BTO: The journey from key collection to the start of renovations. 

BTO = Build-To-Order is a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat allocation system for owners buying new HDB flats in Singapore.

Yup, that’s our kind of Singapore apartment. Ours is a 4-room apartment = 1 living area + 1 dining area + 1 kitchen/service yard + 1 household shelter + 3 bedrooms.

Here’s sharing our journey in summary, from key collection to the start of renovations (soon, in just three days).

Our journey…

  • 12 May 2016: Key collection from HDB (we were excited bunnies).
  • 14 May 2016: First defect check by us and a set of parents + a set of god-parents.
  • 2 weeks later: Defects rectified and second checks by us. Minor defects still found and were reported.
  • 2 weeks later: Defects fully rectified. Process of searching for an interior designer (ID) or contractor.
  • 27 Jun 2016: Confirmed out ID. First deposit paid.
  • 2 Jul 2016: ID’s visit to our home (amidst other errands)
  • 9 Jul 2016: 3D designs sent to us.
  • 11 Jul 2016: Meeting our ID to look at material samples. Second deposit to be paid.
  • 13 Jul 2016: Hacking to commence.
  • 14 Jul 2016: Floor-screeding to commence.
  • Throughout the above period: we sourced and made down-payments for all stuff that needed to be built-in (e.g. the induction hob, oven and lights). Also, we did furniture-window-shopping.

It has been two months and we feel that we are moving along pretty well. We aren’t in a hurry to move out of the husband’s current home (with his parents), but we are also elated to finally have our own space to call home.

Tips for the journey:

  • Don’t be stressed-out by the process. Enjoy it, learn from it, and have fun!
  • Don’t seek advice from too many family or friends, although they may mean well. Ask a few trusted ones, especially those whom have gone through similar experiences recently.
  • At the end of the day, do your own research and make your own decisions. The Internet has a wealth of knowledge. Also, decide what YOU want, based on the pros and cons of your decisions. YOU will be living with the consequences, not the well-meaning person(s) giving you advice.
  • Try not to get into debt for your renovations if possible. If you need extra cash, try to borrow from your immediate family and pay them back as soon as you can.
  • If finances are really tight, keep your home simple – it can still be stylish and comfortable. For us, excluding false ceilings, choosing simple lights and not buying certain furniture upfront has saved us thousands of dollars – it’s crazy. Maybe we’ll do a post on renovation costs soon. 🙂

So this is our journey so far and we hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into our world for the past two months, as our Japanese-themed minimalist home comes together.

Have the best week ahead!


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