Friday, July 17, 2020

The next Milestone.

[Updated 10 Oct 2020, 11:32 pm] Note: This is going to be an ongoing blog post for probably the next 3 months so do refer the timestamp to know if there is any update.

Blogging might or might not be a thing of the past since everyone is now mostly on Instagram or Tiktok but a blog will never lose its purpose. I started out this blog in 2008 to record down moments of my life, my travels, my thoughts and my milestones, and here's to the next one.

For the longest time, I've always wanted a place of my own. Over the last few years, i have been browsing casually on Property Guru but it was not that serious until last year after i came back from Sydney. Going back to the same small (yet comfy) apartment every single night and lazing on the couch while watching Netflix with pizza was one of the simplest yet satisfying thing to do (especially during winter!) At the end of the trip, i told myself, "Maybe it's time."

I started the whole process of understanding the procedures of getting a place in Singapore. In particular a Condo because in order to get a HDB, i need to be either 1. Married or 2. Age 35 and above, which i am neither. After a couple of meetups with  a few friends to learn more about the process, i decided to do up a blog post which i published last December - "Owning a (resale) condo before 35." I was honestly quite happy to get feedback and comments that the post was easy to understand and it helped to spur certain readers/ friends to consider getting a place of their own as well. So that was in December 2019.

In between the months i also got my friend-agent to set up some viewings here and there to get an idea of how certain places/ unit layout look like in real life but it was mostly meh.

Then the whole Covid thing came. Then Circuit Breaker, and now Phase 2.

I continued to look for a place that was within my criteria such as budget, location, layout etc. It was honestly not easy because we all know the better the location, the more expensive it will be (and more expensive doesn't mean you get a bigger space.) There were a lot of things to consider. At the same time, throughout the months i also setup a folder on my iPhone named "House ideas" where i saved photos/ inspiration of how i want my future house to look like, and the kind of furniture i want, the overall feel and theme of the place etc.
Couple of weeks back, i saw a listing of a unit which looks pretty decent and it was located in the development which i really like. The location was not bad, walking distance to a couple of train stations, it's about 5 to 6 stops away from my current workplace, i really liked the environment and vibe of the whole estate, the price stated seem decent (and negotiable) so i arranged for a viewing and brought along a couple of good friends with me so they can help to assess and turned out they even helped to ask questions which were pretty important when getting a place! (like the sun direction, lol) So glad i brought them along.

What i really love about the viewing was that the unit was clean and vacant. So when i entered the unit, i was able to visualize what i could do with the apartment (remember the 'house ideas' folder?) The owner explained the place well and i sort of could foresee myself living in this space, after the revamp of course.

I needed some time to consider and went to talk to a couple of my close friends and Oh! I also had to talk to my parents and they were slightly taken aback by the decision. They started asking weird questions like, "Are you unhappy here?", "Are we giving you any stress?", "This house we are staying in is gonna be yours eventually" I was like LOL i cannot deal with this but in the end i approached them separately to tell them it's like an investment plus it is my goal to own a place before i turned 30, then assure them it will take some time to transit and i'm not going to stay at my new place 24/7 immediately blah blah blah. Phew.

The last step was to setup a meeting with my financial advisor (FA) to talk about reallocation of funds, and way forward. That session was honestly not easy because despite my whole comprehensive excel sheet (which i tediously prepared the night before), there were still some resistance because of the whole Covid-economy downturn situation but towards the second hour, he seem somewhat convinced (or maybe not, i hope he is not reading this. lol) and we concluded that if this is what i want, let's go ahead and start the whole process.

Day 1:

Texted the seller with my seller with my offer (a couple of thousands off what he was asking for as i had my own considerations) By the same evening, the offer was accepted and we kick-started the process by putting down the "deposit", also known as "Option Fee" which is 1% of the sale.

Day 3:
Met up with a mortgage broker (recommended by my good friend) He seemed really sincere and explained the different type of loans clearly so i decided to go ahead with him and at the same time, engaged the lawyer that recommended who will help to process everything till the completion of sale in October.
Seller came over to my place that night to pass me the first official document and said, 
"Congrats on your new place" Shit just got real, it's official.

So now i have the next 2 weeks to settle what needs to be settled. Mainly getting the bank loan approved. Getting my FA to reallocate my funds, prepare a cheque for the next 4% (also known as exercise fee). I'll also have to pay the Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD) which is basically a 5 digit tax amount to the government. 

/xiaoheartpain.

Day 10:

One week into the exercise period and today i was informed that my bank loan was approved! Made an appointment go down to the law firm this Saturday to "exercise the option" and i have to bring a couple of things such as my IC, the original copy of OTP document and a cheque book. This is the part when you start forking out the 5 figure sums and there are 2 options to pay it. Obviously it's not as easy as paying via PayNow or Paylah! where you can just use the app and transfer on the spot. The 2 methods are via cheque or this thing which i just learnt called the "Cashier Order"

I don't think most of us have a cheque book lying around so it's either you request one from the bank. OCBC charges a $10 fee and delivery of the cheque book via 5-7 workings days. I honestly don't see why commoners like most of us need a cheque book but still, good to have i guess.

As for the other option, you can go to the bank and request for a cashier order. What the bank does is basically prepare a cheque on your behalf (and it will cost $5 per check) The amount stated on the check will be immediately deducted from your bank account and will be held by the bank. The only 2 ways that the money will be released will be either 1. The recipient stated on the cheque cashes the cheque out or 2. You yourself bring the cheque back to the bank and have it returned to your account (admin fee of $5 applies. IKR, wth. Own $$ still need to pay a fee...成何体统!) So i requested for 2 cheque. 1 for the 4% exercise fee and 1 for the BSD.
( I google imaged the above photo)

Recently I've been spending a lot of time looking at renovation ideas and was deciding between having to engage my own contractors or hire an Interior designer (ID) instead. Both have their pros and cons and i would think that sourcing for my own contractors will be a much cheaper option but it also means that i have to handle all the coordination and make sure they do a proper job, which honestly can be quite tedious and taxing if i have a few reno works running back to back plus hello, i have a full time job. LOL

Just sourcing for one simple glass door over the past few days i want to die already. (Anyway a glass door is really expensive omg. Like $600+???) I haven't venture into finding a contractor to tear down a certain feature and building a wall. *facepalm* So now i'm actually having second thoughts about doing everything myself.

On a side note, i'll be getting my keys on 08/08! Huat date! *insert pineapple emoji*

Day 15:

Going back to the law firm (again) tomorrow to submit the final documents. Last update i mentioned about the cashier order and guess what? The name reflected on one of the cheque was wrong *facepalm* Not my fault, the lawyer firm's GM didn't indicate the full recipient so i had to go back to the bank and spend $5 to cancel the cashier order and another $5 to make a new one. TMD, waste my $10. (The lawyer fee cost me $2288 fyi.)

Over the past few days, i have been talking to a few IDs and contractors. Gosh, it's so tiring trying to explain my requirements over and over again. Most of the time i'm just telling them what i want (instead of letting them design, kinda defeat the purpose of getting an ID but still) and getting them to quote me for the works. So what i did after the first few was to give the rest a set of photos with all my doodles and comments, and i told them if they are unsure about any of the images, just call me. Rather than i explain one by one.

When the first quotation came (surprisingly costing only half of my budget), i was like can i just go ahead with this. The items are definitely marked up, like i wanted this feature paint wall which the ID quoted $950 but i got a quote at half the price by a contractor. So obviously i will remove these smaller items from all the quotations and engage the external contractors instead. But still, i will patiently wait for more quotations (like every other home owner) and compare them, check their reviews/ portfolio before deciding on one.

At the same time i'm also starting to look at furniture. Been browsing online stores like Hipvan, Fortytwo and taking screenshots of items which i'm considering the new place once the reno is done up. I think over the next few weeks i will just visit some physical showrooms as well to take a look at furniture.

08 Aug 2020:

I lost count of the no. of the days but i know today is 8th of august which is 08/08 and it seem like a pretty auspicious day and it's also officially the first day i took over my new house! Went over after lunch to film a couple of short "things to do when moving into a new place" videos which includes:
1. Rolling of pineapple into the house. LOL

and some other "rituals" like carrying auspicious items into the house (in my case, fruits), opening of all windows and doors to allow the air to flow through and also turning on all water taps and electrical appliances. I spent some time just sitting there staring at the place and it just felt so surreal. It's like, i did it. I really did own a place of my own at the age of 30. I still have to go over to take measurements and take some "before" photos so that i can do a comparison after renovation is done.
Went over to a couple of places such as DAISO, IKEA and Giant to get some cleaning supplies as well as temporary furniture such as table and chairs so that at least there is decent place to have meals and stuff for the time being. The cleaning part was crazy (there is still a lot of things to clean...) Gosh, now i know why people hate doing household chores. I'll probably be heading over to the place over the next few days to continue cleaning and take measurements so i can start sourcing for furniture during the renovation period!

Met a couple of IDs and got quite a number of quotations over the past few days so i'm taking this long weekend to decide on which ID to go with. There are quotations that were (surprisingly way) below my budget and there are those exorbitant ones so i really have to scrutinize through each line item, read reviews and then finally engage one company to do up my place. Hopefully renovation can start in 2 to 3 weeks time!


12 Aug 2020:

After looking through 5 quotations from 5 different ID firms, i finally decided on one. Not the cheapest among the 5 but i chose them due to the rapport i had with the ID (and also the firm came up with a few designs which went viral on FB) Went through a few rounds of refining the quotation and met the designer to sign the contract as well to pay the deposit. Phew, the last few weeks has been crazy. Note: I still have a full time job. LOL
Now that i paid the deposit, the ID will then move on to the next phase which will be to do up the 3D design of my space so i get a better idea of how the after-reno will look like. Only when i'm satisfied then they will commence with the renovation. They will also provide a tentative timeline on what kind of works they will commence at the different phases. On top of all these, i still have get a permit from my condo to do renovation.

25 Aug 2020:

Projected date to start renovation is actually on the 1st of Sep which is exactly one week from today and... i foresee there is gonna be a delay. The 3D is not out yet (and bound to have edits), then still have a site meeting with the electricians and we are still awaiting approval from the condo (the permit was just submitted today...)
(This is what i have been doing during my free time, lol)

In the meantime, i have been looking at furniture, which i have more or less confirm what i'm getting for the house. Taking measurements and making sure everything can fit nicely and according to the theme. Made some purchases along the way in advance because of certain promotions which i came across. For example, Haylee was having a flash sale of $50 OFF due to National Day so i bought it and delivered it to my current place. Can save $50 leh, why not right? Who knows when is the next time they gonna have a promo again. 

On top of that i also bought a floor lamp and mirror from Casterly, which was also running a promo at that time. I can only buy the smaller items though. The bulky items like bed frame and sofa have to wait until the house is ready, which is probably only in October. Along the way i also bought some basic items for the house like cups, utensils, a mop and some decorative items.

At the same time, i have also been liaising with external vendors to do up certain portion of the house as part of the interior design. Basically, it means that i found cheaper alternatives to certain items that the interior designer has quoted. For example, i was quoted by my ID say $800 to $1000 for a glass door which i intend to install for my walk-in wardrobe, but one of my friend recommended her friend who owns a glass business and is able to do it at $600. Of course I'll choose to go with the $600 one right. In the end I'm doing glass doors for my 2 rooms.

On top of that, i also engaged vendors to do up my walk-in wardrobe, wallpaper, kitchen and a few other stuff. The amount of coordination is crazy. But at least i have my ID to settle the main bulk of the work. Imagine i just so decided that i will not go with an ID and do everything on my own, i think i will just go crazy. LOL

14th Sep 2020:

The past 2.5 weeks has been crazy and guess what, renovation have yet to start since the last update * insert face palm* Like i mentioned earlier, the projected date to start was 1st Sep and i expected delay but i totally did not expect 2 full weeks of delay, LOL Partly it was also because the ID was doing up the 3D to give me an idea of how the after-reno should turn out and if i was unsatisfied or wish to change anything, we can discuss before reno officially starts. Just gonna share a couple of the 3D rendering here:
These are not completed yet but the general idea is somewhat there.

I was really excited when i saw the 3D rendering and i was like, "wow my house could possibly look like this" Of course the furniture is plucked from the ID's software catalogue but i think myself and ID are quite aligned in terms of what kind of furniture would fit the overall theme so i'm not so worried. The placement and stuff is based off the hand-drawn layout you guys saw earlier in this post. Part of me also feel that i shouldn't place my expectation too high like the final place is gonna 100% turn out like the images so i'm giving it a bit of discount.

Met up with my ID to choose the flooring, tiles, wall colour over the past week and today we did a site visit with the electrician. The quotation came up to $1.6k and tbh i got a shock. I didn't expect the figure to be so high but apparently it's normal. All the small little items might not cost much on its own but when everything is put together, it became a huge sum (just like shopping at NTUC, lol) This $1.6k is all electrical work like shifting/ creating new power points, concealing of unsightly wires etc, installation of lighting etc. EXCLUDING the physical lighting/bulbs so over the next few days i have to go source for my own lightings.

Halfway during the site survey just now, my ID casually said, "tomorrow we are starting with the hacking" and i was like "TOMORROW???" I was like woah. So unprepared, like the day is finally here??? I then spent the rest of the day shifting everything into the store room. Armed with a drill, i removed the curtains, dismantled the rails, kept the existing TV and wiring, kept all the kitchen stuff blah blah blah. Ready for renovation.

Over the 9.9 sale, i also made a few thousand bucks worth of purchases (saving some $$ along the way cos i was religiously collecting vouchers, lol) I bought my bed frame, my sofa, my dining table, some appliances and arranged the delivery to be around the 3rd week of October when renovation should be more or less there. Had to arrange with my external vendors (door, wardrobe, wallpaper just to name a few) to set installation dates and i hope everything can be done by my birthday next month! *cross fingers*. Over the next couple of weeks, i will drop by my house every now and then to see the progress and also take some shots to update this post! :)

22nd Sep 2020:

Renovation has officially started, even though I still felt that the progress is slow but my ID has reaffirmed that we will completed everything by 10th October, which leaves me about a week for the external contractors to complete the final touch up for the house. The whole idea is to have the place done up (90%-ish) so I can spend my birthday this year assembling the remaining furniture to complete the space! (Might sound boring but I think I will enjoy my day at my new place, hehe) Prior to renovation, the workers laid all these protection sheets all over the house to prevent damage into areas like the door, the kitchen, the floors etc.
The whole TV console wall removed! It's a pity to some but it doesn't fit the overall theme that I want.
I also removed the full functional wardrobe! 

It's a little wasteful also but I have no use for the wardrobe anymore since I'm converting the study to a walk in wardrobe. Removing the wardrobe in the master bedroom will make space for shelves and also a study table. Suddenly without the wall and the wardrobe, i suddenly feel that the house is so much more spacious. But then again, the next step would be to rebuild a new wall because I still prefer to have a proper bedroom with walls.
Materials got delivered a couple of days back to reconstruct a brand new wall! 

They are also going to retile the toilet shower wall to this grey stone tiles which I picked at the showroom. It's currently this brown marble which I decided to replace so it fits the overall theme of the house. (Hmm, I realized I have yet to show the "before" in this post... I'll probably do it at the end where I will do a side by side comparison of the before and after) After this will be electrical works, then wet works (cement screed-ing the walls and painting) then we have the overlaying of vinyl for the entire house, installation of lights and fans, then the external contractors will start coming in to finish up the rest of the place. i.e. the wardrobe pole system, the glass door installations, the wallpaper installation and oh ya, the re-laminating of the kitchen cabinets!

On top of that, the furniture will also arrive one by one throughout the week. Omg, it does sounds like there's a lot more work to do and I only have 3 weeks left till my birthday. It's also almost time to make an appointment at the lawyer's to complete the final step of the house transaction.

6th October 2020:

We are now into October and here are some updates! Went to the law firm yesterday to submit the final (and biggest) cheque to seal the deal because it's finally the date of completion tomorrow! So by right if i didn't take over the place 2 months early, tomorrow will be the official day I would collect my keys at the law firm but the previous owner and I discussed and since they have already vacated the place, I don't mind taking over the place early so that I can start renovation first. So we got our lawyers to do up an indemnity form that I will cover the maintenance fee, the utilities and prevailing property tax.

Anyway, reno is scheduled to finish this Saturday, 10/10 - which means that there is literally 3 more working days before it's done. But the thing is... i just went to visit my place just now after work and it feels like it's 40% done? I honestly have no idea how the rest of the reno will be complete within the next 3 days. 

Before i go on, here are some photo updates:
In the earlier update, they hacked away the existing TV wall and now they reconstructed a brand new wall in its place but had to do a couple of amendments to it. Firstly it was too thin so had to add another layer so that it's thicker but they had to use partition (which means the wall will be hollow on the bedroom side) and I was concerned if the wall won't be strong enough in case I want to mount something on the wall in the future. So they re-did the wall by adding some plywood inside for support.
Phase 1 of the electrical works completed. 

I bought all my lightings from Shopee by the way. I will talk more about the lights when it's up. So anyway within the next 3 days, they have to tile the bathroom wall, creed and paint the entire unit, vinyl the whole place and install all the lightings and power points. So if everything goes well, Saturday will be the general washing before handing over the unit back to me. Then next week all the external vendors and furniture delivery will come in throughout the week. There is the wall paper installation, the glass door measurement, installation of ceiling fan and the re-lamination of kitchen cabinets.
The place is like a warzone now, LOL

08th October 2020:

The place is officially mine! What a milestone. 2 months just passed like that. I still remember rolling the pineapple on 08/08, the frequent visits to the law firm and that hectic period comparing IDs after IDs and getting quotes from everywhere, phew. I still remember just 2 weeks ago I was complaining about the slow progress for the renovation but now it seem to be going at a much quicker pace, it's like every day there are works and I see changes here and there. Just visited the place yesterday and the place looks kinda different now. The renovation is about 75% done and my ID promised that it would be done by the 10th (which is in 2 days time)  /excited.
The rooms were painted and I'm really pleased with the selection of colour. The greys were just nice and not over bearing. My ID proposed to do a half half for the bedroom and I was like sure and I'm so glad it turned out well.
They also did the cement screed in the entire living area. It does not look flattering in photos partly because the house is pretty dark (yet to install lighting) and apparently the cement is still fresh and has yet to dry and they have yet to "seal" it with a layer of don't know what. I really hope the cement screed will turned out how I imagined it to be (I paid so much for it leh, lol) I could have just painted it normal and save some money.
I also had my bathroom wall tiled with grey stone to compliment the entire grey-industrial theme of my house. At first I did not do anything to the bathroom because it was pretty costly to change everything from wall to the floor and I was also told that if I were to change the overall look, there is a need to change all the fixtures (basin, shower, toilet bowl etc.) as well. So nah, in the end I just paid that $700 to change the brown wall to grey stone, good enough for now. I'll show the before and after next time then you guys see whether it's worth it.

Tomorrow they will complete the rest of the renovation which is to overlay the entire unit with the vinyl that I picked, plus they will install all the electrical and lightings. I'll probably go over and see the end result after work tomorrow and also to take some photos to update here. Saturday they will do some painting touch up here and there and early next week they will do a general post-reno cleaning and I will have all the external vendors to finish up the rest of the place.

10th October 2020:

I've got to say I'm quite surprised at how fast things moved during the last week of renovation. So today is supposed to be the day that all renovation should be done and my ID did deliver her promise! (even though there are still some rectification works to be done) but all in all, the major works are all completed. We decided that we should delay the general washing to the following week only after rectifications are completed. 

Regardless, I can now safely move on to the next phase which is for the external vendors to start coming in from next week onwards to finish up the rest of the house.
Vinyl flooring has been laid throughout the entire house. (The floor is still dirty in the photo, i will show the clean ones next time, lol) Black wood Herringbone design for the study/ walk-in wardrobe (I love it!) and light concrete design for the masterbed room. Out of the 3 different vinyl designs i chose, i was most satisfied with...
The living concrete vinyl! It's exactly how i imagined it to be!! It's not the typical kind of rectangle long vinyl which you will see the obvious joint lines but mine is some kind of huge square pieces put together. With the flooring done, i would see the obvious change in the entire house and i was so happy at the overall outlook :)
Electrician also came to complete the ceiling conduit pipe design and they kindly helped me change all my existing switch to black and installed my smart switches as well (the Legrand matt black switches were bought from Shopee) Now with the ceiling conduit pipe design up, i could totally get the whole industrial feel.
I totally love how the conduit pipe links down to the wall switch!

So there are certain switches in the house which i changed to smart switches so that when the wifi is up, i can configure to use google assistant for voice control. Speaking about WIFI, i was doing my research on the various broadband plans available and i finally decided on Starhub as they was running a promotion of $34.90/ month (for OCBC card members, usual $39.90/ month) which is the cheapest among all the plans, and i somehow feel that the "bigger" brands are the more reliable one. They will be coming down to install it next week! YAYYY
Earlier on i mentioned about some rectification works to be done before general cleaning and it's relevant to the BTO defect checks. So the above are some of the nitty gritty that i wasn't satisfied with. Cracks here and there, never plaster the wall properly, never paint certain parts of the wall etc. But my ID was very apologetic and immediately arranged for the contractors to rectify them so kudos to her!

Now that the reno works are done, the following week will be pretty busy and I'm looking forward to see house transform further! Next up, wall paper, walk in wardrobe, ceiling fan, kitchen and glass door installation! Oh! and not forgetting furniture delivery throughout the entire week as well! 

Till the next update!                      


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Content Creators.

I recently received a campaign brief over email on an upcoming ambassador program (revealing on IG really soon!) and had some food for thought which i decided to pen down in a quick blog post.

After reading the brief, i suddenly got reminded on how challenging it is to be a content creator. (I'm not using the term - influencers cos 1. I'm personally not a fan of the term cos it's being used too loosely and 2. I can go on and on rambling about the "influence" people actually have and the actual effectiveness of what they produce. Maybe i will talk more about it later in this post) 

Ok, back to being a content creator.

I must really applaud the ones who actually spend time creating good and useful content that delivers the message across. I'm not talking about those pretty/ handsome faces who just hold the product and take a selfie with it kind and then post the photo with some caption which no one reads. *cough* "influencers" *cough* I'm referring to those puts in the effort to come up with a concept in line with the brief that they got from their clients. At the end of the day, they are proud of what they came up with.

(I'm probably gonna offend some influencers in this post but whatever lah.)

These content creators are different from celebrities. Celebrities when they endorse a certain product, they just have to appear on set and do everything as directed because there is a whole team behind that already conceptualized the idea and all they need is someone of influence a.k.a the celebrity to bring out the brand/ product. I'm not saying they no effort but they also need to pose or act and they are obviously good at their craft.

Content creators might or might not have a team, but they are usually only a one man show which means he or she does everything from liaising with client, coming up with concept, plan outfits, select location, self "photo shoot" (sometimes even using self timers cos they are alone), then selection of photo(s), post editing, thinking of content/ caption and i'm sure there are more things on top of those that i just mentioned. All for just a post. Be it just 1 instagram photo, a video or a blog post. 

The amount of effort behind the scene can be tremendous and it can get really stressful when there is just no inspiration plus there might have a deadline to meet. At times as a content creator, you might even ask yourself, should i just pose with the product like some people and get over and done with? Honestly speaking, there are a couple of times i did that due to pressure and i was filled with regrets after. To the point that after a couple of months past the campaign, i decided to delete the post away because i'm not proud of it.  

(I keep using the word "they" but i also actually meant myself lah, HAHAHA. I've done countless of campaigns with brands on my blog and i know how difficult it is. So i'm giving myself a word of encouragement through this blog post. *gives myself a pat on the back*) 

I really applaud those who made it big through their efforts because they truly deserve it. In local context, we have YouTubers like NOC and Jianhaotan, or bloggers like Jemmawei and DreaChong and even though there are some debate on whether some influencers deserves the fame and what comes along with it but what we cannot deny is the effort behind the scenes in creating content that we see online now. They are the true influencers. How many of us dare say we can sell out a product offline?

Even if you have 20,000 or even 50,000 followers online  how much influence do you really have? (as we all know, numbers can be inflated anyways) Is it based on your number of average likes per post? That might be used as a KPI for clients but probably only you yourself know how much influence you have exactly or when you have something to prove it. Like when DreaChong collaborated with the shoe brand, Superga and it was so successful that several media outlets wrote about it and people actually set a reminders on their calendars to go down to the stores to get the shoes that she designed together with the brand. How many the so called "influencers" now can achieve that?

I'm not saying the rest of people (including myself) have zero influence but i just felt that like what Uncle Ben in Spiderman said, "With great power comes great responsibilities" Make good use of the platform you have not just for personal gain, but think of how you can use it to deliver certain messages better and be proud of what you put out to everyone. 

Am i sounding too serious? Am i making any sense? Anyway, just food for thought. Ciaos.