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starktower

Home Is Where The Art Is

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Hello! After three solid years of lurking, I finally signed up. For easy reference, I'm Pepper and my partner is Tony; nice to meet you.

Here's the raw floor plan for Casa Stark:

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It's a 4-room BTO unit in Sengkang West. You may have heard of the estate in the news at the beginning of the year...

I've begun assembling contacts for the job, as well as some really great advice, but any and all recommendations and suggestions are totally welcome. Like another semi-Stark, I know (next to) nothing.

I also have a separate blog that I'll be using to document the process and subsequent living, but I noticed that this forum is where people come for the extreme details (e.g. how much each tile costs) so I'll do my best to put that stuff in. All the better to help others! And also get info on whether I'm overspending for certain things.

Will update with more images and unnecessary pop culture references as we go along. In the meantime I have several Pinterest boards worth of references and inspiration, please feel free to browse. Cheers, y'all.

 

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Okay so these next few posts contain some inspiration. Pinterest is a terrible place for proper sourcing, so pardon the lack of sources for any of the following. I'm also not sure why the sizing is so awful when I took the effort to manually resize them all...

Living & Dining

Basically if I could shove the entirety of one of the MUJI pre-fab houses into a HDB flat, I would. In the meantime, I will settle for a modern zen aesthetic. Tony has already approved a lounge chair from MUJI and we've bought it (it was on sale!).

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Kitchen

I like the floating cabinetry; I've seen homes where there are lights installed beneath them for a really cool ambient lighting effect. Plus, easy to wash the floor!

That said, we're unlikely to change the default tiling, so these mood images are really just a very general idea.

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Laundry / Service Yard

I was advised to install a small but deep sink in the laundry area for easy soaking and washing of items that require it. It does sound like a really good idea.

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Edited by starktower
 

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Bathrooms

Some people in the estate have collected their keys and very kindly shared photos of the default tiles and fittings with the Facebook group. The thing is, the bathroom tiles are the ugliest I have ever seen in a HDB flat I am not even kidding. It's like they just gave up on trying. So I don't know what to do now - we want to save money by keeping whatever we can as default as possible, but if it's so ugly...???

Anyway, some more mood images:

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Bedroom

As simple and comfortable as possible! Do we want a TV in here? We are not sure.

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Edited by starktower
 

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Studio

And here's why the title of this t-blog is what it is. This is the room closest to the living room; we are going to rip the wall in between the two spaces and the corridor down halfway and fit huge panes of glass into it at a right angle. So basically there'll be a large corner window looking out into the living and dining spaces. This will all become clearer once we finish and upload the Google SketchUp 3D drawings.

The studio will basically be Tony's space. Most of the images I pinned tend towards the light-filled, airy, crafty studios like these...

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...but in actual fact it will be more like a high-tech artist workshop like this one. (There is a reason behind the nicknames beyond utter geekiness.)

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By the way, if anyone has any recommendations and/or reviews for movable arms that can be used to mount a 21" iMac (or, even better, the behemoth that is the Wacom Cintiq 24HD), please send them my way! Same goes for adjustable tilted drawing/drafting tables, and really good, solid computer desks - that Cintiq is really heavy and the standard IKEA table is not going to cut it.

Okay that's all for inspiration, hope you enjoyed the visual walkthrough. Can't wait to post the 3Ds!

Edited by starktower
 

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First version 23 March

We're getting the keys tomorrow! And so the official search for somebody to execute the project began over the weekend. We basically arranged to meet five different companies &/or people on a single day. Whew.

Second version 8 April

Keys collected, defects noted and submitted (not that many leh? but then again we're not super picky). Met some of the people a second time, and 'reviews' edited to match.

People we spoke to

[scale of 0 - 10; 0 is dropped, 5 is pending without opinion, 10 is selected]

Mr Alpha (0)

He was assigned through the ID company (which I found on and sent a generic email to). We were supposed to meet at 10am. He didn't reply to any WhatsApp messages even at 10.20am, and only called at 10.30am to say he would reach by 10.45am. Didn't mind waiting, but the 11am appointment arrived early, so goodbye Mr Alpha. I feel absolutely zero remorse about cutting him off entirely.

Mr Bravo (5)

Got his contact from someone's T-blog. Nice guy, very experienced contractor. Gave us some good suggestions about things and showed us pictures of previous works he did to help illustrate what he was saying. Received the quote one day later - it seems reasonable. We shall see.

Mr Charlie (7)

Got his contact through a T-blog. Met at his ID office/showroom. Very impressive, but incredibly expensive (I do not, in actual fact, have Tony Stark's budget). Grilled him on a lot of our 'wants' and got lots of great feedback, and his suggestions are generally great but, again, greatly expensive. Also he doesn't seem very keen on meeting us at our unit; we went down to his office twice. First appointment was pre-key-collection so no choice, but once we have the keys it seems odd to talk about layout and things without walking around the space. Anyway I broke down the quote item by item and without all the fancy stuff it may be reasonable. He's been texting to follow up quite often, so at least he's very on the ball.

Ms Delta & Mr Echo (2)

Found the company through . Echo is Delta's boss. They arrived without so much as a pen and notebook, which is really weird. Shouldn't you at least write down my requirements and stuff? What kind of ID comes without materials? Anyway, discussion went well. Quote is okay, but they're out of the running. No connection with them somehow.

Mr Foxtrot (4)

Got his contact through someone in the estate Facebook page (you know those groups that spring up around each BTO launch?). He sent a quote that was extremely generic, full of items I don't need, but wow it was low. We visited a flat that his company was doing up, and the workmanship was fantastic. The design not so much. His quote is so low because he basically is the supplier; no contractor or ID overheads. The main issue I foresee here is a thorough lack of interest in the design or aesthetics of the work - his concern is getting good quality carpentry etc to you, rather than pretty embellishments. So he would require a great amount of supervision, which we may not have time for.

Mr Golf (0)

Got his contact through a T-blog. Was supposed to meet him on a weekday evening. We arranged this on the phone about a week before; no text confirmation but he seemed enthusiastic enough. Texted to confirm in the afternoon of the meeting date and received a phone call to say he wasn't free that evening. Agreed to meet another time, but he wasn't free on the subsequent Saturday. Gave up.

Mr Hotel (5)

Got his contact from my friend, whose house he worked on. Am still breaking down his initial quote, but have yet to meet him at all. Probably should.

Mr India (8)

In a hilarious turn of fate, Tony met him in Starbucks as they were sitting at the same large table (it had power plugs). Met up with him and his brother (it's a family business) on a Saturday afternoon at our empty unit, and had a very good chat about our requirements and his suggestions. Waiting to receive his quote now - if the price is good, we may pick him.

Will update again with pictures of the flat (yay!) and, eventually, the final decision of contractor/ID/person.

 

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Got the keys yesterday! Everything looks great; the best part is that there are no unexpected recesses in the walls. The bathroom tiles I mentioned earlier are still not pretty, but they aren't quite as hideous as they appeared in other people's photos, so maybe we'll leave them as is and save money.

Unfortunately, the photos of the interiors are all on my phone (I thought I'd uploaded them to Dropbox but I guess the upload paused when my phone went to sleep) so I'll leave this picture here for now:

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Behold the glorious view from the service yard! Once the carpark's rooftop garden is all done up and growing, it'll be twice as nice. The construction at the corner of the yellow estate is of a school, and those don't go that high, so the view of the river bend (supposedly very good feng shui?? according to people who aren't exactly well-versed in feng shui) and the Straits of Johor will remain wonderfully unblocked. Woo!

By the way, does anyone know if we're allowed to hack the kitchen tiles provided by HDB? I'll call the site office to confirm, of course, but if anyone has any idea...

Edited by starktower
 

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Wow. Chanced upon your posts and realised we have similar themes.
I'm 80% done for mine pending some extra pieces (because we exceeded our budget and now have to save up if we want more).
Once our leather single seater sofa and some cabinetry comes in, we will also be looking to you for design ideas for some parts. But we seriously may be so sick of the dust from any drill work or cabinetry work we may just stop for a year!

 
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Guest Vincent Lee

...but in actual fact it will be more like a high-tech artist workshop like this one. (There is a reason behind the nicknames beyond utter geekiness.)

gallery_67497_673_6171.jpg

By the way, if anyone has any recommendations and/or reviews for movable arms that can be used to mount a 21" iMac (or, even better, the behemoth that is the Wacom Cintiq 24HD), please send them my way! Same goes for adjustable tilted drawing/drafting tables, and really good, solid computer desks - that Cintiq is really heavy and the standard IKEA table is not going to cut it.

Okay that's all for inspiration, hope you enjoyed the visual walkthrough. Can't wait to post the 3Ds!

I would advise you to look at this photo for the next one week everyday and then decide whether you still want to go for this look. Just my personal opinion. :)

 

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Okay here are some more phone-camera photos taken the day we got the keys.

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So green!

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A rather uninspiring view of the block across from us. The good thing is that we're on a very high floor, so when we're sitting near the window there's lots of sky. Also, a decent view when looking perpendicular to our block.

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HEAVY SIGH here's the bathroom. It is ugly. But I think I can tolerate it so we shall save money by not overlaying this stupid wall. Seriously, why can't they just use white tile throughout?

The shower set is really fancy, though. The mixer's at the side like the showers in hotels or condominiums.

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View from the master bedroom (if viewed very specifically from the corner window). The whole house is unbelievably windy, I love it.

We are still very very slowly speaking to the various contractors and IDs. The whole idea we had for the kitchen has changed after standing around in the empty flat and staring very hard at the walls, so they'll need to take that into consideration, and so on. Decisions are hard.

 

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After more than a month, things are finally getting moving! We chose Mr India to do our renovation, as we find talking with him really easy; he really seems to understand what we want, and has been incredibly patient with us as we change our mind about the kitchen door at least five times in a week. We're all waiting on HDB to officially approve the renovation permit, and then we're off! Should be within these two days.

Quick breakdown of renovation

  • Cement screed of entire floor (living + passage + 3 bedrooms)
  • Hacking of kitchen wall + construction of counter/bar top
  • Hacking of bedroom wall + addition of frame and glass
  • TV feature wall and console shelf
  • Kitchen cabinets + installation of things
  • Computer table
  • False ceiling in master room
  • Wardrobe in master room
  • Electrical works
  • Plumbing works

Stuff we have bought

  • MUJI lounge chair
  • Mitsubishi Starmex System 4 air-conditioning set-up from Gain City
  • LG 55" TV (from the recent SG50 electronics sale at the Singapore Expo)
  • Star Living dining table
  • Inovar vinyl floor planks (chanced upon their booth at the home fair next to the SG50 sale)
  • Various decorative lamps from Taobao

Stuff we have made up our mind about

  • IKEA Kivik sofa
  • IKEA Stockholm bedframe (it's made of solid wood and looks lovely)
  • Mitsubishi fridge
  • Bosch dishwasher
  • Fujioh cooking hood, hob, and oven (still looking into pros and cons of gas vs electric stove - please share your thoughts!)

I'm starting to see why Taobao is so addictive. Thank goodness I'm not the shopping kind outside of necessities for the home, or it would be extremely dangerous to wade into on a regular day. I also realise there is a dearth of photos in this thread; I'll do my best to upload and post some soon!

 

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