Would you be willing to fast-track your wedding to secure your dream house? Well, this couple did just that. Sabrina and Hafiz were planning to get married in 2022, but when they were scrolling through PropertyGuru’s website just to get a rough gauge of the house prices, they chanced upon their ideal place. The Executive Apartment HDB resale flat in Choa Chu Kang checked all their boxes when it came to the budget, location and size.
They decided to purchase the house under HDB’s Fiance-Fiancee scheme, meaning they had to get married within three months in order to secure the place." Our parents were supportive of our decision as the house that we are about to purchase is close to their place," Sabrina recalls.
As for Hafiz, he didn’t mind fast-tracking the wedding, "Given the ongoing situation, wedding receptions would be in small sizes anyway, so it’s better to get our dream home and get on with life."
The Renovation Journey
Sabrina already had a vision of the house she wanted to live in. The most important thing was that it needed to be spacious. Size was the number one priority and not the condition of the house. Her logic was that they intended to renovate the entire home anyway, so it doesn’t matter.
Sabrina downloaded the floor plans of the 25-year-old apartment through PropertyGuru and decided which walls to knock down to make a space that’s right for them – three bedrooms, a study, a kitchen, and a balcony.
Considering the space desired, the couple wasn’t interested in a BTO. "I’ve never quite fancied BTOs because the layouts (floor plans) are all the same, and they’re quite small." This 142 sqm resale HDB flat matched all their criteria, especially when it came to the toilet placement.
"We wanted a separated toilet, not side by side," Sabrina says. The separate layout meant they were able to transform it into a Ritz-Carlton-inspired theme. The bathroom is see-through from the master bedroom, complete with a shower and bathtub.
"It’s actually one of my favourite spots in the entire house; we brought Ritz-Carlton to us! It always feels like we’re in a luxurious staycation when I’m there," Sabrina laughs.
The renovation and design of the old-fashioned place were mainly done by themselves with the help of Sabrina’s father. "We designed the house ourselves before the renovation, and we asked for a contractor to hack the floors, along with my father-in-law to turn it into reality," Hafiz explains.
Sabrina added that when they first saw the apartment, it was quite dull – being dominated by brown and dark colours, "We decided to pick bright colours instead. Our living room, for instance, is predominantly green and yellow. We now also have a rainbow wall in the living room."
Hafiz admits that having Sabrina’s father around to help with the DIY renovation has been a great bonding experience. "The process is long, as he is working. He’s only able to help during weekends, so he helped us with the technical side of things, like electric works, the ceilings, drilling and plastering the walls, something that I’m not good at, so he’s been a tremendous help in that area," Hafiz laughs.
Life in a Dream Home
Aside from being closer to their parents, living in Choa Chu Kang has its benefits. Not only is the neighbourhood friendly and quiet, but it’s also close to the major expressways KJE and BKE. "It’s less than a five-minute drive to the highway to reach any part of Singapore, which is especially beneficial during the morning rush hour for work," Sabrina and Hafiz say in agreement. They both work in the maritime industry, and their place is near to the Singapore future port in Tuas – another plus.
After a long day’s work, Hafiz likes to unwind in the study, “The study is my favourite place in the house. It’s the place where I can read, surf the internet, and play my guitar.” Meanwhile, Sabrina likes to cook in her free time and enjoys attending to her cats from time to time. “As I am always preoccupied with work, I will use my free time to cook and play with my fur babies.”
With all the hard work and DIY renovation, it’s no surprise that they’re not moving anytime soon – they’re planning to stay indefinitely. "We’re very proud of what we’ve built with the help of our family members, so it’s likely that we’ll stay here for at least 10 years. Surely, my wife would like to make little changes here and there, but I’ve to constantly remind her about the cost," Hafiz smiles.
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