BTO Defect Checking

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I remember stepping into our home for the first time and grinning from ear to ear. I also remember wondering what the WiFi password was.

Aniwae we thought we would share our experience and maybe some tips for those of you who will be getting your very own place soon.

Described below is our defect checking process.

Things to Bring

Obvious:
BTO case of keys
Gate padlock and keys*

You will need to give 1 padlock key to your BSC when you submit your defect form.

Suggested Items

Defect Markers:
Post-it Sticky Pads
Post-it Arrow Flags
Pen
Paper
Masking tape
Tapping Rod

Cleaning Supplies:
Broom and dustpan
Mop
Floor detergent
Hand detergent
Hand towels
Sponges
Pail and bailer scoop
Trash Bags
Tissues

Good to have:
Phone chargers
Cold isotonic drinks
Fold out chairs
Step Ladder
BNIB Standing Fan
Fluorescent Tube Light Bulb
Extra clothes
Bath towels
Body wash

Remember your BTO will not have any light fixtures. If you do not bring a strong light source you will have to stop checking for defects once it gets dark. Also, a fan and cold drinks make a huge difference as it can get very hot and humid very quickly.

Make sure you don’t buy cheap unbranded sticky pads or flags as you need the glue to hold for weeks as, at least for us, the BSC can take up to 3 weeks before they actually get to your unit to rectify the defects that you had diligently marked out and reported.

The Process

The first thing we did upon arriving at our block was to check our letter box for the water valve tool and the instructions leaflet on how to turn on the electricity and water at our unit.

Electricity

For electricity, we just flipped every switch to the ON position in the consumer unit. Then we used a cheap $10 plug in nightlight to test each power point. Some people use their phone charger but this seemed a tad risky to me.

Be careful not to touch any wires that may be hanging out of the ceiling holes.

Locks

. Check to make sure that each door and gate lock works.

Tile Flooring

Check for uneven tiles and any other defect such as marks and crack.

Check for hollowness with a tapping rod if you can find one. Otherwise, a marble will suffice. The sound of a hollow tile will be much higher pitched than usual. This is a tedious but necessary process. Mark out the hollow spots as you go.

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Wooden Flooring

Check for any unevenness, holes, marks and scratches.

Be careful not to create new ones yourself. The first day that we moved in, we dropped a Samsung charger plug on the floor and it left a nice dent. Talk about high quality.

Skirting

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Check the floor skirting for gaps. I basically went around the perimeter of each room with a sticky pad in hand and tried to slip a sticky note between the skirting and the wall. If the sticky note went in, I would leave it there as a hole marker. You don’t want any insects making a nest in your skirting gaps.

Water

Check that water does not pool on the bathroom and service yard floors when you turn on the wall tap. The floor should be sloped towards the drain.

Check that all taps are working without leaks. Check that the sinks are not clogged.

Check that the tap in your service yard is not leaking through the walls like ours.

Walls

Check your walls for unevenness and any significant defects such as holes and cracks. Walls painted white can be incredibly deceiving. Bring a strong light source and shine it at the wall from different angles.

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We were gobsmacked to realise how ridiculously uneven our master bedroom wall was and how many rounds it took for them to finally fix it. Remember that once you paint the wall a different colour than white, any imperfections will tend to be magnified.

Windows

Check that your windows can be opened and closed fully, and that the locks work. Check that the screws are tight.

Doors

Check your doors for any defects such as scratches and imperfections.

Tips
If possible, take 2 days leave to check your house for defects. You want to do it right to avoid regrets later on.

Take photos and videos of your defects.

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Mark out the defects first then go around your house to note them down in a numbered list. Note down the defects one room at a time. You can also number each post-it as you go about your list.

Be civil but firm with your BSC. We recommend following up with them not quite daily but regularly. For us, they only seemed to get moving when we chased them.

Dealing with the BSC was no walk in the park. For example, during a conversation with them to report the fact that our skirting was suddenly falling off the wall, they casually mentioned that they noticed scratches on our front door. We were gobsmacked that they did not offer to rectify the issue and instead left us to argue the fact that we did not scratch up our own doors.

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They finally agreed to replace our door. But one fine night when I visited my unit, I was utterly mortified to find out that they had left our unit without a door at least overnight. We had about $10,000 worth of electronics and personal belongings in the unit at the time. The next day they then managed to temporarily lose track of their copy of our padlock key. Seriously I cannot even.

My general advice when dealing with the BSC is to treat them like interns that you need to constantly supervise.

That’s it for now!

I will soon post about our ridiculously long and incredibly frustrating, roller coaster 18-WEEK renovation journey of our 4-room flat with our contractor iCarpenter Direct / iDesign Direct.

~dah habis dah crite saya~

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The Breakdown of Our BTO Key Collection Journey

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1. HDB Notification Email for Key Collection Appointment

On May 8th, we finally got the HDB notification that our keys were ready to be collected in the following week. The day we had been waiting for in the past 4 years. I decided to pen this post so that I can document the process for the benefit of those who are still waiting on the keys to their abode. Please note that the account below is based on my memory of our experience.

So we promptly took 2 days of leave for our appointment day and the next so we would have time to do our defect checking. In hindsight, we should have taken 3 days especially since our key collection appointment was in the afternoon. I will be writing a separate post on the defect checking portion as well as the renovation journey insyaAllah.

On the day of our key collection, we planned our time so that we would arrive a good 2 hours before our appointment slot. This way we would be able to have a nice lunch at the halal food court of the Courts building just opposite of the HDB building. The ban mian there is sooo gooood!

2. Collecting Queue Number

 Once we were done with lunch, we went and got our queue number at one of their Q-Ticket Kiosks even though it was still over an hour from our allotted time slot. We’d read that if you come earlier, there’s a good chance you’ll get served earlier. And we were right! We were served 45 minutes ahead of the scheduled slot.

When our number was up (can you spot it??) I quickly snapped a photo of the screen to capture the moment and off the two of us went! Once inside, we were surprised to find that an entire aisle of cubicles laid empty. Maybe that’s why HDB can be so excruciatingly slow sometimes! Like the almost 2 month wait between the release of keys for my block and that of the previous block.

3. Verification of ICs, Marriage Certificate, Fire Insurance Certificate, & Updating of Income

Aniwae, we were first asked to present 4 identification cards for verification i.e. our ICs plus those of his parents since we had applied for the Proximity Housing Grant. After which, we were asked to present our original marriage certificate as well as the Fire Insurance Certificate for photocopy. Since we did not print out the Fire Insurance Certificate (which we had applied for online a few days prior), our HDB officer simply gave us her email address so that we could email her the PDF copy and she could print it for us.

After which, it was just a whole lot of paper work for us to verify and sign off on. One of the first things was to sign a form to update our marital status. Following that we were asked if there were any changes to our income (including allowance).

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4.  HDB Loan Tenure Period

After the initial updating of records, we were asked to decide on a loan tenure period. Luckily the husband and I had briefly discussed this months earlier after doing our research. We decided to go with the longest tenure period i.e. 25 years. We figured that we can always refinance if ada rezeki. Even then, we are still undecided if it’s worth it to settle the loan earlier. What’s important to us is that we would be able to finance the monthly mortgage installments payments even if one of us were to stop working for whatever reason. Like they say, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

5. HDB Loan Monthly Installment Repayment Plan

After deciding our on our loan tenure amount, we were asked to define how we would split our CPF payment. We decided to go with a split that corresponds to our individual salaries. Thankfully, the HDB officer had records of our last 2 CPF contributions so that we could be assured that each of our CPF contributions were more than sufficient to cover our share of the split.

6. Signing into myHDB page to Apply for CPF Payment for HDB Loan + HPS

This is the moment where you basically sign away every dollar of your CPF Ordinary Account. This is the part where $100k-$200k or so vanished into thin air for us all.

You each will be asked to sign into the myHDB page on their computer. For this you will need your 2FA device with you i.e. your mobile phone or OneKey token. On the last page, there are 3 medical history questions that you would need to answer. If you answer yes to any of these questions it seems that you can expect HDB to call you up soon to ask for more information:

a. Have you ever been diagnosed or treated for cancer, tumour, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disorder, stroke, asthma, fits, depression, hepatitis, HIV, drug or alcohol addictions, disease or disorder of the brain, bone, muscle, spine, kidney, blood, liver, thyroid, or lung, or any other ailment, disorder, physical or mental impairment not mentioned here?

b.  Have you undergone any surgery, treatment, or had any medical test or investigation carried out in the past 5 years?

c. Are you intending to go for medical consultation, surgery, treatment, medical test or investigation in the next 1 year?

7. Signing of Official Documents

Lastly you will be asked to sign the Sales Order, Renovation Guide, Deed of Assignment, and Certificate of Assurance. You will also be given a document called About your HDB Flat and Town Council which holds information on rectification works, property management, address of the town council your estate is under, and the annual ground rent. Yes your BTO is technically a RENTAL on a 99-year lease hence there has to be a rental fee which HDB has so kindly waived since it is just a token sum of $1. Even then, there is a clause stating that HDB can choose to collect rent at any time.

8. Handover of  Copies of Official Documents

You will then wait for your HDB officer to make copies of the documents (that’s her in the back!) which will then be presented to you in a plastic file folder. I recommend bringing your own hard plastic file since the folder they provide is rather flimsy and your documents can easily fall out if you don’t hold it properly. I brought my trusty secondary school file to keep my documents safe and crisp (:

Along with all of the documents you have signed, you will also be provided with a document called Warm Welcome which will hold information on your estate’s BSC (Building Services Centre), as well as the GIRO application form for the Town Council Service & Conservancy Charges. Plus a fabric tote to carry it all in.

8. Handover of Keys

Finally, you are handed the keys to your house! This is the moment you have been waiting for! 3 keys for each room + main door, main gate, and letter box. All neatly stored in a key case. Sign on the acknowledgement of receipt and you are done! Almost.

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9. Payment of S&CC @ Level 3

You will then need to head up to the payment counter at level 3 to make payment for the first month of the Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) which HDB is collecting on behalf of your Town Council. This amount was $61.50 for us. Payment is by NETS. You need the receipt from the payment to open your SPower Account.

10. Opening of SPower Account @ Level 2

Your last stop for the day will be at the SPGroup office at level 2. We were told that water and electricity had already been activated for our unit in anticipation of our key collection. However, this visit is still necessary to open your account with them for your new flat.

You will be given the choice of paying via GIRO or AXS etc. If you choose GIRO, your deposit fee will be $70. If you choose not to take up GIRO, your deposit fee will be $100. We went with the latter because we figured it’d be easier to dispute a bill instead of trying to claim for a reimbursement. But then again, they can choose to cut our power if we don’t pay up first right? In any case, the SPGroup GIRO form can be collected at that office itself or simply downloaded online.

You are done! Head back down to the ground floor proudly toting the key case for all those in the waiting area to see (:

Hope this helps.

~dah habis dah crite saya~

How We Thanked Our Wedding Entourage

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Every bride and groom loves a big entourage. Macam celebrity kan when you have a whole team to follow you around the entire day & attend to your every need?

I’m sure you have plans to thank your entourage in various ways. But I just wanted to share the 3 simple things we did to show our gratitude for their contribution to our special day (:

1. Sponsor their outfits
2. Small gifts and cute souvenirs
3. Reserved the edible gubahan items + wedding mac tower for them

I think the first 2 are obvious. The 3rd one though I think makes the difference. Here’s the little “Reserved” list I handed to my favourite cousin Sharmila.

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I made sure to provide the supplies for packing as well as little labels for her to use. I also made sure that she set aside cake jars, popcorn and macarons for herself as well. I have to say she did a fabulous job. Look at our caramel popcorn portion which made it to our honeymoon with us. If she hadn’t labelled it “popcorn” we would have been at a lost as to what was inside the transparent bag. Just kidding, I love you cuzzie.

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I wish I had included a bag of popcorn for my beauty team and photography team as well since they stuck around till the very end. Not to mention our families! Trust me, good food runs out quick!

~dah habis dah crite saya~

Vendor Reviews: Make Up Team

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As a continuation of the previous post, I shall now review the rest of the beauty entourage consisting of:

Bride’s Main MUA: Mohd Hambali
His assistant: Kak Umi
Pak Andam for Groom: Farid
MUA for MoH and MoB/MoG: Zoolmimi
His assistant hairstylist: Asyik

Kak Umi – Bride’s MUA Assistant

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Kak Umi was Hambali’s assistant for the day. First things first, she did not do my make up on that day because I was Hambali’s only bride for the day (all 3 of the other couples booked for the weekend broke up, shocker right?). She basically helped to get me dressed and was on hand the rest of the day.

Let’s start with the positives. I found her very easy to work with. She’s calm and older sisterly which was a very nice energy to have. She also works well with Hambali. My MoH, Fadilah, also added that she was encouraging and asked her to not be afraid to pursue her dreams because she is still young.

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But for the sake of an honest review, I should also mention the not-so-great things right? So let’s get them out. She was late. As Hambali was doing my make up in the morning, he was also calling her. Nonetheless, she did get to the event site very quickly (looking bomb AF might I add) and was on hand to help with my first outfit before Hambali was done.

The other thing is not her fault but is just something for BTBs to consider when selecting your MUA assistant, especially if you’re booking a male MUA. Kak Umi was not familiar with the outfits and had a little bit of trouble figuring out what goes on first, or how to get the accessories on. This is expected since she had never worked with the gown before but it’s just something to consider; it’s better to pick someone who is familiar with your outfits so you can save changing time.

Farid – Groom’s MUA

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I think Farid did a good job on my husband’s hair/makeup/outfits. However, I heard that the groomsmen felt that the foundation shade he chose for my husband was too dark for the 1st outfit. I was too emotional to notice this but good thing is, Farid might have heard them, so he wiped the foundation off and selected a lighter shade at the next outfit change. So he’s open to suggestion, I think. In terms of getting my husband into his sanjak/samping etc., no issues at all.

One thing to improve on would be to be attentive at wiping the sweat off the groom’s brow because the sweat was apparent in the close up outdoor photos making it hard to choose the right one to blow up for framing. Other than that, he was very helpful at the outdoor shoot as well.

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A side note, Farid does silat! This to me is a big bonus.

Zoolmimi – MUA to MoH, MoB, MoG

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I think Zoolmimi is a safe bet for the bridal team. Personally I think he did a good job on everyone’s make up. Something he seems to be very good at is bringing out your eyes. He brought out everyone’s eyes in a way I had never seen them brought out before. The groom thought that he made his mother look older, but to me I think he made her look beautiful. My MoH thinks he did a good job on her too.

You can see his work in the following photos.

Asyik – Zoolmimi’s Assistant (Hairstylist)

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Since Zoolmimi had only 2 hours to get 3 people ready, he handed over the task of doing the MoH’s hair to his friend Asyik. We were not made aware of this. In any case, this review is from my MoH actually. She says that she found the hair styling experience quite painful (nothing excruciating) but he was gentler after she told him to be.

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She also feels that he didn’t do a good job and requested that I use the shot above to illustrate her point. Note that at this time, she had gotten her hair done less than an hour prior. So in her opinion, it was not worth the $50.00. Check out her hair which she fixed up herself the first chance she got, right after nikah:

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Better, don’t you think?

~dah habis dah crite saya~

Vendor Review: Hambali The Wedding Regalia

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In this post and the next, I shall review the bridal team and the rest of the beauty entourage consisting of:

Bride’s Main MUA: Mohd Hambali
His assistant: Kak Umi
Pak Andam for Groom: Farid
MUA for MoH and MoB/MoG: Zoolmimi
His assistant hairstylist: Asyik

Firstly, let’s focus on Hambali and his bridal company: Hambali The Wedding Regalia.

Hambali – Outfits

His outfits are gorgeous! Just check out the range!

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Unfortunately, I did not fit into a lot of their clothes as many of them were a size XS/S. And Hambali’s plan to purchase larger sizes from Jakarta just before my wedding went up in flames quite literally because upon arrival, he found that the factory had burned down. What are the odds right? But in the few that I did fit into, I really fell for!

I found the Nikah outfit the hardest to settle on because I wanted it to be white/off-white, which limited my options, within which, the designs varied vastly. Some were very Arabic/Indian which I simply could not pull off. I finally decided on a simple yet elegant baju kurung. Due to parental pressure I went with the hijab though I thought I looked quite odd in it, i.e. not way I would style my hijab for religious classes. Aniwae, here’s a closeup shot of the 1st outfit, pictured again below:

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Tip #1: Quick tip on the nikah’s sarung cincin. I was nervous that the wedding band wouldn’t fit easily the way my engagement ring took a while to slip on years earlier. So I asked Hambali for some oil to apply to my ring finger which helped prevent the awkward struggle from repeating itself.

The other 2 outfits, I simply adored. I was so glad that I fit into their Songketku Fateh! And not to mention, my husband looked simply dashing in this Hang Tuah way hehee

Whereas for their evening gown, I think you’ll be spoiled for choice. There are even a few outfits you can use to roll around on the beach for a photoshoot! Just ask him. FYI, Hambali will need to be present at such photoshoots in order to take care of his outfits. Additional hours will be chargeable.

The evening dresses are so long though so I needed to get 5 inch heels in order to make them work. But so gorgeous! Hambali says that he disposes of his outfits once every 2-3 years or so just to keep things fresh. Aniwae, at the first fitting, I fell for the above outfit.

Tip #2: If you’re looking for 5 inch heels, Hambali recommended that I try Anna Nucci at Far East Plaza, level 4. The ones pictured above are priced at just above $100. For some reason, they are 2 sizes larger than my normal size.

Aniwae, at the final fitting, I went with my gut and at the last minute, decided to try another outfit. I immediately fell for it. So go with your guts ladies!

For my husband, Hambali cleverly picked out both the nikah and evening outfit. And I have to say, seeing him in them at the fittings made me squeal like a little fan girl the way I did when I first met him at 18 hehe


Hambali – Makeup

In terms of makeup, I was rather nervous because I wasn’t sure if Hambali knew how to work with my Chinese features. Hence I was glad that my $3,700 bridal+photography package came with free makeup trial. It really gave me the chance to provide feedback on the way I prefer my makeup to be done.

Tip #3: If you have non-typical Malay features, I strongly recommend getting a makeup trial and ensuring that your MUA has at least some experience with clients that have similar features. In any case, the room for improvement is always there. Don’t hold back on your feedback, let your MUA know your preferences. No need to be hurtful though.

Some selfies using the same phone and camera app taken of my trial makeup and final event day makeup, both taken multiple hours after application:

Some differences requested include making the eyebrows thinner, which he agreed to. He shaped my eyebrows on the event day itself. They turned out beautifully though I had to even them out when the makeup came off. Not a big issue for me. I also requested for the lips to not be overdrawn because although it photographs well, it just looked odd to me in person. It’s all about your personal preference.

Hambali – Hairdo 

At the makeup trial, I informed Hambali of the hairdo I wanted for event day i.e. volume at the top, with long curls. He agreed, stating that he might use extensions since there would not be not enough time to curl all of my hair which is true.

But somehow, on the event day, I ended up with an updo. This was disappointing because I had been growing my hair out to my tailbone just for the wedding. I learned that the reason he went with the updo is to keep it neat in light of the outdoor photoshoot scheduled right after the wedding. I think it would have been better to inform me ahead that my desired hairdo was not possible. What if I had been a bridezilla? In any case, the veil that he attached to my updo was a nice compromise, I feel.

Hambali – Sanggul Lintang

Hambali is known for his gorgeous sanggul lintang works. If you like them big, he’s the one you go to. He can also do very simple and toned down looks. Let’s let the photos speak for themselves. FYI, the modern sanggul lintang is really not that heavy although when they remove it, there were some surface dents on my forehead. Also, a fake hair bun is used so that your hair isn’t the one supporting the gear nor being poked into with multiple pins. Thus, when done right, the way Hambali does it, it should not hurt at all.

Hambali – Customer Experience

If the above shots of me grinning away is any indication, Hambali is a delight to work with. He’s tactful & easy to talk to. Lighthearted and gentle. Full of suggestions and advice but not pushy. I remember at the photoshoot right after the wedding, when we had to travel to a 2nd location nearby at the request of the photographer, Hambali had to take a cab there. When my husband offered reimbursement, he politely declined saying not to worry about it as it was a small matter. Awesome right? (:

Another benefit of getting Hambali is that he, being a man, can really pull those corset strings better than most women would. It really makes a difference to your silhouette I feel (:

~dah habis dah crite saya~