Parents of 3 bought an Executive Apartment in Hougang and share purchasing and reno decisions

“Our first home was a 4-room BTO in Sengkang. It had 91 square metres or 980 square feet of space and was conveniently located next to Sengkang MRT. We had wonderful neighbours and enjoyed the accessibility and amenities nearby.

“However, when our estate MOP-ed, we made the difficult decision to start looking for a bigger unit to accommodate our growing family.”

These were J and D’s first words when I asked them where they were staying before moving into their 2nd home – a resale Executive Apartment (EA).

Located on a mid-to-high floor, their new home at Hougang Central is 135 square metres (1453 square feet). It comes with 3 bedrooms, a study, a living and dining area.

Despite leaving their neighbours and wonderful Sengkang neighbourhood behind, J & D soon learned to appreciate the exclusivity of having just 3 units on each floor of their Hougang Central block.

According to D, their new home has a generous, airy open area in front of their block’s common area, which provides additional play space for their children.

J & D's home renovation journey
J & D decided to hack the walls of the original storeroom/shelter to create more space for the dining area. They also took the chance to rewire the 20-year-old house. Notice also the large format tiles, which differ from the storeroom’s tiles. In the end, J & D changed the entire flooring to vinyl at an extra cost.

Doing it for the kids

The married couple, who are in their early 30s, has three children – a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old. Having worked for 8 and 10 years in the Public and Social Services sectors, respectively, J & D felt it was time to move to a larger home.

Of course, they only wanted resale flats with 3 bedrooms, so they have sufficient space to carve out a separate study area.

“Having a separate study area would serve our family’s needs – we will have a conducive space to work remotely, and when the children go to school in future, they can use their learning devices in the designated area,” D told us.

J & D's home renovation journey
This was the Executive Apartment before the storeroom (left door) was hacked, and its flooring overlaid with the vinyl replacement.


J & D's home renovation journey
The living room with new vinyl flooring and an expanded dining area (sans storeroom). Notice also the window, which according to D, required HDB’s permission to change.

J & D’s house search wasn’t just limited to EAs. They considered 5-room (Improved) and Executive Maisonettes too.

They also had other neighbourhood-related criteria.

“Accessibility to the MRT station was also a key consideration for us (maximum 10-minute walk). We also kept in mind the proximity to parents and school options. We grew up in Kovan, and our alma maters are in the vicinity, so Hougang is familiar ground to us. This neighbourhood evokes nostalgia, and we hope to share these memories raising them here too.”



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They went with an EA instead of an Executive Maisonette (EM) partly because of the stairs

When asked about their EM viewings, D shared that they saw many during their search.

“In fact, we made four offers for EMs, but all didn’t work out. While I liked the idea of an EM where the lower floor serves as a generous space for hosting, J prefers an EA for practical reasons such as not having the hassle of climbing stairs.

“Since it was our first time in the resale market, when we encountered the initial rejection of offers or missed opportunities at the earlier stage, it felt disappointing and frustrating.

“In addition, we were hoping to (i) utilise the Enhanced Contra Facility and (ii) minimise the TES period, so this further limited our options.”

The Enhanced Contra Facility allows HDB homeowners to sell their existing flat and buy another resale HDB flat using the sale proceeds and refunded CPF monies. The monies cannot be used for stamp duty and conveyancing fees.

The Temporary Extension of Stay (or TES) is a private arrangement between flat sellers and buyers that allows the sellers more time to move out of their flat after the resale completion. Under this arrangement, the seller can stay up to 3 months after the completion.


J & D's home renovation journey
The dining area where the storeroom used to be.

“Over time, we learned to keep an open mind and heart towards the search process, keeping the faith that we will eventually find the right unit. After four weeks into the house-hunting process, it turns out that this unit we eventually secured is truly a gem for its prime location, and it has unblocked views from all directions.

“In addition, we managed to secure the Proximity Housing Grant as this unit was within 4km of my parent’s home.”

J & D declined to reveal how much they paid for their Executive Apartment, but a check on executive HDB flats (EAs and EMs) in Hougang Central shows an average price of S$936,333 (average psf price of S$619).

A typical EA is usually around 1,475-1,550 square feet, while an Executive Maisonette would range between 1,539 to 1,679 square feet.

Average psf price of EAs in Hougang Central
The average psf price of executive HDB flats in Hougang Central (EAs, EMs) has risen 30.05% over the past 10 years.

Moving house with 3 young kids is no joke

When it came to renovating, moving and juggling the attention of 3 young children, D had to rally the support of her family and friends.

“The house-hunting was done during the period when only 2 visitors were allowed. So our parent(s) took care of the kids during the times we went to view units.

“When renovation commenced, we would occasionally bring 1 child with us to expose him or her to the process of material selection and give him or her a sense of ownership by involving them.

“I was on maternity leave during the moving out phase, so I’d pack our belongings in our old place whenever they were in school because it was often counterproductive to do it when they were around (What’s this? What’s that? Don’t keep my toy!).

“Also, as our family has maximised our temporary extension of stay at our previous BTO, we lived with my parent for four months until the renovation was completed.”

J & D's home renovation journey
The kitchen also had an overhaul. Thankfully, being on a mid-to-high floor helped. The service yard is breezy for laundry. The couple also sealed up the entrance to the common toilet and placed a new door for ease of access via the living room. Take note of the old air condenser in the service yard…

“When renovations were complete, we gave ourselves 2 weeks to clean and unpack a bulk of our belongings to prepare for move-in before bringing the children over.

“During the 2 weeks, we gave ourselves about 3 hours daily (also when the kids go to bed at night) to complete the task we set out to do. This period has honestly been very physically strenuous as we were getting through the days with very little sleep!

“Over 2 weekends, J also got our brother and cousins to help assemble furniture that we got off IKEA and Taobao, while my friends lent me a hand to babysit the children!”

J & D's home renovation journey
J & D shifted their old washer and dryer to their new home. By checking out how their neighbours do it, they also added a laundry sink beside them by relocating the previous old air condenser here to outside the master bedroom.

Advice for other parents with younger kids

D shared that as a couple, always work from your strengths.

For example, her husband, J, is techy, logical and practical. She trusts him and lets him make decisions regarding related areas (e.g. electrical, plumbing, appliances).

On the other hand, D likes things to be aesthetic and functional. Since she uses the kitchen more, he left her to plan and suggest how she’d like things to be organised.

Executive Apartment floorplan
Here’s a typical floorplan for an Executive Apartment. Notice the location of the shelter/storeroom (which J & D has hacked) and the longish living/dining area.

“As working parents, we have so many things on our minds and responsibilities to juggle. Towards the end of the renovation journey, fatigue was setting in. There were times when J and I would be too tired to discuss, yet some things were time-sensitive, and we had to talk them through.”

J & D's home renovation journey
One of the bedrooms has an angled wall, and the previous owner built a platform bed around it to maximise storage space. To see their kids transition over the coming years, J & D opted for modular furniture so they can reconfigure the space in the future. Instead of painting the walls, they added wallpaper they bought from Taobao.

Reusing old furniture from their BTO flat

Part of the renovation also saw D reusing pieces of furniture from their first home.

The couple blended them with their new interior décor, as these pieces of furniture are symbols of memories from their past.

Also, since J & D often head outdoors, cycle and visit the parks nearby, having suitable amenities in the neighbourhood play a critical part. It is also useful to know when new infrastructures are planned in the coming years, as they impact the children’s growing-up years.

“We used to ride here (in Hougang) using the park connectors. There is also the public swimming complex and library nearby. We are thrilled by the wide variety of coffeeshop, bakeries and shophouse stalls selling fruits & vegetables in our new neighbourhood – more value-for-money options as compared to Sengkang.

“While this was not part of our criteria or planning, we realised that Hougang MRT will be part of the upcoming Cross-Island Line, so it was a bonus! By the time this new MRT line is ready, our children will be teens and benefit from the greater accessibility to get around independently.

“We enjoy hosting our family and friends at our place; hence we designed our home to have a large communal space where the dining, living and study area flows.

“My children enjoy reading, and I look forward to setting up a cosy reading nook for them. With a bigger kitchen than before, J now gets a dedicated corner in our kitchen for his coffee brewing hobby.”

J & D's home renovation journey
The final look of the children’s bedroom after renovations. One of their children chose the door knobs for the IKEA cabinets.

Key lessons as 2nd-time homebuyers with children

  • Go with modular or loose pieces of furniture for the children’s bedrooms. This future-proofs the space such that it can be versatile for parents to change the furniture according to their children’s needs and life stages.
  • For safety, install temporary grilles to allow parents to remove them when their children are older.
  • Add rounded corners for the cabinetry where there is more movement and a higher risk of knocking into those areas.

“We hope this home will be a safe refuge for our family to return to daily and a haven for those who enter. We look forward to hosting family and friends here as a place where we create many fond memories together.

“We also hope to inculcate a culture of hospitality in our children so that we will be welcoming towards others.”

Have you sold or bought your house recently? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this article, check out Couple renovated their 4-room Teck Whye HDB resale flat to perfectly reflect their personalities and House-hunting couple shares key selling points that sealed the deal when they viewed a 5-room Belvia DBSS flat at Bedok Reservoir.

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