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brighttlights

White, Wood, Black & Gray

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And so, my husband M and I decided to take the plunge to purchase a 5rm resale flat in Pasir Ris last September.

As it was way ahead of plan (we were to only start flat hunting in 2017), we were not quite as prepared as many fellow forum-ers here. Thus I had to start speed-reading through the various Renotalk forums to try to acquaint myself with some renovation basics.

The forums and blogs are like amazing treasure troves with so, so much information available and whilst I haven't spend enough time browsing all the reno blogs, I have learnt much and am thankful for the existence of all the Renotalk forums and blogs.

We hope that we can be able to contribute back a little to this very helpful community!

Edited by brighttlights
 

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The previous owners were the first owners and stayed in the flat for >20 years.

They had altered parts of the original structure and built some false walls in the house:

- curved wooden platform in the balcony area

- removed walls of the study

- removed original kitchen entrance walls and built a fake angled wall

- built an angled WIW in the master bedroom

- false ceilings in the living room/balcony/study

- textured walls in all rooms (the rough sandpaper kind?)

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We liked the flat's location (really near both M's grandparents as well as parents) and so we went ahead with the flat purchase even though we knew we had to knock down the entire place and re-do it.

Major overhaul ahead!

Edited by brighttlights
 

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As first time home buyers, we were deliberating between applying for a new BTO or purchasing a resale flat from the open market.

Both options have their pros and cons. Eventually we decided that the most important thing for us was to find a place really near our families.

Unfortunately there won't be any more upcoming BTOs at Pasir Ris area and private condominiums are way beyond our budget. So we decided to purchase a resale flat.

Honestly, I really like the practical layout of the new 5-room BTOs. HDB also did the right thing to eliminate the ugly, obstructive and non-value adding beams. And having a spanking new flat means no legacy issues from previous owners, less headache to patch up the flooring or the walls or any changes to the house structure.

Oh, and i really envy the service yards of the new BTOs! Nicely partitioned and hidden away behind the kitchens.

Anyway, once we decided that we will get a resale flat, we knew from the start that our journey would be quite different from a BTO home-owner...

 

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Whilst we prepared for the administrative works (appointments with HDB/banks etc.), we decided to start reaching out to IDs and contractors to begin our budgeting process.

We emailed 10 different ID companies in Dec 2014. They were either big names we saw works we liked in magazines or recommendations from Renotalk, friends and colleagues.

There were 3 big names that we wanted to work with but unfortunately they didn't revert to any of the many emails we sent them.

Eventually we met up with 6 IDs and 2 contractors and spent many many weekends discussing with them. The longest meeting took more than 5 hours!

The initial 3 quotes with received from 3 of the IDs were astronomical. We knew that gutting out an old flat would be more costly than doing up a new flat but we were absolutely shocked by the prices - they were ranging between 92K to 97K. And we were barely asking for any carpentry as compared to those that we've seen on Renotalk.

One of which, was recommended by my secondary school friend. We really liked the mood board he created for us and felt a strong rapport with him. For us, it was really important to find a working partner that we were on the same wavelength on and could trust. We deliberated hard for a couple of weeks but eventually decided to drop him as his quote was way beyond our budget. For those who do have the budget, I'd recommend this ID based on my friend's review as well as his beautiful works that we got to take a glimpse of.

We were really stressed as we were worried that the decision to purchase a resale flat was totally wrong. We did not plan to spend so much money just on renovations. And those quotes excluding electrical works, air-conditioning and furnishing!

 

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We then had more meetings with 2 of the IDs that were recommended by friends/families - they were the final 2 that we felt more keen to engage.

It was yet another tough decision as we managed to work out something more reasonable with both IDs and they each presented ideas that we were impressed with.

Oh, another big struggle we had during the ID selection process was our house theme/look.

At the beginning, I was very adamant on achieving a white and wood look for the house; like an airy, bright Scandinavian loft you often see on Pinterest. My personal favourite colour was grey and I thought a white and wood base would bring out grey accents well.

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Since our preferences were so extremely different, we decided to brainstorm together again to reach consensus.

Eventually we decided that we'd aim for a (sort of) Scandi-industrial look as I really wanted to keep the white, wood and grey elements and we both agreed to have bold black accents around the house.

Regarding the final 2 IDs; 1 leaned more towards the softer Scandinavian look and the other ID seemed more confident to pull off a stronger more industrial look.

Ultimately we chose the first one as we had also decided to rewire the entire house and have black conduits/trunkings running all over which would provide more than sufficient strong black elements. We thought that we should probably opt for a slightly softer look for the rest of the house to balance this.

We eventually signed with the ID in March '15. The delay was predominantly due to the seller requesting for a 2 month extension as his new place was not ready yet.

 

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While i was overseas in Tokyo and Copenhagen last year/this year, I focused much of the non-business leg of the trip on shopping for the soft furnishings.

I lugged tea towels, tabletop mirrors, candles, frames, crockery, wash tapes, brass tableware (love the rose gold brass trend!) etc. all the way back to Singapore. M was supportive but very gently reminding me how I had managed to accumulate so many different objects of very different colours, themes and textures - he was afraid we'd have an overly cluttered house!

I wish we had Zara home or H&M home here in SG. They are quite affordable and very abreast with the current trends. Think Zara home is present in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand.

I still remember how my huge brass holder (it's like 30cm in diameter) was clanking around with me as I shopped around Copenhagen! The danes and swedes are really really good with home decor - everywhere, cafes or hotels, were all very inspiring. All the zakka stores and department stores in Tokyo were great places to shop at too but the style of course differs from the danes/swedes. In terms of quality, I still feel that the Japanese do their crockery better than the danes/swedes.

Setting up a place of your own is indeed very exhilarating. But it probably will be less fun when I have to organise all my stuff when we move into the house.

 

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Electrical Appliances - Shopping

We received the renovation schedule during 3rd week of March and were given the green light to start purchasing home appliances for the house. Our ID advised us to purchase the appliances to be built-in first. Namely, the fridge, washing machine (we are putting it under the kitchen island), hood, hob and oven.

As M and I were only to run errands on weekends, we went ahead and purchased these items rather quickly.

We visited Mega Discount Store (Kallang/United Square), Harvey Norman (Millennia Walk/Kallang Wave Mall), Gain City (Changi City Point/Marina Square).

The prices for most appliances were quite on par for MDS and HN. HN had a 5 days clearance sale last weekend but we found the prices still very similar to MDS. The salespersons at both stores (all outlets) were very knowledgeable and polite. We were bracing ourselves for hard selling but were pleasantly surprised by the salespersons. That helped us to make our decisions very quickly and decisively.

However, we did not quite enjoy our shopping experiences at Gain City. GC at Changi City Point was an odd outlet - the store front was really small and mainly had some TVs/aircons/fans on display. In fact we were shocked when we arrived at the store. We tried to look around the rest of the mall for "other" Gain City outlets but to no avail.

GC at Marina Square was bigger. But we were served by a salesman at the Hob/Hood department who seemed very unsure of the products they carry. The TV salesman was better but we decided to park the TV purchase for later.

We also headed down to the Food and Electronics fair last weekend. The TVs and fridges were going at rather good prices however we had already made our fridge purchase. We had expected such fairs to be quite gimmicky without real price cuts but turns out that we misjudged. Perhaps we will head down to such fairs when we need to buy our TVs.

Edited by brighttlights
 

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Island Hood

As we wanted an open kitchen to have a visually larger space, we decided to have a kitchen island/dining table. This meant that our hood/hob will be on the kitchen island.

Prior to deciding this design with our ID, we did not realise the price difference between an island hood and a chimney hood. We had budgeted $700 and assumed that it'd suffice for our hood. We only learnt of the difference when we were at Mega Discount Store (MDS) whereby the salesperson told us about the price difference!

There weren't any island hoods on display at either MDS outlets. I'd advise for those looking for island hoods to go to the Harvey Norman Coffee and Cooking Concept Store at Millennia Walk. They had several brands on display; Bosch, Brandt, Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, Miele etc. You can have a touch and feel of the hoods/hobs/ovens/coffee machines there. The salesperson who served us, Victor, was very knowledgable and polite.

Bosch was the most impressive in terms of functionality and make; the charcoal filters were thicker and the lights were LED bulbs. But of course it also came with a bigger price tag.

In the end, we bought a EF island hood at MDS at a lower price as we figured we may only end up doing some light cooking like steaming or stir frying in future.

 

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We had bought the flat from the first owner, which means it was last renovated more than 20 years ago.

It didn't take much discussion to decide to re-do the entire flat.

The general scope of the planned renovation works included:

- Resurrecting the study room to convert into a gym room

- Removing the platform in the balcony area

- Removing all the false ceilings, cornices, fake walls, WIW in MBR

- Re-doing the entire kitchen

- Re-doing the entire house's flooring

- Re-doing all the toilets

- Merging the MBR and bedroom 2 as the huge beams in the rooms "ate" into the usable area

- Rewiring the entire house

- Re-doing all the aircon trunking

After much discussions and negotiations with the ID, we gave up on:

- Shoe cabinet in the living room

- Having a full room devoted as WIW

- Raised platform as cozy corner in the living room

- Carpentry works for study/book shelves and wardrobe in guest bedroom

 

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