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clock 24-06-2020
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Building a Dream: Turning a House Into a Home

As Malaysians everywhere settle in after the Movement Control Order, it’s a good time to look at the places which we call “home”.

Home can mean a lot of things. For many, home is where the heart is. For others, it’s just a place to keep their things. Still others may not be lucky enough to have a home to call their own.

To Mike and Felicia, “home” didn’t come easily. After getting their keys, it would still take seven months of hard work and renovations to turn their house into their dream home – moving in just before they got married.

Not just a bed of roses

While there are plenty of horror stories about renovations, Mike shares that theirs wasn’t so bad. However, he stresses that homeowners should be ready for problems during the process.

“You imagine one thing, and when it comes out differently, you need a backup plan. Let’s say you ordered a particular type of tile, and the wrong one turns up. You have to return it, and this process will cause delays,” he says.

“Altogether, it eats up more renovation time. Then, there was the issue of managing the contractor and his timeline. Towards the last three weeks, there were 20 men in the house. It was like a warzone.”

Thankfully, Mike’s experience in the home industry with design and co-living management firm Hive Builders helped see the couple through their renovation journey.

Sharing a dream and making it a reality

They started by surfing the PropertyGuru and Pinterest platforms for interior ideas. From there, they compared notes, working on the vision of their dream home together.

“We visualised the type of wallpaper we should use, what sort of tiles we needed, and basically every other minute detail,” says Felicia.

Overall, their renovations involved expanding the front porch and adding more built-up space towards the back yard. They also knocked down walls to combine two rooms upstairs into a larger space.

Following the principles of feng shui, they also relocated certain doors to improve the flow of energies throughout the house.

Finally, Mike used his home industry experience to install smart home fittings. These included smart switches and IoT (Internet of Things) appliances, along with automated interior mood settings for lights and curtains.

Sticking it out through thick and thin

Wanting the perfect home to move into with Felicia after their wedding, Mike undertook some of the renovations himself. This included the front porch, which he expanded to fit two cars, tearing down existing porch pillars to make room.

However, with business taking up the lion’s share of his resources, he employed third-party contractors to settle about 80% of the renovation work.

Managing the contractors was a challenge by itself, but the couple also had to find a place to stay during the renovation process, which took longer than planned. 

“We were like nomads. At the start, we stayed in a vacant house we had in Puchong for a few months. It was a bare unit, with only one water heater, one aircon, one mattress, two chairs, a table and some lights,” says Mike.

“However, we got an offer to buy that house, so we let it go. Then we had to move in with a friend who agreed to take us in. We stayed in their living room.”

Thankfully, the renovations for their home finished a couple days before their wedding. Even after moving in, though, there were still challenges to overcome.

“Because it’s an older house, you can’t pinpoint some issues until you move in. So we only found out we had leaks when it rained very heavily,” says Mike, laughing with Felicia.

A home to call their own

Even though the journey was long and tiring, the couple are thrilled to finally be living in their dream home. Most importantly, it reflects both their tastes and personalities because they shared the renovation journey.

“I think it’s important that you communicate clearly and that you monitor progress very closely, as what you imagine and what the other person imagines might be very different,” says Felicia. 

Mike and Felicia’s perseverance has paid off for the couple, and they have no plans to move out of their new home anytime soon, unless they need to find a bigger place for a growing family. 

Like marriage, finding, financing and furnishing your house into a home isn’t always a bed of roses. But with commitment and hard work, everyone can build a home to look forward to – even if they're stuck in it for a month!

This article is part of a PropertyGuru series sharing the stories of everyday Malaysians who have beaten the odds to find their own homes. By showcasing their experiences, it hopes to inspire more Malaysians in their home ownership journeys, as the 18 March Movement Control Order puts the spotlight on home and family.

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