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MrandMrs

MrandMrs - Starting reno on our 4 room BTO 2 years later than our neighbours!

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I started this blog to document down the journey that we will be going through and when the renovation is complete, to read and relive the “I told you so” mistakes or the “that was wise” decisions.

A little backstory on us: We got our keys in early 2014, but was not in Singapore at that point of time. We did very basic renovation (kitchen cabinets, toilet accessories and fridge/washing machine/aircon), signed a power of attorney to our mother, seeked approval from HDB and managed to rent out the flat.

Fast forward 2 years+ later, we came back to Singapore and waited for the lease agreement to end. Disappointingly but I guess unsurprisingly, the house had deteriorated quite badly. The floors and countertops had huge marks and dents, the washing machine lid could be detached, and the aircon leaked like a sieve (I don’t think they did any servicing at all!)

We decided to bite the bullet and spend some hard earned cash to redo the house. The requirements were simple:

1.       To redo the kitchen cabinets but this time with a built in oven and a bigger fridge compartment.

2.       To overlay the 2 bathroom tiles and replace the toilet bowls, basin and shower mixer.

3.       To have a built in wardrobe in the Master Bedroom and the study.

4.       Master Bedroom to be able to fit a King size bed

5.       To have a study table in the study (captain obvious!)

6.       To have a TV console and built in cabinets in the living room

We didn’t have a theme in mind but we knew that we love the clean sleek modern look with a touch of earth tones to make the house cozy. The budget that we had in mind was at $25K.

We set about checking in , Renotalk and asking friends for any recommendations. In the end, these were the IDs that we met.

ID 1: One of our friend was an ID and we were very impressed with his house. We trusted him but his quotation was over what we wanted at $35K. In the end, we decided not to engage him, only because of the fact that we wanted to preserve our friendship.

ID 2: A couple that we have been friends with for a long time recommended their ID. We liked their place and even asked if we could copy some of their designs and they graciously agreed. The ID had some chemistry with us and we liked him a lot. On the 2nd meetup, we went down to his office and he had a proper office with carpentry space and had workers that were all uniformed. Very impressive and with that setup, we knew he wouldn’t take our money and run. Additionally, the couple friends mentioned about several issues that they encountered, which the ID fixed it for them without a complaint. However, his quotation was at $50K! We tried to cut some stuff out and reduced it to $40K, but in the end we felt that we were compromising too much, hence we rejected him.

ID 3: Referred via Renotalk. Their quotation was at $35K, similar to ID 1. The ID certainly knew his work as he recommended some ideas that were enlightening and fresh. I wanted to pursue him, but my other half didn’t like any of their past projects that they showed us.

ID 4: Referred via Cromly. This ID was a total letdown. We invited him to the house, he came and when we started telling him of our expectations, he kept saying “can be discussed later, can be discussed later.” I was kind of pissed off at that point. Yes, he was the professional but shouldn’t he listen to our requirements as well? We told him our budget, he left in a hurry and we waited for a quote back. 1 week later, there was no reply and my other half dropped him a message. His reply was “I have many projects so find someone else.” Grrrrrr....... He sure must be doing very well to be able to choose his customers. 

ID 5: Referred via . Looks can be deceiving and I must admit that our first impression of him was he will take our money and run. However, he listened to our requests and was willing to look into them. His quotation was $30K, which had set some alarm bells ringing as it was lower than everybody else. After the 2nd meet up, we didn’t want to consider him due to the above factors, but he dropped a message 2 weeks later asking if we can meet up to go through the quotation and if we had any concerns he can address. My other half didn’t want to meet him at all, but I suggested we gave him a try. We prepared a list of 25 questions to asked him, some of which were personal and met up with him. He answered them all, some by throwing some smoke bombs which we immediately caught him but overall he addressed our concerns. We asked for several extra things and the quote increased to $32K.  

As of today, we still have not chosen any IDs yet. Still considering if we should see more? 

I have seen several reno blogs and they are usually filled with requests for PM of ID contacts. I won’t reveal the IDs that we declined but will reveal the ID that we chose. To be fair, the ID will only be revealed at the end of the blog once the renovation is complete. I want this to be as non-judgmental as possible and for our final review to be done after completion.

Please don’t ask for PMs, I will do my best to answer any other questions :D

 

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Here are some photos that we "stole" off the internet.

Kitchen: We liked the white clean look with light brown tones.

large.View-of-kitchen-2.jpg

Toilet: The other half loved a modern hotel feel to it.This picture is quite small, still sourcing for some ideas.

large.48ecf28673dd5585803ce8d31cf9f5fe.j

Study Room: I think we found this in Renotalk, but can't remember where.

large.57e54011e278e_aximageHDB4-roomwhit

Bedroom: Like the earth tones in this.

large.7-Contemporary-bedroom.jpeg.f3f23a

And here is our floorplan.

large.Capture.JPG.89950e769982c4c5fd993d

 

Edited by MrandMrs
 

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Edited on 27th Sep 2016.

Selection of ID
Today we chose our ID and we signed the deal.

When I read my original post, I think we kind of sounded bias towards one particular ID and I don't think it will be a surprise to anyone who we chose.

We chose ID 5 in the end. 
I was still uncertain about him, but today when I went to his office, there were like 4-5 people working in there. It gave me a sense of (false? hope not!) security that the company was legit. We had some ideas in mind that we wanted to implement, and I mentally prepared myself that he will charge us extra for these changes. The changes we had in mind were small, for eg, adding an extra drawer to the cupboards, adding some mirrors etc, and I was pleasantly surprised when the ID mentioned to us that he won't be charging us extra as these were small changes and it doesn't really add to his cost at all. We added some extra stuff (that needed to be charged like LED lighting) and removed some stuff (cove lights etc) and in the end my other half asked for a big discount, which we settled in between at $32K.

I asked ID 5 if he was ok if I can reveal his company and name here and he said he was ok with it, it is free publicity for him instead and he is confident that he will be able to deliver.
http://www.glamour-concept.com/ and the ID name is Shawn.
He is quite friendly to talk to (looks can really be deceiving) and I like it when he keeps telling us that he is open to criticisms and to let him know of our concerns. I was also relieved when he mentioned himself without me asking that even though he is a smoker, he doesn't allow his workers smoking in the house and all food to be cleared immediately.

Kind of relieved that we finalised the deal and looking forward for the selection of tiles/laminates etc and the reno to start!

Shopping
The last weekend we went on Taobao to search for cheap stuff to buy and we had a shortlist of lights, ceiling fans, clocks, bathroom and kitchen fixtures shortlisted. Unfortunately, Shawn was very against the idea of Taobao lights and and ceiling fans. He said if we insist, he still can install it for us, but with the caveat that if it spoils, the warranty that he is giving doesn't cover it. Kind of disappointed that he doesn't have any faith in Taobao items. My mother doesn't have faith either. If any readers have any reviews on Taobao items, please let me know.

Edited by MrandMrs
Update
 

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Edited on 9th October.

We went to hafary and choose the tiles with Shawn. He was patient and to be honest, willing to give us more time to make a decision. After selection of tiles, we waited about another week before hacking started. We had not received the 3D images yet, but Shawn mentioned that it was better that he start hacking first, so when we had decided on the design, he could start on the rewiring/carpentry work immediately.

However, we encountered numerous problems.

Problem 1: Taobao
We purchased some items from Taobao against Shawn's wishes. The problem was we bought a Prime membership to save on costs, but discovered that most of the shipment will only arrive in late October! That means that the renovation will probably be delayed. Shawn was not pleased.

Problem 2:
We wanted an undermount sink and basin. My friend advised me against it as if the sink and basin spoil or rust, it will be very expensive to replace it. Not really a problem but it makes me worry.

Problem 3:
Even though Shawn promised no smoking on premises, I found evidence of smoking in the house. To be honest, I'm ok if they smoke, but they did it after they promised not to, which kind of pissed me off.

Problem 4:
Measurements! To be honest, I feel Shawn should be providing more guidance here. We wanted to buy a toilet bowl, but was asked lots of questions by the shopkeeper on measurements. I asked Shawn, but his reply is always vague and sometimes confusing. In the end, we went down to the house and measured everything ourselves. Everything, from the width of the door (wanted to buy a doormat), to the size of the floor trap grating. At the back of my mind, I have this small fear that my measurements could be wrong.

Despite all these problems, we were quite happy when we saw the tiles being laid. The quality was not bad too be honest; I half expected some tiles to be out but they were well done. Additionally, the tiles we chose at Hafary exceeded our expectations. They were recommended by Shawn, so some credit to him there :D

IMG_0867.JPG

IMG_0869.JPG

Edited by MrandMrs
Update
 

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Another problem..

I have to be on a 1 week work trip next week. My other half is joining me so both of us will not be in SG to oversee. Hope nothing goes wrong..

Edited by MrandMrs
 

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Sorry for the late response.

A quick update so far..

We came back from the work trip and met with the contractor on the week of Deepavali. We inspected the work so far and point out some really terrible errors.
1. One of the toilet tiles was shorter than the rest, so there was a small gap.
2. The paint work was very bad. There were 4 numbers being engraved on the wall, and in some areas, you could still see the old paint job underneath the new paint.

During the meetup, we also met with the carpenter who proceeded to take measurements of what we wanted.

All seem well. Fast forward now, and nothing has happened since then!
We called Shawn and his reply was always that he is very busy and he will try his best to push. After chasing him several times, we only received the detailed measurements of the carpentry work last night. Also, none of the errors that we pointed out have been fixed!

I also found out that he has moved out of his old office.

I'm really in a cold sweat right now, didn't expect such a worse turn of events.. Hopefully it will pick up soon.

Edited by MrandMrs
 

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Update: 
The reno was supposed to finish before christmas. Unfortunately, now we are nearing new year and it is not done yet.

There are alot of minor problems that came up along the way.

Main ones were:
1) There is a strange horn sound coming from the toilet every once in a while. ID says it is either the water tank or the neighbours' taps. Still unsolved.
2) We bought a sink from taobao, which came with a kitchen spray. After drilling a hole in the quartz, we realised it is too short to install as our sink is undermount. ID sourced a soap dispenser to replace it. We haven't tested it yet, but hopefully it will fit.
3) Minor issues with paint and carpentry work. ID says these will be rectified by 29 Dec.
4) The kitchen light cover broke. ID says when the workers opened the box, it was already broke. Spoke to taobao about it and we bought replacement covers.
5) The MBR toilet wall tile. One tile is sunken in as compared to the rest. ID says it is due to the cement that the tiler used. He volunteered to change it, but we opted not to as we didn't want to drag the reno longer. It is a minor issue that we can live with.

Edited by MrandMrs
 

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