My Obsession with Google Calendar (May 2014)

Calendar May 2014

 

This may sound crazy but I am obsessed with Google Calendar after I booked my flat. I stare at it, make plans, update past events, and share it with J and make sure he reads and update it too. It’s a pretty good app by Google highly recommended by me. Try it if you have not!

J and I got all jittery after booking our flat on 28th April 2014. Marriage or wedding banquets or wedding packages did not cross our minds at all prior to the booking. We just enrolled ourselves to test the market and try our luck. So you can imagine how worried we were when it was stated in the package that we have to produce our marriage certificate at the next HDB appointment. J have not even proposed to me! My girlfriends find this arrangement unacceptable though. It was later that we found from our friends that HDB has some unwritten rules about this matter and will not be so harsh as to demand for the marriage certificate and not give you the keys to your flat. Thank God it is possible to delay the submission to 3 or 6 months or even later depending on your situation. That aside, we were able to shift our focus to other more important tasks.

What’s in for us next was sourcing for interior designers, picking a bridal package, finding a venue for our wedding banquet, and lots and lots of shopping. The above is a snapshot and summary of what happened in the month of May. We tried to max out all our weekends and every available public holiday or free time to do whatever is necessary for the new flat.

One of the first few things we did was to check out our ring size and ring design preference. We both fell in love with Tiffany Milgrain wedding band ring in platinum and 18k gold on first look. We did try to look at the other jewellery shops for wedding bands but none of them had that right feeling and look on our fingers. It did remind me of the scene in Harry Potter when he was picking up his magic wand. We intend to try for our right sizes at the airport before our vacation to Macau this weekend and J will purchase it in Japan since he found it was cheaper there and will buy it during his next business trip.

On that first Sunday we secured our wedding package at the Aisle Bridal during a wedding fair and exhibition at Vivocity. There were 2 fairs happening at that same weekend, one in Marina Square and one in Vivocity and hence we shuffled to and fro in agony. We even went to Aisle Bridal to test out the gowns before deciding on it.  We negotiated for whatever we need in a wedding package. I never want to talk to salespersons at a wedding show ever again. It was tough pushing them away as they were all extremely aggressive.

With our floor plan in hand, we dropped by Expo exhibitions on interior design once in a while to get ourselves familiar with how interior design work. We have ZERO idea and ZERO experience. The intention was to hear their comments and have an idea of what we would like to have in our new house and eventually, choose one if the PRICE is RIGHT. We went from a range of expensive IDs like Ciseern and Rezt and Relax, to not so expensive IDs like 9creation and Idees, to a start-up company called Aartboxx whose boss was from Rezt and Relax. The rest was not good enough to mention in my opinion. We learnt a lot along the way by talking to different people. At the end of the day what we are looking for is an ID that has contractors with good workmanship. At the current moment we have shortlisted 3 IDs and will have to decide which items are to be included in the contract and which other items we will buy off-the-shelves and remove from the contract.

We also browsed a few venues for wedding banquets and have decided on Grand Park. Some ballrooms are too huge and we intend to have a small and manageable one so that we don’t need to fuss over guest lists!

My experience with HDB

My experience with HDB

 

In November 2013, J and I enrolled ourselves as first-time applicants to sales of balance flats (SBF) exercise under the fiancé/fiancée scheme. We chose Seng Kang district out of many other districts because of its proximity to my parents’ house, and that it is a relatively new town. Punggol was the other up and coming new town but we are concerned about the distance and facilities they have yet-to-date and so we focused more on Seng Kang. We were able to calculate our chances as they update the statistics on the SBF main page and we watched that space till the very last day of the application exercise to click that “apply button”. The statistics showed the number of applicants versus the number of units available. For Sengkang there were 43 available SBF flats. Silly of us and being amateurs, we did not go in depth to study the facilities and convenience near the vicinity of the available flats. We merely calculated our probability and I reckon that is the typical trait of Engineers!

 

It was a long and excruciating wait and alas! On 29 Jan 2014 we received this email from HDB:

 

“Dear Sir/Madam

 

APPLICATION FOR NOVEMBER 2013 SALE OF BALANCE FLATS EXERCISE

Thank you for your application to buy a 5-room / Executive flat at Sengkang

 

2     Your application has been balloted with a queue position of 22, which is within the supply of 43 unit(s) of flats on offer.

 

3     The selection exercise is expected to start from Apr 2014. You will receive the invitation package by post soon. The package will contain the flat list, the appointment date to book your new home and the list of documents which you will need to bring along. You can also check for any updates via My HDBPage at http://www.hdb.gov.sg using your SingPass”.

 

We were extremely worried and excited at the same time. It was then we really looked into the detailed map of Sengkang and started investigating the locations of the available units. Much to our shock, almost half of the 43 units are in the west and under-developed part of Sengkang and 6 of them are repurchased flats which means they were already 10-15 years old, pre-own and bought back by HDB. There were probably only 14 flats that are new, in relatively good location as compared to the rest, and ready or almost ready for keys collection. Nonetheless we came up with a ranking list of 43 units and updated it as we carried out site survey every available weekend and got ourselves prepared for the worst.

 

Soon after in February or March, we received another package telling us that our appointment for our flats selection is scheduled at 9:00am on 28th April which is a Monday morning.

 

A week before the selection date, I started browsing the HDB website for updates to check what the others with smaller queue number have chosen. It became a really dreadful habit for that whole week as I was practically checking the website every hour and striking off units on my list. J called HDB on Thursday to check the SBF selection status and was told that there will be 5 selections on Friday and we are the first to select our flat on Monday. Towards the end of the week on Friday, a number of 16 flats had been booked. To our relief, we thought 5 couples with smaller queue numbers before us must have chosen to give up their chances in this SBF exercise since Saturday and Sunday are not typical working days.

So, confidently, on that Saturday before 28th April, we went down to survey Anchorvale Horizon and two other re-purchased flats that we have shortlisted. We had breakfast in Macdonalds in Seng Kang Sports and Recreation Centre (SRC) and also went for a swim. We even planned to visit Horizon in the evening so that we can have a feel of what is it likeat night and fully utilized the late afternoon for shopping in Ikea and Courts at Tampines before going back to Anchorvale Horizon. On that night we took the lift up to check that available unit that is on top of our list and chanced upon a neighbor smoking at the corridor outside his unit. He and his wife were very nice to let us have a tour in their unit and were full of praises and good comments about both of our units since both units are just beside each other and having almost similar views. That tour made us more eager and desperate to get that unit. We did not feel that way until hearing fantastic reviews from this neighbor. Towards the end of the tour and before saying goodbye, the lady owner asked about our selection date and time and told us to be there early as they experienced queue jumping during their BTO (Build to Order) selection exercise. That was when she also mentioned they did their selection on a Sunday and there might be flats selections on Sunday. I felt my world crashing down. We were extremely horrified when we heard that news. Our hopes of being the first to choose the remaining flats plummeted and fell to rock bottom. Our prediction about 5 couples giving up their chances in the SBF exercise might not be accurate after all! There might be just another 5 couples waiting for their selection on Sunday before us and that means we might not be able to get this dream unit. I felt my lips turn pale and lost all appetite for dinner that night at Pasta Mania. J and I both had a sleepless night.

 

I went to Kwan Im Thong for a piece of mind on that Sunday morning and prayed that if there is selection that Sunday; please let that unit stay unbooked and available for me to book on Monday morning. I started refreshing the HDB webpage on my smartphone every hour to check after I left the temple. Towards the end of the day, I still could not believe our eyes when we affirmed that there were no flats selections on Sunday. We had our doubts on whether the website was down for maintenance and kept our attention there till the next morning.

 

In light to our experience, the SBF exercise is actually different from the BTO exercise as there are not as many applicants and HDB only have appointment for each town every 1-2 days. The other point to note is that there might or might not have flats selections on Sunday and calling HDB to enquire the flat selection status on their working weekdays can help solve all the troubles. They do not entertain calls on weekends and only an auto-answer machine will attend to you.

 

The entire night before 28th April was sleepless too. We were not confident in getting that dream unit after that eventful weekend. We went to HDB hub really early (we were second in the queue for the e-ticketing kiosk) to retrieve our queue number and waited anxiously for our number to be called. Of course, eventually, we did manage to book that dream unit and left HDB for our mini brunch celebration at Wild Honey.