Retired couple found an ideal home in Iskandar

Retired couple Max and Noarma Honegger fell in love in Singapore, got married in Australia and built a house in South Africa.

These days, they are putting up their feet in Iskandar. The pair - he is Swiss and she is Singaporean - have no regrets about making the move to East Ledang, a gated community in Nusajaya, even though the journey there was not always smooth-sailing.

The couple had initially wanted to retire in South Africa. They spent a lot of money building their dream home on the savannah, where they could watch zebras graze outside their windows. But the crime rate got so bad there that they decided to move to Asia. They eventually zoomed in on Malaysia and East Ledang, developed by UEM Land.

They were impressed with the showrooms and prices at the development and signed a deal to buy a two-storey house in 2008.

But problems emerged.

"A lot of things were not done right at the house - there were defects - and the way they handled the issues was bad," said the 69-year-old Mr Honegger.

There were leaks and cracks in the walls, and the drains around the house were filled with rubble and construction debris. "The first time I entered the house, I made a list of the defects and there were 80 items," he said.

Worse still, although UEM staff inspected the flaws, it took about six months before they were fixed. He added: "We couldn't start with our interior renovation and our move was delayed by one year, which was frustrating."

But the couple is quick to point out that the situation has improved greatly. All the problems have been fixed and UEM is much better at responding to residents' feedback, said Mrs Honegger, 54.

The developer is also doing a better job of maintaining common areas, she added.

"It was UEM's first time building a housing development like this, so it had a learning curve."

UEM Land chief executive Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said the firm has been fine-tuning its standards along the way.

He said: "We are committed to meeting our buyers' expectations and pride ourselves on continually improving our quality and service to ensure a delightful experience for our customers."

The couple are so happy with their home that they have told their friends from around the world to join them in Iskandar.

"It's convenient and the people are friendly. There's space, unlike in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Malacca, which are all so busy," said Mrs Honegger.

"We enjoy the peace and quiet. The only noise you get here is the sound of the grass cutter."

The couple travel frequently but when they are at home, their days are peaceful and relaxed. "In the morning, I go for a swim, check my e-mail messages or go for a roti canai breakfast," said Mr Honegger.

"Then I read books, which I never had time to do before, and just potter around.

"Overall, if you were to ask me if I'm happy here, then my answer would be an unqualified 'yes'."

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