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Mission (Almost) Impossible - 25K 4Rm Bto Renovation

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Our Study (Renovation Complete!)

Primary school, I no like study.

Secondary school, I no like study.

Higher education, I also no like study.

But now I love my study!

This is a panoramic photo of the room, as viewed from the door. Check out the cute bookends (from Taobao) in our slanted cabinets. The man on the left is propping up the wall, the man on the right is running away from the falling wall. Funny sia :D

Both chairs are also from Taobao. The pink one still got the styrofoam on, haven't remove haha. More about them later.


This is another panoramic photo, view from the long wall. Really glad we decided to use simple laminate and paint colors. The wood and white basically match everything, so we can happily add splashes of color with objects instead. You can see the cyan dustbin (from Taobao), the pink chair (also from Taobao), and the cyan tempered glass, or acrylic. I forgot which it is - contractor throw in free for us one.


This is the last of the panoramic views, taken this time from the far wall. We're going to add a picture of Singapore to that frame! It's a copy of a pencil sketch by an architecture student - we bought it online. Support local talent!


Swivel table, pulled out. I've talked about this table to death, but there's one thing I didn't like about it - the orange wheels. I tried to get them changed, but the contractors told us that they couldn't find heavy duty wheels in black nor white. Sounds suspect to me, but the end result actually seems okay, now that there's more color in the room.

The wife also convinced me by saying "Aiya, any wheel use long enough also become black". Ok. Win liao lor.


Tempered glass board (one of the freebies we bargained for). We wanted it to add a touch of color for the room, and it also doubles up as a whiteboard for creative doodles.

Regret not thinking about magnetic materials instead (or like, adding some metal plate behind). Would have been fun to put up magnets and notes there. Still can use Blu-Tac lah, but less nice.


The Aladdin lamp on the table is a freebie from Eubiq. We got two, after much bargaining at a roadshow. Haha.

The pink chair from Taobao ($40) is really adorable. Its the Mrs. Always Right chair.

The black chair ($100) is really comfortable, and allows you to lean backwards to a large degree. But we are very disappointed :jawdrop: that the shipment misplaced the head rest. I suppose if I didn't mention it, you might not have noticed. But once you see it, you can't un-see it. The headrest is a really practical/useful feature for kicking back and relaxing, so I'm quite miffed! Off with his head! :curse:

Chairs in Singapore are priced quite competitively, I wouldn't buy it again, if I had a choice - money poorly spent.


Edited by jez2014

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Our Living Room (Renovation Complete!)

This is a panoramic photograph, with view from the window. This was before furniture was moved in. The light from the window is quite strong, and makes the long cabinet laminates look dark. I'll post a better image (much later in this post). Love the dining table light from Taobao (in the distance). Super cute!


Another panoramic view from the window, but this time with furniture up! I haven't had the time (or energy) to sort out the TV cables at the feature wall. During the handover, the TV cables were concealed behind the TV, but we itchy hand went to adjust - so they're sagging abit right now. I don't like saggy things, so I will fix that ASAP. Silicon does the trick well. Hoho.

We re still deciding how best to place our dining table. The original layout was to place the dining table with the short side against the wall. For now however, we have placed it with the long side against the wall. As a result, the dining table light is off-centre. It doesn't bother us though. Functionality over form in this case.

Laminates still appear darker than they really are. Later got picture, can see :D

All the ornaments on the shelf are from Taobao. Like. Really. All.


Panoramic view, from the front door. This photo is quite whitewashed (I apologize), but light was absolutely just streaming in from the window! Check out the light above the feature wall (furthest from camera), its from Taobao too! The sofa and coffee table are also from Taobao. My living room is a shrine to Taobao. Haha! :)


View of the feature wall, from the sofa. I love how our Eubiq track gives the wall a more seamless look. The only drawback is that for Eubiq, the sockets are oriented in one direction. The wires have to bend quite a fair bit, for the plug (head) to insert correctly into the socket - not sure if it will damage the wire in the long term.

Bending to insert correctly... Nevermind. Forget I said that. :notti:


This is the view from the walkway to the bedrooms. These are our full height cabinets. Told you the laminate was much lighter in color! :)

We opened up a recess nearest to the front door to put keys and stuff - its just a convenient place to dump things when stepping into the home. There's a T5 light built above the recess, and its currently switched on in this picture. We were in two minds about whether or not to make the recess match the black frame of the cabinets. In the end we chose a dark (but not exactly black), textured laminate for the recess.

Hence there's a color gradient/difference. Love the outcome (though we were basically gambling).

After seeing the final outcome, I wouldn't advise textured laminates unless you know what you're doing. I almost used alot more of it in the house - I'm really thankful I didn't.


This is our dining area. The dining table light is so cute! And by a stroke of good luck, it matches the stool we got (for changing shoes)!

We also ended up with an extra mirror (very long story), which you can see. We installed it next to the front door. It's really good for a last minute "check my hair" thing. It also prevents that wall from being too bare. Next to the mirror is an aluminum framed tempered glass door. We chose the rectangles to match the zen feature wall heheheh.

The Dining table and Eames chairs are actually from Taobao, and of VERY good wood. Our contractor took a look and said that it's made of teak beech (as corrected by Mrs Always Right) - he would have to charge up to $65 for fabricating just ONE leg. That's $260 per chair, excluding the moulded plastic part. @___@. Dunno whether he bluff us. Anyway, the chairs still have their foam padding on. Excited until forget to take out. Haha.

I think we spent $300 on the tables AND four chairs (one in storeroom). I would totally buy the chairs again, but the dining table isn't built 100% straight, so it doesn't flush against the wall well. If you stare really carefully (especially the part nearer to camera), the table legs are out of alignment - you can see they aren't following the straight line of the floor tiles below.

We are just thankful that its a small problem and not any worse.

Those of you who are very particular about alignment and stuff should avoid.


Many of you have asked about the sofa. It's not the softest sofa, but its comfortable, and has quite a few tricks up its sleeve haha! The middle pillow can be pulled down to reveal a drinks holder. I feel its good value for money. It also comes assembled (in modules). You just have to put the modules together and wait to hear the "click" sound to know it has caught. Modules also means the sofa modules can be adjusted (e.g. |__ or __| or even _|_ LOL!). If I have time I'll post more about the sofa.

I wouldn't recommend the sofa to those who're texture adverse or very picky about plushness though!

The wooden frame for the sofa also came in a much darker hue than what we ordered. We're trying to see if we can get 65 Daigou to fix it - but we can live with a dark brown frame.

Word of advice:

If you buy from IKEA or from Taobao, you can get your ID/contractor to assemble all the furniture for you if you can. They are the pros! Saves you alot of trouble. Don't be paiseh! We got them to install our bathroom hooks, mirrors, photo frames... they even helped to assemble our ah boy's colorful plastic toy cupboards and racks! :D

(We bought them TONNES of kopi and drinks and food though! Not heartless, just lazy! Ha ha!)

I don't think I will be posting anymore pictures till the weekend because:

1. To my living room and study look nice (haha!), I had to move ALL our boxes and barang barang into the other rooms. To make my other rooms look nice (for photos), I would have to move all the barang barang and boxes from the other rooms into the living room. Nah. Very tiring leh.

2. No internet connection in the new house until Friday. Sad. But true. Got mobile phone lah. But photobucket on 3G is just... -.-"

3. Must be more responsible and unpack lah. Everytime picture picture, wait get scolded by my wife!

Edited by jez2014

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Our Kitchen (Renovation Complete!)

This is home, truly, where I know I must be.

This room is called Kit Chan what.

I'm almost as amazed as my wife's ability to cook, as her ability to eat.

Each meal is an astounding, mountainous pile; her appetite is legendary in hushed circles. Her ability to cook however, is beyond legendary. Every cooked meal is instant noodles or pasta, in different flavours. I even once got pasta with two meatballs and a sausage arranged to look like a face. Much amaze here folks! :good:

Here's a photograph of our kitchen from the living room.

Because of our amaze cooking skills, we don't expect to cook much, we decided that non-glossy laminates were ok. For those who cook everyday, please choose glossy laminates - especially if its oily and tze char style with oil and woks - glossy laminates are easier to maintain/wipe down!

You should be able to see that a kitchen base was constructed, but NOT a fridge base. A few of the more responsible IDs/contractors we met explained that this is very common now. You want a kitchen base to prevent dust from accumulating under your kitchen cabinets. Its a very long row of cabinets, and will be very hard to wipe underneath. Fridges on the other hand, usually come with wheels or four point supports, so base or no base, you will still have to sweep under them :no:

You can see our technogas induction hood and hob - we bought most of our large household appliances from the same shop in Bedok. You can read more about the prices here. We chose induction hob because it boils water VERY quickly and safely (good for our little ah fat at home), as well as easier to wipe. The gas hob still must scrub :angry2: to clean out the grease etc. The laminate colors based on a picture off Google. Very pleased with the outcome.


Here's a panoramic photograph of our kitchen, as viewed from the glass door. Above the sink (in the distance) there is a dish rack. Most of the ID firms and contractors we visited would throw this in free. Just remember to ask, and get it down in writing, in the contract.

You should be able to see that the half height cabinets on the right make the kittchen look more spacious. Slight regret in using white laminate, for the right hand side ledge. Gets dirty easily and doesn't go very well with the rest of the kitchen. And yes, we are big fans of Starbucks. After drinking their calorie laden, very sweet coffee for years, it has turned us into even bigger fans of Starbucks LOL at my weighing scale.


These are the lower cabinets on the left hand side. Depth is good, accommodates two plates comfortably, and even the chopping board haha. For those of you worrying about "Oh, no must I go and measure my plates etc", there's no need. Typically the IDs and contractors are experienced enough to know what depth to build for the cabinets. Industry standard lah.

All our cabinets (in the whole house!) come with colored internal PVC finish, soft close [Excel(?) brand, much cheaper than Blum] and there are ABS trimmings for exposed surfaces. Will explain more about these for newbies in the next photo.

About half the crockery is free gifts from buying our fridge lol.


The next photo is a close up of the carpentry work (which was first requested by unfinished). This is the top left hand corner of our kitchen cabinets. You can see that the joints between the black laminates, where the pieces meet. You can also see for yourself the ABS finishing/trimming on the cabinet door.

Laminate vs PVC vs ABS... whuuut?

Ok as mentioned, for newbies, to save you the "on-the-job" learning we had to do (haha)...

Pasted onto the outside face of your cabinet is a fake piece of plasticky-sticker-thing. It's called "laminate". So wherever you go, whether you see a white glossy cupboard, black matt finish cupboard, leopard preen, or even a cupboard that looks like wood - it's all laminate. Just a sticker. (Some rich man house is got real wood one lah, but freaking ex).

The inside of your cabinets also have a sticker. This one is called PVC. So when you look at the picture above - our cabinets look like the internal is wood right? It's all stickers also. This time called "PVC". We chose PVC stickers that matched our laminates. The industry standard/default is white. Your ID/contractor will usually ask you to top up for colored PVC - but try to ask them to throw in free lah. Either for whole house, or one or two of your favorite rooms. Its not alot more expensive, but will make things look nicer. You can try to imagine if your external laminate is wood, and the internal is white... will look like from IKEA lor :dunno:. (PS. Our colored PVC was thrown in free, for whole house)

ABS finish. Stare closely at the bottom of the cabinet door. You should be able to make out a beige line running along the bottom and the left sides, that is the ABS finish. Without the ABS finish, the edges may feel rough, and the laminate joints will be more obvious. This is optional, but we also squeeze our contractor to give us free. He agreed to do so for all the exposed edges (places that the small ah fat is likely to touch - to prevent him from tearing out the laminate or getting wood splinters etc.)

I think its safe to say that for carpentry, whether to think its neat or not, or if the finish is up to mark is a matter of personal preference. You decide for yourself if its neat - as one man's meat is another man's poison!

Important Advice: we only provided one photograph. It is not enough. Because this is a matter of personal preference, we strongly suggest you ask your IDs and contractors to bring you to visit EXISTING renovations and NOT showflats. At a showflat, of course everything will be done up nicely! At an existing renovation site, there's nowhere to hide.


This. I must talk about. Its' our mega-mouthful "USB-chargeable LED motion sensor light". I know there's something bright in the picture - that's not it. That's the reflection from the sunlight on our dish rack. The light is white, located below the bright glare, and is hanging from two hooks.

You see, we never thought to install T5 lights underneath our dish rack, then realized one evening that it was abit too dark in the kitchen to wash dishes - there was still some evening light, but without the main light on, abit hard to see if the plates were clean.


Enter our saviour, from Taobao (of course), costs about $12 after shipping, and is a wonderful invention! Its motion sensor, so whenever we walk into the kichen to use the sink, it will turn on.

For those of you who are anal about aesthetics, its comes with a 3M metal strip to wall mount, and the light itself is magnetic - so you still can remove it to USB charge.

We only got one to test, but its proven its worth, and we have bought another four more to put at various places in the house (like the insides of some cabinets - opening the cabinet is motion, and it will light up).


Here's a close up of the light. It's quite slim, so not a problem squeezing it into most spaces.


Ok. We've covered everything but the kitchen sink ;)

Edited by jez2014

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Bedroom 1 (Renovation Complete!)

Bedroom 1 is very simply done up, as we want the room to grow with our son. We hope he grows more than the room haha. Therefore, the write up is also simple. Don't expect much!

This is the a panoramic photograph, showing the view from the door. The cabinets look warped but the are NOT. Its the photographer no skill, shaky hands.

As you can see, the thing we did in this room was the full height cabinets and window grilles (actually whole house also got grilles). The yellow shelf, the clock on the wall are from Taobao.


Panoramic view number 2, view from the far corner of the room. The shelves with colorful trays are from Taobao, as are the animals hanging from the wall. The floor mat outside the door is also from Taobao. We got our contractor to install (nail, hook, hang etc) most of the things that we bought.

The mobiles by the window were bought during our holidays, so - not from Taobao.


You can see from both photographs that there is a recliner in the room. The wife wants to read to the kid from this recliner. Yes, its from Taobao, and yes there have been many people asking about it (and the sofa).

Here it is:


And in the reclining position:


Comments on Taobao recliner:

The recliner takes up a space of about 1m x 1m. It fills up the recess quite nicely. The only (very minor) complaint we have is that the material was supposed to be microfiber. In reality, the material feels abit more like suede/velvet - but we can still tell its microfiber. On the plus(h) side, but it is VERY comfortable. Wife is looking forward to taking ah fat there, and making him a bookworm like us. For $200 inclusive of shipping, this is a steal. The cheapest recliner we could find (that fit into our tiny room) was $400 at Lorenzo.

Edited by jez2014

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Our Master Bedroom (Renovation Complete!)

Playing bridge is like having sex.

You either have a d@mn good partner

Or you'll need a d@mn good hand.

Woody Allen. Not me, I not Creative. I not like Sim Wong Hoo. :notti:

The first photo I present is a panoramic shot showing the view from our MBR window. I had to squeeze my sweet cheeks against the window for this shot, so you better appreciate the effort. I was literally hauling a$$ for this shot.

As I've mentioned in this post here, we made changes to the carpentry in our MBR, and we're unveiling them here (faster than an Arab can unveil his wife):

1) Adding full height cabinets along the long wall.

2) Adding a table, which you can see below the TV.

The Aladdin lamp on the table is free, courtesy: Eubiq.

The blue lit circle next to it is comes from our Eubiq USB charger. The only kind of charge I like... as opposed to service charge, conservancy charge, lawsuit charge :deal:

If you're wondering where the service yard window is, its behind the cabinets (nearest the gray wall). :jawdrop: I've posted a picture below to show how this works.


This photo is a panoramic view of the master bedroom from the toilet door. The lights in the windows opposite the toilets come from the HDB blocks which face us. Which means when I come out of the bathroom, I cannot display my fullest glory for my wife. Haizzz.

You should be able to make out the top cabinets above the bed more clearly. The wife insisted on the top cabinets, to maximize the space above the bed. The top cabinets have an S-shaped design (3 doors on top, 2 doors below). This was courtesy of my good friend, Google. I like to Google S-shapes... you all know what kind lah 8| .

Something worth mentioning: Our contractor was against the idea of the top cabinets as they might feel claustrophobic. After some discussion, he proposed creating a headboard for the bed (with the T5 light). He felt the headboard would "push" the bed further outwards, and we wouldn't be looking at our top cabinets as we slept.

The wife and I actually didn't care about the claustrophobia, but ok. The room looks much cosier with the T5 lights in the end. Hehe. :)

PS. The dustbin is from Taobao. Its cheap and functional. All I can say is, its not trashy. Hoho.


As promised, this is the service yard window is located. You can see its behind the full height cabinets. In order to ensure the air-con servicemen can service the compressor outside, we chose to run a "pole" system. You can see the two poles. North pole and south pole haha.

If the air con needs servicing, down come the poles (and everything on them - currently hanging there is all the wife's clothes. Not my problem haha). To get even more space out of this cupboard, the contractors also added one more plank in the cabinet, ABOVE the service yard window. It's not in the photo because this is an old picture - which explains how I suddenly made it change from night time to daytime :D


The L-shaped cabinets run pretty deep. We managed to pack alot of clothes into them. The doors also swing very wide (I think almost 180 degrees). You can see this from the photo below. Swing wider means it easier to pack stuff clothes if when we get fat haha!

"The best way to avoid getting fat, is to BE fat". Quoted for truth. Courtesy: Yours truly.

By the way, all the clothes in the photograph belongs to the wife. My clothes are located in that tiny cupboard door to the right (currently being blocked by the open swing door). And I only occupy HALF of that cupboard.


This is the table we requested. We made many measurements because we weren't convinced that there would be enough space for me to pass through, to get to my side (the inner side) of the bed. Now that I've lived in the home for a week or so, I can safely say, yup, no problem. But cannot put on weight - much incentive to exercise HAHA. The table is also special hoho.


It folds down. It's not anything unheard of, or ingenious, but I think its useful - and I'm pretty proud that I came up with the suggestion :)

Our table folds down to make more space, if not required. The folding down mechanism is pretty simple to operate.

When the contractor first brought us to see the finished table, he explained how to fold down the table - there's a catch under the table to press on.

Then I asked him "This table so easy to use? Got catch or not?" I thought I funny sia hahaha!


Ok. Six photograph limit used up. My wife wants me to use the rest of tonight to tidy up - I said ok. What she doesn't know is I will use it to tidy up my my earlier posts, not our room. Hohoho!

Edited by jez2014

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Our Toilets (Renovation complete!)

Toilets always remind me of a my mother. Let me tell you a story. A long time ago in... KL, we were on holiday, and when we arrived at Berjaya Times Square, her first comment was "Wow, this place has alot of toilets... Left, right, centre, also all toilets!"

I was quite surprised, so I asked her "We just stepped into the mail, its our first time here, how can you tell there are many toilets??" :jawdrop:

She said there were signs. Indeed there were. All around us there were signs saying "To let". Not toilet lah! True story.

No toilet humour from me in this post, I promise! :notti:

The first picture is of the common toilet. There's nothing much of note, except that the hooks and toilet sink + vanity top came from Taobao. The hooks were an awesome buy. The sink + vanity top, not so much. You can read about the terrible sink here.


The MBR toilet is abit more exciting, so I've got more photos of that. Here goes!

You might have read about our bath tub and tile selection process, which can be found here. After the tub was done, we also added the sink + vanity top and a relatively unmodest mirror to the wall adjacent to the door.

The first panoramic photo shows the view from the front door. As you can see, the mirror has a black aluminum frame, and covers practically the entire wall, starting from the door. For those of you who find it visually confusing, the left hand side is a reflection.

Towel racks came from Taobao. The mirror was bought from our contractor (forgot the price). He encouraged us to go IKEA to find small mirrors, but we were unwilling to do so for large ones.


Here's another panoramic view, this time from the toilet bowl area. You'll notice that our door doesn't have hooks. That was a oversight, and we're getting it rectified in our final touch ups in two weeks time.

If you look carefully here, there's a bag of stuff just above the bath tub...


The bag is actually a bag of seashells. We've been to a couple of beach vacations, and each time we'd pick some seashells we like, all in order to do something like...

This! :)

Zero practical value, but quite happy with how it turned out. We're placing it at the bath tub for now.


If you were wondering where I got my white sand from, its from Taobao. No. You cannot order sand from Taobao. Its part of my minature Zen garden set. The Zen garden, in case you're wondering, was placed in my study. NOT the toilet!


Lastly, here's a small freebie which your contractors/IDs should be able to do. I've mentioned them before, but leftover iQuartz from your kitchen counter tops can be used to fabricate bathroom ledges, and here's how they look like when completed:


Edited by jez2014

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Renotalk. After this, I no talk

I now have a real home to clean, and a baby to wean. So I'm going to have to make this quick, and use this post to discuss four things:

1. Reveal our final renovation budget, and some tips
2. Talk about our movers - they are a team of ex-drug addicts and/or ex-convicts who have turned over a new leaf.
3. Tips for moving house

4. That Taobao Sofa

1. Our final renovation budget

The final cost of renovations came to an auspicious $28,888.

Our initial budget was $25k, and we could have stayed on budget had we:

a. NOT installed the glass door for the kitchen (about $800-900)

b. NOT installed the folding table for our MBR (about $500)

c. NOT built the full height cabinets in baby's room (about $1.5k)

Most of the above was added as an afterthought.

We compared about 7 quotations from different companies, and I remember contractor JE's prices - for some items, they are actually mid range (means, not cheap), but they seem to be quite cheap for carpentry.

ALWAYS REMEMBER TO BARGAIN! Our final renovation costs was $31++k, but we bargained this down to $28,888. Even our initial quotation from JE was about $27k, but we bargained that down to $24,888. Throughout the WHOLE negotiation, we were very clear that our budget was $25k. You need to let them know.

PLEASE BUDGET FOR APPLIANCES. Our household appliances, air con, TVs, Eubiq system and random crap (like cleaning towels, mops, decor items, storage boxes etc) easily cost us $15k in total!

2. Our Movers (really moved us!)

They're called the Gethsemane Ministry. You can read more about them here.

There is a similar moving team called the Helping Hand, you can read about them here.

Both are Christian/Church affiliated organizations, and although we are both NOT Christian, we feel that they are worthwhile causes. The moving fee also seems reasonable. Gethsemane Ministry charges $300 per 15 foot truck, and Helping Hands charges $400 per 15 foot truck.

Service: Gethsemane Movers
Gethsemane Ministry is wonderful to work with!

They are so polite its almost funny!
All these big burly men with ang kong (dialect: tattoos), then speak like elves and tiptoe gently in your house dancing like pixies...

Two to three weeks before moving, we called them to make a "survey/appointment". They will come to your EXISTING place, to see how much furniture and/or stuff you have to move. Based on what we showed them, the estimated one 15 foot truck would be enough. We were given an afternoon slot, 2pm.


They provide exactly 30 boxes, and additional boxes (if required) may be purchased at $2 each. The boxes are of a good size, but a little on the short side. Some of our taller items had to be packed in our own boxes (we have alot of boxes from our Taobao adventures).

The only minus point of the whole experience was that they were held up by their morning appointment. Apparently the morning home owner had a couple of furniture to dismantle and reassemble, which held them up. :dunno: Bo pian. Wait lor. They arrived close to 4.30pm.

The team was 8 men strong, or 8 strong men, both sentence structures work :sport-smiley-003: . Armed with their trolleys, they shrink wrapped our bed and everything was moved from our existing flat (parent's place lah) to our new BTO in about an hour. Much WOW! They were also very careful with our fragile boxes - something I liked. They made sure the fragile boxes were the last to be loaded, and also the last to be unloaded. Not that there's any advantage to being last - but at least they were aware which were fragile!

The final cost was indeed $300, no hidden charges. As a token of goodwill, we gave each of the movers a nice red packet... drink. HAHA. Kidding. Got both packet drink and red packet lar.

3. Tips for Moving House

We thought we would also share some simple tips when moving house. Not saying that we are very smart, we just happened to read them!

1. Newspapers. Few months before moving, you can start to store newspapers. Yes. No more selling to the karang guni for twenty cents. In fact, if he comes to your house, you ask him to sell you big stack for twenty cents. See he happy or not LOL. Newspapers are a very cheap way to stuff boxes so the contents won't shake around, and for regular items, can absorb some shock. (Bubble wrap is still MUCH better for very fragile items - I won't recommend newspapers for fragile things.)

2. Label. Every box you pack should be labelled with its contents - so you know which to unpack first. For example, on moving day, you dua lau sai (hokkien: big diarrhea), you better know quickly which box contains your toilet paper. You should also label the ROOM it goes to. That way, you can get the movers to put the boxes in the correct rooms for you, rather than everything dump into the living room and "later then sort".

3. Red color paper or tape. Use red papers or tape to tape up the boxes with fragile items so that the movers know at one glance which to be more careful with. It also helps YOU to watch what they are doing with those boxes, and quickly "oei" them, if they are too rough with those.

4. Penknife! You will definitely have a hand carry bag - I mean, some super valuable things like gold bars, or ultra sensitive company or state secrets in your laptops. Bring a penknife or scissors ALONG in that HAND CARRY bag. You don't want to pack all your penknives and scissors away nicely, then move liao... how to open the boxes? -cricket chirps-

4. That Taobao Sofa

Here are photos of that Taobao Sofa. For $300 including shipping, its reasonable.

We got fabric, which has washable covers, and the sofa came assembled. You just have to "click" things together. You can see the hook for yourself, later.

The material is sufficiently comfortable. Feels like fabric, loh.


It's quite a good size, and comes with a pull down cup holder. We were a little disappointed that the holder didn't come with circular rings, for cups - but then we realized this way it can hold BOWLS lol. Maggi and TV. My favourite.


This photo is taken from the top view, the brass/metal thing is what the sofa parts/modules go into.


That's all from us, I had alot of fun doing this! Reminds me of the days back in school, when blogging was popular haha. Ok! Good luck with your own homes :)

Edited by jez2014

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If Only I could Turn Back Time
"If only I could turn back time..."
There's a very soulful song by Aqua (wah eons ago!) with those words.
I remember this song well, because it was the song that was playing on the radio the day my wife was due to give birth. :jawdrop: Sian. Regret that successful sperm. :angry2: (She was having contractions, I am having confessions). LOL.

Things that could have gone better - Lessons we learnt when dealing with Contractors
Anyway, after working with JE for the better part of 3 months, here are our top FIVE biggest regrets. Like any good radio top hits countdown, we have songs for each!

5. Punctuality
"I will be right here waiting for you..." and
"Twenty five minutes too late..."

A painful and strange mash up of Richard Marx and MLTR plays softly in my head whenever I have to meet JE.

Actually, Contractor J is generally punctual.

Contractor E on the other hand, (who is the 2nd IC) is quite terrible at keeping time. When E says he is arriving in half an hour, I usually go and have lunch, then put my baby to sleep, then take a bus to my new place - just on time to meet him. :fire:

Ok perhaps its abit of an exaggeration, but contractor E is definitely not punctual. We were quite miffed when, on one particular appointment with City Gas, E was so late that the City Gas people packed up and left without him ever arriving. We had no clue how to lay the piping, and we couldnt advise the City Gas people without E being around. :jail: Of course, contractor E apologized profusely, and after THAT experience, he was generally never that late again.

Why is contractor E always late? Your gas is as good as mine. Haha.

4. Updated Variation Orders
A.B.B.A. sings for you "Money, money, money..." I miss Mambo T_T

We made a number of changes midway through the renovation. Although we pressed Contractor E (him again!) for the updated Variation Orders, they never came. So when the final Variation Order came, we realized it was quite significantly over budget.

The good news is, when we explained to them that we had constantly chased them for the updated Variation Orders AND we stood very firmly by our budget, E was understanding, and quickly came down on the price. A compromise was quickly and painlessly reached.

Also, to be fair to Contractor E, they are VERY busy. Our secondary school classmates are trying to sign them up for their renovation, and they were told to be prepared to wait until April for works to start. Luckily they are in no rush to move in. Punggol mah. Who wants to move in quickly to Punggol?

-cricket chirping in background-

Whatever ID or contracting firm you choose, please insist on updated Variation Orders at every step of the way!

The final Variation Order we received, although shocking, was not something we could not afford. I'm certain however, that there are many people who are cash-strapped (Not poor, mind you! Maybe stuck in stocks, or they own a car or something)

If a few extra hundreds will matter to you, make it clearly known!

Chiong sua time (hokkien: literally charge hill, meaning in the army) anything happen better check with RO, CO etc
Phua Chu time (hokkien: moving house) anything happen better check the VO. :bow:

3. TV point (Master Bedroom)
"You change your mind, like a girl changes clothes..." Katy Perry. In case people think we not hip enough. :yeah:

Like any typical Singaporean auntie, we changed our minds at the last minute. If you don't believe me, check out any sale lor. Some auntie in the queue will surely either:
a. Run out of the queue to grab something else "eh xiao di (mandarin: little brother) ah, help me chope awhile". OR
b. Throw something out from her cart. "This one not cheap enough, dont want lah".

If you need further proof that Singaporean aunties change minds at the last minute, just drive along the PIE. There will be some siao lang (hokkien: mad person) who will cut across all three lanes just to get to an exit, then decide against it and filter out again. Usually woman driver. HO HO. I open can of worms here. But my wife say I drive like gu niang (mandarin: effeminate lady), so don't worry sistas, I got your backs here. :ph34r:

So what did we change our minds about? Well, at the very last minute, we decided to build a custom table for the master bedroom - above the existing TV point. The wife's first thought was aiyah, we don't watch much TV anyway.

After the table was fabricated and mounted however, the hamsum hubbs (yes, yours truly) decided he needs TV in bed. Can watch A-pian (mandarin: literally A-movie, meaning kinky shows.) HOHO.

The walls had been painted and the electrical wiring had all been done. The TV point was below our table. No choice. Cannot rewire. What to do? Drill into the table and box up the wires lor.

Were not particularly fussy about how our bedroom looks eventually it will be a mess anyway, but this is something we would advise other Renotalkers to carefully consider. Where do you want your TV?? While the living room TV point usually makes -some- sense, the bedroom one is usually too low - so if you wall mount a TV in your MBR, the wire will be dangling from wall to TV point. UGLY! HDB, why you so bodoh! :bangwall:

2. Taobao
Adam Freeland comes to mind here. "We want your soul..."

Online purchasing has become buy buy buy! Madness! They want my soul! And like bargains with the devil Sometimes you get lucky, other times you get burnt. Enough has been said in this post here. Some hits, some misses. We had a sinking feeling (haha).

One last piece of Taobao advice to dish out is very related to the number one regret in our countdown (in blue font, below)

1. Timeline
"Dont lose your way, with each passing day..." Hands up if you know Diana Ross. Okay. I see you. And you. All you old, wrinkly hands.

We didn't get a timeline from Contractor E when work commenced. Again, to be fair, J and E are VERY busy, and we are the chin chye (dialect: flexible, reed in the wind) type of couple. So although Contractor E apologized at least thrice on three different occasions for not drawing up a timeline for us, we felt no need for one, as we were already halfway done with the renovation by then.

Towards the end however, excitement builds up. Which reminds me of my colonoscopy two days ago, where excrement built up. Maybe it was the excitement (or the excrement) but the past two weeks we have felt very anal about the handover. We couldn't wait for the finished product.

There were significant delays at the end - one of which was totally unforeseen. A worker cracked the tempered glass of our induction hob by mistake. The company immediately offered to replace one for us, no questions asked. But it took time for the glass to come.

No glass, cannot cook. No food, cannot stay. LOL.

Also find it funny that glass coincidentally ends with a$$. My colonscopy. HOHO.

BUTT alas! The Taobao regret and this Timeline regret combined put us into deep $hit. Our forwarding agent, 65Daigou has a clause whereby defects must be reported within three working days of receipt. I'll give you an example of why this matters:

Worked Example 1
Your contractor says the house will be ready by Monday and asks you to deliver the sofa on Monday. You diligently do so. 65Daigou delivers as planned on Monday. But wait! The Contractor experiences a delay. So your sofa sits in a box in your living room until Friday, when the Contractor can finally open it. You open it on Friday and find it comes in the wrong color. Kenna sai! (This post full of $hit. The sofa color also look like $hit LOL).

You report this to 65Daigou, but basically youre screwed and waiting for goodwill on the forwarding agents part, because it is past the three day deadline to check for defects. :bangwall:

Like I've said, we are actually a very easy going couple, so we dont really mind. The color is dark brown instead of light brown. We'll see what can be done. But those of you who are more anal retentive should take note of this:

Make sure you contractor sticks to the timeline, especially for you to check for Taobao defects!


So you have it! Our top few regrets, in our Renovation process. We've also tried to give a fair appraisal of J and E. Not everything was a bed of roses. Sometimes got dung beetle hiding inside.

Our Home (Photos)
Our last post wont have much text. We've already reserved many posts - and we will use those to post pictures of our completed home. We will post these next weekend.

Lastly, for those who want to know the contacts of J and E, youre free to continue to PM us (though we probably wont check often), but honestly, J and E are well known in the forums. You'll find them if you look :wub:

Our swan song
I walked past a senior citizens karaoke session near my block...

Eternal flame:
"Close your eyes, give me your hand dah-ling,
Do you feel my hard big thing..."

True story. @_@

Edited by jez2014

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Mega Insomnia.

The wife talks in her sleep. Tonight is about a rocking chair.

This is definitely better than one night (long time ago), when she pointed to the ceiling and said there was a boy staring at her from the ceiling. At that time, we were newly weds and I hadn't yet figured out that she sleep talks.

IT WAS FREAKING SCARY CAN! Whole night couldn't sleep!

Belated replies

We're really sorry this comes so late but...

@Andey Kurniawan:

You let us know how the grooves cut into the carpentry are done!

Thanks for letting us know about the routing bit (hope I spelt it right!). I never knew how it was done, but we liked the thought that went into the process of fabrication! If its easily done, hopefully other Renotalkers can tell their contractors to do the same for their carpentry work :)

P.S. Your name suggests that you're Indonesian! Let me practice my Bahasa Indo - Saya pernah belajar Bahasa Indonesia untuk salah satu kursus di dalam Universitas. Tapi, sudah lama, jadi ada banyak kata yang saya sudah lupa.

-Phew- It's been a long time since I took that university elective module.


Hi, you requested for close up photographs of the finish and carpentry?

Yup, we will post those up along with the completed home photos next weekend. I must say however, that photographs can be doctored. So even if I post very good quality work, you can't take it at face value. Furthermore, you and I might have different opinions about what constitutes "good" workmanship :)

Nothing beats going down to visit the contractor's EXISTING renovations and seeing the work for yourself. Note that I say "existing" and not "showflat". No point going to see their showflats - of course done up nicely, what. Current projects will give a better idea of their handiwork.

@Doris Chin:

You asked about our Taobao sofa?

Yes! The sofa is unwrapped. I would highly recommend it to others (at the price). My wife thinks its a little bit "hard" to sit on, but I cannot complain for the price we got it at. I will take pictures and put them up together with the completed house (you guessed it, also next weekend).


You asked about the technogas induction hood?

We haven't used it, and we had an unfortunate accident (see previous post here). It's been replaced, but we are waiting to move in properly before using it! Next weekend I'll let you know as we're throwing a small housewarming! :)

Edited by jez2014

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**** I saw this as you posted your swan song... awww.

May I have your JE contacts please? Thanks...

BTW, very entertaining T-blog haha. I can imagine how much time you spend at the keyboard making the font colours different and stuff lol.


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Hello jez, love your t blog, informative as well as funny. V enjoyable to read your t blog.

Thanks for sharing contractor J details with me as well as give me tips for a head uP.

please share more pictures when you done renovating. Waiting to see your final beatiful outcome 😊😊


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