Rabu, 01 Februari 2012

The Nautical (Review)

The wife and I was at the sales gallery of The Nautical (Tan: this one's for you!). This is the latest 99-year leasehold project by China developer MCC Land located along Sembawang Road (District 27).

We would have liked to get to this one sooner, but the wife had taken ill for a couple of weeks and  I simply cannot do this without my "partner in crime". And then came the Chinese New Year. ANYWAY... 

For those unfamiliar with the location of The Nautical, the project is sandwiched between the (new/rebuilt) Sembawang Shopping Centre on one side and Canberra Residences (another private residential project by MCC Land that was launched early of last year) on the other. Entrance to The Nautical will be along Jalan Sendudok, which is a slip road between Nautical and Canberra. The sales gallery for The Nautical is located on an open field diagonally across the road from its actual site.

And for those who are more visually inclined, below is a photo (taken from the HDB block across from the showflat) showing the locations of all the "landmarks" mentioned earlier.

The Nautical is a low-rise development consisting of 435 apartment units, spreading across a whopping 17 blocks of 5-storey each. And unilke many of the new project these days, the bulk of the units at The Nautical are 3-bedroom apartments. These come in two types: 3-bedroom (standard) and 3-bedroom (premium).

So what are the differences between the two 3-bedder types, you ask? The 3-bedroom (premium) comes with:
                          • a utility and additional bathroom in the yard area
                          • a "dry" kitchen area

For those who are looking at 4-bedders, there are only 16 units of such type within the development (unless you wish to conisder the penthouses). Consolation is out of the 16, only 4 (ok, maybe 5) have been sold thus far - the wife and I have a theory on why this is so, which we will share in due course.

Click on the link below to get general info and unit type/size details on The Nautical:

The sales gallery was rather empty when we arrived, probably because it was a weekday afternoon. There are 2 showflat types on display within the gallery, i.e. the 3- and 4-bedder, ground-floor units. Since most of the units in The Nautical are 3-bedders, we will focus on this unit type for the purpose of our review.

As you enter the unit, you have a choice of turning left into the yard/wet kitchen (one of two entry points) or walking forward into the living/dining area. The living/dining room is a longish rectangular area and given the size, small furnitures are probably in order. You get 60cm x 60cm homogenous-tile floor (which comes with a choice of "warm" or "cool" color themes) and 2.9m ceiling height (3.1m for ground-floor units).

The apartment comes with both "wet" and "dry" kitchen area (sorry about the poor photo quality). Given the size of the apartment (i.e. interior space of no more than 1,000sqft), we actually prefer that the developer dispense with the dry kitchen as it will free up more space for the living/dining area. The "standard" 3-bedder, coincidentally, do not have a dry kitchen.

The "wet" kitchen is a small strip of an area, which is probably just sufficient for one person to work in. In terms of appliances, you get "Electrolux" hood/hob and oven. You also get an induction hob on the "dry" kitchen table-top. However, you have to purchase your own fridge. The other thing that we do not quite like about the kitchen are the cabinets, which come with "standard" hinges (slam! slam!).

The utility room will require a customized bed if intended for housing your helper. There is an additional bathroom next-door and an a space to house your washing machine. The yard is well ventilated by a set of windows, which also means that you probably can hang your laundry out of the window (we apologize again for the photo quality).

Again for the benefits of the visually inclined, below is a photo showing the orientation of each of the living spaces within the apartment.

Both the common bedrooms are tiny - you have hardly any space left after putting in the wardrobe and single bed. Maybe that is the reason why the interior designer had resorted to putting the standing hanger in the balcony!

The common bathroom is fairly good-sized and comes with homogenous-tile floors and ceramic walls. It also comes with bathroom/toilet fittings from "Roca" and "Bravat" and a standing shower stall. The wife and I found the overall design of the common bathroom somewhat basic and the color theme a tad too "plain"

The master bedroom is (you guessed it) small - again the wardrobe and Queen size practically take up all the space within, which is probably why you need to put your writing table in the blacony (?!) The developer should really find more "creative" ways to maximimze spaces within the rooms, rather than coming up with ideas that might look nice in the showflat but absolutely impractical in reality...

The master bathroom is good-sized and we liked the color scheme and design much better (than the common bathroom). However, you still get the same homogenous-tile floors/ceramic walls and shower-stall with your "standard" wall-mounted shower.

Price wise, a  1,119sqft 3-bedder unit on the 2nd floor will cost you $984,200 after a 5% discount. This translates to about $880psf. Prices to increase by about $10K with each floor up.

What we like:
• One can access the yard/wet kitchen area as you enter the main door, without having to walk across the living/dining room. This is especially handy when you are carrying all those fish/meat/vegetable bought from the wet-market.

• All the rooms are regular-shaped with no odd nooks or corners that you need to worry about.

What we dislike:
• The size of the living/dining area and all bedrooms are too small for our liking. But we reckon this is the "sacrifice" you have to make when you fit a 3-bedder apartment inside an internal space of less than 1,000sqft.

• The wife and I are perplexed by the rather huge A/C ledge that comes with each apartment - this is a space that you have little/no use but still have to pay for.

• We are not particularly impressed by the quality of finishing and fittings as seen in the showflat. Then again, maybe this is what we should expect with apartments of less than $1,000psf these days?

• Although the balcony/PES area in the showflat are clearly demarcated, the blatant use of balcony area for inappropriate purposes (writing desk?) to make the showflat looked more "spacious" is rather disappointing.

• Despite the "many" different types of facilities that you will supposed get at The Nautical, we can identify nothing with a "wow" factor. What you get are just "run of the mill" offerings with fancier names. And for a rather sizable project of over 400 units, we would expect at least one tennis court but there are none. (* We stand corrected - There IS a tennis court within the development afterall, as correctly pointed out by one of our readers. It is up on the rooftop of Block 99 so you may want to reconsider about stacks #97 - 102 if you are looking at apartments on the fourth floor, i.e. the tennis court is right above these units. Anyhow, we apologize for the oversight! *)

• One of the main selling point of The Nautical is that the project is supposedly "within walking distance" to the Sembawang MRT Station. However, the distance is at least 2 bus-stops away and probably a good 15 - 20mins' walk (and we don't mean a leisurely stroll). So if you intend on taking public transport, chances are that you will find the buses along Sembawang Road a more convenient option. (* We were informed by another reader that there will be a condo bus plying The Nautical & Sembawang MRT Station - something that was omitted by the marketing agent and which we forgot to ask. Seems like we are getting a tad "rusty" on our facts gathering! *)

For those of you still waiting for our theory on the 4-bedder "take-up rate" (or the lack thereof): if you look closer at our photo of the scale-model of The Nautical, you will realize that ALL the 4-bedders are East-West facing. This means that your apartment will feel very much like a sauna on a hot humid Singapore afternoon, as it gets the full impact of the West sun.

Our Parting Shot:
We have heard alot about The Nautical and its supposed strong take-up rate before our trip to the showflat. But based on what we have seen, we are not at all impressed by the offerings. To be fair, the average psf price of below $900psf is probably one of the most attractive around. This is especially when compared to other new projects currently in the market ($980 - $1,500psf for Watertown in Punggol?!). However, the location of The Nautical (rather "ulu" and far from everything else except Sembawang Shopping Centre) and the quality of the project have left little to be desired.

Given such, we reckon The Nautical will probably only appeal to those currently living around Sembawang or nearby areas. As for the rest of us...there are always other projects that you can look at.

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