Monday, September 18, 2017

Renovation cost (Waterfront @ Faber)

This is our 4th renovation, followed by minor renovation & touch up on the existing HDB unit before pushing it to the rental market (the 5th renovation) and the 6th renovation in November 2017 (TOP expected to be the end of October 2017), Citrine service apartment at Sunway Iskandar. The first one was 5-room flat at Toh Guan, followed by 4-room flat at Toh Guan, then Nusaheight service apartment at Gelang Patah, Nusajaya. It is a stone throw away from the future bullet train station at Nusajaya. So, armed with 3 renovation experiences, I know exactly what we want and the price too. We set a target of S$10,000 for renovation and S$20,000 for furniture furnishings for Waterfront@Faber unit. It will be our self-stay unit and probably our future retirement home, why not? Here are the updates, let’s go!

I changed my ID last minute due to the huge price variance of up to S$8,000 and that caused me a delay of 2 weeks.
July 12: Key collection
July 15: Defect list submitted.
August 7: Defect rectification completed and singed off.
August 19: Renovation ID finalized with Weiken, cheque issued to ID to start work immediately after management approval.
August 24: Master bedroom wall hacking completed.
August 25: 75% lightings installation completed.
August 28: All L-box structures completed.
August 29: Hacked wall was made good.
September 4: Whole house painting completed.
September 5: Hacked floor was made good.
September 7: Clear all floor protection.
September 8: Whole unit cleaning completed.
September 12: Carpentry installation completed.
September 15: Paints touch up done, renovation completed.

September 18: All bedrooms oak flooring were matt varnished by the developer's contractor.
The renovation took me 4 weeks to complete.

(1)    TV feature wall/cabinets: (S$4,025)

Carpentry Works

(Design and fabricate of full height TV storage cabinet with solid compressed plywood, selected laminates, inner colored PVC and ABS trimming doors. Cabinet is installed with Blum’s anti-slam hinges.)

The biggest item of the renovation got to be built-in-furniture, which is our full height of 2.85 meter, length of 3.3 meter of TV feature wall with a lot of cabinets. We finally engaged Weiken ID at Tradehub 21 for our renovation. Their quoted price is subjected for 7% GST but they are giving out 7% discount at the final price too. It means the 7% GST is waived and you have a minor discount of 0.49% to be exact. So, all the prices listed in this blog (Weiken ID) are the prices BEFORE the 7% discount. In this case, the TV cabinets is S$4,005.28 NETT instead of S$4,025.
I sent this exact picture for 7 quotations at various ID firm and carpentry shops.

Filip Janssens designs

Filip Janssens's Asper project in year 2011

My renovation cost (Weiken) : S$9,229.55

We bumped into the above design from Google search, with keywords, "huge TV cabinets design" and we love the full height massive cabinet storage designs with style. Then, a carpenter ID told us it was actually a Belgium furniture designer masterpiece, called Filip Janssens ( ). No wonder, it looks gorgeous to me. I used the same photo for 7 quotations (4 ID firms and 3 carpentry shops) and I have good price benchmark. There are 4 quotations about the same range and I picked Weiken, of course, why? It is the largest ID firm in Singapore and I saw the show unit at Tradehub 21 and I want my TV cabinets to be the same quality as show unit, so it is a very good benchmark. It is no brainer for me to quickly pick Weiken ID. I have no idea why their price could be so competitive. I have 7 quoted prices range from S$3,900 to S$7,430. Many (included me) have a mindset that their price must be premium as they engaged celebrities for advertisement, hence, a lot of marketing costs spent and the cost might be transferred to the customers. I think the price quoted is fantastic, same for the rest of the items too!

We picked “NOT pure white” laminate as it will turn yellowish easily in the future and the light color will give you a sense of bigger space. Dark colors on the cabinet will give you a beam (column) structure in the living hall especially you have a massive length/full height TV cabinets, you also need to make sure the width is not too large. The final finished product is exactly what we have expected. I give 10 out of 10. I got nothing to complain.

Price benchmarking

This is the final drawing we sent to ID for "execution".
The final finished product. :)
The view while you sit at the center of the sofa.
Plenty of storage space.
Panorama shot. :)
(2)    L-box for cove lightings
Plastering & ceiling works
(a)    Design, supply labor and materials to construct cove light L-box in living area
(Length 3500 x Width 3300 mm): (S$550)
(b)   Design, supply labor and materials to construct cove light L-box in dining area
(Length 2000 x Width 3000 mm): (S$500)
(c)    Design, supply labor and materials to construct cove light L-box in master bedroom area
(Length 2600 mm):  (S$250)
Cove lighting is a MUST in my design. I love the lighting ambience with downlights, cove lighting or both if I want brightest atmosphere. That’s just me, love the cove lighting effects.

So, I pay around S$1,300 for cove lightings.
(3)    Master bedroom wall hacking
Hacking & Dismantle works
(a)    Hack new entrance opening between master bedroom and bedroom 2 (length 1200 x height 2400 mm): ($300)
We want to have a bigger master bedroom, hence, we knock off a new entrance opening between master bedroom and bedroom 2, the length is only 1.2 meter as there are some water piping below the air con at the master bedroom wall, that’s the biggest we can go but it still serve our purpose. I believe some of the miscellaneous works come with this wall hacking, for example, clearing the debris, and laying cardboard for protection, general cleaning, make good the existing floor and wall.

Item 5 & 6 are shared cost with other works, so it is about right to say it costs me S$1,500 to enlarge the master bedroom. Good deal.
The wall hacking required PE endorsement. We got our colleague to do it for us FREE, else it will cost S$750.
(4) Miscellaneous works
(a)    Supply labor and tools to carry out haulage and debris disposal works. S$550
(b)   Supply and laying of corrugated cardboard for protection.S$300
(c)    Supply labor, tools and materials to carry out general cleaning upon handing over. $350
(d)   Paint all internal walls and ceiling with Nippon Emulsion Paint (we used 6 colors at the end) $1,950
(e)   Supply labor, tools refurbish of existing flooring affected by hacked wall between master bedroom and bedroom 2. (Oak flooring provided by developer). S$250
(f)     To supply labor and material to make-good/patch up to hacked wall area between master bedroom and bedroom 2. S$250.

All right, this is the area I can actually save few hundred dollars but I didn't. That is to paint the whole unit. I shall be able to engage Nippon paint directly to get the job done. Oh well, the coordination works had reached my maximum capacity. Too bad!

Do I hit the target? Not too bad.

Renovation cost:
S$9,229.55 + electrical wirings cost S$1,400 = S$10,629.55

Furnishing cost: S$17,716.33

I have spent a grand total of S$28,345.88, still well below my target of S$30,000. Buy more!

My lightings cost is S$690, all from Philips.
My lights distribution is shown below too.

Details of electrical wirings cost : S$1,400
I think I know why he charged me differently for creating one 13A x 2 power point.
Create one at the DB switch box is the easiest task, so, that's S$45.
Create one at the new TV living hall is tougher , so, that's S$65.
Create one at the kitchen cabinet wall is the difficult one, he has to hack a lot of wall and that's S$85.
In average, I pay S$65 for 2 power points. Cheap!

As for the windows blinds, we get the Unislat for living hall, Premium Combi (full blackout) for master bedroom and the rest of the bedrooms, Combi Aurora. All are Korea blinds.

Windows blinds full cost: S$3,523
Song-Cho stainless steel items are LIFETIME warranty.
Solid quality.
One time installation fee of S$53.50 is a GREAT bargain.
We spent S$1,154.41 for Song-Cho products.

Last but not least, just want to make myself happy to know the kitchen appliances supplied FREE by the developer are worth S$8,742 at the current market right now.   
 To be continued....

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Hot topics in Singapore:
(copy and paste the URL if the direct link is not possible)

(1) Projecting Your CPF Figures

(2) CPF (Central Provident Fund)

(3) How To Plan For Your Baby's Future (My Complete List Versus CPF Article)

(4) SRS (Supplementary Retirement Scheme)

(5) HDB De-Coupling:

(6) Investment Linked Plan Insurance (For Baby)

(7) Whole Life Insurance Plan (For Baby)

(8) CPF (Central Provident Fund) For Baby (2 Blogs)

(9) Singapore Insurance Summary (2 Blogs)

(10) Whole Life Insurance

(11) Endowment Plan Insurance

(12) Investment Linked Plan Insurance (2 Blogs)

(13) H&S (Hospitalization& amp; Surgical) Insurance

(14)Travel Insurance

(15) Singapore Housing Loan Interest

(16) Singaporean Benefits (2 Blogs)

(17) Singapore Credit Card (2 Blogs)

(18) Singtel TV Plan

(19) Singapore Cars

(20) Singapore Krisflyer & SQ Business Class Experience

(21) Singapore Stocks (2 Blogs)

(22) Singapore Real Estate Guru Notes

(23) Waterfront @ Faber (Clementi, Singapore)
(23) Singapore Education 

(24) Amanah Saham Wawasan 2020 (Malaysia)

(24) Sunway Iskandar Malaysia

(25) Nusaheights Service Apartment, Iskandar Malaysia

(26) Malaysia i-Flexi Housing Loan

(27) Horizon Hills, Iskandar Malaysia (2 Blogs)

(28) Pay Yourself First

(29) My Exit Strategy On Singapore Real Estates: 99 Years Leasehold & 99 Years Lease

(30) Engineering Change Order (ECO)

(31) True Living Cost In Singapore

(32) New Chapter Of Life: My Work Life

(33) My Little Career Stories

(34) I Was Retrenched

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Projecting Your CPF figures (Revision 04)

Revision 04 (last paragraph): updated on August 29, 2017
Revision 03: updated on August 21, 2017
Revision 02: updated on August 18, 2017
Have you projected your CPF figures? It is interesting to find out.
There are some important figures below and assumptions (of course).
(1) I have to emphasize that S$6,000 monthly income and S$30,000 monthly income, both the CPF contributions are all the same. With 13th month bonus included, you will contribute at least S$28,860 into the CPF account every year. If you have more bonuses, your CPF figures will be more than the below figures. This calculation takes 13 months contribution only.
(2) To simplify the presentation, this is what happen. Always transfer OA to SA, hence, OA account is S$0 balance at all times.

(3) No further S$7,000 SA top up in the table below, yearly contribution of S$28,860 go straight into the column of (SA+MA).

(4) Why 4.3% interest? SA and MA interest are 4% but the first S$60,000 will attract additional 1% interest, which is 5% interest in total. With my magic formula, you just calculate the total sum as 4.3% interest will be close to (the first S$60,000 sum enjoying 5% interest, remaining balance 4% interest).

(5) Steady increase of FRS by S$5,000 per year.

(6) Steady increase of 4% in BHS per year.

(7) By the age of 55, the full retirement sum will be S$256,000 and basic healthcare sum will be S$105,342. Total (FRS + BHS) of S$361,342 will be locked at age 55.

(8) FRS of S$256,000 will yield monthly pension of S$2,081 from age 65 until death.

(9) If you die earlier, they will calculate the total monthly pension you have received, then minus from ( the FRS sum of S$256,000 + interest earned for the 10 years , while you are age 55 to age 65 and beyond), the proceed will be given to your spouse and children.

(10) The table below shows that you stop working at age 55, which is quite unlikely for me. I would love to continue to work even up to age 65 if my health allows. So, the table below would be dramatically different as you will have monthly contribution yet again.

(11) Even if you don't work at age 55, you will still see a cool S$1.028 million cash by the age of 58 and you have all the absolute right to withdraw that cash from the CPF. Why withdraw? Just leave it for the fat compound interest. Let it rolls, baby! CPF is the best retirement scheme in the world. Trust me.

This section is for workaholic. Some may not want to retire at age 55, they want to work until age 65 or even age 70. Assuming the monthly income is still at least S$6,000, you will see:
(a) S$1.047 million cash in the CPF account at the age of 57.
(b) S$1.747 million cash at the age of 65.
(c) S$2.321 million cash at the age of 70.
With that figures in the CPF account, please don't work anymore.
Give chance to the younger generation.
Updated on August 18, 2017
Reality check. Hitting the first milestone, (SA+MA), S$200,000 mark broken.
Re-cap, my age 55 (SA+MA) requirement shall be: S$361,342.
Additionally, I have utilized OA account of S$103,552.04 for HDB flat, accrued interest is S$15,088.48 as for today, total : S$118,640.52 shall be in OA account IF I DO NOT USE IT for housing loan. If I sell the flat TODAY, the sales proceed of S$118,640.52 will be returned to CPF OA account first, then remaining balance of sales proceed goes into my bank account.
I also have small portion of investment in CPF OA amount to S$1,668.10 (too small figures, negligible).
If I never use CPF OA money for housing loan and investment, the balance of OA account will be S$120,308.62, after transfer all OA balance to SA account, the total (SA+MA) will be S$322,345.66.  The yearly interest (~=4.3+%) is S$13,860 ! 

Updated on August 21, 2017
I made a phone call to CPF hotline today and realized I made a BIG MISTAKE on the calculation above.
Once your CPF SA account reaches Full Retirement Sum, e.g. S$166,000 (year 2017), you are NOT able to do CPF OA transfer to SA. Please take note.
If you use SA money to buy unit trust/ insurances and the balance of SA account drops below FRS (for example, below S$166,000 this year), you are able to transfer CPF OA to SA as well as CPF SA S$7,000 TOP UP to enjoy tax relief.
In other words, CPF strictly looks at the SA account balances only.
Same for your MA account, if your MS reaches the BHS and SA reaches FRS, then, your MA contribution will flow to OA, not SA !
Key takeaways:
(1) SA reaches FRS, you cannot do CPF SA S$7,000 TOP UP to enjoy tax relief. You cannot transfer CPF OA to SA account.
(2) If MA reaches BHS and SA reaches FRS, CPF MA contribution will go to OA account.
 Updated on August 29, 2017
One reader alerted me that there is one error in the posting above.
Hence, the CPF hotline operator is wrong then.
The amount withdrawn from Special Account (SA) for investments are counted as Full Retirement Sum , do take note! See the information below for clarity.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to plan for your baby's future? (My Complete List versus CPF article)

CPF interviewed me and the article was published on Feb 27. 2017.

The link is shown below.

How to plan for your baby's future?

Some of my points are not published at CPF website. This is the complete version. 

(1)   Do not touch your child CPF MA account (S$4,000 now) that was given by the government.

CPF Medisave account (MA) has 5% interest (cap at the first S$60,000 and 4% thereafter). Use all your CDA account money (S$12,000) as it attracts only max 1.20% interest from the bank, not child CPF.

Note (1):

(2)   Buy Whole Life Insurance while he/she was 1 day old.

The earlier you purchase, the cheaper it is. The shorter payout period, the cheaper it is.

S$500,000 sum assured whole life insurance with 5 years payout period cost me total S$33,010. Good money spent! My child does not need to purchase whole life insurance when he starts to work. If he wants more coverage, he can buy himself.

Note (2):

(3)   Contribute S$2,000 annually into your child CPF SA account.

CPF Special account (SA) has 5% interest (cap at the first S$60,000 and 4% thereafter). This can be your child’s Chinese New Year red packets. This is to help to build a strong head start for your kid in CPF accumulation. His/Her full retirement sum (FRS) can be easily above S$500,000 in the future. 

For me, it would be S$250,000, 18 years from now (year 2035).

Note (3):

(4) Buy Investment-Linked Plan (ILP)   

Many people do not like whole life insurance, investment-linked plan and endowment plan.

This is something extra I did for my little one. I bought one ILP, monthly payment of $100 (S$1,200 per year) into Singapore Growth Fund and Emerging Market Fund (50% allocations each). As ILP has a 7 years break-even threshold, he has all the time to witness the compound growth of the surrender values. This is one good retirement income for him especially Singapore and emerging countries will do great in the next 20, 50 years.

Note (4):

(5) Buy equities (stocks)

I have not done that just yet for the little one but I will do so by Q1 next year :)

In fact, I invested equities for myself for income through SRS account and cash.

For child, we should buy solid blue chip counters only, DBS, OCBC, ST Engineering, SPH, SINGTEL or even REITs, CapitaLand Mall Trust, Cache Logistics Trust, SUNTEC REIT, etc. We buy the shares, frame the stock purchase certificates and hang them nicely at his/her bedroom. I read this idea from magazine. It is a pretty cool thought. :)

We can witness the capital appreciation of the good stocks, at the same time, enjoy the stable fat dividend payouts. Such dividend yield is easily in the range from 3.5% (stocks) to 8% (REITs).

Raising kids in Singapore is fun. It shall never be a burden or pressure for the parents. 
Enjoy the process and be happy. God blessed and good luck!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New Chapter of Life; my work life

I was retrenched from a bio-technology company and I had to leave the wonderful company on 31 October, 2016. Refer to :

I finally received the employment letter from the same industry as well, a Medical Equipment & Device company on 19 December, 2016. The market capitalization is 4 times bigger than my previous company. The headquarter is in Chicago, U.S.A. My past 13 years of careers are with Swiss German company.

There were just too many negative news on the media while I was searching for jobs. It was worrying, of course.

It says, "the job growth rate was slow and the job loss was aggravating in Q2 year 2016".

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) says, "Singapore economics will not get significantly better next year (year 2017)".

The unemployment rate continue to rise, lay-offs at 7 years high.

The largest hit by lay-offs are PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives and technicians).

The hottest industry right now and in the future in Singapore are: Software Engineering, Cyber Security, Financial Technology, Compliance and Healthcare.

But sadly enough, even I was from Healthcare industry, I was retrenched.

 Government has good initiative to make the engineering sexy again.

Government offers engineering fresh graduate a starting pay of S$3,800 per month! My generation in year 2004, starting pay was only S$2,750 per month. :(

It also mentioned that banking industry now prefers to hire engineering graduates, which I find it not so true! I didn't get any reply from GIC, UBS, DBS, etc. Perhaps they are looking for software engineers, IT related engineers instead?

An interesting article telling you not to quit your job at the year end.

There are many good articles published to tell you how to prepare for an interview.

Yes, asking questions at interview is extremely important. I always make sure I ask at least 3 questions during the interview. I prepared 5 questions instead and I also know the answers for all the 5 questions from the Internet. It is always important to show you are interested in the company.

"Your job to ask questions at interview too"

Do take note on these questions from the interviewer too!

How to survive in the corporate world?

Needless to say your resume is utmost important to capture the attention of human resource, recruiter, talent acquisition professional and your future reporting boss.

Where are the jobs?

I also had this wonderful book to prepare myself how to do a six-figure salary negotiation. It is a great book.

Best of all, I got the book at S$5 only. Amazing, isn't it?

Just a quick look of the book content for your reference.

 We also need the spiritual food in our daily life. I actively seek wisdom from the "Grace" book.
This was the page I randomly flipped right before I fly to Shanghai, China for my final interview. Work location is in Singapore.