Chapter 19: Blacking Out

$1,500 for crap
The builder asked me if I wanted "window treatment" for only a low price of $1,500. Simi si window treatment? Jen nudged and whispered, "Curtain nah." The sales consultant said, "We will be giving you aluminmum Venetian blinds with a large colour selection. My mind wandered off to the rental house we used to live in Gosnells before I met Savvy Steve the Evil. Didn't remember which goondu went to twist the ends of Venetian blinds slabs. They became permanently crocked. Why did anyone expect me to pay $1,500 for shit like that? Sure, they had options. They could provide anything you asked for, at a higher price of course. I didn't want to find out.

I spent less than $200 at the last HDB flat using IKEA curtains. They didn't look great but were functional for 4 years and counting. I wouldn't expect to shrink the budget to that level here. I would also like to try something different. I declined the window treatment offer by the consultant. I did no prior market research but I was sure I could do something better at a lower price.

Some friends recommended cheap sources. However the drawback was that I might not be able to get the correct size I needed. Thus, I would need to perform all the alteration myself. As I hardly have enough time to finish the core tasks, I decided to look elsewhere. Somehow, I came across a website that claimed to provide good window treatment with customised sizes. I took a quick look at their products. Everything was clearly priced and I didn't have to ask for a stupid quote. What a find!

Over the few days, I kept putting pressure on Jen to order from them. I decided on roller blinds. Hardcore full block out ones, because I needed an option to live in darkness. There was a 60% sale on one of the fabric (not so nice colour of course) and I decided to take advantage of it.

"You going to fix them yourself ah?" Jen asked.

"Of course, I am going to fix them myself," I replied. There was a reason why shitty aluminum Venetian blinds could cost me $1,500. The legendary labour charge, what else?

I was slightly nervous about ordering them online. It wasn't a few dollars' worth of goods after all. Fortunately, they arrived after 1 week. I was really happy. Everything seemed great. We decided on roller blinds. Well they looked pretty neat, no flaps flapping around, something different for a change.

I took 3 days to finish all the blinds. 1 Saturday and 2 afternoons after work. I didn't realise I had that many windows around the house. The first few installations were difficult because of the angle I was forced to drill, due to the position of the hole I needed that was almost at the edge. It took me a while to get the hang of it, as well as getting familiar with drilling and installing screws in bricks instead of the usual concrete walls we had in Singapore.

It was a surprisingly satisfying experience, if you could imagine the first blind I installed was in the late afternoon, at the window facing North-West. Imagine how pleasing it was to close the blinds, totally blocking out the strong sunlight in early Autumn. That gave me the motivation to move on from one window to another window.

I didn't spent a single cent on the paving jobs so far, because I was using pavers left over from the builder and discarded sand from the sites nearby. However, these blinds put a further dent in my war chest by $650.

Therefore my expenditure so far would be approximately: (if my memory serves me)

Building 4 x 2, including front verandah and covered alfresco, automatic shutter closed garage, evaporative air conditioner, essastone tops for kitchen and baths: $173,000
Flooring: $2,400 for flooring
Painting: $400
Tiling: $310
Blinds: $650
Damn: $178,760 already

Savvy Steve was pleased when I met him. "You didn't spend that much building my house, did you?" I shook my head silently. Though I might not spend a lot, as compared to the others, there price I had to pay was still the same. It was heavy like lead, trust me on that.