Woes and Winnings

I have been sooo busy you cannot imagine. Well, ok maybe those of you who have gone through the home renovation process can.

To cut to the chase, Faz and I finalised the design for our house just last week and renovation works have commenced! The hacking work is now complete!

When Faz texted me pictures of the end product, my heart swelled with joy and pride. I mean, I know it’s just walls and I’m aware of how I sound like I’m exaggerating but I am really just emotional like that.

Perhaps a little background story to put things into perspective: We got our keys in October 2014 but we’re only starting the renovation now four months later because we had initially made a mistake choosing the wrong interior designer. How did we come to choose this ID? Let’s just say we listened to our brain and not our heart.

We found that this ID did not have our interests at heart a single bit. Looking back, I should’ve seen the very first red flag. He came to our very first meeting with preconceived ideas of his own, and he hadn’t even asked us about what we had in mind — this meeting was to do just that! At first it did seem like he was proactive and all but it didn’t take long before I knew he was just interested in using his ideas for his portfolio.

What a mistake it was to set our second appointment with him the very day we collected our keys, at the new flat. What began as a day to rejoice became a day utterly ruined because this guy was just pushing his ideas. Any suggestion we had were quickly dismissed as not the best way to do things. They were “not unique”, “not the best way to utilise the space”. He knew damn well we had reservations about his proposal, but get this — he went ahead to ask us if he could go ahead to prepare the quotation! This was only our SECOND meeting. The rate at which he wanted us to sign on the dotted line was ridiculous.

I just knew right then that I could never work with an ID like that because I am simply a person who does not appreciate being told what to do and how to do it. And especially when it’s MY bloody house. Faz said he had never seen a face of someone who had just gotten a new house so black.

See, the thing is we had paid a deposit (probably worth a nice dining table) upfront. Of course we had to have some consideration for that hard-earned money. Friends we related our experience to said we should just be stern with him and tell him what we want because ultimately it’s our house and we’re the ones paying him. Yes, true, but are we not paying him for his ideas? If he’s not even interested in getting to know what we want, how is he to offer us usable ideas in line with our vision?

We ultimately ditched him because we decided that we shouldn’t put our house at stake just for the sake of the deposit. Their terms and conditions stated that it was non-refundable, but we figured we’d just try to write in and get it back, since the fault’s on their part. I vaguely told them what happened (because it was hard to articulate everything on e-mail), left my contact number and told them they could call me if they needed more details. Without so much as a call to find out from us what really happened, in their reply they said that after speaking to the said ID, they decided that they simply “did not agree with me” and refused to refund me. The bloody ID had lied to them, saying that we had ASKED him to draw up the quotation!

I WENT BESERK. I shot them a super lacerative email in which I questioned their integrity. Apparently that got the director’s attention, and a meeting was set up for us to meet him. Long story cut short, we agreed to a 50% refund. I could’ve pushed for more but Faz didn’t want to push our luck. In fact he’s just so non-confrontational in nature that he had just wanted to give in to them and move on without getting our refund back. Crazy! If you don’t want your money back, let me take it!

So a few lessons to be learnt here:

  1. Sometimes it’s not all that bad to follow your heart. In fact, the times I followed my heart paid off tremendously.
  2. Ask, and ye shall receive.
  3. Never, ever, mess with me.

In a twist of events though, the director actually turned out to be likeable. Not in the sense that made us want to go be friends with him, but he succeeded in watering us down. He succeeded in making us feel that we were important to him, even when he knew were walking away. It’s just too bad that his principle of client importance didn’t extend to his ID, as well as the customer “care” officer I was in e-mail correspondence with. He succeeded in making us walk away with an untarnished view of the company — we instead blamed the individual we engaged. And I suppose it really is true that it all boils down to the individual, because Faz in fact has a friend who had engaged the same company but a different ID, and he has only good things to say. Anyway, something to learn from the director about business and customer relations!

So then I turned to this fabulous ID I’ve been following for a while now, and it was like a breath of fresh air because — FINALLY, SOMEONE WHO SPEAKS MY LANGUAGE! But even with a great ID, home renovations are no joke — especially for analytical and detail-oriented people me, because we tend to treat every home reno decision like a life decision!

After about a month of going back and forth with the design, we’re finally down to the action! It’s kinda a downer that the reno’s only just started but already put on hold owing to the Chinese New Year festivities. But it’s ok. Happy workers, happy home owners!

If all goes well, we should be able to move in end Apr or early May.

SO, SO EXCITED!!


Keys to the Future

OMG OMG OMG OMG.

HDB has finally furnished us with a date for key collection! And that special date is the 7th of October!

I know it’s possible to request an earlier key collection, but honestly we’re far from ready to receive our keys. I don’t know why but we’ve been really taking our time (or procrastinating, rather) with the planning. I think much of it has to do with the fact that I’m still, after almost a year, recovering from the exhaustion of planning our wedding (which is almost a year ago now!). Also, knowing that planning for a house is probably going to be 100 times more exhausting just puts me off.

Have you seen that Doctor Doors commercial in between episodes of Renovaid on Channel 5? The one with this lady waking up in the middle of the night screaming like a mad woman? And it turns out that she’s having nightmares — about renovation? I thought that was frickin’ hilarious. I laughed my guts out the first time I saw it. But it got me thinking, hey, that could be me! And then I shuddered.

But now that key collection is just around the corner, I don’t think we can put it off any longer. Faz and I already have a general idea of how I’d like our house to look, but it’s time to get into the specifics like what kind materials we want and everything.

Faz, as usual, has agreed to leave the interior design ideas to me — on the condition that he gets to be in charge of the home entertainment system. I don’t see what’s the big deal about having a home entertainment system. Never having one never killed me, and to be honest I actually even think it’s a waste of money, but I’d better be picking my battles wisely. I have a premonition of myself liking a nice, expensive piece of furniture I can’t get out of my head — which of course Faz will happen to think is an absolute waste of money….

My interior design preferences have evolved over the years — from ‘industrial loft’ to now, ‘rustic scandinavian’.

I still do like the industrial loft concept, but I think the novelty will wear off and over time I’ll wish I had a warmer concept to my home. I’ll probably still retain some industrial elements, but I’ll keep them to a minimum.

I’ve never been a fan of ‘modern executive’ interiors with its sleek, shiny surfaces because it reminds me too much of an office and all the stresses of work. I want my home to be an escape — a laidback place to relax and unwind, which is why we’ve decided to do away with one bedroom to make for a bigger living room. The space will be mostly white, typical of Scandinavian interiors, but rustic with lots of wooden surfaces and earthy tones, and contrasted with thoughtfully curated pops of colour.

It may take a while before our house is fully furnished though because I think I’m going to be very picky about the pieces of furniture we buy. Every single piece has to count!

Seeing as to how we have yet to meet our ID to discuss our plans, I foresee that our house will only be ready for move-in by end December or early January. But the sad thing is that I’ll actually have to move out of my parents’ house earlier — as early as October! My brother’s getting married in November, and he and his future wife will be moving into my room. My sister, who is a sad case because she’s currently roomless and lives in a makeshift “room” in our study, will take over my brother’s former room. With all the rooms occupied, it looks like I’ll have to stay over at my in-laws’ for about a month or so while waiting for our house to be ready.

October is just next month, so I’ll have to start packing real soon! SOBS!

Can’t believe my time at my parents’ is going to be up…FOREVER. Moving out is truly going to be bittersweet. I’m absolutely elated to be starting this new chapter of my life with my soulmate, but I’m going to be miss everyone sorely. How do you go from years and years of living with the same faces — to suddenly living on your own?

 

 


2014: The most exciting year yet!

2014 is going to be a really exciting year for Faz and I!

Apart from forging closer knit relationships with each other and our families, we’re going to be planning for our first home, which is the next big project for us. We’re expecting to receive our keys somewhere in Q3 2014, but whether we’ll get them earlier is really anyone’s guess.

I know I should have already moved on to “house” mode, but I’m still stuck in “wedding” mode. I feel like I need to be done with all wedding-related matters like publishing all wedding- and honeymoon-related entries and getting our wedding photos printed before I can open a new chapter, y’know what I mean?

Some of the other things I’m looking forward to in 2014:

  • Whipping myself (and Faz) back into good shape! The rate at which we’ve ballooned these two months post-wedding is ALARMING, and it’s got to STOP. Time to participate in some races!
  • Spending our first Ramadhan and Eid as husband and wife.
  • A wedding in the family.
  • Parenting classes. I’ve no desire for kids at the moment, but I think we should be prepared for when it happens. And besides, it’ll give us something interesting to do instead of our usual movie and dinner dates.
  • Travelling. I don’t know how much travelling we can do with the house coming along but I’m hoping for at least ONE destination — not too much to ask, is it?
  • I really let myself loose these two months, but it’s now time to save like there’s no tomorrow.
  • Starting a daily gratitude blog to record the things I feel happy or grateful for as they come so that I can look back in life and remember only the good things. Case in point: I can only remember two things in 2013 — our wedding and the stress of wedding planning.
  • Work on my spirituality.

May this year be even better than the last for you, me and everybody! <3


To say the least.

No less than five unfinished entries lie restlessly in my drafts since early September.

So we know it’s definitely not a case of having nothing to say — I have too much!

I apologise, I just haven’t had the time.

I apologise again — I lied. I guess to put it simply, I just haven’t felt like thinking on the weekends, after a whole five days of thinking at work. 

A couple are actually ready to be published, but they’re just needing photos. And it’s the photos that I’m lazy about, really. But I’m aware photos are great monotony-breakers for long entries like mine, so I definitely intend to put them up. Hopefully I’ll post something this weekend.

Anyway, I notice people are ending up on my blog quite a bit these days. Whether you found your way here by googling some variant of “dulang hantaran” or “Costa Ris BTO”, do say hello! :)


R is for Reluctance

So June is less than a month away now. If you recall, one of my 2012 resolutions was to book most of the important vendors by June.

That’s going really well. -.-

To date we’ve secured the venue, photographer and videographer. We’ll talk about our choices later on a sidenote, but yes, ONLY these three! I am beginning to panic a little.

After self-disecting my very muddled brain, I now know the true reason why I’ve been putting off making appointments with vendors.

Apart from general indecisiveness (which bridal company to choose, how many outfits I want tailored, etc), I found out that I am actually RELUCTANT to splurge on a half-day affair.

Right now, I would say I’m about 60% reluctant. The remaining 40% is basically me being a brat stamping my feet, going “NAK JUGAK!!”.

Heck, who am I kidding. Ok, it’s the other way round.

Still, 40% reluctance is a stronghold. It’s almost half! Every time I think of how the money can go towards supplementing our plans for our house (I’ve grand plans for this too, much to the boyfriend’s trepidation), the percentage goes up. And then when I think of wedding celebrations — the many people I treasure around me sharing our joy, pretty dresses, how smashing everything in its entirety will look in photos — well, it goes down again. It’s very volatile.

I have a feeling we’ll end up at the “NAK JUGAK” end of the spectrum — simply because my heart wants it. We’re trying to cut down on costs, but it’s really hard because we’ve already cut out the frivolous things and cutting any further would mean a compromise on quality (plus there are a few aspects of the wedding that I just can’t persuade my heart to let go). The reality of it is that I think I would be more upset if we didn’t go ahead with these things than if we chose to scrimp on it. Furthermore, money can be replenished but you only get married once. And I mean, it’s not like we’ll be spending an unreasonable amount to begin with…

/sends doe-eyed looks the boyfriend’s way

Gah, a rather pointless post, I know.


Hooray for a lifetime of debt

Cynicism aside, we are truly, madly and deeply exhilarated to have signed the Lease of Agreement (LOA) for our Costa Ris unit on the 11th of March, Sunday.

LOA queue number

If only this queue number was for key collection!

Maybe it was the excitement, but the boyfriend was all hyper and annoying the moment I met him that day. I can’t say that it lasted, because the moment we arrived at HDB, he had simmered down. A little too much in fact, that I knew something was wrong.

Something endearing about him (to me, at least) that you have to know is that when he’s paranoid about something, or worried, or nervous, he will turn quiet. And he will start sweating. Well, he was sweating the first time he met me! Ahh, that fateful day on the 26th of October 2003. Another story for another day, perhaps. ;)

What was quite hilarious was that he was so nervous that he even attempted to sign the LOA with the other side of the pen! I wanted to laugh out loud there and then! But not wanting to go against the serious theme of things (and make a fool out of myself), I had to suck it in.

Just like our previous HDB appointment to select our unit, this one was also an information overload. After 5 minutes or so, I just zoned out. I hope at least one of us was paying attention.

Costa Ris will be ready somewhere in Q3 of 2014. If that goes as planned, I’ll have to stay with the parents for about only a year or so. We’re actually thinking of staying apart for this duration, but we can’t say for sure if we will stick to the plan…because obviously once we’re married it’s going to be a whole new ballgame.

I know people will query our decision and say it’s not good. Well, we have our reasons for doing this:

  • He can’t move in to my place because with my brother coming back from studying overseas, it’ll be full.
  • Even as we speak my parents are thinking of downgrading to a smaller flat, so things are a little uncertain now.
  • It’s always harder for the girl to move in with the guy’s family. (Especially when his bedroom doesn’t have an attached bathroom! The horror!)

Of course we won’t be living completely apart. The plan is for us to spend regular nights at either of our places, maybe on the weekends or on random days, just because. If anything, I think this arrangement is superb because it’ll help us ease into each other’s families instead of having to experience a sudden 360-degree change in our lives. Of course we will still carry out our responsibilities toward each other the best we can, given the circumstances.

Thanks to Zila who commented on this blog post, we got to know about a Facebook group set up for future Costa Ris home owners to share thoughts, ideas and site progress updates…with pictures! They’ve even set up a document in which they’ve listed all the blocks, and you can add your name under your respective block. In essence, you’ll get to be the nosey neighbour way in advance and find out who your neighbours are and what they do….even before moving in! If you’ve signed up for a BTO project, do a search on Facebook to see if a group for that project exists. It’ll be useful!


The biggest purchase of our lives, ever.

We’ve been counting down to the 17th of August for two unbearable months, and I cannot tell you how excited we are…

to have selected our unit in Costa Ris!

Nevermind that we were the 515th in queue and that most of the blocks nearer to the train station had been snapped up. All was still good — we checked out the site once and in truth, even the block farthest from the train station wasn’t that far at all.

So over the past few days we’ve been shortlisting our preferred units. Our unit should preferably be:

  • no lower than the 7th floor
  • facing out instead of facing in towards other blocks
  • not on a block with a childcare centre
  • not on a block nearby any multi-purpose area
  • in a corner, not along a corridor
  • not too far away from the refuse area, yet not too close
  • of an address fairly easy to remember

I’m quite curious how other people go about choosing their units. Do most people go through a thorough analytical elimination process following a ton of research, or do they just follow their intuition?

For us, I’d say we did a fair bit of research but in the end we just followed the voice inside our heads.  We chanced upon a property blogger’s website, where he did an analysis of Costa Ris, and came up with unit recommendations based on factors like whether the unit would be facing the sun and which units have, to a certain extent, “unblocked” views. In the end, we only took some of his points into consideration, choosing the unit we felt most comfortable with based on our likes and dislikes.

I suppose there’s no way of knowing if you’ve made the right choice of unit until you’re actually staying in it. Come to think of it, it’s actually quite ridiculous to be buying possibly the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy in your damned Singaporean life without even seeing it. Feeling it. Experiencing it. If you want those options, well, you’ll just have to be prepared to pay more. But that’s just how it is.

Even after we paid the 2k option fee, I started to ask myself the ‘what if’s. What if there were other factors we failed to consider? What if it turned out to be a horrible choice? What if this? What if that? But as usual, my mother never fails to put all these worries to rest, saying “everything that happens, happens for a reason“. Every single decision we make in our life is predestined, all part of God’s plan.

We’re really, really excited. We’ve been together for almost 8 years now, and we’ve been so carefree and having such a good time that we’ve never felt the stretch. But now that we’ve set something in sight and knowing it’ll take us 2 years to get there….well, it’s starting to feel a bit long.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking for now.

Costa Ris 3D model at HDBMy future neighbourhood, insyaAllah.

Looking at Costa Ris, my home in 3 years

Taking photos of the Costa Ris 3D modelExcitedly snapping photos of the 3D models to remind ourselves we have this reward to look forward to after having to be excruciatingly frugal these couple of years.

Flats at Costa Ris

One of these flats here is ours!

Llong stretch of road facing Costa RisView of the long stretch road just after the TPE Avenue 5 exit.

View of the MRT track facing Costa RisView of the other end of Costa Ris.

Sales rooms at HDB

Doors to possibly the most expensive purchase in our lives ever.

Tiles provided by HDB for Costa Ris projectThese were the tiles provided by HDB for the living room, kitchen and bathroom. As clearly represented here, they’re nothing much to rave about.

Tiles provided by HDB for Costa Ris projectA close-up of the bathroom tiles.

We saw the doors HDB provided as well. All very…meh. Having said that, we didn’t opt-in the Optional Component Scheme (OCS). It may have been cheaper, I suppose, but I want a house I’ll LOVE coming home to. The boyfriend is already worried the renovation is gonna cost us a bomb.

2014/2015, I’m anxiously waiting for you!


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