Transforming A Plain 5-Room Flat to A Cool Smart Home: An Engineer’s Home Story
Living in a smart home is no longer a high-tech fantasy, but a reality.
For Alex Teo, 35, an IT Engineer, smart home technology always piqued his interest. Unfortunately, his one-bedroom condo that he shared with his girlfriend was too small and not able to accommodate his smart home desires.
They decided an upsize was in order and instead of selling the current place, they opted to rent out the property. “Having more space and an extra passive income are the reasons why we decided to move,” says Alex.
In searching for a new home, Alex was pretty easygoing. “We didn’t have any specific requirements, just somewhere near the MRT station for convenience and transport,” Alex explains. As for the components to support his smart technologies, Alex didn’t need anything specific. “Smart home technology can apply to any home.”
However, Alex quickly realised that HDBs near MRT stations tended to be older and was worried about unforeseen issues such as piping or flooring down the line. So, he and his girlfriend decided to look at estates a little further from the MRT station in Bukit Panjang.
Finding the right home is never easy. But, the couple used the PropertyGuru’s app’s filters to find and compare multiple homes that were a bit newer. After comparing multiple homes, they found their ideal living space, a 5-room, 1,200 square-foot HDB, spacious living space for both of them.
With the one-bedroom condo owned by Alex’s girlfriend, the couple bought this HDB flat under Alex’s name.
In the end, it wasn’t within walking distance to the MRT, but it was still an easy 10 minute bus ride. "Yes, it’s a little bit of a sacrifice, but not to the extent of being too inconvenient. In exchange I get this beautiful view on the 29th floor,” says Alex.
The Smart Journey
Alex’s Bukit Panjang HDB was the perfect blank slate for him to realise his smart-home dream. He’s implemented plenty of smart technologies, such as smart switches, sensors, lights, and plugs. On top of that, there’s also a digital assistant to increase efficiency and productivity. This, Alex says, is in line with Singapore’s Smart Nation Initiative. “Not only businesses that are going through digital transformation, but individuals through smart homes as well.”
Turning the home into a smart one was a challenge, even for an IT engineer like Alex. There was limited information and resources regarding smart homes. Moreover, there were lots of components and renovations to be made, especially when it comes to the structure of electrical and network wiring.
This doesn’t come cheap, as it’s the backbone of a smart home that determines what kind of smart capabilities work. “It’s kind of fitting together all the different pieces of a puzzle,” recalls Alex. In the end, he spent approximately $1,000 to implement the various smart technologies.
One of Alex’s favourite “smart” aspects is the shoe rack. It enables him to sanitise, disinfect, and dry his shoes automatically on a schedule.
To make life even easier, several voice-triggered routines are available via Google Assistant, including preparing breakfast. When he wakes up, he tells Google, “I’m up” or “Good Morning”. The Assistant will then draw up the curtains, switch on the computer, cook some eggs for breakfast and remind Alex it is ready after 15 minutes.
As a YouTuber in his spare time, having a smart home is also highly beneficial. “It helps me set the ambiance for my YouTube videos automatically, without needing to go through each switch individually. By simply speaking, I can also switch off the fan, giving me a clearer voice and noiseless background when I’m recording videos.”
A Constantly Evolving Home
There’s no denying that having a smart home ecosystem makes life easier says Alex, “Having a smart home brings convenience to my daily life and increases productivity and efficiency.”
In fact, he’s never looking back. “It’s a luxury that once you have it, you don’t want to give it up. It’s also a hobby of mine to think of expanding the smart capabilities within the home.”
The next upgrade is a smart refrigerator. It means Alex can look into the fridge without actually opening it. Additionally, Alex hopes to have an integrated ecosystem where he can get his groceries delivered via a voice assistant, something that hasn’t reached Singapore. “Knowing Singapore, I’m sure that one day it will come.”
While a smart home offers several benefits, some are still hesitant to adopt it due to the complexities. While Alex’s decade of IT experience helps in the technical aspects transforming one’s home into a smart one can be a do-it-yourself adventure. “It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and you can learn them by watching my YouTube videos,” he laughs.
Technology is constantly evolving but today Alex is content to stay in enjoying the smart world he’s created.
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