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amirahpaul

Pastels, Wood & Cats: A Soothing 3-Room Flat

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We are very excited to share our recent renovation with our Renotalk friends, after benefitting so much from the ideas and advice here.

When we got our resale flat, we were stressed about how the reno would go – so things that could go wrong! We would say that we have high standards for good service at good value. Moreover we have a beautiful cat, Nuri, whom we love and wanted her to be comfortable in the home so yes we had quite a few requirements for simple flat.

While we had some bad encounters, we were happy to find a couple of good people. So, here’s our chance to give the good and bad their due recognition. In the coming days, we will share our experiences and insights… we look forward to your comments! =)

Our plan is to post on:

  • Renovation details (before/after pics, our requirements & challenges, little details we're pleased about
  • Our ID selection process & experience
  • List of good and bad companies/salespeople (complete with names)
  • Cat-friendly features and tips
  • Post-reno thoughts

Here's our floor plan:

gallery_58380_224_27018.jpg

Edited by amirahpaul
 

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Living Room

- We asked the ID to move the storeroom from the living room to the kitchen, to free up space.

-Took down the cornings and smoothened the walls because they had a bumpy texture.

- Installed a cat flap for the study, for Nuri's ease of access

Before:

gallery_58380_224_64639.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_503397.jpg

Another angle, looking toward the main door. The retro gate was custom designed.

(Shoutout to renotalk user Vacanthost whose grille was our inspiration. Check out his renotalk blog here:http://www.renotalk.com/forum/topic/57966-clementi-central-3ng/)

Our ID worked very hard on this gate because we asked him to adjust the spacing between the grilles to make it cat-proofed. None of the gaps could exceed 5cm as cats can climb very high. We'll post more on the cat-friendly features of our home nearer the end of the blog for those interested.

Before:

gallery_58380_224_200796.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_533802.jpg

A closer view of the living room corner.

Before:

gallery_58380_224_418178.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_29544.jpg

Edited by amirahpaul
 

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Thanks, yeah the cafe curtains let light in while giving privacy from the common corridor.

Kitchen

For the kitchen,it was a 100% overhaul.

Before:

gallery_58380_224_606993.jpg

After (night):

gallery_58380_224_507250.jpg

After (day):

gallery_58380_224_35683.jpg

Porch steps

We redid the steps at the porch.

Before:

gallery_58380_224_289613.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_595500.jpg

Edited by amirahpaul
 

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Thanks. It's 74sqm. Seems a little more spacious than the average 3 roomer.

However, there is no aircon ledge and there isn't really service yard like the new BTOs.

Service yard

Before:

gallery_58380_224_521089.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_117130.jpg

Edited by amirahpaul
 

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Hi amirahpaul (guess it's amirah & paul? ;))

Welcome to the 3-roomers' club & congrats on ur reno completion! :yamseng:

Mind sharing which corner of the island ur unit is?

Mine oso a 74sqm 3A (of a different layout) & I oso moved the storerm from the living hall (to make space for a dining area) to the used-to-be huge kitchen but my kitchen becomes somewat small now.. probably due to poor space planning ba.. but my living hall does look a bit more spacious on the other hand.. well, i guess one can't win it all ba.. :unsure:

Ya boy, ur ceiling seems so highhh... just look at the space above the bedroom doorway even with the ceiling cove lights! :good:

Edited by jus4fun
 

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We are very excited to share our recent renovation with our Renotalk friends, after benefitting so much from the ideas and advice here.

When we got our resale flat, we were stressed about how the reno would go – so things that could go wrong! We would say that we have high standards for good service at good value. Moreover we have a beautiful cat, Nuri, whom we love and wanted her to be comfortable in the home so yes we had quite a few requirements for simple flat.

While we had some bad encounters, we were happy to find a couple of good people. So, here’s our chance to give the good and bad their due recognition. In the coming days, we will share our experiences and insights… we look forward to your comments! =)

Our plan is to post on:

  • Renovation details (before/after pics, our requirements & challenges, little details we're pleased about)
  • Our ID selection process & experience
  • List of good and bad companies/salespeople (complete with names)
  • Cat-friendly features and tips
  • Post-reno thoughts

Here's our floor plan:

gallery_58380_224_27018.jpg

Wow. following this for the cat features and tips. I have 2 kittys myself and live in a corridor unit. Am going to renovate my resale house soon. Your post WILL DEFINITELY be my inspiration. Looking forward. And yes, as the rest have mentioned, your ceiling looks high..Cool..

 

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welcome amirahpaul and fellow fur-mummy! haha!

i have 2 ragamuffins and 2 little girls so my house has to be cat-friendly and kid-friendly hehe...

MAD LOVE for the black fan - is it Haiku?

Living Room before and after.

- We asked the ID to move the storeroom from the living room to the kitchen, to free up space.

-Took down the cornings and smoothened the walls because they had a bumpy texture.

- Installed a cat flap for the study, for Nuri's ease of access

Before:

gallery_58380_224_64639.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_503397.jpg

Another angle, looking toward the main door. The retro gate was custom designed.

(Shoutout to renotalk user Vacanthost whose grille was our inspiration. Check out his renotalk blog here:http://www.renotalk.com/forum/topic/57966-clementi-central-3ng/)

Our ID worked very hard on this gate because we asked him to adjust the spacing between the grilles to make it cat-proofed. None of the gaps could exceed 5cm as cats can climb very high. We'll post more on the cat-friendly features of our home nearer the end of the blog for those interested.

Before:

gallery_58380_224_200796.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_533802.jpg

A closer view of the living room corner.

Before:

gallery_58380_224_418178.jpg

After:

gallery_58380_224_29544.jpg

 

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Hi everyone, thanks for the warm reception.

Didn't really realise that the ceiling is that high. How high is the typical ceiling? The ID did mention he had to build a bit more cabinetry and MBR wardrobe. He was cool about it and absorbed the cost though.

To the other cat lovers here, it's good to hear from you guys! Somehow before our reno there didn't seem to be many renotalk bloggers who had cats so hopefully our experience will help everyone who has more than humans to plan for.

#Just4fun, I wanted to PM you about the location of our flat but the system said this user can't receive messages. Is there another way for me to PM you?

#Mellenur, the fan isn't a Haiku thou we did love the look of the Haiku, we thought it was overpriced as they seem to cost around $1.1 to $1.2K. We got a fan from Amasco at 135 Joo Seng Rd. The model is "Hugger" methinks. Cost $700 which isn't the cheapest but it had the least depth which allows it to stick as closer to the ceiling than normal ceiling fans, which is good for HDBs. The fan looks quite nice up there but it's a bit of a white elephant right now because Nuri hates it because we didn't have a ceiling fan before. She thinks it's a predator bird and she just hides away or crawls around when it is turned on. We are still trying to train her to get used to it. If anyone knows how to train a cat to get used to a scary black ceiling fan please do let us know!

Common Toilet

We asked for the door to be shifted so as to be able to create a glass door shower box, and a dry area for the toilet bowl and sink. A few IDs we spoke to claimed it could not be done, but our ID was diligent in checking HDB guidlines and getting the necessary approval, so it worked! Also we decided to box up the unsightly pipes which are common in older HDB flats. Some people paint it and they can be cool and industrial but our look was not so raw. It enabled us to do some recessed shelving for the shower gels and bath items.

We found awesome Peranakan like tiles we both loved, and our ID designed how they were interspersed horizontally with the normal tiles so that it was soothing and not overwhelming. Honestly, with some other less design focused ID, we would probably have just put all the peranakan tiles on one single wall and it would not have been very balanced. Kudos to Daniel, we loved the effect.

Before:

gallery_58380_224_26250.jpg

After

gallery_58380_224_201226.jpg

Before - large visible pipes:

gallery_58380_224_206639.jpg

After - box up area with recessed shelf:

gallery_58380_224_99790.jpg

Closeup of wall tiles:

gallery_58380_224_441670.jpg

Closeup of created glass shower stall. Previously the toilet entrance was directly opposite where the exposed pipes.

gallery_58380_224_208604.jpg

Edited by amirahpaul
 

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One of the most important decisions we made was in selecting our ID. It was also perhaps our best decision for the reno. We shall now share our experience.

We started by doing 2 things:

  1. Thinking through the must-haves for our flat. Then the nice-to-haves. We then made a list for easy reference. It’s also useful for sending to potential IDs/contractors. Our planned reno is fairly simple, i.e. no fancy structural stuff or expensive/complicated design themes. Thus, we considered saving costs by hiring a contractor instead of an ID.
  2. We spent many many hours looking through renotalk blogs (and other places) for IDs/contractors. A shortlist was made and we eventually met with 7 of them.

Before we delve into each, let us quickly share a mistake we made. To save time, we had arranged for 3 of IDs to come for a joint briefing at our empty flat. Doesn’t it seem like a good idea? Since you’re going to say similar stuff to each, why not just get them all to come so you needn’t repeat? Moreover, they would see there is competition and thus be more motivated.

It was a disaster! One was very late, but 2 of them did come on time -- and looked rather surprised to see each other. As we walked them around the flat and explained what we wanted, none of them offered substantial ideas. They seemed very reluctant to share what they could do, in case their rivals leeched off them. Thus, instead of a vibrant discussion about the possibilities of each area, it turned out to be simply a matter of taking measurements.

In the end, both of them submitted unimaginative proposals, and the quotations weren’t attractive. We have heard good things about them, so this was puzzling. Were they offended? Or can’t be bothered, thinking we looked non-commital? Anyway, we didn’t think this approach was worth continuing. For the other 5 IDs/contractors, we went the painful route of individual meetings (and giving same briefing repeatedly), each lasting for 40-60 mins. It was far more useful though as we got to hear out many ideas, push them on some details and check our rapport with each individual.

Our evaluation of each one is coming up next… please stay tuned =)

 

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Review of IDs / Contractors we considered

1. Jimmy (3D Innovative Design)

We would have hired Jimmy if we didn’t have Daniel. Firstly, he was very earnest and had a pleasant attitude – seemed very competent without sounding boastful. Secondly, he has done carpentry and tile-laying with own hands so he has very good knowledge of operational matters. Jimmy understood his strengths, highlighting his workmanship and value-for-money offer while recognising his not being professionally trained in interior design. His offer was the best in terms of value and we think he probably would have done a great job if hired. Others on this forum have reviewed him positively, and we’d add he left us a very positive impression.

2. Jake (ZL Construction)

He was a good communicator and seemed like a trustworthy person to work with. He was one of those who made our final shortlist of 3. However he seemed to be less keen to try certain layout ideas, possibly due to lack of experience. His quote was slightly on the high side. He was gracious about us not choosing him and was the only ID/contractor to ask how he could have done better, which reflected very well on him we felt. His company is also the chief contractor for CraftStone craft brick walls, in case anyone is interested. Decent fellow.

3. Chloe (Fuse Concept)

She was one of the most sincere and responsible IDs we met, despite us asking her for a quote at last minute due to a trip we planned. She was very sweet and patient, and put in a lot of effort into the design she proposed. She had some ideas for cats and she took initiative to design for Nuri. Unfortunately the design didn't really resonate with us, so we thought we would look around more while keeping her in mind.

4. David Lam (Lourve)

Two words. Stay away. David didn't seem to have very good ideas. He seemed honest and had decent knowledge of reno matters, materials, etc, but wasn’t particularly creative nor similar in aesthetic tastes.

Later we heard from our friend who signed with David (mainly because she was rushed for time) who proved to be ok until the time for hacking. At that point, he claimed he was going abroad for a personal holiday and that his colleague would replace him for that period. Guess what? From that point onwards, it was almost impossible to contact him. His colleague even said David is extremely busy thus all her reno matters would be handled by that person she didn’t sign with. Alas, his colleague was sincere but incompetent. Yet the most crucial renovation period was managed by him, with David staying well out of reach.

Apparently, David is a high-flying senior member of Lourve with many sales. Thus we think it’s important to make known his unprofessional conduct so fewer people would be caught unaware. We understand this is a serious claim about him, so we are prepared to connect you with our friend if you’re presenting thinking of signing with him and need evidence of what happened.

5. Mark (IR Design) & Raymond (forgot the co.)

Both of them submitted quotations, but they were very average and the prices were not fantastic. Perhaps they had enough work at that time so weren’t all that motivated. We considered Raymond (forgot his company name) as he did a very basic renovation for our friend and the price was quite reasonable. As for Mark, he was sent by Roy from IR Design – one of the well-regarded IDs in Renotalk.

6. Jacky (Baroque)

Very standard ID. His quote was the lowest of all the IDs we contacted. We met him at his office but we could not tell what quality of work he would provide. His quotation seemed very standard, seemed like a nice guy, but ultimately not the one for us.

The next post will be on Daniel, the ID we finally selected.

Edited by amirahpaul
 

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Our invaluable ID Daniel from I-deal House

Daniel was recommended by a friend, but we were initially more interested in his colleague Peter. Peter had several very strong reviews from folks at Renotalk, while Daniel is relatively new – very few detailed reviews on his work. I-deal House is also home to the famous Mr K, but we didn’t consider him as he sounded so very busy. We were afraid he might have too much on his plate. In the end, we decided to meet with Daniel before Peter. The plan to was meet Peter if we weren’t impressed with Daniel.

We eventually picked Daniel because he displayed excellent aesthetic sense (he graduated from NAFA), was very patient during the meeting, and was more than willing to check on matters he wasn’t sure about (i.e. aspects of HDB reno regulations). Funnily, we came close to not picking him as he asked for an extension in the deadline we set submitting the initial quotation. We thought: “Why even consider his quotation if he can’t meet the deadline unlike the rest?” Thankfully, we gave him an extra day and found the quotation to be more detailed than the others.

Compared to the other quotations we got, his was very transparent, honest and good-willed. For example, there were some complimentary items which we didn’t need, e.g. laminate flooring for bedrooms (we had sourced for our own parquet from a wholesaler). Daniel meticulously took out the free items we didn't want and showed which items we would get for free, in its place. He was the only ID to do this. Details like these might be why he took a longer time, and in any case, we felt an extension was fine given the detailed quotation he gave. The price was mid-range, and we negotiated till a satisfactory agreement was reached.

Now that the renovation is over, we are honestly very happy to recommend him in view of the following qualities:

1. Excellent attitude

- He was very honest in terms of costs -- what he could and could not absorb, if he overlooked something he was sincere in rectifying it. Just an overall honest chap. He's not the very calculative kind where every small change you make, they take the chance to ask for additional funds.

- He enjoys his work, is patient and accommodating. That came through from the many hours we spent together and also observing how he interacts with his sub-cons and other strangers we met.

- He also was understanding and very happy to design around Nuri's cat needs. Daniel took it as a challenge and heard out what we required. He ultimately came up with great ideas for our cat and really did a great job blending them into the flat's overall design. We'll go into those details in a later post.

- One example of his patience was how we chose all our paint colours and the painters did their jobs, and only then we realised we really didn't like the colour we chose for the living room walls and the kitchen! He was slightly taken aback but took it in his stride and asked the painters back and delivered a nice outcome. Another example of his patience was the experience of tile choosing. He walked with us for possibly 8 hours looking at tile after tile at hafary and soon bee huat. He kept a positive attitude throughout even though we were so tired and difficult to satisfy. He never hard sold his ideas but simply suggested design elements for us to consider. Choosing tiles is one of those mind-numbing experiences where it really helps to have a great ID.

- We joked that he is an "aunty killer" and he is just the kind of guy you would want to handle issues with neighbours. In our case there was an issue with the pipings in the flat below us and he got it handled with ease. Having a patient ID is important because some decision can take hours and hours, and you really want someone who gives ideas but doesn't push too hard to a decision if you are not ready yet.

2. Strong aesthetic sense & creativity

- Our soothing pastel theme may not have been the most exciting one to work with (he likes industrial looks and richer, warmer tones) but he did a great job understanding what we liked and designing for our simple taste.

- He is one of those gifted artists who take an idea and suddenly improve on it in a moment of inspiration. For example he came up with a cat-proof window-grille design through chatting with us, even though this was the first cat-friendly window grille he had ever done. He works through brainstorming with you and also gets ideas from magazines, restaurants, homes he sees elsewhere, hotels, etc. At the end you get a product that is very customised to your taste, only better. He really value adds. Later we'll post on the small details in our flat we especially like, many of which were improved by Daniel's presence.

3. Detail oriented, pro-active & competent

- His eye of detail and sense of initiative translates to higher standards for quality work than if we had a more sui bian ID, who only rectifies issues which clients point out. Daniel really pays a lot of attention to detail and he has strong values on good design. By the latter I mean that if something doesn't look good or he thinks it can be better, he won't be able to rest till he gets it fixed. One example is the aircon piping in the MBR. They were run against the ceiling and we were quite happy with it, yes they are large but they were above eye level. However they didn't sit well with Daniel and he decided to conceal them by boxing them up and adding down lights! He didn't charge us. He just could not live with the pipings. Another example is the door stop for the main door. We built a shoe cabinet right next to the main door, and we insisted on having a ‘door closer’ device so the main door would close on its own. This device sticks out so we needed a lagi big door stopper and Daniel had his subcon search high and low to find one. In the end we got this huge 14.5cm long one. A lesser ID would have mounted a normal door stop on a piece of wood and drilled it in but this wouldn't have looked neat and Daniel was very reluctant to do that. This is what we mean by strong values on design.

- Any completed works that we had issues with, he resolved. Simple and fuss free. He would call his sub cons back and have the problems fixed, even the small things. We had matt black beat lights in the living room. After they were installed, we wanted them to be staggered unevenly. We also realised the off-the-shelf bookcases we bought were wider than expected and the power point near it had to be moved. The electricians returned. We found a small bloated area on our storeroom door. The carpenter returned. It's in the small details that we were really thankful for Daniel's competent and patient team.

4. The recommendation wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t also state an area for improvement:

There were times he wasn't punctual, sometimes because he was listening to other clients who overrun their timeslots. We found that things were better if we checked with him via sms around an hour before our meetup if he would be on time. Daniel would respond very frankly and we made adjustments. On the whole, this is a small thing considering the fantastic working experience we had with him.

Overall, a great ID at good value. Happy to have found him.

Edited by amirahpaul
 

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