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X6GT

Chronicles Of A Simple Bathroom Without Gold Taps

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Hahaa... initially I had started a community blog but then decided a T-blog here seems more fun as the useful input from people (who are more experienced than I am when it comes to home renos) is more instantaneous and that would really help to guide me along in real life as I'm battling through my crazy renovations.

So... here's the story.

I had initially set out wanting to DIY my bathroom renovations. I had lofty ambitions of doing it as I'm in a 'transition' period at the moment so have some free time on my hands to, err, do something with my hands. Also, my budget is(was!) very small... I was only able to afford to comfortably fork out $3k max for these renovations, which I reckoned would mostly go towards the materials and only in the case of really needing the professionals to do stuff I really knew I could not do (i.e. plumbing and waterproofing) would I use part of that small budget I had squirreled away for engaging them. I am very confident in my own dexterity and my skills; on top of that, I am also someone who never ever thinks anything is beyond learning and doing. I was adamant I neither wanted to use an ID nor a contractor, as I have done some brickworks and other cementing work before in my life. Plus, I've been spending the last few months watching Youtube videos so am now suitably qualified as an armchair contractor! :jammin:

However, after several heated arguments with my parents (neither of whom was forking out a single cent for this reno), I gave up and was forced to engage 'professionals' for this job. I calculated, albeit naively, it would cost me 'a bit more' than my initial budget, probably in the region of $4k, which from my extensive research was a general estimate for most bathrooms. I thought that since I simply wanted a very SIMPLE and industrial theme, it was not at all like all those expensive showy bathrooms with gold taps and other such nonsense. I mean, my name doesn't start with TT :no:

Boy was I wrong. And stupid/naive/egotistic/narcissistic to not have seen this from the start!

Sure, some of you are saying "If you don't have money, why waste it on something so useless and impractical as a bathroom renovation?". I know we don't spend most of our time in the bathroom, that not everyone who comes to the house will use the upstairs bathroom and besides, here's the funnier thing-- I don't even live in the house! But. Sadly, I have always hated my family house because the design, colours and funishings are so puke-worthy fugly. Every time I use the bathroom (and I don't even go back that often! Like once every 3months??) I am reminded of how it looks worse than the kampong toilets I've been to in my lifetime. Kampong toilets are actually decent looking, even though they aren't too hygienic. Anyway my bathroom is so fugly until I cannot stand it. I don't know what Keppel was thinking when they built the place-- was the designer a 5000yr old Englishman stuck in delusions of the 17th century? It's that bad.

So, anyway. The fact that I was so adamant to do this is testament to my deep hatred for the bathroom, and to the fact that I'm not doing this to 'show off' to people but instead this is a real personal issue I have with the bathroom. I want to go in and feel "Ah...such a nice, clean, modern bathroom. I feel so relaxed, happy and peaceful...", not "OMG this place is so fuglyyyyyy, this would be the perfect place to hang myself in!". Basically too much of the spaces I do use when I go back are very shamefully fugly, and such an eyesore especially when nobody bothers to take care of anything. It's bad enough that fugly is not something you can wash away with bleach... imagine fugly and years of willful neglect. So I decided to take remedial action as soon as I had saved up enough.

As a result, I am now almost $8k out of pocket as the cost of this g-**** reno keeps escalating by the day. And when I say I really, really, really cannot afford it, I mean it. I'm not one of those people who always claim they're broke but in their bank accounts there's enough money to feed the entire continent of Africa for a week. As an entrepreneur, I have no savings. Zero. The first time I saw more than 2 zeroes in my bank account was when I was 29, when I got a good project that paid well enough for me to save a little rather than live from hand to mouth. And now, because of this bathroom reno, I am back to square one :angry2:

Edited by X6GT
 

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3 Basic Tips on choosing a contractor (this is going to be a long post!):

TIP 1: Cheap is not always good, good is not always cheap. 'Gan jue' is usually your best guide la... although it can be wrong!

I'll tell you why.

After having read about so many good (and bad) contractors and IDs here on Renotalk for years, I did try to contact some of them unfortunately the famous ones did not respond to me. I also paiseh to chase them because my job is very small (in my mind) compared to other people who are maybe doing 2 or 3 bathrooms or with other areas of their houses costing more than $50k :unsure:

So how I went about selecting was, immediately upon calling contractors on the phone, said to them: "Do you take small jobs? Just 1 small toilet hacking". I went straight to the point so as to not waste anybody's time. Secondly, I rattled off exact measurements (for those who had Whatsapp, I included pictures), and asked for a rough estimate. Just a ballpark figure would do-- because if you know what the market rate is for your own bathroom, you will straight away know if this person is bullcrapping you if their figure is way off. Next, from those who actually bothered to reply, I immediately tried negotiating with them and asked them to come on site to view the place in person to show I was serious and not just asking for fun.

Finally, with my flawed selection process I had narrowed it down to 4 guys: One I shall call David, one Ah Zhong, one Alex and the last one was a Peter [names resembling any person living or dead strictly incidental].

David

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David was one of those IDs masquerading as a contractor. When asked if his was an ID company or contractor, he evaded the question. But eventually, from his quotation I saw that his company was touting itself as an ID company. Anyway, he was a 40-something uncle who was pretty conversant in English and seemed like a nice, Christian man. He seemed the most promising yet turned out to be most disappointing.

I started communicating with him from around October last year. I asked him to come over and give a quotation. He turned up and was initially nice and pleasant. He was surprised I could engage him in serious discussions on technical matters, and praised me for all my knowledge on construction. After all, I was the one who was supposed to be doing all this myself... impossible that I don't know anything. We chatted a long time about the job scope, my design theme etc. At that time, I had already bought my Italian tiles because they had been on a really good sale (I essentially got Italian tiles for the price of China tiles!), so I told him I would need a quotation only on the labour. He seemed disappointed there and then, as it obviously meant he would not be able to chop me on fittings and tiles.

Anyway, then I was busy, and he was busy to properly follow up but he did send me a quotation after a couple of weeks. I told him I didn't agree with some of his pricing, and also wanted to take out some charges that did not make sense, because I could easily do them myself (eg. hack the existing shower screen, take off the sink etc) for free. I had issues with a number of items and he said it was "negotiable"... Also, because I had previously told him I only wanted a quotation for the works and not for any tiles/sanitaryware, I then told him that for the things that I hadn't bought yet (at that time, the WC, sink, vanity etc), I was happy to get recommendations from him. come December, I was already free and told him I wanted to get started on the renovations ASAP but he didn't respond in time. He then he got busy and was not able to meet me bla bla and then it was almost time for me to leave Singapore for a few weeks.

A few days before I flew off, I found out that Interior Affairs was having a massive sale whereby my coveted Roca WC was going for only about $700 (usual price about $1+k). I had wanted to buy it immediately, but because I hadn't commenced my renovations then, it seemed premature and I was afraid I might buy the wrong thing (outlet measurements etc). Those worries, as I now know, were unfounded and I should have just bought the d**n thing. David not only 'recommended' me the same model for $1.2k (despite me having told him I was looking for a medium-range European WC for around $600), he also 'recommended' me a vanity+sink for $600+ when I clearly told him my budget was only $400 (I eventually got one at $380 lor!).

So from there, I knew his markup was massive...either that, or he didn't have an extensive network of cheap lobangs. This one, you need to be aware of also when engaging your ID, folks... yes it's normal that some IDs/contractors may get some things cheaply and others not so cheap. However, if you notice that the items your ID/contractor are selecting for you are consistently on the high price side, you should just look for the stuff yourself. Sometimes they like to take advantage of the fact that you are too busy to scour every single shop, to chop you; however, take note that you don't have to go to the extreme of walking around days and days to find your stuff at good prices...they can be had in just a couple of hours going to the strategic places like IMM, Balestier Rd or Geylang. And obviously, walking into these shops knowing exactly what you want.

What made my choices more difficult was also that I wasn't just looking for cheap China roadside trash, but cheap high end stuff. I believe that if you're at the right place, right time and you are lucky, sometimes, you can find these really value deals that are high-end... either because they are a display item, or because they have a slight aesthetic defect that nobody would notice and that you can live with, or it's a stock clearance item etc. So, it is possible to get cheap and good in the case of products! But services, not so much.

Oh, anyway. About David. So I was away for a few weeks and then when I got back to Singapore, I contacted him again and asked how. He said 'let's talk' and proposed coming over to the place. After a few appointments he missed, he finally turned up. This time we clarified again the scope of work for finality's sake, but he didn't talk price... it didn't strike me as odd that he had quietly put away my printed copy of his earlier quotation and written other things in his notebook as we were talking. After a while, he left saying that he would give me a revised quotation. I remember thinking, great, he's going to reduce the quotation and I can soon pay him the deposit and start work then.

But he did not. A few days later, after I pestered him for not e-mailing me the quotation, he finally replied by text: $8.5k.

Just for labour! And no binding contractual quotation at all (so that he can have a free pass to charge me more and more if he wished, as the renovation proceeds). My jaw dropped. And instead of reducing the amount, he had jacked it up more than twice the original $3675 figure he gave me. For no reason whatsoever! I did not add anything to my scope of work, in fact dropped a few things as mentioned earlier (hacking shower screen, supply and installation of shower screen door etc) so it should have cost a lot less. I immediately decided I was not going to take such a dishonest man who could not even do a simple thing as keep to his word, to do my renovations. Honesty and integrity to me are paramount, and clearly this man had none. A shame too, because I had favoured him over the rest because his Christian faith resonated with me. So, no David :angry2:

Aiyah anyway he's the old fashioned uncle kind... it did not seem like he knew anything about my industrial theme so might have screwed it up.

Alex

This guy was a contact provided from Renotalk. He did forumner Koori's bathroom and it seemed she was happy with him so I decided to try him. After texting him (asking if he would do my small job) on my old phone, I realised from the conversation thread that I had actually contacted him back in early 2014 but he obviously did not reply me! This time though, he replied and agreed to come over to give a quotation. He did eventually come over, but after weeks of chasing him, I still got no quotation so I said forget it la :dunno:

Peter

This guy was initially an obligatory on my list. Meaning, I just threw him in to make my dad happy. Apparently he was the one who did my parents' kitchen& backyard reno last year and I was obliged to ask him for a quotation. It was really hard to get him to respond at all, and very frustrating because he would never reply texts and would not answer calls.

But finally my dad managed to get him to meet me on site (like after 3months of him ignoring me). I have to say, he's quite suitably qualified and from the photos that his men showed me, he has done a lot of cement screed flooring/ industrial themes before so I was pleasantly surprised. He's also an amiable guy, and his men are smart so from my 'gan jue', I think he would do a good job...although probably at a slightly higher price than I was willing to spend.

However, he did not have a sense of urgency (as mentioned), and he did not get back to me even though I said I wanted to finish my job by New Year (1 week before 19th at least). When my dad chased him for a quotation, he did reply me with something-- but not for the bathroom, for the bedroom instead :disturb:

Ah Zhong

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This guy is actually a wet works contractor who advertises all over the newspapers. He only does wet works/ bathroom stuff, so can be said to specialise in it therefore one would surmise he would be quite good at it and relatively cheap (economies of scale, repetitive conditioning). That was why I engaged him.

However, here are the ghastly cons:

Firstly, I think he's busier than the President. Well he would respond to your texts by calling you back once a day (either early in the morning or around 8pm), rattling off useless assurances and then hanging up on you. Bewildering behaviour, but in some ways better than the radio silence of all those people who ignore you.

He's also, how shall I say... I'll try not to use the word rude, but extremely brusque. He would not listen to you, would talk over you, cut you off and has a somewhat aggressive know-it-all demeanour. On top of that, he told me (rather abruptly, even though he had come to view the place) that he didn't want to do the hacking work because it was a hassle (the bathroom being on my 3rd storey), and told me to find someone else to do the hacking first then find him to do the tiling... and hung up on me yet again. But you know what? He offered what I thought was the cheapest price, so I engaged him despite actually getting a better deal (at that time, I DID NOT KNOW HE WAS GOING TO CHEAT ME AND ADD ON COSTS) with another tiler.

Third, even though he initially offered a really good price for what I needed done, when the renovations commenced, he went back on his word and played me out. And you know what? Apparently he had short-changed the subcon too... wow, talk about scummy. If you scam me, sure, it's because you're opportunistic and think I'm a rich carrot to chop...fine; but if you cheat those poor guys who slave and break their backs for you while you collect a cool $2000 profit, wow. I have nothing to say :no:

I have zero respect for people like that. Of course, yes, I know...everyone's saying you should have signed a contract first bla bla. Easier said than done, if you are dealing with these kind of fly-by-night kind of people with their pressure tactics. I trusted him when he said it was $1800 all inclusive. Only on the day of him starting works (after my hacking was done by another subcon who was his friend), Ah Zhong asked for the deposit based on the 'new' inflated price :deal: I was literally speechless when he said "Plus the $700, I give you $2500 la"; apparently the $700 was for "all the cement, W1(which by the way was not even a full jerry can, just barely half) materials". I was aghast because...remember those many times I confirmed with him on the phone and in person that $1800 was the total price? Well, that and the fact that during the initial stages when I had first asked him to do both the hacking and the tiling, he had said "I only do tiling, $1800. If you want me to hacking, extra $700 because I have to call people." So he had said that the price of $1800 was inclusive of all the materials, but when I got someone else to do the hacking (which cost me an additional $1050), he tries to find another way of scamming me for the additional $700 under the guise of materials cost??? WTF MAN.

And when I protested that that was TOTALLY not what he said, he basically went "ai mai?" on me and said if I didn't agree to the new price, he would just take all the cement and materials and go. He knew he had trapped me, and I had no choice but to pay becuse I was so deperate to get this stupid renovation over and done with. I mean, c'mon...I couldn't possibly leave the gaping hacked toilet in that state for another few days until I find someone else who would be willing to take up the job (or part of the job, rather) at such short notice! And with the whole house and all my stairs in a mess.. What a horrid man :angry2:

So, honestly, if I could turn back time, I would NOT engage such scamming rats at all. :curse:

TIP 2: Have an itemised, detailed quotation that lists ALL things of the job scope, or face the consequences.

As mentioned, my problem with Ah Zhong was in this realm. Initially, when I called and spoke to him about 4 times before confirming, each time I would ask to confirm the $1800. Being price-sensitive, surely you would understand that everytime I spoke to him on the phone I would say stupid incessant things like "So confirm ah? $1800?" I was paranoid about it, as the other tiler guy (let's call him Ah Hwee) was offering $2k and his friend the hacking guy was quoting $1k.

Having said that, this David also after giving me a quotation for X number of items on my list suddenly discarded his previous written quotation and Jack-in-the-beanstalk on me from $3675 to $8.5k...so, what can I say? If they want to cheat you, they will find many ways to cheat you one.

My heart and wallet are in grave pain right now, but I am just 'tahan'-ing and because they will get their just deserts at another point in their life. I believe in Karma... 8|

TIP 3: Be tough and firm with them, and communicate with them frequently.

This is a no-brainer, but ideally get a contractor whose language you can speak in.

I chose Ah Zhong because his English was slightly better than the other Mandarin/Chinese dialects-speaking contractors, and Malay was another common language option if Mandarin and Hokkien failed. But still, it was often tough for jiak kentang me to convey exactly what I wanted in great detail. I had to seriously water down my English to as basic as possible, and it's tough when you're a paranoid android perfectionist like me.

And cracking jokes in Mandarin and Hokkien helped to diffuse the tension and frustration of disagreements with Ah Zhong's tiling guy whom, experienced as he may be, needed to do certain things the way I wanted it. Sometimes these people are so set in their ways, it's hard to stand up to them because they would get agitated and shut you out automatically because they feel you are threatening their domain knowledge. It's like they're thinking, "What's a lawyer/doctor/accountant doing telling me how to do my tiling job?!?" or a woman telling them how to do their 'man's job', which is worse. But when you are firm and actually explain nicely to them, they will often see your perspective and grudgingly agree. Our tiler friend has now slowly but surely been more open to listening to my comments, so it's gotten better now.. :sport-smiley-018:

Edited by X6GT
 

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Day 1: Hacking

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Goodbye 15 years of fugly...!

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The hacking was done by a pleasant Ah pek towkay who was a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of our friend Ah Zhong.

His name is Ah Cui, he used a pretty good and strong Malaysian guy named Nasir who managed to do all the hacking BY HIMSELF (carrying things up and down 6 flights of stairs of 3 storeys) in 1 day, and the clearing of the debris (with a little help from Ah Cui and another guy) as well as carry up the sand and tiles in another day.

Ah Cui's prices are quite reasonable, and I have no complaints about him at all. In fact, compared to the nightmare of all the other horrid people I've had the misfortune of dealing with on this renovation, Ah Cui is awesome.

(OCD perfectionist me will close one eye to some hacking imperfections like a piece of missing parquet from the entrance kerb, a couple of tiles from the doorframe not cleanly hacked off etc and give the quality of work an 8.5 upon 10.)

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Day 3: Plumbing

Now, for those of you who live in HDB, you may think that landed property bathrooms are so much nicer because of the concealed piping. Well, let me tell you that the cons outweigh the pros...and doing this reno has made me even more paranoid thus ending up having to spend more money just to ensure that my piping and water works are all perfect at this juncture, otherwise somewhere down the road I could be facing an even costlier problem in the form of an internal pipe leak, waterproofing problems etc.

The people who did my plumbing were a company that a friend's friend recommended. Being in the business, I trusted his recommendation wholly and relied on it to engage them. I spoke to Clement, who co-ordinated his young guys Han and his brother to attend to the bathroom within like a few hours to replace and run the copper pipes.

This is them at work:

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Edited by X6GT
 

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How do you choose bathroom tiles?

Well there's so much information on the internet on the technical specs of choosing tiles, and a lot of information here on Renotalk too so I won't bore you with all that.

Instead, I will share my simple way of considering how the colour and other considerations might be different in practical use than how you view those tiles in the showrooms.

Now, some of you may have already read my posts about Hafary and how I'm boycotting them in the future because of that horrid rude PRC deliveryman experience. But for the purposes of these tests, I encourage you to explore the viscosity and malleability of Hafary tiles... no, just kidding :D I encourage you try the following tests on Hafary tiles at the Hafary showrooms for obvious reasons :notti:

Test 1:

Grip Test

Obviously, we want our bathrooms to be non-slip for safety reasons, unless you're aspiring to be Singapore's first athlete for the Winter Olympics skating events. As such, your floor tiles (and actually even your wall tiles too, because there are times when you will have to hold on to the walls for support) will need to have a good grip and high friction inducing characteristics. Usually, the rule is that the less smooth the tiles, the more desirable and functional they are as bathroom tiles. For this reason too, even though I love the aesthetics of New York subway tiles (NYC used to be my playground while living in North America, so brings back memories of happier times...not to mention hobos LOL), I do not think it's practical in my bathroom.

So you want to go for tiles with grooves/ actual rough surfaces (not just 'look rough') and a size that is suitable. What about size, you say? Well, you're gonna want 30x30 tiles for your bathroom floor, as opposed to 30x60 or other bigger variations-- this is for better gradient flexibility in the laying, therefore causing water to easily run off the tiles into your floor trap, rather than pond and making it easier for people to slip. In other words, the smaller tiles will be easier for your tiler to work with in making the gradient (slope) for the water to flow smoothly to your drain.

In order to test all these, you need to go to Hafary and take a few of their actual display tiles from their shelves. You want at least 4 of the same model, and they can be different colours because it doesn't matter for this test. Borrow them for a while, sneak the whole lot off somewhere where nobody can see you. Perhaps upstairs, in some corner. Then set the tiles on the floor side-by-side to simulate part of your future bathroom floor, and try the feel of the tiles by walking on them with your bare feet. Does it feel good to walk on? Good.

Then, get some water from their machine (or some cappuccino, if you prefer), and pour it onto the tiles on the floor. Once you've done that, try walking on them again. Does it feel slippery? Seriously, there were a few tiles I was interested in that looked rough but were in effect actually slippery when wet. So be careful when you choose the tiles, ok?

After this test, you can choose to leave the tiles there or put them back on the shelves :good:

 

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Test 2:

Stains test

So, ok.. the first test was meant to test the grip. This next test is to to predict how much of your time and money you will be spending for the rest of your natural life to clean those tiles once they've become a part of your household.

For this test, you need to bring to Hafary:

1) a toothbrush and toothpaste set (and a bottle of plain water),

2) hair gel,

3) a travel-sized bottle of shampoo,

4) a travel-sized bottle of shower gel,

5) a KFC chicken wing,

6) a glass of red wine, and

7) a piece of steak (or a soiled sanitary pad)

Like before, you will need to gather a few pieces of the same model tiles and lay them out on the floor.

Then, you start the test by brushing your teeth with items 1) and then spitting the toothpaste foam onto a part of the tiles. Look at the spot and see how the stain looks on the floor. Would you be fine with it in your house?

After that, take a bit of 2) and rub it onto the tile. Similarly, does it look awful on the tile?

Then take 3) and 4), and pour them onto the tiles, topping that combination off with some water and sort of massaging it onto the tiles with your fingers.

Next, take the chicken wing dripping with oil and smear it all over the tiles. I mean, surely people at some point are going to eat chicken wings in your bathroom and might drop them on the floor and accidentally step on the chicken. How does the oil stain look there? How do the tiles fare?

Of course, if people are going to have food in your bathroom then they must have some wine to go with it. So, uncork the bottle of wine you've brought, and liberally pour some onto the tiles. Let the stains set for about 10mins, then try to use your earlier toothbrush to brush it off. How do the tiles fare now?

Finally, take the piece of steak and/or soiled sanitary pad. I think you know where this is going by now... so I'll just not insult your intelligence by spelling it out :sport-smiley-004:

Once you are done with the final step, get out of the store immediately.

And then return to Hafary the next day to see if the stains are still there... :rolleyes:

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OK, for real now...LOL.

As you can see from the picture above, my 24hour stains test involving toothpaste+shower cream shows that the rightmost (lightest coloured) tile of the same series showed up the stains least starkly. Of course, the same cannot be said of dark stains which logically would show up less on darker tiles. So it all depends on whether you will be having a raw steak dripping with blood in the bathroom ever so often, or if you will be spitting toothpaste onto the floor more often, really...

If you're living in a house of slobs who can't be bothered to take care of what they dirty, you might want to consider this test.

I forgot to mention also that, even though the rough surface tiles are safer, they are not necessarily the least maintenance. They apparently need to be scrubbed a lot more frequent and harder to remove soap scum and stuff, especially if they are dark-coloured.

But oh well, in the end I chose the leftmost darkest tiles because it goes with my theme of black and white better (well black floor tiles, light grey wall tiles).. :D I won't be the one scrubbing them anyway!

 

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Buying your loot

It has become a trend nowadays to use Taobao for one's furnishing needs. However, I am somewhat conservative (distrustful) of China things after a couple of botched purchases from China suppliers, so stopped. The quality of my lights that arrived were totally rubbish, so totally different from the pictures. And a couple arrived broken or DOA, so... really, never again!

Anyway, I wanted my bathroom fittings to be of better quality, so I bought brands I was familiar with like Kohler, Pegasus etc. I had wanted to buy Grohe, but they didn't have black ones to fit my theme :( Also, I had wanted to get American Standard for my WC and sink, alas, none in Singapore to be found and I was not able to justify paying thousands to buy and ship in an entry-level old model of American Standard WC.

So for the bigger ticket items I went to the pilgrimage sites of bathroom items: Balestier Rd, Jalan Besar, IMM, Geylang Rd and Changi.

My smaller fittings have been arriving one by one, and just like you TB addicts, I get excited everytime I get my packages.

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Swee bo? :wub:

 

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This hose was from a China seller... It came all defective and yucky. Not acceptable.

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I asked for them to send a replacement one, but knowing the quality itself will be inferior, I'm not banking on this one either. Because of that, I'm going to have to ship in an original Kohler one at a much higher price :(

 

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How to go about finding a cheap but 'you ming' high end WC

(this refers to European brands, so please do not compare apples to durians)

As I wrote previously, I am very against buying China things (especially things that are meant to be edible). A lot of things are questionable, and it makes it worse if you're a perfectionist... anyway, so I have been scouring the ends of the country trying to find a reasonable compromise between dirt cheap and outta-the-question. On one hand, I scoffed at the idea of paying anything more than $700 for a toilet seat, but on the other hand, most branded European or Japanese(I trust Jap stuff unconditionally, and I love almost everything about Japan and its culture after having been there several times and having researched Japanese stuff in university) that I liked were beyond my budget.

I have to say this, though. I don't know if it's a mentality thing, or if rich people (who buy expensive toilets without blinking) don't come here on Renotalk to join us in our discussions... It seems like everyone on Renotalk's idea of "good deals" or a "good toilet" revolve about those Baron and whatever cheap local/China/Malaysia/Thai brands (albeit with fancy angmoh names lol). Even people who live in landed property. I'm confused.

For instance, when everyone posts about WCs and where to get them cheaply, the 'usual suspects' are our friendly friends at Heritage, GR Link, Royal Fanco etc. So I thought I hit gold when I used the Renotalk posts to go around asking to see their European WCs (because everyone said their prices were cheap right...so of course I was looking for cheap European WCs). The number of looks by all those tens of sales assistants looking at me like I was crazy...! :( I felt so stupid at the end of it all.

It was like going to a kopitiam and trying to order sturgeon caviar on blinis. Most of them would probably have never even heard of either and would patronisingly shoo you away :dunno:

And omg, let me relay this very embarrassing incident. Ok, so in order to save myself time, sometimes I would call shops to ask if they had my Roca WCs. If they said no, I would ask about the other European brands that I was coveting. Anyway on my very last run of Jalan Besar shops before I hit the Changi side (this being like the 3rd time I was going up and down Jalan Besar within a span of 5months), I went into this shop and started asking this man about Roca. As with the standard replies, I found myself being snubbed again. As I was dejectedly walking out, this lady behind him said to him in Mandarin(assuming that I didn't understand Mandarin) "The other day this person called already... Confirm. Was asking for these brands also." :o This incident made me wonder if I am the only idiot in the whole of Singapore looking for a Roca/ Duravit/ Bravat/American Standard. Such that people know me as 'that crazy person looking for angmoh brands I've never heard of'...

It got to a point where I was seriously shouting inside my head asking myself... where the heck do people who buy cheap European stuff go?!? I mean, seriously. Is it because those rich people hire people to go do their toilet shopping for them..?

Out of the 30-odd shops I went to all over Singapore, at least 26 shops' staff would be saying "HAR? LOCA? WHAT LOCA? DON'T KNOW LA. DON'T HAVE." or something to that effect, but the remaining few shops who knew these brands would give me some kind of a bemused smirk as they told me they didn't carry those... like they were thinking, "What the heil is this person doing here looking for these atas things?". Aaaarggghhhh.

Don't get me wrong, my house is not outfitted from bottom to top in designer stuff. At all. Yes, I have Baron in the downstairs bathrooms so they can take the abuse by my incorrigible brothers, and by the random house guests. It's just that sometimes, you just want something more higher-end because things like WCs should last more than 5yrs, and you don't know where to look without breaking the bank.

So consider these next 3 tips my 'life hack' advice to share with you guys:

1. Get on the mailing list of fancy folks like Sansei, Interior Affairs, Fullsun etc. You never know when they might be having an 80% sale or something ridiculous like that. Now that's when you get your 'atas' bathroom stuff! And nobody will know the difference! Right place, right time...and you will get yourself an awesome European item for the price of local items.

This is especially true considering that from the 'unbranded' ones I saw, some were close to $500 *gasp* For that price, I would rather top up $100 to get a European one!

2. There are some places that, although they do not display the high-end stuff, do actually sell them. Places on Balestier Rd surprisingly had catalogues of the higher end stuff but because they are not on display/ have to be ordered in advance, you must already know what you want. I was pleasantly surprised by places like Adamas (Balestier, don't bother with Jalan Besar one... snarky guy there) that had Toto WCs at significantly lower prices than Fullsun, and Sim Siang Choon also has my beloved Roca (but the ones at IMM only has those clearance/older models type, so go for the Changi branch if your budget is higher and you can afford those over $1k).

3. Avoid places that, when you ask about these branded European stuff, ask you: "You want original one ah?" OMG. I won't name names but #universalunion. My jaw literally dropped when I heard that. Why! Why would they be dealing in counterfeit branded stuff??? Omg I immediately walked out... how can you deal with people like that :wacko:

Edited by X6GT
 

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P.S. Ya, I know there are some of you reading this who are thinking "What's the difference? So what if got name? Nowadays everything is made in China what."

But, ah. I got one that was supposedly made in Portugal :D

Although I must say... I was cheated :( I was psychoed by the SSC guy into getting my eventual one, and he said it was made in Portugal (a country I happen to love haha). But skali when I went home to google, it's actually an Australian brand, even if it was made in Portugal?!?!

Yucks. I happen to hate anything Australian...cos my ex fiance was Australian :fire:

Cheat my feelings only! But haizzz no choice la. Bought already. And it looks nice and uses Gerberit so... haiz. Too tired to look some more already la.

Edited by X6GT
 

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About your toilet search for roca WC.. I'm really curious.... Why didn't you check with roca singapore and ask them for a show branch address in singapore if they have any? If not, you could ask whether there is any distributor that carries their brand. Because frankly, distributors especially the small shops will try to give reasonable pricing if you are really a serious buyer.

Most of us have to do alot of digging and comparing results on the shops and of course the right direction to go for the sales.

Edited by BunBun
 

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About your toilet search for roca WC.. I'm really curious.... Why didn't you check with roca singapore and ask them for a show branch address in singapore if they have any? If not, you could ask whether there is any distributor that carries their brand. Because frankly, distributors especially the small shops will try to give reasonable pricing if you are really a serious buyer.

Most of us have to do alot of digging and comparing results on the shops and of course the right direction to go for the sales.

Hi BunBun,

Yes Roca does have an 'official' list of distributors in Sg... which is like 2, Carrera and Interior Affairs. However, they are only limited to the 'prestigious companies' that are the official POS appointed by Roca. So, for instance, SSC which is not listed on Roca's website. They actually carry quite a wide range at the Changi branch (they are like the parallel importer I think?) but maybe Roca doesn't even know they exist :D

You are right in saying that the smaller distributors will give a more reasonable price (that's why I was looking in Jalan Besar type of shops lol)... unfortunately for Roca, they themselves do not deal with these 'small companies'. So I guess whatever stock that these small guys have is they bring in themselves. Which explains the mostly outdated models I guess?

I have actually had the same problem buying paint before. I went to Jotun Sg's website to find my nearest distributor that sells that particular (industrial type) boat paint, but they didn't have anything conclusive. When I called up Jotun and they sent me a whole list of distributors, I found out upon calling each shop that...the list was not updated at all. Some shops had already closed down, some the numbers were not working anymore and then 1 shop even told me "Haiyah why they always tell people to call us, we don't carry Jotun anymore!" Errr... :rolleyes:

 

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BTW to all Renotalkers reading, it's not like Roca is a super awesome brand or anything..

It's just that from my experience in Spain, it's widely regarded as a trusted and durable brand, and I noticed that it's used a lot everywhere in Europe (they used in the rooms of hotels like Sheraton and NH) as a not-too-expensive-but-classy option. When I went to the El Corte Ingles, they actually had a Roca section where you could buy anything from their tiles to WCs to shower screens! And not just in Spain in case you think it's just a nationalistic pride thing... but even in other European countries and Morocco lol.

I guess Roca is kinda like the Grohe of WCs... symbolising quality and yet still somewhat attainable by ordinary Joes like us.

Gosh, I really sound like I'm promoting them sia.. :notti:

 

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