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arnold

4 Room Bto Simple Home

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Hi everyone!

After 3 years of waiting, I got my keys to my home! During the 3 year waiting period, I had been reading many of the blogs here and appreciated all contributions by the friendly people here. Through the forum, we learnt a lot on renovations and how to manage expectations. At the same time, the knowledge bank here contributed to how we planned our renovation journey. Now that our renovation is nearing to an end, we have decided repay the society by sharing some of my experience in the renovation of our new place.

First up, here is the floor plan

gallery_32602_708_32611.jpg

Phase 1 - Renovation

Table of Contents

Phase 2 - Furnishing (Coming Soon)

Edited by arnold
 

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Principal Considerations (PC)

Prior to the start of my renovation, my wife and myself decided to sit down and list down what we thought was important for our home. This will eventually be our guiding direction in all the decisions that we make. The PC that we have are as such:

No Covelight. In our opinion, the covelight in the home is a pretty thing to have. It provides soft lighting to reduce glare, and at the same time, it provides a romantic feeling to the home. It is no wonder why the covelight is one of the most common features in modern homes today. However, we decided NOT to have covelights at home. While the covelights indeed adds ambience to the home, the last thing we want is to sweep off lizards and all kinds of creepy crawlies during cleaning.

covelighting1.jpg

No Brick Walls. Like the covelight, the brick wall is a common features in many homes today, especially scandinavian and industrial inspired homes. It provides a different texture to the home so that the home remains interesting. However, we think that the brick wall is likely to be a cleaning hazard. We imagine ourselves cleaning the brick wall with a damp cloth, and we will probably have some loose thread stuck onto it due to the uneven surface. Being the lazy us, we will prefer to omit things that are difficult to clean. Furthermore, the brickwall might cost us additional money through the buying of cloths to clean it.

IMG_0531.jpg

Ceiling Fans. With the small space in HDBs today, we believe that the ceiling fan is the way to go to free up space for other small knick knacks that you will get for your home. At the same time, we want the fan to be sleek in design. The design of the fan is purely a personal choice and we decided that we will get the Haiku for the living room. Yes, it cost significantly more than the most other fans. After all, it's a designer fan. The sales people will try to sell you the idea that because it comes with a DC motor and therefore, uses much lesser electricity. I don't think this sales tag applies to us. We are working adults who probably spend half a day outside our homes. The fan will probably be in use at most 3 hours a day on weekdays and maybe a bit longer on the weekends. How many years will it be before the electricity savings can help us recover our capital cost? Regardless, we still got the fan, and like I said, it is purely a personal choice.

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Separation of Changing Area and Sleeping Area. Due to work requirements, there will be times that I work odd hours. Therefore, we decided to have a separation in the changing and sleeping area so that we do not affect each other when we get ready for work. There are many ways to do this, including using the wardrobe as a partition for the room, or to locate the wardrobe in a different room. Access to the room can be created through the knocking of walls. After discussing, we decided that we wanted the rooms to remain intact. The rooms that we require are: (1) children's room for the little ones [i have a 2 year-old daughter and another 1 coming up] and (2) study room cum play area for the children. With this in mind, we decided that we will partition the master bedroom with our wardrobe.

20141028033617_Master%20bedroom%20wardro

No Build-In Furniture for the Children. Children grow up quickly. Too quickly sometimes. As they grow, their requirements for furniture change. These requirements include the need for a bigger wardrobe, the need for a bigger bed and of course, I am sure my daughter would not want a Mickey and Minnie bedroom when she is in her teens. Therefore, we decided that we will buy off the shelf furnitures for the children. This will allow us the flexibility to "upgrade" the furniture in size along the way, as well as to allow the children to have choices in future when they grow a bit older.

Kids-Furniture-B3-.jpg

No Hole in the Ceiling. What does this exactly mean? We have seen many examples of living room aircons housed in a hole within the false ceiling. This happens because of the use of downlights to brighten up the entire living room. To accommodate the aircon in the living room, a hole is cut out within the false ceiling so that the aircon can be fitted. Personally, it is something that I simply dislike. I think it looks weird, plus I trust that cleaning the top of the aircon will be of some inconvenience. Therefore, we decided not to have a false ceiling at the position where the aircon will be.

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Conclusion

Our theme of the renovation will be "We want a home, not a showroom!" I believe that many IDs along the way will introduce you stuff that will enhance the looks and feel of the home. Things like covelights and brickwalls are some of them. With busy working lives plus 2 young children that will sap up most of our time, we will appreciate the ease of cleaning the home more than designs. The decision also came about due to observations of my parent's home. There is a feature wall with lights for aesthetics purpose. For the past 15 years, I remember vaguely that it was switched on only during the first couple of months. After the initial period of excitement, the lights were never switched on again. We didn't think that it was wise to spend money on something that we will use for only a couple of months.

My PC might contradict some of us here. I hope that no one takes offence. All our PC were made based on a very personal choice. It is in no way saying who is right or who is wrong. Ultimately, we all make choices in order to ensure living in our homes is an enjoyable experience.

Edited by arnold
 

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Mood Board

Through the browsing of the articles and blogs in this forum for the past year or so, we have some idea of what we wanted. Along the way, we also saved some pictures here and there so that we can refer to it and shape our house accordingly. The following pictures are some inspirations we got, courtesy of the many friendly people here:

Living Room

gallery_32602_708_18026.jpggallery_32602_708_32276.jpg

Master Bedroom

gallery_32602_708_2735.jpggallery_32602_708_15278.jpg

Kitchen

gallery_32602_708_137003.jpggallery_32602_708_45965.jpg

 

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I raise both hands and both legs, agree to your no cove lights, no brick walls and the ceiling fan.

I like the design of blocking the bed using the wardrobe. See if my layout can fit or not. Thanks and look forward to your sharing.

 

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Star Search! Contractors or Interior Designers?

Now that we have a good idea of what we wanted, the question that we need to answer is: Who do we engage to turn our wishes into reality?

Through the good people in this forum, I have the privilege to read through the experiences of people who engaged either IDs or Contractors. Here, we try to sum up what we learnt about these 2 groups of people:

Contractors. They are the hands-on people who gets the job done. Contractors generally do not provide design inputs, and therefore, the owner will need to have a good idea of what is required. This will include the colour scheme, position of carpentry etc. Any inputs by the contractors are probably through experience from previous projects, meaning that the ideas are, most of the time, not original.

Interior Designers. Provides inputs on the different type of design schemes and can possibly help you design a home to your requirements if you have a theme in mind. At the same time, they provide space planning to ensure that your home is well balanced in all aspects, including sufficient working space in the kitchen and design focal points etc.

In short, the impression that we get is, if you have a clear idea of what you want, get a contractor, else have a professional ID to help you. With that in mind, we decided to meet both contractors and ID to see who will be a better person that we can work with.

Being a first time house owner, we did not have any contacts of IDs and contractors. We decided to first try using the "Get a Quote" function in RenoTalk. We received a few replies asking for further details on my requirements and I listed the following things:

1. No. of members that will be staying in the property: 2 adults 1 toddler

2. Intended usage of each and every room: Master Bedroom: Adults' room / One Children Bedroom (no build-in required) / Study Room (no build-in required)

3. Floor plan: As attached (pls see first post)

4. Any other specific requirements:

a. Only masterbedroom has specific requirements.

gallery_32602_708_61653.jpg

b. No requirements for tv feature wall for living room

c. No cove lights. Pls propose lighting plan

d. Soft closing for all hinges.

e. Vanity top and shower screens for both toilets.

5. Design concept and colour scheme preferred (optional): Black / White / Grey

Eventually, most of those who replied further attached a copy of the standard packages that they have for new flats. For those who did that, we struck them off the list immediately. If they can't even be bothered to reply with something that answers our needs, we don't expect them to able to deliver what we want.

After filtering, we eventually decided to meet 2 IDs and 1 Contractor. It was a conscious decision to keep the number of people we meet to be as little as possible. We believe that meeting too many people will cause saturation in ideas and will possibly put us in a more difficult position. The next post documents the experience that we have of the people we met (in the order of meeting time).

Edited by arnold
 

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The Meet Up!

After filtering, we decided to meet up with 2 IDs and 1 Contractor. The following documents the impression we had of each of them during the meet-ups:

ID Thomas

He gave us quite a good first impression. Soft spoken and well dressed. During the meet up, the first thing he went through with us was the requirements that we set out. He confirmed with us whether the requirements remained the same, to which we affirmed. This was a really good start, to have someone who listens to what you say and even re-confirm that what he understood was correct. He then proceeded to show us a sketch that he drew on our floorplan. That was when the confidence level dropped, drastically. The outrageously glaring mistake he made was that, the location of the entrance of the kitchen was incorrect. How could that possibly happen? Before the meet up, he even said that his firm had a few projects in our development. This was a deadly mistake. This potentially shows 2 things about him: (1) He was inexperienced. This might affect his ability in project management; and (2) He did not check back with his colleagues to ensure that his interpretation of the floorplan was correct. The confidence level dropped from there and we eventually decided not to use him.

ID Eddie

Eddie was responsive in his emails, quoted the things that we required, and was extremely keen to meet up with us. For people who did not know him, it was kind of weird during the initial email conversation. He sounded extremely friendly, too friendly to be honest. Eventually when I did meet up with him, he was ok actually. The quotation he provided was clear, precise and the pricing was attractive. He even included some optional stuff that he thought we might be interested in (the prices of these stuff was not included into the final amount, as he did not have a confirmation whether we wanted them. The inclusion was purely for information). We had a good impression of him, but we wanted to see how it was like to converse with a contractor.

Contractor Boon

We got into contact with Boon through a mutual friend. We decided to meet him as we thought that my friend’s place was nicely done up. We have seen other friends’ whose places suffered bad workmanship on some of their stuff and they had to rectify it many times. Our friend told us that with his renovation works from Boon, the only touch up that was done was at the initial stage and after which, there were no problems at all. When we first called Boon, we were surprised that he spoke English fluently. In our impression, we would have thought that contractors usually converse in Hokkien or Mandarin. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise that we were able to converse in a language that we are comfortable with (he still converses in Hokkien and Mandarin to his workers). His working style is slightly different from the IDs that we met. He requested to meet on-site, so that he can be sure on what he is working with, and at the same time, do some measurements so that the quotation he gives is as accurate as possible. During the meet up, he patiently listens to our requirements first before going around to take the measurements. As he takes the measurements, he will give a brief description on what he understands from our requirements and how things could be done to accommodate our requests. At the same time, he provides some suggestions on how we could improve on the things that we wanted. The meeting with Boon was comfortable. He somehow gives us the assurance that things will be in good hands if the project is given to him. After the meet up, the quotation was given to us in 2 days. The items in the quotation were precise, to the point that even electrical works are included.

[Afternote: After sending the quotation, he called us up and requested for another meet up. When asked why he wanted to meet again, he said that he would like to show us some of the projects that he has on hand. This will give us some background knowledge on how he does his work, including protection work and how he installs the things. We met him up and he went around explaining what he will do and showed us some of his completed works.]

Decision!

Eventually, after much considerations, we decided to use Boon for our renovation! The following are reasons why we decided to use him:

  • Viewing of Projects. The trips to his projects were very educational. During the trips, he showed us around and answered all our questions professionally. Some of these questions were purposely meant to put him in difficult spots. One of them was: "Why does the TV console look slanted?" He took out his level measuring tool and placed it on the console. The tool shows that it is perfectly straight. He further explained that the reason why it looked like it was slanted was because of the slanted ceiling.
  • Not Overly Pushy. While he remained keen in his follow ups, he was not overly pushy in his sales. He gave us space to consider and was kind enough to answer the many questions that we have.
  • Communication. Boon was an easy person to communicate. He is comfortable in English, Hokkien or Chinese.
  • Meticulous. Boon was meticulous when he planned for his work. He tried to understand a bit of my lifestyle before he gave suggestions. One of the things that left the biggest impression was that he asked for my shoe size and the type of shoes that I wear! His explanation was that he wanted to make sure that the shoe cabinet that he makes can accommodate my shoes. The size and type of shoes will determine his planning for the depth of the cabinet and the height difference between the shelves.
Edited by arnold
 

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The Plan!

Now that we have decided on who we wanted to engage, the next step will be to put together a proper plan to make sure that we have not left out anything. We did an extremely rough sketched layout so that we can be sure of what we wanted. The following are what we have:

Carpentry Plan

gallery_32602_708_86798.jpg

Living Room. We will have a minimalist set up in the living room, so that we don't clutter our "front". Both my wife and myself do not usually watch movies at home, and therefore, do not require lots of space for DVDs/BlueRays. We decided that a simple setup of a TV console will be enough for us. We omitted the feature wall, as we think that it is not necessary to spend money on a decorative piece. The excitement will probably die off after 3 months and we won't even notice the feature wall eventually. We see the shoe rack as an essential requirement for storage purposes. At the same time, we did not want a total block of the door from the window as this will affect the air flow within the house. With these considerations, we decided to have a half-height shoerack in front of the door.

Master Bedroom. We wanted a place with lots of storage for bedsheets, towels and such. and since we already intended to make a platform bed, why waste the space? we decided to have storage compartments within the platform so that we can maximise the space. At the same time, the missus wanted a dressing table within the master bedroom, and the best place will be beside the wardrobe. Therefore, the set up of the master bedroom as attached.

Common Bedrooms. As mentioned previously, we chose to keep 2 of our rooms clean. We decided to keep 1 of the rooms as the children's bedroom, and the other room as a children's playroom. Keeping the room clean will allow us the flexibility to convert it into a study room in future, or to allow the 2 kiddos their own bedroom.

Kitchen. We will be doing both top and bottom cabinets for the long side of the kitchen, and only the bottom cabinets for the short side. For a small family, we didn't think we need so much space. Plus we thought that having top and bottom cabinets on both side will make the already small kitchen look extremely cluttered.

Lighting Plan

gallery_32602_708_9832.jpg

There will be no cove lights at all within my place, as described why in my principal considerations. As I like my living area to be bright, we will be doing L-Box in the area. To avoid the hole-in-the-ceiling, we will not be doing any false ceiling at any place. Most of the rooms will be lighted by simple hamburger lights. Track lights will be the feature in my corridor and the wardrobe area, as these places are long and narrow. For entrance lights, we decided to go small with it as only a small area is required for the lighting.

Aircon Plan

gallery_32602_708_39821.jpg

In the above picture, the aircon units are marked by blue dotted lines. The red lines determines the place where trunkings will run. All trunkings will run within the room, and there are no intentions to box up any of the trunking. The only area where trunking will be boxed up is at the living area.

Conclusion

The main works that will be done by Boon are as such:

  • Carpentry Works
    • TV Console
    • Shoe Cabinet
    • Top and Bottom Kitchen Cabinets on Long Side with KompacPlus Top
    • Bottom Kitchen Cabinet on Short Side with KompacPlus Top
    • Dressing Table
    • Wardrobe as partition for Master Bedroom
    • Storage Platform Bed
    • Vanity Top at Master Bedroom Toilet with KompacPlus Top
  • Box Up Works
    • L-Box ****/Dining Room
    • Box up of Aircon Trunking ****/Dining Room
    • Box up of Tracks for Sliding Door at Kitchen Entrance
  • Glass Works
    • Sliding Glass Door at Kitchen Entrance
    • Tempered Glass Sliding Shower Screen
    • Glass Backing at Long Side of Kitchen
Edited by arnold
 

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Hi,

I also agree on the 4 Nos and I have one more no, ie. no hood because I only use less than 10 times during my stay for 10 years in my current house.

I am sourcing for ID & contractors currently as i just gotten my keys.

Your contractor seems to be very practical and meticulous, kind to share his contact ?

thanks.

 

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Hi,

I also agree on the 4 Nos and I have one more no, ie. no hood because I only use less than 10 times during my stay for 10 years in my current house.

I am sourcing for ID & contractors currently as i just gotten my keys.

Your contractor seems to be very practical and meticulous, kind to share his contact ?

thanks.

Hi

Can share your contact for contractor Boon? TIA :)

Contact sent via PM

 

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hi, can i know how did you get your floorplan in softcopy? scanned? thanks!

I can't quite remember how I got it. I believe it was downloaded when it was first released on HDB for BTO purposes.

 

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Lights - Choices and Purchases

To recap, here is my lighting plan.

gallery_32602_708_9832.jpg

We were contemplating how or where we should buy our lights. The options that we have are:

1. Purchase from TaoBao. After reading how so many people bought their lights from TaoBao (TB) and saving a significant amount of money, we were pretty much tempted to jump onto the TB bandwagon. Reading through the experience, we noted several things that prompted us to reconsider:

a. Design. We could only gauge the design based on the pictures shown on the site. As we know, many pictures online are probably photoshopped so that it brings out the best in their products. Without looking at the physical item, it is hard to gauge whether we will actually like the thing. What if the purchase isn't something that we exactly wanted? Does it mean that the money will be wasted?

b. Technical Specifications. We have totally NO knowledge on any of the technical specifications that are written on the pages. This mean that on top of being unsure about the design requirements, we were also unsure of whether the lights will be bright enough to our liking. At the same time, we were also unsure whether the technical specifications can be used on Singapore's electricity load.

2. Purchase from Local Stores. This option will be safe, but it might be expensive. After all, store owners need to eat too. Factoring import charges, rental of the shops and all other expenses, we will be paying a significantly higher amount than what we could have purchased from TB. Price aside, we will be assured of quality (the light will confirm be in working condition) and suitability (in terms of both design and technical specifications).

3. Purchase Through Boon's Lobang. Another safe option due to the same assurance as described in S/N 2. However, this will require additional arrangement with Boon so that he can refer us to the correct places.

After going through the above options, we decided to purchase the lights locally. We think that the risk of purchasing an electrical item without understanding the technical specifications will be too risky. The last thing we want is a short circuit caused by these items and have the house burned down. We sought recommendations from Boon on the lighting shops that he is familiar with, but somehow we didn't see anything that we liked. Eventually, we bought our lights from different sources. The downlight, however, is supplied by Boon as part of the renovation package.

The following picture shows most of the light purchases that we made:

gallery_32602_708_99190.jpg

We did not include the pictures of the track lights that we purchased, as we couldn't find the correct pictures for it. On top of this, we also bought lights for the dressing table. We took an immediate liking to one of Ikea's lighting!

gallery_32602_708_29688.jpg

And so, we bought 2 rows of the lights plus a mirror, with the hopes of the effect will turn out stunning!

After purchase of the lights, inclusive of all the lights you see above and track lights, we spent a grand total of $3052.55 on lightings!

Edited by arnold
 

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