which we turned into a spacious three-bedroom condo with GIANT walk-in wardrobe to keep my husband’s clothes. My husband designed the lighting and the change of layout. I chose the colors and artwork, and we both chose a Balinese resort theme throughout. And here they are, hopefully you can steal a few ideas from here🙂

Original layout, a four-bedroom unit with built-in wardrobe in each room.

Original layout, a four-bedroom unit with built-in wardrobe in each room.

After renovation ... half a room converted into walk-in wardrobe with access to master bedroom and the guest bedroom enlarged.

After renovation ... half a room converted into walk-in wardrobe with access to master bedroom and the guest bedroom enlarged.

Living and dining room

Living and dining room. Everyone loves our red wall🙂

Living room

Living room with limestone feature wall and a bench to put backpacks and put on shoes. It uses dropped ceiling so we can play with different light settings (we can use fluorescent lights around the room, or just use the halogen down lights and artwork spotlights)

Guest room - with one feature wall in light creme color and artwork

Guest room - with one wall in light creme color and two sets of artwork. This is everyone's favorite room🙂

The guest room has a bench to put luggage, and lots of artwork to personalize the look of the room.

The guest room has a bench to put luggage, and lots of artwork to personalize the look of the room.

We use the end of the hallway to feature an artwork. We use adjustable spotlight to highlight each artwork.

We use the end of the hallway to feature an artwork. We use adjustable spotlight to highlight each artwork.

An alcove that we used as an office. The desk is custom-made to fit the depth of the alcove, using matching design as the filing cabinet. Three Balinese paintings and the use of rattan and mahogany complete the Balinese look in this space.

An alcove that we used as an office. The desk is custom-made to fit the depth of the alcove, using matching design as the filing cabinet. Three Balinese paintings and the use of rattan and mahogany complete the Balinese look in this space.

The walk in wardrobe is about 7.5 square meters. The depth is 2 meters. All underwears went into the chest drawers. Laundry is organized in three baskets: white, color and dry clean.

The walk in wardrobe is about 7.5 square meters. The depth is 2 meters. All underwears went into the chest drawers. Laundry is organized in three baskets: white, color and dry clean.

We designed our own wardrobe to meet our storage needs. Our wardrobe system has a corner unit to maximize space, plus a foldable full-body mirror.

We designed our own wardrobe to meet our storage needs. Our wardrobe system has a corner unit to maximize space, plus a foldable full-body mirror.

Apartments you should avoid buying

•August 11, 2009 • 1 Comment

Along the years many people have commented on our choice of apartments, saying they look comfortable, roomy, having good air circulation, a lot of natural light, no waste of space, great sun orientation, etc. etc. There are a lot more things that you should look out for in an apartment than what we can write in this article, nevertheless we will share with you several things that we absolutely avoid when buying an apartment. Here they are:

1. Avoid apartments with outdoor kitchen. For some reasons I don’t understand, quite some condominiums have an outdoor kitchen (meaning: there’s no door to separate the kitchen with the yard/laundry area). We currently live in one, while waiting for our new apartment to finish. This type of kitchen is a nightmare!!!! Cooking, usually a joy for me, becomes a chore because air conditioning cannot reach the kitchen. It’s always hot, humid, and cooking becomes a nasty sweaty experience.

Well, okay, some of you may have a live-in maid and do not have to step  foot in the kitchen. But think of it this way. An outdoor kitchen is also a resting place for dust, especially if you live near a busy street or construction site (like we do). No matter how often I wipe the kitchen counters, my kitchen wipe always turns black after one swipe. Imagine this dust going into your food while you prepare them. Imagine the dust inhabiting your kitchen utensils while you leave them to dry on the dish rack. Eeeuuuhhhh…….

Another drawback to having an outdoor kitchen is that the laundry area is side by side with the kitchen, often with no door separating them. So, in addition to the dust, you also have to deal with the possible contamination from laundry detergent and the smell of softener. If you have a dryer (we do), add to that the possible contamination from laundry lint into your kitchen utensils and food. And if you cook while the washing machine / dryer is on, the kitchen is a living hell …. it is soooo hot!!!!

2. If you own a car, flee from narrow and winding basement car park. Many people never check the car park while checking out the apartment. A good friend of mine lives in an apartment building where huge columns narrow the driveway in the parking lot … his original wish to buy an SUV is blown to pieces because he’s afraid his wife would keep on scratching the side of the car to the column in this unfriendly narrow winding carpark with tiny parking lots. He hasn’t bought a car until now because he refuses to own a tiny car like Suzuki Swift … having worked for Ferrari before🙂

3. Avoid apartments where getting in and out of the neighborhood is a pain. Your home should be homey and welcoming … don’t buy a place where guests’ first comment when arriving might be, “Boy … it’s a nightmare trying to get here! The traffic … no street signs … we were lost ….” We make it a point to drive around the area of an apartment (at different times of the day or week!) before deciding to buy. We want my husband to reach home easily after work, not having to worry about traffic. We want my son to be able to find taxi or public transportation if he needs to go. For this reason, we love West Coast, where my husband is always against the traffic flow. And for this reason, we decided not to rent near Kitchener Road, where getting in and out of the condo can be a nightmare because everyone park their car on the street side.

4. If you want full condo facilities, avoid complexes with so-so facilities. Some condos are built with full facilities that are not well thought of just for the sake of being able to mention “full condo facilities”. We currently live in one … the gym has a few cheap machines (but it has a gym!). The pool area is right next to the main street, unhidden from preying eyes, and it’s only about six times the size of a normal bath tub (but it has a swimming pool!). My friend lives in a condo where there’s no seating area around the barbecue pit and we literally party in front of someone’s apartment because there’s no buffer zone in between the private space and public space (but there’s a BBQ pit!). If you want to live in a condo, invest some time observing the public facilities and determine if you can see yourselves using these facilities. If you can’t see yourselves jumping into the pool, doing BBQ, using the children’s playground etc., you might as well not pay for these condo facilities and its management fees🙂

5. Avoid low ceiling. We hate low ceiling … it makes us feel claustrophobic and make the apartment looks smaller. Note that greedy developers might cut down the ceiling height so they can shovel more floors into the same building height, after all you’re paying for floor space, not volume🙂 . Note that 20cm difference in ceiling height is all it takes to make a difference in lighting effect and making your apartment roomier – this difference is often overlooked by potential home buyers.

6. Avoid apartments with a lot of wasted space. We have walked in and (swiftly) out of many show flats because of wasted space, like a 1,600 square feet apartment with 300 square feet balcony. Or a three bedroom condos with four long planters and no balcony. Or layout that is so funky looking it leaves a lot of curves that doesn’t allow us to use the nice rectangular space to put furniture. While we love balconies (our new apartment now has 200 square feet of balcony), the fact is that Singapore is hot and humid, and most of our time at home will be spent indoors. If you want to buy one with balcony, choose a balcony that will suit your need, not just a big balcony that costs you tens of thousands of dollars just to be an empty space or storage for junks

Buying from developer is a rip off

•April 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Recently my husband and I have been thinking of moving to a new apartment. Not because we don’t like ours, but simply because we enjoy re-decorating and a change every now and then. So we started looking, and one of the few places on our list is the newly-launched Waterfront Waves in Bedok, whom they say would be priced from S$580 per square foot onwards.

Everything about this complex is amazing … great pool, great view, lots of greeneries, lots of eating place, relatively easy access to the city, and GREAT apartment! The layout is just amazingly efficient, the finishes are first class, everything about it is just right. In more than 100 condo development that we’ve seen in Singapore, genuinely speaking, there are no more than 5 that we consider as “great” … so trust me, this place is amazing🙂

We were interested in making an offer for the four-bedroom unit (roughly 2,500 square feet), until the agent told us that the price would be S$800 per square foot … which means that the apartment would cost us S$2 million. That price ticked us off immediately, considering that Bedok is nowhere nearer to the city from where we live in West Coast, and that we would be “downgrading” from a freehold to a leasehold development. So much for S$580 per square foot … the agent quoted a price that was 50% higher than the advertisement on the same day … that should be illegal🙂

After that, we started doing our calculation … at current market situation, condos in the city are becoming more reasonable. Datas of recent property sales of various condos (that will TOP soon or no later than early next year) suggest that we can get something in the city starting from S$1000 per square foot. That means that with the same budget as buying a leasehold new apartment in Bedok, we can actually get a NEW FREEHOLD condo in the city by buying it straight from the owner who want to flip before TOP.

Based on this experience, we then started looking online for asking prices from developers of newly-launched developments, versus actual selling price from owners of new condos in the same areas. Almost in each case, we found out that developer’s price is higher than the sale price from owners of new condos.

Not to mention that when you buy from a developer during a launch, you are buying a model and impression from a showflat. Some people I know have expressed disappointment over the finished product of the unit they bought a few years back, because the developer is cutting back on cost and cheap out the quality. Some of these people, who were disappointed over the finished product, now try to sell their unit at a price lower than their purchase price.

But when you’re buying from the owner of an almost-finished condo (or recently-finished condo that they haven’t lived in), you are looking at an actual building and can start observing the quality of the construction and finishes. What you see is what you get.

For this reason, my husband and I are now convinced that if you are into property investment, or are interested in moving around for a change every several years, don’t buy from the developer. Buy almost-finished condos straight from the owners. You can end up saving hundreds of thousands of dollars🙂