Serial investor and entrepreneur George Lim’s latest luxury bungalow has just been put on the market. It is likely to set yet another benchmark in the Good Class Bungalow segment that he has been in for more than a decade.
Singaporean George Lim has developed 11 Good Class Bungalows (GCBs) in the past 12 years, starting with a series of three on Belmont Road in 2006, followed by two on Leedon Road, three on Leedon Park, one on Second Avenue, another on Binjai Park and the latest on Jervois Hill.
Along the way, he has also developed and designed a semi-detached house on a 10,000 sq ft land area in Serangoon Gardens for his wife’s cousin and a small detached house at Sunset Place for his brother-in-law. In total, Lim has developed 13 houses.
Lim: I always look for something new and try to create something different for each house (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Yet, he does not see himself as a developer, but a GCB investor instead. He regards the GCB on Jervois Hill as his “sole investment property” in Singapore today.
As it is the last of his GCB creations, it is his swan song. He has taken his time to develop the house, which has even broken new ground in terms of materials used. “I always look for something new and try to create something different for each house that I build,” he says. “I try not to repeat what I’ve done in my earlier houses. Each new house is an improvement on the last. That’s the benefit of having developed so many bungalows.”
He purchased the 15,094 sq ft, freehold site on Jervois Hill six years ago when it was a vacant plot, similar to its two neighbouring sites. Lim liked the site because of its regular shape and its exclusive neighbourhood, with the High Commission of Brunei Darussalam located behind it.
The property on Jervois Hill marks the latest collaboration between Lim and architect Pau Loh, managing partner of Tellus Design. Loh was with Liu & Wo Architects when he designed the first five GCBs that Lim developed: a series of three on Belmont Road and two on Leedon Road.
The entrance of the Good Class Bungalow at 3 Jervois Hill has a swimming pool and a basement garage for up to 10 cars (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Pièce de résistance
Lim plays a big part in the design of all his GCBs, however, as he looks at it from the perspective of a GCB homeowner. He believes that, for GCB owners, it is important to have a “wow factor” or several factors that make a statement.
A key feature of all the houses that he has developed is a garage big enough to hold a collection of super cars. At the GCB on Jervois Hill, the architect capitalised on the sloping terrain to create a basement car park big enough for 10 cars. In addition to the basement garage, the sloping terrain allowed for the creation of a swimming pool with a “seethrough” acrylic wall.
Swimming pool fronting the formal dining room (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Another standout feature is the façade of the house, with vertical fins spanning the entire second level. Each vertical fin is more than 4m in height, with teakwood panelling on one side and travertine on the other. The use of two different materials creates texture, but beyond aesthetics, the vertical fins also serve as a shading device. “They cost at least $3,000 each,” says Lim.
The 4m vertical fins (above) that span the entire second level of the house (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The pièce de résistance of the house is the floating staircase in the entrance hall, which is both a work of art and an innovation. To achieve a sculptural look using acrylic, a giant oven was temporarily built in the basement to heat the acrylic to a temperature high enough for it to be shaped. It is an engineering feat that Lim is proud of.
Main feature at the entrance hall is the sculptural staircase of acrylic (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Lim even had two spiral-shaped glass chandeliers custom-made to complement the floating staircase: One hangs from the double volume ceiling of the entrance hall and the other in the stairwell. “I saw this chandelier design in a magazine, and I liked it so much that I snapped a picture of it,” he says.
As the chandelier featured in the magazine was too small for his property, Lim had the dimensions enlarged and sent his specifications, along with the picture, to a manufacturer in China. The manufacturer did the drawings based on Lim’s requirements and sent it back to him for approval. When the chandeliers arrived in Singapore and were installed in the house, they were exactly what he wanted. They have a motorised mechanism that enables them to be raised or lowered using a remote control. This allows ease of replacing lights or cleaning, explains Lim. The chandelier is of fibre-optic glass.
The customised chandelier at the entrance hall (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The entire house has three levels, including the basement. The highlight of the basement is the wall aquarium — with up to 800 fish — in the games room. The basement also contains a home theatre, a guest bedroom with en suite bathroom as well as a helper’s en suite room. There are also a wine cellar, store room and chauffeur’s room next to the garage; and a changing room and bathroom accessible via a spiral staircase from the swimming pool.
To the left of the entrance hall, on the first level, is the formal living room, which overlooks the garden and the koi pond. To the right of the entrance hall is the formal dining room, which can comfortably seat 20. It has glass sliding doors that open out to the swimming pool; it also has a concealed sliding door separating it from the family room and patio.
The family room and adjoining dry and wet kitchen (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
The family room is also next to the dry and wet kitchen, which is fully equipped with predominantly Gaggenau kitchen appliances ranging from steam to baking ovens, a refrigerator and ice maker, as well as dishwasher. The kitchen also comes with a concealed, spacious walk-in pantry with built-in dehumidifier and air-conditioner for temperature and humidity control.
The kitchen with predominantly Gaggenau-branded kitchen appliances (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Luxury of space
On the second level of the house is anotherfamily room with a pantry as well as five bedrooms, including the junior master suite and master suite. The common bedrooms have en suite bathrooms and a walk-in wardrobe with a built-in dehumidifier. The junior master suite is ideal for children who are married but who still want to live with their parents, says Lim. It has a large walk-in wardrobe and spacious bathroom with a bath tub and double- sink vanity top.
The master bedroom at the other end of the hallway has an even bigger walk-in wardrobe and dressing room leading from the en suite bathroom, which also has “his and hers” sinks, a bathtub as well as separate shower and water closet compartments.
The master bedroom and adjoining walk-in wardrobe (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua/EdgeProp Singapore)
Lim designed the GCB with sustainable features, including 300 solar panels on the rooftop, outdoor decking of nyatoh timber, which is a renewable source of wood, and swimming pool ionisers, which replace the use of chlorine. The home also comes with smart-home features. Lim has applied for Green Mark Platinum certification, the highest accolade under the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark rating system for green features. In fact, the last five GCBs that Lim built also received the Green Mark Platinum award.
Lim’s asking price for the house on Jervois Hill is $45 million. He deems it a reasonable price, as it would cost $28 million just to buy the piece of land, and another $14 million to $15 million to build the house to the same specifications. K H Tan, managing director of Newsman Realty and specialist in luxury bungalows, has been appointed sole marketing agent for the GCB. So far, he has received two offers of up to $40 million for the house, both of which Lim has turned down.
“George Lim is not your typical developer,” concedes Tan. “He is more of an investor who develops GCBs as a hobby. He tries to build the best house for each site.”
The Good Class Bungalow has already received offers of $40 million, but both have been turned down (Credit: Samuel Isaac Chua)
Over the years, Tan has represented Lim in the sale of all his GCBs except the first series of three on Belmont Road. In fact, almost all the GCBs sold have achieved benchmark prices in their respective neighbourhoods. In the latest sale, a GCB on Leedon Park went for $37 million.
On Binjai Park, Tan also set the highest psf price when he sold Lim’s GCB for $31 million ($1,550 psf) in April 2012. It is still the highest price psf on Binjai Park today. In 2013, Tan sold Lim’s GCB on Second Avenue for $37 million, which was a record in the neighbourhood in terms of absolute price; at $1,851 psf, it was also a record in terms of price psf.
Tan cites several reasons for Lim’s GCBs’ achieving benchmark prices in their respective neighbourhoods: “He purchases land in good locations and makes sure they are regular in shape. He pays a lot of attention to detail, from the design of the house to selection of quality materials, luxury fittings and, more importantly, to the layout of the property. His houses are not just luxurious but functional. That’s why they command a premium.”
Tan: George Lim is more of an investor who develops GCBs as a hobby (Credit: EdgeProp Singapore)
If Lim achieves his asking price of $45 million for the house on Jervois Hill, he is likely to set a new record for the neighbourhood, adds Tan.
Lim certainly has a knack for developing GCBs and setting benchmarks for them.