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chrizz

Pasir Ris 4 Room Hdb - Full Renovation With Wj Design

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In advance: sorry for the long post! This first post is pretty much a summary of 4 months, so bear with us, the newer posts are going to be shorter :)

After being married for a few years, my wife and I were finally ready to purchase our first home. The wait for a BTO would be too long, so after a search on the resale market we found a 4 room flat in the west of Pasir Ris that matched our needs. A corner unit, 108 square meters, with a layout that we can work with. The state of the interior of the flat was nowhere near what we were looking for, so we already knew from the start that we wanted to do a full renovation.

In February we sat down for two weeks, purchased the floor plan of the unit from HDB, and started thinking about what we wanted. We came up with a revised floorplan, more or less to-scale drawings of kitchen cabinets, laundry room, even some very rough perspective drawings of our feature wall in the living room, the feature bed head and the bathroom.

With the help of the enormous amount of information on this forum (too many different threads and people to thank, so just a general THANK YOU towards this entire community!), we shortlisted about 10 interior designers and contractors. We sent our package of the original floor plan, the revised floor plan, and all of our drawings complete with a list of specifications to each of these companies in late February, with the expectation of receiving quotations that will help us compare apple to apple.

I have to say it was quite successful. With some minor exceptions we received quotations that were comparable, and we visited each and every company that responded to us. Some were very eager, some sounded eager and then their excitement died down, while others maintained a bit more composure.

I'm going to write down the companies we visited and our experiences with them, so anyone looking for a contractor can draw their own conclusions. It's really important to find the right person to work with. My wife and I both work in the creative field so we can handle the design conceptualisation portion, but we need someone who can bring our ideas to fruition, someone who can tell us "no" when we need to hear it, and who has the right connections and time to do the coordination, which I believe we found.

Anyway, the contenders:

ROUND 1:

Sense Ideas Design

We met with Renato twice. He's an incredibly friendly, talkative guy, who had a good understanding of our design intent. Ultimately, we ended up not shortlisting him further due to his price being slightly higher and us having a better gut feeling about the others.

Summit Design Studio

When we visited Summit, we were met by one of the staff who had definitely taken a close look at our drawings and knew what he was talking about. The problem here was the quotation. Summit has a "no hidden cost" policy and it shows. Their quotation was easily 30% higher than the rest, and it was just something that could not be overcome. We had to cut somewhere and unfortunately we didn't continue with Summit.

ID Note

We heard so many great stories about Henry from ID Note that we could not leave them out of the list. We eventually met up with Henry's colleague, whose English wasn't too good. Their showroom cabinets were nearly falling apart and their incredibly competitive quotation was competitive because everything was priced at its absolute lowest. Lowest range tiles, lowest range laminate, no additional works like screeding. It's a practice that we felt a little tricked by and we decided to not go with ID Note.

Ideal Design Interior

Christine from Ideal was actually the first to respond to our package, and met us at McDonalds in Pasir Ris, which was easy for us. Our biggest issue was that we prepared this set of documents to give everyone all the information they needed, but she never took a good look at it. We worked a solid 2 weeks to get this done, so we felt a little disappointed with that. Ultimately, this was probably the main reason we didn't continue with Ideal.

Earnest Interiors

Earnest Interiors was one of our favourites at the start based on several raving reviews and their impressive portfolio. Unfortunately, when we finally met the guy, there just wasn't a click. He didn't make us feel very good about our house by calling it very small (I know 108 square meters is no mansion, but tiny?) This together with a non-competitive quotation made it easy for us to not go with Earnest.

Carpenters

When we first met the girl from Carpenters, she hadn't taken a look at our drawings prior to the meeting. She also hadn't printed them out, so we had to bring out our own copy. Since this was the second time this had happened (first time with Ideal) I was already a little frustrated, but I walked her through our entire design from start to finish. She had not heard of Caesarstone before, or even quartz for that matter. She saw no possibilities to shift the sink to the other side of the kitchen, and her overall logic was just flawed. The quotation was also littered with errors and was not itemized. It was very easy to cut Carpenters from the list.

ROUND 2

Rezt & Relax

Ivan Lin from Rezt & Relax was the first one that got us really excited about the process. He took his time with us, we spent a solid 2 hours in his showroom to discuss the details of what we wanted, his quotation, and how we can try to keep it within budget. His design aesthetic seemed really good, and the company itself comes across as very reliable with a focus on quality. We met him two more times for some value engineering, trying to make the entire package affordable. Unfortunately, we eventually found ourselves in a situation where we took out quite a few significant things from the quotation, and it was still over budget. My wife and I were both quite sad that we had to make the decision, but we dropped Rezt & Relax in the last round.

ROUND 3

Artrend

Zhi Qi from Artrend did not follow our initial quotation. She made a few small changes to our design that made the overall cost lower than the others. When we met her at their Balestier showroom, she showed us a sketch of our living room that got us extremely excited. There were two moments where we almost signed with Artrend, but didn't as there were still some small things nagging at us. Small details omitted from the contract: no replacement wall for a hacked door, no main gate, etc. Albeit small things, they still added up to a few thousand dollars in all. Telling her that we decided to sign with another company was the toughest. She had a great design aesthetic, my wife (designer) and her really hit it off and were on the same page when it came to the look of our home, and she came across as very knowledgeable and experienced.
If money was less of an issue we probably would have signed on our second appointment when she gave us a really good discount. I would definitely advise anyone to at least visit and see what they can do for you.

W.J. Design & Renovation Contractor

A few days after we sent out our drawing package, I got a call from Clifford Lai from W.J. Design & Renovation Contractor (let's just call them WJ from now on because we're going to be using this name a lot). There was a small issue with our drawing: we had shifted the position of our toilet in our proposal, and that is something you can't do in HDB flats apparently. I called HDB to check and he was right. He was the first to point this out to us, while some others didn't even point it out at all.

His quotation was definitely competitive and transparent, itemized, and when we met him we immediately had a really good feeling about working with him. His strengths made up for our weaknesses, he has a similar design perspective, he told us when something is impossible immediately, and he thinks about the end result even during the concept stage. Example: we wanted a glass shower screen at the bathtub, and from plan he could already tell that we were going to have a problem with opening the ventilation panels. If he hadn't and it would have been fabricated, these are the kind of things that I would feel annoyed with.

After visiting him three times and emailing back and forth with amendments, and questions, and value engineering, and more changes, we finally decided to sign with him. He was even able to add in a few FOC items to sweeten the deal.

So here we are! The contract is signed, the renovation loan with RHB bank approved, initial payment is made and we ran through the process with him. Step 1 was going to be to select the tiles. He gave us three suppliers that we could go and visit together, and we decided to stick with what's probably the most known supplier: Hafary.

More on Hafary in the next post!

We hope that with this blog we can give people inspiration through our concept ideation and design aesthetic. We also hope that through this blog, first time home renovators can understand a bit about the processes involved in a full home renovation and also the challenges that come along with it. Most of all we just want to have fun with our renovation and share this experience with like-minded people who will enjoy reading our posts and hopefully gain some valuable insight. :)

We are both very open-minded people who welcome constructive criticism. Feel free to comment or feedback on any of the decisions that we have made. We are also open to any ideas or suggestions that you feel might work in our space that we may have overlooked or not considered.

Cheers!

Chrizz & Hilikusleech

 

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Hi Chrizz,

Congrats on dropping r & r !

We had problems with workmanship and quality of fittings during our first reno with them.

You've made the right choice !

 

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In advance: sorry for the long post! This first post is pretty much a summary of 4 months, so bear with us, the newer posts are going to be shorter :)

After being married for a few years, my wife and I were finally ready to purchase our first home. The wait for a BTO would be too long, so after a search on the resale market we found a 4 room flat in the west of Pasir Ris that matched our needs. A corner unit, 108 square meters, with a layout that we can work with. The state of the interior of the flat was nowhere near what we were looking for, so we already knew from the start that we wanted to do a full renovation.

In February we sat down for two weeks, purchased the floor plan of the unit from HDB, and started thinking about what we wanted. We came up with a revised floorplan, more or less to-scale drawings of kitchen cabinets, laundry room, even some very rough perspective drawings of our feature wall in the living room, the feature bed head and the bathroom.

With the help of the enormous amount of information on this forum (too many different threads and people to thank, so just a general THANK YOU towards this entire community!), we shortlisted about 10 interior designers and contractors. We sent our package of the original floor plan, the revised floor plan, and all of our drawings complete with a list of specifications to each of these companies in late February, with the expectation of receiving quotations that will help us compare apple to apple.

I have to say it was quite successful. With some minor exceptions we received quotations that were comparable, and we visited each and every company that responded to us. Some were very eager, some sounded eager and then their excitement died down, while others maintained a bit more composure.

I'm going to write down the companies we visited and our experiences with them, so anyone looking for a contractor can draw their own conclusions. It's really important to find the right person to work with. My wife and I both work in the creative field so we can handle the design conceptualisation portion, but we need someone who can bring our ideas to fruition, someone who can tell us "no" when we need to hear it, and who has the right connections and time to do the coordination, which I believe we found.

Anyway, the contenders:

ROUND 1:

Sense Ideas Design

We met with Renato twice. He's an incredibly friendly, talkative guy, who had a good understanding of our design intent. Ultimately, we ended up not shortlisting him further due to his price being slightly higher and us having a better gut feeling about the others.

Summit Design Studio

When we visited Summit, we were met by one of the staff who had definitely taken a close look at our drawings and knew what he was talking about. The problem here was the quotation. Summit has a "no hidden cost" policy and it shows. Their quotation was easily 30% higher than the rest, and it was just something that could not be overcome. We had to cut somewhere and unfortunately we didn't continue with Summit.

ID Note

We heard so many great stories about Henry from ID Note that we could not leave them out of the list. We eventually met up with Henry's colleague, whose English wasn't too good. Their showroom cabinets were nearly falling apart and their incredibly competitive quotation was competitive because everything was priced at its absolute lowest. Lowest range tiles, lowest range laminate, no additional works like screeding. It's a practice that we felt a little tricked by and we decided to not go with ID Note.

Ideal Design Interior

Christine from Ideal was actually the first to respond to our package, and met us at McDonalds in Pasir Ris, which was easy for us. Our biggest issue was that we prepared this set of documents to give everyone all the information they needed, but she never took a good look at it. We worked a solid 2 weeks to get this done, so we felt a little disappointed with that. Ultimately, this was probably the main reason we didn't continue with Ideal.

Earnest Interiors

Earnest Interiors was one of our favourites at the start based on several raving reviews and their impressive portfolio. Unfortunately, when we finally met the guy, there just wasn't a click. He didn't make us feel very good about our house by calling it very small (I know 108 square meters is no mansion, but tiny?) This together with a non-competitive quotation made it easy for us to not go with Earnest.

Carpenters

When we first met the girl from Carpenters, she hadn't taken a look at our drawings prior to the meeting. She also hadn't printed them out, so we had to bring out our own copy. Since this was the second time this had happened (first time with Ideal) I was already a little frustrated, but I walked her through our entire design from start to finish. She had not heard of Caesarstone before, or even quartz for that matter. She saw no possibilities to shift the sink to the other side of the kitchen, and her overall logic was just flawed. The quotation was also littered with errors and was not itemized. It was very easy to cut Carpenters from the list.

ROUND 2

Rezt & Relax

Ivan Lin from Rezt & Relax was the first one that got us really excited about the process. He took his time with us, we spent a solid 2 hours in his showroom to discuss the details of what we wanted, his quotation, and how we can try to keep it within budget. His design aesthetic seemed really good, and the company itself comes across as very reliable with a focus on quality. We met him two more times for some value engineering, trying to make the entire package affordable. Unfortunately, we eventually found ourselves in a situation where we took out quite a few significant things from the quotation, and it was still over budget. My wife and I were both quite sad that we had to make the decision, but we dropped Rezt & Relax in the last round.

ROUND 3

Artrend

Zhi Qi from Artrend did not follow our initial quotation. She made a few small changes to our design that made the overall cost lower than the others. When we met her at their Balestier showroom, she showed us a sketch of our living room that got us extremely excited. There were two moments where we almost signed with Artrend, but didn't as there were still some small things nagging at us. Small details omitted from the contract: no replacement wall for a hacked door, no main gate, etc. Albeit small things, they still added up to a few thousand dollars in all. Telling her that we decided to sign with another company was the toughest. She had a great design aesthetic, my wife (designer) and her really hit it off and were on the same page when it came to the look of our home, and she came across as very knowledgeable and experienced.
If money was less of an issue we probably would have signed on our second appointment when she gave us a really good discount. I would definitely advise anyone to at least visit and see what they can do for you.

W.J. Design & Renovation Contractor

A few days after we sent out our drawing package, I got a call from Clifford Lai from W.J. Design & Renovation Contractor (let's just call them WJ from now on because we're going to be using this name a lot). There was a small issue with our drawing: we had shifted the position of our toilet in our proposal, and that is something you can't do in HDB flats apparently. I called HDB to check and he was right. He was the first to point this out to us, while some others didn't even point it out at all.

His quotation was definitely competitive and transparent, itemized, and when we met him we immediately had a really good feeling about working with him. His strengths made up for our weaknesses, he has a similar design perspective, he told us when something is impossible immediately, and he thinks about the end result even during the concept stage. Example: we wanted a glass shower screen at the bathtub, and from plan he could already tell that we were going to have a problem with opening the ventilation panels. If he hadn't and it would have been fabricated, these are the kind of things that I would feel annoyed with.

After visiting him three times and emailing back and forth with amendments, and questions, and value engineering, and more changes, we finally decided to sign with him. He was even able to add in a few FOC items to sweeten the deal.

So here we are! The contract is signed, the renovation loan with RHB bank approved, initial payment is made and we ran through the process with him. Step 1 was going to be to select the tiles. He gave us three suppliers that we could go and visit together, and we decided to stick with what's probably the most known supplier: Hafary.

More on Hafary in the next post!

We hope that with this blog we can give people inspiration through our concept ideation and design aesthetic. We also hope that through this blog, first time home renovators can understand a bit about the processes involved in a full home renovation and also the challenges that come along with it. Most of all we just want to have fun with our renovation and share this experience with like-minded people who will enjoy reading our posts and hopefully gain some valuable insight. :)

We are both very open-minded people who welcome constructive criticism. Feel free to comment or feedback on any of the decisions that we have made. We are also open to any ideas or suggestions that you feel might work in our space that we may have overlooked or not considered.

Cheers!

Chrizz & Hilikusleech

Wow! That's a very informative post! I'm pretty sure RT newbies will welcome your post like this! Good effort! :good:

Anyway welcome to RT and good luck on your selection of ID & renovation! :lol:

 

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Hi Chrizz (and wifey)

Congrats on ur flat & welcome to RT! :)

That's a lot of efforts in ur ID search & in sharing the info. Am sure all the RT newbies will welcome & benefit from ur posts. Keep it up! :thumbs up:

All the best to ur reno journey! Looking forward to following ur progress & updates! :yamseng:

 

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Thanks for the welcome Mac, Bengo, Multi, Jus and HL :)

We actually already went down to Hafary, just figured it would be too much info in one go, haha.

So about Hafary. We've actually been to all three of their showrooms (Tradehub 21, Balestier, and Defu), and we prefer the one at Defu. Everything is laid out well, and they have the largest number of mock-up rooms with all different sorts of tiles.

The first time we went without Clifford just to get a feel for the place and do some preliminary picking. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of tiles, sorted by size and type (glossy, matte). We initially picked about 12 different samples just for the living room floor and feature wall.

We were initially going to go with a craftstone element on both sides of our TV feature wall, but due to safety issues for our future kids as well as maintenance (dust!), we decided to go with a much more muted tile.

Don't feel shy to get samples for tiles. All in all we got a total of 40 samples for our living/dining/laundry room floor, feature wall in livingroom, and bathroom floor/wall/feature tiles... >.>

The second time we went with Clifford together and he gave us some good things to keep in mind. Problems that we hadn't really thought of and making sure that there were enough tiles of our specific preference available. He also helped us make up our mind between matte and glossy floor tiles throughout the house. We spent a solid 2 hours in Hafary going back and forth between various types of tiles, and eventually decided on a whole bunch of options. We collected samples for them and brought them back home to choose further.

Time to start mixing and matching! From an old box we made a mini mock-up area where we could put floor, wall, and feature tiles together so we could get a good look at the material. We decided on a glossy near-white tile with just a tiny hint of reddish tones for the floor of the living, dining, kitchen and laundry room, paired with a feature tile for our TV feature wall and our bar counter.

The bathrooms were a little trickier to select. I prefer to have a warm, Mediterranean looking tile with a running tone for both the floor as well as the wall. When it came to the tiles for our MBR bathroom it became tougher. We were able to narrow it down to 2 options, thanks to a brilliant idea of my brother in law. We each wrote the numbers 1 through 5 on pieces of paper and then ranked our favourite options without the other person seeing it. The combinations with all the high numbers (3 and 5, or 4 and 4) were then ditched and we were left with the options that we both liked (ranks 1 and 2, and 2 and 1). Now we have two amazing choices that we have to choose between. I guess we're going to have to make a decision soon because I'd hate for one of the tiles to be sold out while we're making up our mind...

Anyway, the tiles are pretty much selected now. We're going to meet Clifford again tomorrow evening to show him our moodboard for the living room, sketches we've done for the TV console and display cabinet, and work towards the first rendering. Exciting :)

I'm going to figure out uploading images here so we can share our "renovation tender package" with our preliminary floor plans and other pictures later.

Edited by chrizz
 

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Alright, let's see if this works! All these drawings were done by my wife and I in preparation of selecting an interior designer / contractor, so we could get the cost captured as accurately as possible.

From first to last:

- Original HDB floorplan

- Proposed changed floor plan

- Living room TV feature wall perspective

- Master bathroom perspective

- Kitchen "east" side elevation

- Kitchen "west" side elevation

- Kitchen bar counter perspective

- Laundry room cabinets elevation

- Master bedroom feature wall elevation

- Master bedroom feature wall perspective

gallery_48184_38_58508.jpg

gallery_48184_38_233027.jpg

gallery_48184_38_291093.jpg

gallery_48184_38_98102.jpg

gallery_48184_38_112841.jpg

gallery_48184_38_37643.jpg

 

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Some of the "silly" mistakes we made that others could learn from:

1. Shifting of toilets.

Not possible, so don't bother trying to make this work. If you do find a contractor willing to do this he risks a fine, demerit points, and you have to pay to get it fixed to the original state again. Not worth it.

2. Concealed electrical wiring

Not allowed, with the exception of the concealed wiring done by HDB themselves in newer flats. We still need to figure out how to make our house look as nice as possible without concealing wiring in the wall. We can of course run it through a fake ceiling, behind feature walls, etc, so hiding most should be doable. I'd like to hide a lot of cabling behind skirting as well, but let's see what Clifford has to say about that tomorrow.

3. Expecting all these items from the ID/Contractor

The ID/Contractor you engage will not do: electrical work, aircon, lighting. He/she will be able to advise on someone they have worked with in the past, but these are very specific trades that require specialist work. Keep in mind that when you get your quotation, this is definitely not the final amount!

 

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Ya the lightings , sanitary stuff are all outside of the cost that u have to take note !

also welcome n good luck on the reno !

Edited by mrmerry
 

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Been a while, so a little update :)

We made full use of the Harvey Norman and Gain City expos to purchase our first appliances. Decided to go with:

Brandt WFK 1248A washing machine (8kg, tilted drum, made in Spain)

Brandt VH1205J built-in dishwasher (fits our kitchen beautifully and is fully integrated, so no ugly front at all! Also rather big: 12 place settings)

Bosch HBN331E2J built-in oven (Looks are quite nice and it was between this and the low-end model of Brandt, but the temperature knob for the Bosch was better)

Panasonic System 4 Inverter aircon (3x 9k BTU and 1x 18k BTU for living room) from Gain City expo (generally good reviews, and a wider FCU for the living room, meaning faster cooling of the space)

LG GRM702GSH fridge (stainless steel, 490 liters nett, door cooling, anti-bacteria/fungus strip, special health guard filter, digital temperature display on front, 10 year warranty on compressor (made in Korea), rest made in Indonesia)

Of course they're all still sitting in the warehouses, we're probably only going to be having them delivered around the end of September, but we'll follow up with reviews of each.

There's still soooo much more to buy, but it's very exciting finally using our savings to buy things rather than just... save. Haha

We've also picked the floor tiles for the living/dining/kitchen/laundry room, as well as the floor & wall tiles for both bathrooms. I'll upload some pictures tomorrow!

 

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Yo bro, welcome 'back'! Shopping is gd therapy, especially amidst the stress (hope no stress for u) of the reno works, plus getting great deals!! :lol:

Looking forward to ur updates & pics! :)

 

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Thanks Jus! It really is so much fun shopping for our house together :)

Here's a bunch of pictures snatched from online of all our purchases to date!

Brandt WFK 1248A washing machine

gallery_48184_38_6002.jpg

Brandt VH1205J built-in dishwasher

gallery_48184_38_204491.jpg

Bosch HBN331E2J built-in oven

gallery_48184_38_39741.jpg

Panasonic System 4 Inverter aircon

gallery_48184_38_25101.jpg

LG GRM702GSH fridge

gallery_48184_38_3027.jpg

 

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