Brian Kow and Jude Kow co-founded Nic & Wes Builders in 2002 with the aim of simplifying design and build construction services, including house reconstruction and renovation in Singapore. With a forte in landed residential properties, it is a one-stop-shop that provides services from conceptualisation to completion of lifestyle homes that encompass practicality, functionality and aesthetics.
Within the company, Brian’s role is akin to being the captain of a ship as he steers the entire business organisation and direction while his wife Jude acts as an advisor with a flair for decorating.
How do you define a lifestyle home?
Brian: It is working around the family’s needs and tap into their aspirations to create an abode that would pull them home rather than going out. A home where people want to come back to and have their own space to enjoy for themselves.
Jude: To me, a lifestyle home has to have all the luxuries of a home, for example, a swimming pool, gym or movie room. When everything you need is under one roof, no matter how small the house is, you would not need to go out. If you like to entertain, we would design a semi-shaded roof terrace with inviting communal spaces, counter tops, and even a bar or barbeque area to make it conducive to host guests. If you enjoy working from home, we can provide a nice office space within the house. It depends on what the clients want and, from there, we try to make a lifestyle home for them.
What are the common types of lifestyle homes?
Brian: There are so many kinds of lifestyle homes, so let me break it down into three general categories—heritage; tropical; and modern or ultra-modern. Heritage homes, which mostly comprise black-and-white colonial houses and Peranakan houses in Singapore, are very detailed with fanlights, decorative pillars and intricate tiling among others, due to the fusion of East and West elements. These types of homes often come with pitched roofs. For tropical and resort-style homes, they embody a lot of earthy tones; stone feature walls; greenery; water features; and timber. These elements are usually further enhanced by warm and white light. Modern or ultra-modern homes generally have metal roofs, sometimes with very interesting curved profiles, lots of glass and laser-cut screens to create a luxe charm.
Are sustainable materials or sourcing of local materials a priority in the decision-making process?
Brian: There is a lot of awareness of sustainable materials but I do not think it has filtered down to private landed houses at the moment. I think you would see this happening more in the industrial, commercial or hospitality businesses where the authorities legislate that you should incorporate sustainable materials. The awareness is filtering down very slowly to the private residential sector. However, there is some level of curiosity among homeowners about sustainability. One that stands out would be solar power because the prices of photovoltaic materials have dropped quite a bit; at the same time, energy prices have just shot up. For example, out of 10 new houses that we build today, at least five or six of them would want to install some form of photovoltaic system.
This is an excerpt. The original article is published in
Construction+ Q4 2022 Issue: Year End (Review & Forecast).
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