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althevin

Wood, Copper and More Wood

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Hi there!

After spending months trawling the renotalk forums, and learning SO much from all you regular posters, I'm creating this t-blog to give back to the community by sharing my experience. Hopefully  my 2-cents will be useful to some future home owner :)

Renovation for our place has just started, so future updates will show progress of our home as well!

Cheers,

Alvin

Edited by althevin
 

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Home Details:

Home for my wife and I will be a mid floor 4-room re-sale flat located in Tiong Bahru. After viewing flats in other areas, we finally decided to follow our hearts and chose this unit in Tiong Bahru to fit the lifestyle we wanted - close to town and our workplace, near amenities and heaps of good food within walking distance :)

 

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Requirements:

We chose the unit for it's relatively square living room. As we want a big living/dining area, we planned to hack the walls of bedroom 2 to merge it with the living area. Our plan for the spaces in our house are as such:
living/dining area - living room and entertainment area
bedroom 2 (to be hacked and merged with the existing living room) - dining area
bedroom 3 - to be left empty, as a spare room for future kid(s)
kitchen - to build a yard area. Current owner combined the space
master bed room - to partition a space for a walk in wardrobe
air con - to air con all areas, as existing owner does not have aircon at all

 

Design Theme:

Both my wife and I are HUGE fans of Nordic design, and we knew we had to include heaps of Scandinavian design and wood elements in our place. We love the pared back style centered around clean design, functional utility and timeless elegance. From the start, we (but mostly me) wanted solid hardwood flooring to provide the warmth which only hardwood flooring can provide to our home. Granted that current wood tiles and vinyl options look like the real thing, we still decided on hardwood as we plan to stay in this house for an extended period of time. I guess only time will tell if this investment is worth it!

Here are some mood board pictures of the look we were going for:

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Having a design theme, mood board pictures and some basic space requirements for the house, we proceeded with the arduous task of ID selection. Why an ID and not a contractor? Both of us are working full time, and do not have the time nor the expertise to manage the contractors. This being our first home and our first renovation experience, we decided to pay the extra $ for a professional to advice us on the design of our home and to ensure the renovation of our place goes smoothly. In addition, out of 3 of our friends who opted for contractors, not a single one of them recommended doing so for a first time renovation experience :D

ID review in the next post!


 

 

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Congrats on your new flat! I've been living around that vicinity for 25 years and Tiong Bahru is my favorite place among the Bukit Merah Queenstown district. After stalking many t-blogs I find the key to having good nordic/scandi is having as much sunlight in as possible! 

 

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14 hours ago, bipps said:

Congrats on your new flat! I've been living around that vicinity for 25 years and Tiong Bahru is my favorite place among the Bukit Merah Queenstown district. After stalking many t-blogs I find the key to having good nordic/scandi is having as much sunlight in as possible! 

thank you! yeah we love the area and have no regrets about the location :)

Yup agreed, natural lighting makes everything look good!

 

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14 hours ago, JohnJohn said:

Good luck on this journey. Like you, I chose and ID coz I didn't have the time to manage everything myself. So far my ID has done a great job.

thank you! I hope my ID continues to do a good job for us as well :)

 

 

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The headache of selecting an ID

 Although our friends advised to get the IDs to meet us at our convenience, we tried to always make the trip down to their offices to get a better feel of their design aesthetic. We prepared a package containing the floor plan, mood board pictures and design requirements and sent it out to the various IDs

1st Round:

1) Metamorph Design - The first ID to reply to our inquiry. Met the boss who was patient and understanding: we mistook the office address and as a result were late for the appointment by an hour. He showed us a couple of his previous works which would fit our style, and addressed the list of requirements we had sent. One of the few IDs who bothered to read through our brief prior the the meeting. Arranged for a 2nd meeting to look at their design.

2) Association - We were really looking forward to meeting them, especially after looking at their portfolio. We really hit it off with the boss, he understood our design requirements and we felt that his style was the closest to what we were looking for. It helps that we like their office decor :) Unfortunately, his design fee was really high and he recommended that we take up one of his other IDs. He assured us that he oversees all their work, and that they share similar design styles. Arranged for a 2nd meeting to look at their design.

3) Fuse Concepts - Decided to meet them as we thought their portfolios looked good. ID was responsive in arranging for the meetings, even when we had to reschedule due to a last minute emergency. Unfortunately, that's the only positive point. The ID did not read the details, and without discussing any design or layout we were pushed towards materials and design selections that we did not like (which we had stated very clearly in our inquiry email). ID insisted on a second appointment instead of adhering to our request of sending the quotation, and we decided not to follow up with them.

4) Artistroom - Came recommended by a friend who had used them for their BTO reno. First impression was not the best, the ID was late by over an hour, and did not make any attempt to contact us. However, he did redeem himself by rushing down to a location at our convenience, and he seemed truly apologetic throughout the meeting. We were impressed by some of his past works, and liked that he was open to all our ideas. Arranged for a 2nd meeting to look at his design.

5) EightyTwo - We really wanted to like them. We liked their portfolio, and they were recommended by a friend. The ID we met supposedly had the top sales for the month (according to their notice board), but he was horrible at communication. He basically shot down all of our ideas by stating why they would not work, and proceeded to give suggestions which did not meet or requirements. For some strange reason we decided to make an 2nd appointment, in the small chance we might be wrong about them.

6) 3D Conceptwerks - Heard good things about them, and were impressed by the ID's knowledge. Had a really long first meeting and where he shared quite a bit on the renovation details. He gave us a few good ideas as well, and by the end of the first round of meetings, he was a clear favourite. Arranged a 2nd appointment.

7) Halls Interior - We didn't get a response from them via their company email, and decided to re-send the mail to the direct email of one of the partners. We got a response the next day and made an appointment to meet in town, as by this time we were really tired from traveling to their offices. He was the most opinionated ID, and was the only one who asked if we were ok for him to make a brand new design, based on what he thought was the best. We decided to let him try, and agreed for a 2nd meeting at his office.

OUT: Fuse Concepts

2nd Round

1) Metamorph Design - met up with the boss and a new junior ID, whom would be in charge of our reno. They did up some 3D renderings based on our requirements, which really helped us visualise the spaces. However, we felt that they didn't really get our design and we didn't have much of a connection with the junior ID. Quotation price was acceptable, their prices are not the lowest in the mkt but not as high as the others we met. Decided not to follow up with them.

2) Association - met with the junior ID and has a short chat before the boss joined us for the meeting. We were shown 2 possible layouts, both of which made good use of the space while considering our design requirements. A rough figure was given to us, and we had to press them after the meeting before they provided us with a detailed quotation. Apparently the project manager is in charge of the costing, while the ID is solely in charge of the design work. We were disappointed that nothing on design was shown, but decided to continue to consider them due to their strong portfolio.

4) Artistroom - We were shown their suggested layout, which did not meet our requirements but we were impressed by their attention to detail. However, they impressed us with their layout so much, to the extent that we actually changed some of the ideas we had previously. Arranged for a 3rd meeting for them to incorporate some changes into the layout plan.

5) EightyTwo - Our 2nd appointment ended in 20 minutes. All his suggestions were waaaay off from what we wanted, and he had no prepared any quotation for us. We ended the meeting quicky and decided not to follow up with them. In all, we had the worst experience with this ID. His listening and communication skills need a lot of work.

6) 3D Conceptwerks - had a fruitful appointment, we liked some of the suggested ideas but ultimately did not decide to follow up with them because of: 1) the cost: they are the MOST EXPENSIVE; 2) lack of suggestions - despite being knowledgeable, the ID refrained from making any suggestions and would only mention the pros and cons of every decision. We decided that we would prefer someone who was experienced and confident enough to push for their choices, as we can be pretty indecisive ourselves.

7) Halls Interior - the dark horse of the lot. Their office is beautifully decorated, and we were really impressed by the ID who was the only person to show us drawings at the 2nd meeting. He had taken the effort to draw our views of every single room in our house! We must have spent almost 2 hours discussing everything, all the way from the layout to possible material selection. He even took the time to show and explain to us the different catalogues. We felt that he really went above and beyond what we expected from a 2nd meeting. Decided to meet up a 3rd time to look at a revised layout

OUT: Metamorph Design, EightyTwo, 3D conceptweks

The Final Round!

2) Association - had a few email communications where we had to chase for clarifications on the quotation, which we then realised was not very detailed and did not include costs like sanitary installations and cost of new doors (which we did request for). As much as we like their portfolio, the lack of attention to detail (3D drawings were only upon request, and charagable) put us off. In addition, we didn't have much of a connection with the junior ID, who was completely overshadowed by her boss. She must have said at most 5 sentences in the entire hour of the last meeting.

7) Halls Interior - They came a very, very close second. We would highly recommend them to anyone! Their costs are on the high side but still reasonable, and they have a top notch atitude towards the project and their clients. We clicked well with the ID (he's one of the partners) and felt that he could manage the reno well. The only thing that worked against him was that his design style was not what we were looking for, they tend to veer towards a modern design which was not what we wanted. We felt that there was a small, tiny possibility that there might be misunderstandings along the way, which was why we eventually chose...

ARTISTROOM -  Their attention to details and willingness to listen and incorporate different ideas made them a top choice. What won us over and made us choose them over Halls Interior was the fact that we clicked better with the ID, and that he had a similar design style to what we were looking for. It also helped that they did a wonderful job for my friend's place, which was featured in a couple of publications. We liked that their quotation was super comprehensive and detailed, to avoid us being hit with additional costs halfway through the renovation (which is never a nice thing to experience).

A pretty lengthy post, but I wanted to type our experience shopping for an ID as it was not a easy thing to decide on. Basically we spent a 2 months having multiple meetings every weekend, which meant traveling to and fro from our current home in the west to their offices (which are never in the west), before we could narrow down our choices. I was glad we started the search for the ID early, and managed to confirm our choice even before our 2nd appointment. That gave us a lot of time to reconsider our design requirements, do additional research (on renotalk :P) and to consider new ideas.

 

Next up: Our new layout!
 

 

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Congratulations on getting your new house! Meetings with the IDs can be a very draining process, and its only the beginning, do pace yourself well! I would say you need add on another 10-20k on top of the quotation for the unforseen things you wanna add on along the way.

Other than the cost, chemistry and responsiveness is also important.

Jiayou and cant wait to see more updates!

 

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Guest brrrando

Wow that was a thorough post. Good luck with your renovation.

PS. you play water polo as well? 

 

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On 27/04/2016 at 7:22 AM, huiamos said:

Congratulations on getting your new house! Meetings with the IDs can be a very draining process, and its only the beginning, do pace yourself well! I would say you need add on another 10-20k on top of the quotation for the unforseen things you wanna add on along the way.

Other than the cost, chemistry and responsiveness is also important.

Jiayou and cant wait to see more updates!

Thanks! Yeah, We've actually just finished the hacking works, and wet works has begun now. I'm just too slow to post timely :P Agreed on the additional cost, especially after planning the aircon trunking and box ups. My unit isn't really designed very well to be fully air-conditioned

On 28/04/2016 at 4:33 PM, brrrando said:

Wow that was a thorough post. Good luck with your renovation.

PS. you play water polo as well? 

Thanks! Nope, I used play canoe-polo.

On 28/04/2016 at 7:50 PM, Lazyfatcat007 said:

Congrats on your new home! I'm in tiong bahru estate too and loving the location :)

Hi neighbour! :) We can't wait to move in. We've already scouted out all the areas with nice food haha

 

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Time to Say Goodbye (to old layouts)

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Here's my crappy photograph of our final floor plan :P Doesn't seem like we made that many changes to the original, but this must be the 100,000 iteration of our floor plan. Thankfully we have a patient and understanding ID who entertains all our suggestions.

On hindsight, it was probably a good thing we met so many IDs as each gave as different ideas, some of which we incorporated into the final (hopefully!) plan. I guess all that traveling to Paya Lebar paid off somewhat. Makes me glad my current ID's office is centrally located, we ate so many times at Kay Lee that we got sick of it. Going off topic, does anyone else find the standard of Kay Lee's meats has dropped tremendously after they sold off the business and expanded? I miss the old Kay Lee.

Living area
- build a hollow brick wall to form a shoe cabinet, the plan is to get cheap shelving to fit 90 pairs of shoes/sneakers
- cabinets will be added to the recess formed by the new wall and the kitchen sliding door for some storage space

Dining area (formerly bedroom 2)
- to cater for a bigger dining area, to entertain friends, and a small study desk in the corner

Kitchen
- added a sliding door to the kitchen entrance to keep the air conditioned area to the living room
- created a new spot for our fridge with the hollow brick wall (previous owner had the fridge in the kitchen corner)
- added a sliding door to create a seperate yard area
- counter top to run along length of wall, with half height tile backsplash. Other walls to be left untiled.

Master Bedroom
- build a partition to create a space for a walk in wardrobe
- changed the toilet entrance away from the bed
- extending the wall to ensure it is in line with the new partition wall (something which I would never have thought of on my own, which now makes so much sense)


 

Edited by althevin
 

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Bye-Bye-Bye (to old walls and floors)

Pre-renovation Pictures! Left out bedroom 2 & 3, as there's nothing much to see there. Just...empty rooms :rolleyes:

The place is in a decent condition, save the kitchen which has definitely seen better days. Doesn't matter that much to us since the plan was to do a full renovation and replace everything! Only items we are not changing are the windows and main door, everything else has to go!

Living Room

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squarish living room and full height windows

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entrance to bedroom 2 & 3

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kitchen entrance and site of our shoe closet

Kitchen

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future yard area

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common toilet

Master Bedroom

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future site of walk in wardrobe

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entrance of MBR

 

And now, some pictures of our lovely hacked home :bangwall:

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bye bye bedroom 2 wall, hello new dining area!

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kitchen entrance gone!

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Clearing the kitchen cabinets for our yard area. Luckily the pipes will all be covered by the yard door :)

Next up, the new walls go up, and tiling begins!

Edited by althevin
 

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Thanks for the detailed writeup on the IDs! Really useful for someone like me still sourcing our for IDs. Who is the ID you met at Halls Interior? We are also considering Artistroom do u mind if u send me the quotation? Many thanks!

 

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