Family of 4 upgraded to an Executive Maisonette (EM) for more space for the kids to play

Mr and Mrs Teo felt that their first home, a 93 sqm (1,001 sq ft) 4-room HDB BTO flat, had little room for their kids to play and run around. After much discussion, the couple decided to search for a bigger unit: either an HDB Executive Maisonette (EM) or an Executive Apartment (EA).

“We are actually fine with either an EM or EA, but since the children are also living with us, we felt that they should have a say, and they prefer to have stairs. So that’s why we went for an EM.

“And both of us like the idea of segregating the bedrooms from the communal space, which meant that the EM was the obvious choice.”

Found the right home after more than 10 viewings

But for Mr Teo, a civil servant, and Mrs Teo, a stay-home mum, the house-hunting process wasn’t a walk in the park. It wasn’t easy to find one that met all their criteria.

Here are their must-haves:

  • No west sun
  • Close to amenities
  • Away from the main road
  • Centralised rubbish chute

“The rubbish chute has to be outside of the unit, which is not common for older flats,” the couple emphasised.

After more than 10 viewings, the couple, both in their 30s, found an EM that met all their criteria and bought it in 2020. Located in the west, the 26-year-old maisonette has a floor area of 1,550 sq ft, spacious enough for the kids to run around freely.

teohomies' executive maisonette during renovation
Living room, dining area and kitchen during renovation. Image credit: Mr and Mrs Teo

Besides its size, the couple was attracted to the location of the unit, as it’s accessible to nearby amenities.

“The nearby amenities in the neighbourhood are an important factor in our decision to get a resale HDB unit as we prefer an open community, not a gated one.”

The couple also like that the area is very peaceful and quiet, as it’s further away from the main road. Both of them don’t like crowds, and want the second home to be as tranquil as possible.

“Another consideration was to be further away from the main road as it can be quite noisy at night, as we faced similar problems at our first home.”

“Most importantly, the current home gave us good vibes (something which we can’t explain in words) during the house viewing. A small tip is to check out your neighbours if possible, before buying any resale unit.”

The couple went on to reveal that they had actually wanted to get a corner unit for more privacy, but couldn’t find one that gave them good vibes.

Did not go for a condo as the family prioritise space

The Teo family did consider going for a condominium as their second home, and had actually gone for several viewings. However, the size of the units were all too small and far from their ideal size.

They felt that the price was too hefty; it wasn’t worth paying more for less space.

“Both of us are also not the ‘sporty person’ who will use the facilities, except for the kids who would use the swimming pool.”

After weighing the pros and cons, they still felt that space was the most important factor. So they decided to settle with an EM for their second home.

Openness of the communal area allows interaction with the kids, and for them to run around freely

When asked for their favourite part of the house, Mr and Mrs Teo shared that they love the openness of the communal area. Not only does this allow interaction with their kids, but it also provides them with the space to run around freely in the house.


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The couple had hacked away the study room and kitchen wall to combine the space, making it more airy, spacious and breezy.

teohomies renovation, where they hacked the study room
The couple hacked the walls of the study room to create an open concept kitchen. Image credit: Mr and Mrs Teo

They also had a peninsula constructed to separate the open concept kitchen and dining area.

Another favourite is the balcony, where the couple had installed a Ziptrak. It allows them to have the flexibility to keep it open when it’s not raining.

“We also considered installing window panels back then, but decided otherwise due to the cleaning involved. Nonetheless, it’s really airy with the open-top balcony and allows direct sunlight to shine through.”


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They also like the ‘lazy corner’ in the house, where there’s a hammock for them to sit and read a book, chit chat, or have a drink during the weekends or after a long day at work.

Spent S$50k on renovation

Another attribute of the unit that made the Teo family say yes to it was its good condition (“The previous owner proclaimed to be very finicky”), so it didn’t need much renovation.

Instead, the couple decided to keep the main and bedroom doors, as well as the wardrobes in the bedrooms.

Nevertheless, some things had to be replaced. While the bathroom was in good condition, they had all the fixtures and accessories changed.

The couple also had the flooring of the entire house overlaid, but kept the tiles of the dining area, kitchen and balcony. All these helped them save on renovation costs.


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At the same time, the renovation experience wasn’t that smooth sailing for the couple, sharing that it’s inevitable to have disagreements on the design concepts.

“My husband is a perfectionist, so the interior designers (IDs) did have a difficult time with him haha.”

Still, the couple managed to keep the renovation costs low, spending around S$50k. But this was also because the EM will not be their forever home.

The EM won’t be a forever home?

The Teos had decided to move to an EM so their kids would have a bigger space to play and run around.

However, the couple believe that when their children are in their teens, the space in the EM wouldn’t be well-utilised. So they plan to downsize and get a smaller unit when the time comes.


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“We foresee the kids will probably hide in their rooms, so the space that our current EM has may not be well-utilised.

“Nonetheless, for our dream house, we aspire to have an unblocked view, with a balcony where we can chill, drink coffee, and grow some plants and gardening.”

Insights and advice on buying a resale maisonette

We’ve also asked Mr and Mrs Teo for any insights they’ve gained through buying their current home and advice to share.

  • It’s important to check the property prices (listed and transacted), application procedures and reviews before buying a property.
  • Plan early on how long you intend to live in the house, as it could affect your budget for it and its renovation cost. Make sure to buy within your means, as it’s pointless to stretch your finances for a house.
  • Sit down with your spouse to make a list of criteria for your new home and discuss whether some can be compromised. This will make the process much more enjoyable and smooth sailing.
  • If you’re planning to sell the unit in future, you can consider retaining some of the fixtures from the previous owner (depending on the condition) and save on the renovation cost.
  • Shortlist the EMs that were recently renovated. Those that require a complete overhaul can easily incur a renovation cost of S$100k.
  • Keep in mind that living in an EM is good for exercising with the staircase, but it’s not for those with weak knees haha.


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  • Look for an ID with years of experience, strong company background and a good portfolio. They should also be able to provide solutions that satisfy both parties.
  • Do some research on what’s trending, and be open to consider options presented that may enhance the look and feel of the house.


Bought a house recently? Share with us your home-buying experience in the comments section below.

If you found this article helpful, recommends From being single to raising a family: 32-year-old exec shares her home-buying condo journey from Serangoon Gardens to Lentor Modern and Family of 4 upgraded to a 27-year-old HDB Executive Apartment (EA) without doing a full reno.

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