If there was one word to best describe Jimmy’s and Janie’s home adventures, it would definitely be ‘nomadic’. Currently in their 40s, the couple has moved seven times in the 23 years of their marriage.
Their first home was a three-room flat in Toa Payoh, and over the years, they have lived in a five-room flat, two condos, a landed property and a rental apartment. Now, they’ve come full circle and are back in an HDB dwelling — this time, it’s a dreamy, four-room maisonette at Hougang.
For the Pohs, space was a key concern
Having previously rented an apartment at Marine Parade for a year and a half, the Pohs wanted a new place to accommodate their family of six.
They needed a four-bedroom unit so everyone could have their own room, including their two teenagers and Jimmy’s parents. As Janie says, a two-storey home was most ideal. “This way, my parents-in-law can have a room downstairs, and the kids and I have privacy upstairs,” she says.
Knowing what they wanted, the hunt began in 2018. After roving from home to home, Jimmy was well-versed in the house hunting process. He utilised PropertyGuru’s platform, narrowing down the search with specific keywords like “four-bedroom HDB”, “two floors” and “greater than 140 sq m”.
“The platform has saved me a lot of effort in searching,” he says. “If not, I’d be searching district by district, and would go crazy!”
Finding ‘the one’
After hunting for about a year, the Pohs finally landed on their dream home. They knew the four-room maisonette was the perfect dwelling the moment they laid eyes on it.
For one, the house was unlike any maisonette they had seen. At 169 sq m, it was significantly bigger than most.
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“The house is also uniquely shaped like a trapezium, in contrast to typical maisonettes which are two rectangular blocks stacked on top of each other,” Jimmy describes. “It has lots of windows and is extremely bright and airy too,” he adds.
The moment Jimmy saw the house listed on PropertyGuru, he knew he had to act fast as someone was bound to snap it up. He immediately called the home’s agent and arranged to view it the very next day.
Janie was also a fan, describing it as “love at first sight”. After one viewing, they officially sealed the deal in July last year.
Extreme makeover: Home edition
With sparsely decorated interiors, the Pohs chose to do a major overhaul amounting to $190k in renovation costs.
This included carpentry, flooring, electrical wiring, hacking down walls and building new ones to build a bedroom for Jimmy’s parents on the first floor. To create a more spacious feel, they also replaced the staircase’s metal railing with glass.
“We basically did all the three “don’ts” for keeping renovation costs down: wet works, hacking and carpentry,” laughs Jimmy.
Nevertheless, the hefty costs and four-month long renovation process were well worth it. The elegant home is now their personal haven, and even resembles a hotel. Their favourite spot is the staircase, with its window featuring scenic views of Singapore’s southwest.
The home’s location in Hougang is a major plus point too. It’s close to amenities like Hougang Mall, markets and coffee shops. Hougang MRT Station is a short walk away, and the upcoming cross-island MRT line will be right under their block as well.
“The place is opposite Hougang Polyclinic, making it easy to wheel my ailing father there for medical check-ups,” adds Jimmy.
Words of wisdom
Having been a property agent for the past four years, Jimmy also has some advice for new home buyers:
The first would be to have a firm knowledge of one’s finances and loan eligibility for a home. He believes that many young home-buyers are unaware of their loan eligibility. As such, they should learn to calculate the amount, or enlist the help of either a banker or property agent.
He also recommends that young buyers leverage on home loans, given the current low interest rates.
Finally, have a wishlist in the search for a home. And don’t procrastinate once you see a house you love.
“It’s almost impossible to find a property that fits all your criteria, so identify the top three things you want in a home,” he says. “Sometimes, you’ll know instinctively when a home is right for you. When that happens, act on it right away and make an offer.”