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nokomis

Renovation Works

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We've just purchased a corner terrace and are making our first stabs at costing a renovation. The house is about 3800sf on three storeys. We want to do the following:

  • Replace the kitchen with something more modern. Involves hacking out one wall; not moving any water. Can we do this for 25k or thereabouts?
  • Retiling four bathrooms and replacing fixtures
  • Repainting entire interior
  • Removing about 25 window grills
  • Refinishing wooden floors on first and second storeys
  • Adding wooden decks to front and rear of house

Any rough idea what this sort of work this costs and how long it might take? Also, I've worked in the building trade so have a solid idea about what we want. I can project manage this, but is that the best way to go?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

 

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Even if you do not intend to move any water points, you will need to redo the pipes once hacking is involved. May also affect concealed wires if there are any. For the bathrooms, do you intend to lay over the tiles or hack to replace? If hacking of existing tiles is involved, chances are concealed pipes will be damaged. Also bear in mind water proofing.

Depending on the age of your house, rewiring and redoing the plumbing works may be required. Check if there's any water leakage both the house interior and exterior (garden). Only paint the interior? How about the exterior?

Edited by Livinstyle
 

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I suspect we'll lay tile over the old tile in the bathrooms. At long as the tile is solid enough to form a decent substrate, this is the way it's now done, accourding to my dad, who worked in the building trades. Does that remove the need for additional waterproofing?

I understand that the kitchen will be a complete start-over, still, the water will come up in the same place, which should remove some need for relaying pipe under the floor.

I've scoured the house for signs of leakage, previous water damage or repairs and checked at the ends of the various headers for cracks. I've also crept along all of the foundations looking for uneven settling or signs of repair. I didn't find anything worth mentioning.

What would it typically cost to repaint the interior of a 3800sf house? The exterior was recently painted and is in good shape.

What would it cost to sand and refinish the wood floors on the upper two floors if no substantial repairs are required?

On another matter, would you bring in a GC or an ID? Has anyone had any luck GCing this themselves and bringing in their own subs. I'm fairly familiar with design, construction and project management. I'm not sure about the best way to proceed here though. We understand what we want, what can be done, the materials we'd like to use and have photos and well-drafted designs. I'm in the process of costing the elements now.

 

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How old is the house?

Did you check under the false ceiling / box up areas for water leakage? Monitor the water meter for any signs of leakage. If the house has been painted recently, it will be hard to find traces of leakage.

Repainting interior should cost from $4k onwards, depending on your selection of paint. Will cost more if scaffolding is required, ie for double height ceiling.

Sand & re-varnish wood floors cost will depend on your total area. How about your staircase?

For my case since all the design and re-layout are done by myself, I engaged a contractor to carry out the required works.

 

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Livinstyle, Thanks much for the info. I'm also planning to do the design work myself. I have a fair amount of construction-related experience and renovation and construction runs in the family, so I've had exposure to it most of my life. I'm not a bad designer and am a materials buff. I'm planning on handling much of the design work myself and hope to follow your lead on hiring contractors to complete the work.

I will, however, bring in a kitchen specialist as we'd like to combine the wet and dry kitchens and bring the whole thing up to state of the art. I want to get this right. The designers I spoke with have already shown me a lot of ideas that I would have never thought of. I'm leaving this work in the hands of professionals. I've got a good grasp on the rest of the work.

I've done a pretty thorough inspection. The house is about 10 years old and hasn't been repainted in years. I looked carefully for repair work and signs of leakage. I've checked above the false ceilings and near the risers. The top floor got especially close attention as did ceilings and walls near bathrooms. I haven't found anything yet. Obviously, that doesn't mean something won't turn up later, but I've checked beyond the cursory. From your comments, I understand leakage is a big problem.

What was your experience doing the design work and hiring contractors? Did you use a GC or did you hire sub-contractors yourself? Were contractors receptive to this sort of thing? We'd like to select things like sanitary sets and tile ourselves. I'm aware of the problems buying elements that eventually must be installed. My life is filled with the intricacies of purchasing obscure and complicated fixtures and fittings. Any tips or contractor contacts you can pass along for someone following the same path? Once the work started, did a lot of unexpected problems arise?

 

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Livinstyle, Thanks much for the info. I'm also planning to do the design work myself. I have a fair amount of construction-related experience and renovation and construction runs in the family, so I've had exposure to it most of my life. I'm not a bad designer and am a materials buff. I'm planning on handling much of the design work myself and hope to follow your lead on hiring contractors to complete the work.

I will, however, bring in a kitchen specialist as we'd like to combine the wet and dry kitchens and bring the whole thing up to state of the art. I want to get this right. The designers I spoke with have already shown me a lot of ideas that I would have never thought of. I'm leaving this work in the hands of professionals. I've got a good grasp on the rest of the work.

I've done a pretty thorough inspection. The house is about 10 years old and hasn't been repainted in years. I looked carefully for repair work and signs of leakage. I've checked above the false ceilings and near the risers. The top floor got especially close attention as did ceilings and walls near bathrooms. I haven't found anything yet. Obviously, that doesn't mean something won't turn up later, but I've checked beyond the cursory. From your comments, I understand leakage is a big problem.

What was your experience doing the design work and hiring contractors? Did you use a GC or did you hire sub-contractors yourself? Were contractors receptive to this sort of thing? We'd like to select things like sanitary sets and tile ourselves. I'm aware of the problems buying elements that eventually must be installed. My life is filled with the intricacies of purchasing obscure and complicated fixtures and fittings. Any tips or contractor contacts you can pass along for someone following the same path? Once the work started, did a lot of unexpected problems arise?

I had also originally intended to engage the service of the kitchen specialist and spoke to a few but none came close to my requirements. Maybe because of my design background, I'll run into the details of each design and layout. I am design trained and had worked as a designer. But had left it long ago to climb the corporate ladder. My house project has made me return to my first love!

For the kitchens, I will have a nice pretty dry kitchen based on my cooking likes and dislikes, habits etc. But will retain a small wet kitchen for helper. Can't bear to have anyone abusing my kitchen.

I understand that most waterproofing last for about ten years or so. Hence, you may want to consider waterproofing treatment. There are also different treatments for indoors and outdoors.

I engaged a GC, and hire some sub-cons. Not all are receptive, and lots of communication is needed. Some contractors are pretty stubborn and set in their way of doing. Not an easy task convincing them to do it your way. We go down to the site at least once a day, sometimes more.

One way to control cost is to know what you want and specify them in your quote request. That way will be easier to compare quotes.

Schedule is one major problem. Mainly due to the unexpected difficulty and condition of the house. For instance, we found that most of the walls we wanted to demolish was constructed with concrete which was a nightmare to hack.

All tiles and sanitary fittings were selected by ourselves. All from different shops. None of the shops had all the ones we wanted, so that needed more legwork and coordination. Sanitary fittings will all be installed by the plumber.

Unfortunately my contractors have indicated to me that they are already full with projects and not willing to take any more in.

 

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nokomis,

we have bought a 3 storey house of about 3400 built in. my husband refuse to spend any more on renovation but since the house is 12 year old, i find it impossible to move in under the current condition.

i went to a few ids but find the cost far from my budget, therefore i am thinking of handling the job myself using GC. my husband is against it as he knows my lack of experience but i am quite determine to go ahead. Maybe we can brave this together and share some good information.

following is what i intend to do

'

1) hack and redo my 4 toilets

2) change all my windows ( quite many)

4) redo my kitchen, recreate maids , reposition grany's room

5) retile my first floor, grind and vanish 2nd and 3 rd floor and stairs.

6) grille all my non acess balcony for 'illegal' acess

7) repaint indoor and outdoor

8) some electrical, some carpentry

my ids quote around 150k...i hope i can manage it at half the price. have you found any good source on above works?

where is the location of your house ? my is around upper serangoon area.

 

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Do study the structural plans and drawings carefully as you'll be repositioning the granny's room, make sure your contractor knows what they are doing. A missing column or beam can be disastrous.

Depending on your selection of materials, that will also form bulk of your cost. Are you planning on retiling your first floor with homogeneous tiles or marbles or granite? Redoing kitchen is also another big cost.

At half the price may be more difficult, but 100k may be more achievable.

 

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Really very impress with your determination.

I have also just bought a three storey house and will also be starting to get quotation for the renovation and hope to complete before christmas.

1. Change Tiles for Living room and Dining room.

2. New feature wall for living room

3. Hack side wall for dining and living room and install Bi-Fold doors

4. Varnishing of Parquet for entire 2nd and 3rd floor

5. Change of 5 Toilet bowl and sink

6. Misc pluming works

7. Misc electrical works

8. Chopping down of 3 big palm tress

9. Convert grass patch to tiles for side of the house

10. Patio - Wooden deck with roof

11. Painting of whole house

I think the list is not done yet as will only know once I have collected the keys from my lawyer this week.

Will try the various contractor and will update this thread after the renovation.

nokomis,

we have bought a 3 storey house of about 3400 built in. my husband refuse to spend any more on renovation but since the house is 12 year old, i find it impossible to move in under the current condition.

i went to a few ids but find the cost far from my budget, therefore i am thinking of handling the job myself using GC. my husband is against it as he knows my lack of experience but i am quite determine to go ahead. Maybe we can brave this together and share some good information.

following is what i intend to do

'

1) hack and redo my 4 toilets

2) change all my windows ( quite many)

4) redo my kitchen, recreate maids , reposition grany's room

5) retile my first floor, grind and vanish 2nd and 3 rd floor and stairs.

6) grille all my non acess balcony for 'illegal' acess

7) repaint indoor and outdoor

8) some electrical, some carpentry

my ids quote around 150k...i hope i can manage it at half the price. have you found any good source on above works?

where is the location of your house ? my is around upper serangoon area.

 

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Do study the structural plans and drawings carefully as you'll be repositioning the granny's room, make sure your contractor knows what they are doing. A missing column or beam can be disastrous.

Depending on your selection of materials, that will also form bulk of your cost. Are you planning on retiling your first floor with homogeneous tiles or marbles or granite? Redoing kitchen is also another big cost.

At half the price may be more difficult, but 100k may be more achievable.

livingstyle,

Would you recommend i pay some money for PE advise before hacking off half my first floor to reposition my kitchen,granny's room,toilets and recreate a maids room? do you know how much would they charge and where can i get reliable PE advise ? do they give advise in written document ?

 

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Really very impress with your determination.

I have also just bought a three storey house and will also be starting to get quotation for the renovation and hope to complete before christmas.

1. Change Tiles for Living room and Dining room.

2. New feature wall for living room

3. Hack side wall for dining and living room and install Bi-Fold doors

4. Varnishing of Parquet for entire 2nd and 3rd floor

5. Change of 5 Toilet bowl and sink

6. Misc pluming works

7. Misc electrical works

8. Chopping down of 3 big palm tress

9. Convert grass patch to tiles for side of the house

10. Patio - Wooden deck with roof

11. Painting of whole house

I think the list is not done yet as will only know once I have collected the keys from my lawyer this week.

Will try the various contractor and will update this thread after the renovation.

i will only collect my key in mid nov but i have to complete reno by jan and move in before chinese new year, therefore i am fantically looking around for good GC so that they can start work immeditely once i collect my key.

let me know where you would buy your floor tiles. i found whitehorse tiles a lot cheaper than hafary but ID told me white horse tiles are not of good quality.. but they all look the same to me... i got this feeling that they say so because they do not tied up with whitehorse..my current flooring is dark granite which made the house look very dark, i think by changing it will make a big different to the effect of the house. again my husband said i am changing from expensve tiles to a cheapo ones.. but as long as it last..material is not a concerns to me.

also, on windows and bifold...my quote is around 25K, there are so many suppliers, not sure which one is more reliable and what to look out for window/door selection. hope to get some advise on this forum

 

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As we go through this process, I'm doing my best to get the best value for money. The quality of the materials is extremely important to us. I am making every effort to incorporate the high quality materials. For me, instead of replacing granite with cheaper tiles, I'd consider spending the 10k on handmade rugs. We're trying to use the best of what's there and improve the rest. I'm after consistency and quality. After all, this is an asset that I intend to sell on at some point after we've enjoyed the house for the years we live there.

I am concerned about the kitchen, though. I know from exposure that they seem to be based on lots of rules and formulas that I'm still hesitant to dig in on. I'm most comfortable starting from a theoretical understanding and then fleshing in the design from there. Better yet, it would be good to have someone else handle this part of the job. Counter heights, relationships between islands and counters, setbacks, ledge depths, workflow patterns, non-interference of cabinet doors and between workstations, the latest cupboard technology, along with an understanding of best practice in terms of layout and colour schemes seems like a deep hole of information that I'm not sure I want to crawl down. I'll talk to some kitchen designers and start reading at the same time. Who knows, I may tumble into the darkness inadvertently while fooling around at the edges. Is all of this learnable without taking over your life?

Livinstyle, how did you identify a contractor you could work with as you did the design work? Anyone else have any advice on this. I've getting fairly proficient in X2 (new career perhaps?) and can produce full specs, layouts, materials lists and design schemes. I've been able to combine this with a basic understanding of structural engineering to create what I think is fairly solid design. Obviously, like any amateur, it's rough around the edges and will be adjusted by a contractor to fit their preferred implementation. I'm familiar with how this works after helping my parents build a house. I'm easy to work with and understand the importance of flexibility, but I intend to drive this. Still, it sounds like my approach is going to cause problems in terms of finding firms to do the work. Can anyone offer advice or contacts?

Techwizard, have you had any luck finding contractors? Your list and mine are similar: 1. Change Tiles for Living room and Dining room. 4. Varnishing of Parquet for entire 2nd and 3rd floor; 5. Change of 5 Toilet bowl and sink; 6. Misc plumbing works; 7. Misc electrical works; 10. Patio - Wooden deck with roof; 11. Painting of whole house. I'm very interested in any advice on the process of finding people to do this work. Any luck finding contractors? From my side, I just pulled down 3 large palms at my house for 350 each. The work was good and I have the contact.

 

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livingstyle,

Would you recommend i pay some money for PE advise before hacking off half my first floor to reposition my kitchen,granny's room,toilets and recreate a maids room? do you know how much would they charge and where can i get reliable PE advise ? do they give advise in written document ?

With your tight schedule, it will be advisable to include a penalty if contractor is unable to handover on time. Most contractors are very busy now, probably due to the buoyant economy and year end rush.

Unless you are doing very extensive hacking and wall construction, else i think a PE may not be necessary. It is not cheap to engage their services. I think it hovers in the region of 5k. Not absolutely sure as I did not engage PE.

You can buy the structural plans from BCA. Prepare to spend a few hours there going through the plans. Most experienced landed homes contractors would know what to look for in those plans. Some IDs I spoke to have very limited experience with landed homes. And the workers engaged to do the demolition works only follow simple orders. Some contractors or IDs are not even at site to supervise the workers, so can imagine the risk involved. As it is your house afterall so it's better to take more care.

Did heard some tilers comment on White Horse tiles, so not considering it though it is cheaper. I believed what your ID meant is the cut of the tiles. May not be visible to most as it can be only 1mm. But imagine 1mm offset for each tile. When it comes to laying a large area, then the effect will be more visible. White Horse is having a sale now.

When compared to the overall renovation expenses, the cost difference of the tiles is rather insignificant. You can try tiles from Soon Bee Huat. Cost wise they are more competitive than Hafary in my opinion. But gotta bargain hard for the discounts. Each of these tiles shops have special tiles unique to them. Particularly for wet and outdoor areas, we try to select european tiles whenever possible.

You are changing flooring to homogeneous tiles? Removal of granite tiles will cost more than normal tiles. If you're opening more windows for natural light, then maybe your granite floor won't look so dark. You can also reconsider the layout of your house. I had initially wanted a complete layout change but as I worked along, I found a more workable layout with lesser major works. This also brought down the renovation cost. Windows and doors quote will depend on a few factors. The colour, thickness and profile selected.

Nokomis: It may sound kind of superficial, but a lot of my decisions are based on personal gut feel on the person. Of course also in discussion with my better half. Choosing a honest contractor who won't cut corners is probably the most difficult part. I had spoken to about twenty companies before deciding on which contractor to use. Most of the specifications were refined as we source for quotes.

Edited by Livinstyle
 

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I will be meeting all the contractors in the next few days to make things more consistent I will be telling all of them the same requirement after which i will silently hear what they have to suggest. Most important we as home owners need to be comfortable with the people we are going to work with.

Once I have finalise the contractors I will put down all their names and contact.

PS - Wow cutting down three trees cost you about 1k, next time you have tree to cut let me know...lol The quote I have receive from my contractor is about $320 to cut and dispose of all three trees. (Each tree is more than 12ft)

Techwizard, have you had any luck finding contractors? Your list and mine are similar: 1. Change Tiles for Living room and Dining room. 4. Varnishing of Parquet for entire 2nd and 3rd floor; 5. Change of 5 Toilet bowl and sink; 6. Misc plumbing works; 7. Misc electrical works; 10. Patio - Wooden deck with roof; 11. Painting of whole house. I'm very interested in any advice on the process of finding people to do this work. Any luck finding contractors? From my side, I just pulled down 3 large palms at my house for 350 each. The work was good and I have the contact.
 

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With your tight schedule, it will be advisable to include a penalty if contractor is unable to handover on time. Most contractors are very busy now, probably due to the buoyant economy and year end rush.

Unless you are doing very extensive hacking and wall construction, else i think a PE may not be necessary. It is not cheap to engage their services. I think it hovers in the region of 5k. Not absolutely sure as I did not engage PE.

You can buy the structural plans from BCA. Prepare to spend a few hours there going through the plans. Most experienced landed homes contractors would know what to look for in those plans. Some IDs I spoke to have very limited experience with landed homes. And the workers engaged to do the demolition works only follow simple orders. Some contractors or IDs are not even at site to supervise the workers, so can imagine the risk involved. As it is your house afterall so it's better to take more care.

Hi Livingstyle, you are right that few IDs are proficient in landed houses that touches on structural works. Eg. This is especially true for older houses where there are steps within the houses. Some owners wish to make the flooring flat and the contractor started hacking, not knowing that the ground structures below the tiles could be damaged. In short, other than superficial hacking of the flooring such as replacing tiles or overlaying tiles, it may be useful to seek PE's help to plan more extensive renovation.

Did heard some tilers comment on White Horse tiles, so not considering it though it is cheaper. I believed what your ID meant is the cut of the tiles. May not be visible to most as it can be only 1mm. But imagine 1mm offset for each tile. When it comes to laying a large area, then the effect will be more visible. White Horse is having a sale now.

When compared to the overall renovation expenses, the cost difference of the tiles is rather insignificant. You can try tiles from Soon Bee Huat. Cost wise they are more competitive than Hafary in my opinion. But gotta bargain hard for the discounts. Each of these tiles shops have special tiles unique to them. Particularly for wet and outdoor areas, we try to select european tiles whenever possible.

You are changing flooring to homogeneous tiles? Removal of granite tiles will cost more than normal tiles. If you're opening more windows for natural light, then maybe your granite floor won't look so dark. You can also reconsider the layout of your house. I had initially wanted a complete layout change but as I worked along, I found a more workable layout with lesser major works. This also brought down the renovation cost. Windows and doors quote will depend on a few factors. The colour, thickness and profile selected.

White Horse has a very wide selection of homogeneous tiles and stone wall tiles. Besides white horse tiles, the tiles from other tile shops may also suffer from slight mis-alignment. If you get tiles from any shop, white horse or others, it is safer to check whether the tiles can be replaced FOC inclusive of delivery if there were mis-alignment of the tiles.

I feel that it is a pity to hack away granite tile to replace with homogeneous tiles, if the granite tiles are still in a good condition. If you are using large pieces of homogeneous tiles, you may want to check for uneven surface especially at the sides of the tile. There is usually no warranty of replacement for uneveness maybe because quite a lot of large homogeneous tiles suffer from this issue.

Edited by leechaorui
 

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