Chapter 4: How Builders Work

It isn't rocket science but it isn't so easy to put the situation in words. I can only say builders here has perfected their skills to make money from you over time.

Imagine yourself navigating through a lane of hawkers. 

Builder 1

"Uncle, 1 kosong prata."

"Eh, nuh nuh nuh, minimum order 2 kosong boss."

Builder 2

"Uncle, I want rice with zhup nia, ok?"

"Eh ah di eh, minimum 1 bak 1 beggie hor, le chuay dai ji sibor?"

Builder 3

"Can I have your order sir?"

"Allo, hi. I wan Big Mac Meel without the drink can?"

"Can, but still same price as Big Mac Meel."

That basically describes the whole situation. However it is still possible to find one to suits your needs. To build Savvy Steve's house, the rule is simple. Find a builder who is willing to exclude the most elements at the lowest price. In simpler terms, the hawker who is willing to sell you white rice + zhup at the lowest price. The reason is very simple. Just by buying your sweet and sour pork from stall 1 elsewhere and fried toufu from stall 2, you would have save thousands or tens of thousands if you know what you are doing. However, it isn't logical to do that because you have to be there each time a different tradie comes in to do his stuff. No one will be willing to expend all his or her annual leave just to open a door for people to work.

And the builders know that. There lies exactly their income opportunities.

The solution is simple. Do the minimum yourself, move in and do the rest. I would be testing the PRC casual worker's theory. Correction. It was actually tried and tested. So I would be emulating that instead. It was the only way I can reduce the damage that Savvy Steve would be inflicting on me. It would not be the first time I am doing something similar anyway so I know I can pull this one off. (*A gentle reminder about holding up a wok when you had the chance to)

The sales representatives I met mocked me. "It is impossible to build a 4 bedroom house under $200," they said.

I'd show them.

Eventually, I got someone to do it for Savvy Steve at $179k. This was the breakdown.

A house with a roof, doors and windows
A closed garage with automatic shutters.
A ducted evaporation cooling system
Water heating system
Hood, hob and oven
Carpentry in kitchen, baths, pantry, 2 x linen robes, 1 walk-in robe in MBR, 1 robe in bedroom
Stone for kitchen and bath tops
A paved Alfresco and Verandah

No pavings everywhere else
No flooring
No window treatment
No interior painting
No telecommunications wiring

Provided by developer:

Front landscaping

How it would look: A house with no floor or paint
Savvy Steve was pleased. There are jokers who quoted me close to $250k to do up everything. Some even told me outright that they couldn't do a 3x2 house with $200k, let alone a 4x2. Ok, then I will work with their impossibility. The equation is simple. if I can do the items under "excludes" under $21k, I win. In fact, I want to do it $10k or less. They can have my middle finger for breakfast. So if anyone tells me it is a stupid idea to take 2 weeks' leave to save $11k, I will ask them to show me where I could earn $11k a fortnight so that I can pay someone to do those jobs. Fuck, even that taxi driver in Singapore takes a month to earn 7,000 bucks.