Archive for Apartment

Synology NAS Drive Purchase

Synology DS214 NAS Drive

Synology DS214 NAS Drive

I always wanted to get a NAS drive – as a way to ‘back-up’ the data (documents, movies, music and other files etc) that I don’t want to lose off my laptop, so I decided to succumb to the cost-effective way of achieving this, by getting a NAS drive.

I previously, did an adhoc data back-up, which resulted in buying standalone USB back-up portable storage drives, and using Norton Ghost or similar to create an image of the hard disk drive to the separate drive, but this has its own limitations. I didn’t do this often enough, and it was a bit difficult to access the files.

Whilst using a NAS drive, I would be able to connect it to my wifi and use the local network to store the personal files and data onto the NAS and then I could look to ensure it is saved with some level of redundancy (mirrored over 2 HDDs) and could then limit the storage on my laptop. In theory, I could also set it up so that I could access the documents from anywhere, securely. But at this time, I didn’t want to open up this function just yet.

I decided to get an Synology after a local electronics store suggested that this was a cost-effective personal storage device name that I could trust. Looking around, I decided to get the Synology DS214 – with a 2-bay storage – and I set it up to mirror across both – meaning that there is at least one back-up of the data each time it is saved. I decided to get two 3TB Western Digital drives – theoretically this means I can get 6TB of storage, but as I mirrored them, this means I only get 3TB storage but mirrored across both HDD for double protection – just what I need!!

I’m glad I did this now (albeit maybe later than i really should), and now should look to try to get the data copied across from my laptop. This should also ‘free-up’ the data on my laptop, and ensure I can clean-it up properly, as it is running quite slow with the limited amount of HDD available on it now.

Would highly recommend getting a NAS drive if you haven’t yet done so – and it’s easy to set-up and use 🙂

SingTel Home Phone Fault

Well it is always annoying when there is an issue with your home line – especially when you are not home to fix it. Luckily the broadband internet and mioTV was still active, and it was just the phone line (which had ‘static’ when you picked up the receiver). Anyway, my mum tried to resolve it but visiting the local SingTel store in Novena Square and they were kind enough to raise a fault with the SingTel Engineers.

My mum was able to arrange an SingTel Engineer to visit my property, they acknowledged that there was a fault outside of my property that would impact the whole building. They went away and we thought after a few days it would be resolved. However, about 4 days later, the fault remained. After I returned, I took over the issue, and noted that there was still not ETA for a resolution – even after contacting the Engineer and them committing to be resolved on the following Monday (which didn’t happen). The Engineer then contacted me on the Tuesday (after a call from me chasing an update) stating that they needed to visit my property again later that day – I said that I would not accept this, as I would only allow another visit once the issue has been resolved (to test the line), but I advised that as it was on the SingTel network, that they don’t need to visit my property to resolve. I didn’t want to waste more time waiting for another Engineer visit to simply tell me that the line issue was still active and the problem was unresolved (silly for them to even offer this ‘solution’?). Anyway, after having a go at the Engineer, they continued to look into the issue and late on Tuesday (after a week of an outage), the phone line was back operational. I did find it amazing that a simply line fault would take 7-8 days to resolve, especially somewhere like Singapore, and especially when the root-cause was previously identified (unless they were unsure whether they had isolated the issue in the first place?)

I then emailed a complaint to SingTel to provide feedback about the service provided and the delays in repairing. I had asked for a month’s compensation, but they offered a 2 week rebate, which I accepted. I guess they know when they do wrong, and at least it wasn’t all bad!

New Apartment Visit – Same Condo, Different Unit

After 2 years in my current condo, my rental lease agreement was up for renewal – so I was keen to see what was available on the market – noting that the ‘housing conditions’ had put the market in the favour of the rentee rather than then landlord – lets see whether this will be the case for me.

I started but trying to negotiate with my current landlord, but I was keen to only renew for one more year (rather than another two years) – he was keen to keep the rent at the same level – he commented that it was a good price having been low to start with, and because I had asked for one year only.

Potential New Option

Potential New Option

I was not that convinced, so started to look around before I responded. I noted that in my current condo, there were a number of smaller units between $2400 – $2800 – so I knew I couldn’t push lower by much, but then I saw that there was a similar sized unit (570 sq ft) for rent – that was priced at $3000 a month. I asked to check the place and went up to have a look – I asked what was the best price he could offer, and he suggested he could push for 2800. I was quite shocked that they were willing to reduce $200 a month to easily, so the landlord must have been keen to rent it out. Anyway, I said I would think about it for the weekend, and then decided to email my current landlord’s agent, who stated that $2900 (current rental) was the best and the landlord would not go lower. I decided to take a risk and email the landlord directly, who responded in a day to state that he was willing to go down to $2800 – a bit interesting that I get a different result when I liaise with the landlord directly isn’t it? 🙂

I started to think about staying, but I decided to visit the new condo unit again with my girlfriend. There were a few pros and cons in both apartments. Lets start with my current one:

Current Unit – Pros:

  • Don’t need to move
  • Don’t need to dry-clean curtains
  • Don’t need to worry about changing addresses in everything
  • Landlord seems pretty nice and responsive
  • Lots of wasted space with the staircase

Current Unit – Cons:

  • Agent is a bit annoying and seems to not communicate effectively or accurately
  • Only partial furnished

And now the new one for comparison…

Potential New Unit – Pros:

  • Cheaper unit
  • A higher floor
  • Fully furnished – also a con due to furniture I’ve purchased!

Potential New – Cons:

  • Need to move
  • Layout is worse than current, bomb shelter is on ground floor
  • No ground floor wash room
  • Staircase location wastes space

The new agent then contacted me for a decision, and I said that I will likely renew with my current unit – and I then preceded with the confirmation. The new agent then stated that the landlord was willing to reduce to $2700 – wow – what a quandary…save another $100 a month. I then presented this to the existing landlord, who then responded saying ‘now what?’ – as the documentation was being prepared. I asked him that I was very keen to move due to the price reduction, but had decided to stay as I preferred to stay with him as the landlord (better the devil you know, as they say). He then responded stating that he will match that price – so I got the same unit, for 1 year renewal, at the $2700 rate – a $200 reduction per month – not bad methinks. I think I could have gone lower, but at least it is a saving.

I now need to sort out the new repayments and get part of my deposit back, as I only need a month’s deposit of the 2 month’s that I currently have settled with the landlord – he owes me $$$ for a change (all of $3100) – haha!

Air Conditioning – New Contract, but a Problem!

Well another year, another air conditioning contract.

I decided to renew with the same company that I used previously last year (Atlantic Engrg & Air Con Services), and thought it would simply be a quick maintenance clean and inspection.  Only to realise that there was a fault with one of the units.

It appeared that there was a warning light showing, and after the maintenance inspection, they advised me that the required work was a chemical clean then refill the gas.  If this doesn’t resolve the fault, then the PCB would need to be replaced.  I checked with the landlord and his agent, and they advised me that the cleaning and gas-refilling was my responsibility and cost, but if the unit had to be repaired / parts replaced, then this would be borne by the landlord.  The quote came back as S$250 chemical clean + S$70 gas refill – ouch!  I had no choice but to settle this.

In addition to this, the annual maintenance cost was S$180 (luckily this was the same price as last year) – again, I have to pay this.

So unfortunately, it was quite an expensive maintenance service this quarter 🙁  Hopefully the next few servicing won’t cost this much!

Atlantic Engrg & Air Con Services
No 41 Toh Guan Road East #07-04
ADL Building
Singapore 608605
Tel: +65 6400 5196

Final Air Conditioning Service for 2013

Well today was the final service of my apartment’s two air conditioning units for 2013. It cost S$180 for the four services, S$45 for each service. That isn’t too bad at all – although I was told that it was pretty cut-throat in the air conditioning service trade, and the cost cutting comes with a price – eg poor servicing, or lack of proper care to the units.

I don’t really care that much, as just want them serviced for the records, and if there is a problem, I can call the landlord’s agent to sort it out 🙂

Anyway, another 3 more month’s and I need to sign up to another annual contract – hopefully it will still be S$180 🙂

Another work from home day at least – haha!

PS I needed that WFH day, I was a bit hung over after last night’s intrepid drinking adventures 🙂

Singapore Smog and Haze – Dreadful

I had previously wondered why there was this burning smell and hazy feel about the place – for the past few weeks, but I didn’t think that much of it.  I knew that the summer heat and the Indonesian fires annually create a risk of haze floating across the Singaporean island, but this year it seemed to have been really bad.

At the beginning of June, the 24 hour PSI rating reached a range of 18-46 – which was healthy and relatively low – this was the normal rating that we would expect to see.  Since 13th June, the haziness and smog clouds started to come across and it got progressively worse each day until earlier last week when it went from “very unhealthy” (200+ PSI), to “hazardous” (300+), it even went past the magic 400 PSI market – which is “very hazardous” during a couple of occassions.  The previous worst smog reading was 226 PSI in 1997.

The worse thing is that we are helpless – we have to breathe, we have to go to work, we have to live – and unfortunately, we have succumbed to someone elses selfiness acts and performance.

Me and My N95 Mask

Me and My N95 Mask

In fact, it appears that all of the fires were manmade, including clearing forests and peat-land to create Palm Oil agricultural farmland.  The irony is that a number of the big customers and ‘land owners’ are from companies who have HQs in Singapore.  I guess, these are the ones to blame, but lets see what happens.

With all this talk about global warming, and environmental damage, I am amazed that our Indonesian friends are still have to get away with clearing land with this very poor and old agricultural technique!  It should be banned, they should be fined and they should be monitored to avoid it happening – it’s happening every year – so really makes me question, whether it is worth being in Singapore when my health is at risk!  Well I am stuck at the moment, so I just have to live and bear it…and hope it doesn’t cause long-lasting damage to my health!

Latest haze forecast are pictured here (live forecast – so will regularly update on this page).

Next 24 Hour Forecast
Source: NEA

Catholic Church – Easter Service

I also managed to find the local Catholic Church – and luckily for me, it was located very conveniently in Novena – down Thomson Road.

I decided to go for the 09:00-10:00SGT service – and it was a very popular church service. The challenge was the outside area with seating was not that ventilated – and it was sticky and hot!

The church mass was very nice and relaxing, and it was good to spend it properly this Easter at a Catholic Church – so glad that I found the place, and hopefully it won’t be as long when I return for my next service.

Air Conditioning Servicing

Well one of the stipulations of my condo contract, like the vast majority of rentals here in Singapore, is that you have to perform quarterly servicing of the Air Conditioning unit.

The previous tenant provided me their invoices from a company – and this was for $70 each time.  I have two units in my apartment, so that worked out to be $35 for each unit.  I knew this was quite expensive, having asked around.  I was told that I should be able to get it between $15-$20 if I shop wisely.  I also knew that an annual service contract would be cheaper.

Anyway, I wanted a bit of consistency in the paperwork, so first contacted the ‘Atlantic Engineering Air-Conditioning’ company, who previously serviced the units for the previous tenant.  They told me that an annual service would be $200 – which equates to $50 a visit, or $25 a unit.  I still wanted it slightly cheaper, so told them about a comporative price where it was quoted as being $17 a unit for an annual contract.  They couldn’t match this, but rather than the inconvenience of phoning around to get a cheaper quote, I accepted their slightly discounted offer of $180 – or $45 a visit, or $22.50 a unit.  That will do 🙂  I am sure I could have found one slightly cheaper, but alas I’ll be happy with this – a few bucks spare to spend on the Guinness!!.

The first visit was scheduled for 21st March, and they came and serviced the units very efficiently.  In 20-30 minutes it was all done.  Sorted for another quarter and sorted for the next year at least!

Home Insurance – Peace of Mind

Well I finally sorted my home insurance – well that should be really content insurance – for my condo apartment. I was concerned about things like my electronics, and clothes etc – and as such I feel it would be good to have peace in mind.

I decided to go to Expat Insurance – and it only cost me S$154 for the appropriate cover that met my needs (another quote was over S$500 – so I got a bit of a saving, by reducing the cover to what I need). I wasn’t keen to go for a huge cover, just enough to come by personal effects.

Regardless, I just hope that nothing happens whilst I am here!

I just now need to get my Travel Insurance sorted – and possibly consider enhancing my Medical Insurance (that I get from Amex) to cover any additional coverage needs that I should consider…remember there is no National Health service here – so everything costs $$$ – which is totally a culture shock for my head!

Old tenant picked-up their furniture

I must admit, it should never be advertised as ‘fully furnished’, as the items that belonged to the previous tenant should not be listed on the property listing.  I think the landlord’s agent wasn’t that truthful, or really understood the definition or the difference – but alas, I gave the feedback 🙂

Well the agreement that I reached with the previous tenant was that they would pick-up their furniture by 15th January, having giving them about 2 and a half weeks grace period.  The challenge is that I didn’t make the purchase straightaway, as Ikea give you a date for delivery which you cannot choose – well at least if you change it, they charge you, so I had to make sure the apartment was clear of the previous furniture before I committed the purchase.  The previous tenant wanted to sell me their second-hand items – the sofa-bed, dining table, 2 dining chairs, 3 cabinets, a book case/side unit, and tv stand – for S$1k – but I said no to this.  Luckily, I didn’t make this purchase, as the items I am looking for only equate to about £$650 which is a nice saving 🙂

So before the Ikea delivery – the apartment looked a bit empty…

On the positive, I was able to use their items (dining table and sofa primarily) whilst they were in my apartment, but I also now need to make a purchase 🙂  So have already looked at the Ikea SG website, and think I know what to buy.

  • Solsta Pällbo Footstool for S$10.90
  • Bjursta Extendable Dining Table S$149.00
  • Lycksele Lövås 2 Seater Sofa-Bed S$315.00
  • Lack Side / Coffee Table S$12.90
  • Börje Dining Chair (x2) S$130.00
  • Laiva TV Bench S$25.90

All for S$643.70 exc S$65 delivery charge.  And I get a S$50 voucher for spending over S$500 🙂

I even managed to build the items myself without major issue…it finally feels like home, and I have some nice new items that make it personal to me now – perfect 🙂

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