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Hi all. I've been really enjoying reading the t-blogs in this forum, and I think it's a nice way to document the reno journey.. so here goes on mine!

Bit of background on our reno - it really came about as our block was scheduled to undergo HIP (Home Improvement Programme).  

The 2 toilets upstairs would be completely redone, with the option of converting the wash area in the kitchen to a 3rd toilet. My parents took that option, so now we have 3 toilets and 3 showers 😂you can be sure you'll never run into a toilet emergency at our house.. 


My parents really just wanted the HIP reno but I thought it was a good chance to renovate the entire house.

We are the original owners and the house hasn't seen a complete renovation since, we have been doing small works like repainting bedrooms, replacing windows, replacing kitchen cabinets.. but the flooring and wiring are still original condition. Generally the house isn't falling apart but it is a little patched up. Also, I really love a Maisonette- it's big, spacious and ours is in a rather up-and-coming location (Cross island line MRT to be constructed within a 5 mins walk), and has all the daily conveniences (including a 24hr NTUC and 5 coffeeshops) around. Even though I'll be moving out to my own apartment soon, I'm 99% sure we'll be the first and last owners of this house 😄 

Just a few of the signs of age:

- Floor laminate was peeling in several places

- 3/4 pipes running inside the kitchen cabinet were slightly corroded 

- Some spalling on the ceiling

- Uneven paint colours throughout the house due to small paint jobs here and there


Was considering an ID at first - but as we have very simple taste / just as long the house looks neat, uniform, and spacious, is good enough. 

The problem is where to find a contractor - after asking around several friends, one of them could confidently recommend their contractor to me, saying he specialises in HDB renovations. Her resale HDB was neatly done up too. Contractor came down for a visit - the first thing he commented on upon entering our house was that it was very slanted. Which is not an exaggeration - even when I walk out to the corridor, the parapet directly outside my house vs. that of my neighbour's is already a different height 😂 HDB blocks built in the 80's... oh, and our MBR ceiling, you can see it cave inwards. 

But yes, he noted down the basic work required on the house - mainly whole house plastering, electrical rewiring & painting, and re-flooring the downstairs. I am completely new to renovating a house, so it was good to have him there to cover all the basics. My area of interest was really the kitchen - which actually is fine and useable but could be improved aesthetically (also, we spend lots of time in the kitchen). 


Contractor's quote was pretty close to what we'd budgeted - and he seemed experienced and easy to work with - so I didn't trouble myself with getting any other quotes. 

Later down the line, though, I paid more scrutiny to the different line items (as I learnt more about each process and available vendors) - so I questioned a lot more and where unsatisfactory sourced my own vendors. I did this for flooring and electricals. I'm still waiting for the painting team to come down for a site visit to see if they can handle my balcony - if not, will be outsourcing that to Nippon too. 


Edited by shiain

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Join 46,923 satisfied homeowners who used renotalk quotation service to find interior designers. Get an estimated quotation

Just wanted to cover off the HIP before the reno proper - glad to say my block was blessed with a reliable HIP team with good workmanship. Though the schedule had us on edge for close to a month - given that we had to secure our alternative accommodation - but we finally received the 1-month notice letter (couple of days late), and secured the move-in date to our rental apartment. 

We chose one of the 2 available packages - it comes with the standard 20x20cm grey non-slip floor tiles, white wall tiles with blue mosaic accents, and standard toilet bowl and pedestal sink, and aluminium bi-fold doors. Not a fan of the bi-fold doors but it came with it so we'll have to change it only after if at all. 

Naturally after everyone kaypoh the first few houses to undergo HIP and shared the post-HIP usage experiences, it came out that the floor tiles are not actually anti-slip, just has an anti-slip coating that may wear off over time. So we decided to source our own floor tiles from Hafary, 30x30cm ones are the biggest tiles HIP will accept. Also decided to do away with the mosaic accents, so walls are pure white. Went with their fittings, and started shopping for our instant heaters, bidet, towel bars, racks, light etc. so that the HIP team can install them together. 

The supervisor came over to run through with us a very detailed schedule for each of the 10 days. So basically we had to be around on day 8 for confirming placement of fittings, and schedule the tiles delivery to be before day 7. All super clear, and they eventually did stick exactly to the schedule. 

Here's the completed wash area toilet (very tiny, but functional):



And the MBR toilet:



Edited by shiain

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Heaved a sigh of relief when the HIP was completed on day 10 - not too many rectifications required except for the grout. They'd used grey grout against the light beige tiles on the common toilet (had thought they'd ask us about the grout colour preference but no) - it looked terribly mismatched, so we had them re-do the grouting. 

Post HIP handover, we had a couple of days before the flooring guys came in to do existing vinyl removal and screeding. Had a tough time sourcing this one - 1. since I didn't order vinyl through my main con, he was super clear about the flooring company needing to do removal, levelling and laying. My main con had proposed Hafary for flooring including vinyl - but we went down to the warehouse and weren't super impressed with the sales pitch (when asked why the $7 psf vinyl was better than the $3 psf vinyl, the sales compared it to buying a $3 vs. $7 bowl of bak chor mee, and the fact that she personally has it installed for her home, no problems). Not convinced.. so decided to make a call to Evorich (their intensive marketing efforts on the web does pay off) since their warehouse was also nearby. Evorich's sales pitch was 1000x better (some find it gimmicky though) - lifetime warranty on their HERF, scratch proof, water and fire resistant, with improved acoustic quality.

Sold. Made a quick call to main con to check (which was when he emphasised they need to do removal as well). Well, turns out Evorich does not do existing removal and levelling (?!?!!) but the rep could hook us up with his contact. Somehow, he never gave me the contact but that the contact would contact me... so it was weeks of following up til he actually contacted me. All good - they came for site visit and quotation, but on the actual days I think they realised they underestimated the difficulty of the job. 

Our vinyl is TOUGH. I believe they must have used extra-strong glue 30 years back to stick it to the bare subfloor, and over such a long period the vinyl had hardened. they basically had to scrape it off the subfloor, tearing the thick layers off slowly. 



Took a full day's work for removal, then they proceeded with the cement screed. They did a great job - as I mentioned our floor is extremely slanted, they managed to level it best they could. 



Edited by shiain
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In the meantime, my main con got the paperwork submitted for HDB renovation permit, and secured the hacking days the following week. One thing we have been quite antsy about is the lack of a proper schedule of works - but especially during this period, he is literally planning it almost day by day. 

At least we know the below rough schedule for week 1:

- Day 1-2: Hacking (existing cabinetry, kitchen floor + walls) 

- Day 3: Removal of existing electrical wiring

- Day 4-6: Wall and ceiling plastering

Also stocks were delivered throughout week 1 (compound plaster, cement screed, tiles, etc.) There were also some delays in the transportation I believe, but nothing too serious. 


Gave him a mini- heart attack when I called up regarding the electrical quotation the Thursday before. The original quotation for electricals was $5K+ and I'd assumed that was a ballpark - and would be finalised post the site visit by electrician. Electrician came and went and still no final itemised quotation came.. plus I was feeling uneasy as the electrician never contacted me to discuss works in detail. So I called my contractor and he confirmed yes, the price is around there, I can take $5K+ as the final price. NOT happy - because I had briefed the electrician very simply just to see his baseline quote. No concealed cabling, no 2-way switch, no dimmer, all wiring overlay with simple PVC casing, and a conservative number of power outlets and lighting points. Insisted on an itemised quotation. 

In the meantime rushed to contact two other electrical companies for a rough quotation based on my item list. One of them declined due to manpower shortage, the other (company B) came back within an hour with a rough quotation just shy of $4K based on my brief. At this point however I was 2 days away from my contractor's electrician coming down to do the removal of existing wiring - so I had to rush the new company for a site visit, which they did the next day and followed up with a detailed itemised quote by evening. 

Company B's site visit was different - while my main con's electrician was very attentive to our requests, he didn't provide much input or advice on optimising our wiring layout. For example, we briefed more single power points vs. doubles as we weren't sure of the price difference - but Company B's costing was clear and upfront - the difference was only $5. They also offered various options (2-way switches, conceal switches etc.) with clear add-on pricing for each. We ended up generally upgrading our electrical fitting by about 50% and the final quotation still came in just below $5K. I actually did send Company B's final quote to my main con to check if his electrician can price match - even a couple of hundred more is fine due to the timeline and the schedule - but they could not, so we had to balek our electrical plans. 

So our wirings removals got pushed back to Day 5 (earliest day Company B could do) and plastering had to proceed first. Plastering team was good - very efficient, good workmanship and actually helped to hack all the lightings upstairs too before Company B came. 


.. and that is how electrical joined flooring as another item removed from my contractor's SOW. A last potential item would be painting - long story short, painter may not be able to paint the top half of our balcony as they do not have the proper scaffolding to scrap and paint the top half. Needless to say a half-painted balcony is not acceptable.. neither can they just take out the balcony bit from their 'package' - because they'd only be able to reduce it by $300 as they basically bring all their stuff and paints to the house already for the indoor bit 😐So my main con says, they either do indoor + outdoor or not at all - he'll direct me to Nippon if they can't.

Edited by shiain
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Hacking proceeded without a hitch - guy hacked up the whole kitchen within a day. After hacking they proceeded with the first layer of floor screed, then waterproofing - only to be destroyed by a leaky pipe. Actually, the pipe was leaking BEFORE the guy proceeded to waterproof - apparently, they simply turned off the water mains and proceeded to waterproof. Well.... the pipe continued to leak after that....

Then, main con offered to get his plumber to cut off the leaky portion temporarily while I rushed my plumber to come ahead of schedule to change the kitchen pipe. It's Friday, and main con got his plumber to do the temp job Saturday, so waterproofing can continue. Great. Later, my plumber calls and says Sunday. Then main con says OK if yours coming Sunday, I cancel my plumber. (you can see where this is going..). Saturday night, my plumber calls and say sorry cannot, only Monday afternoon. Oh well, so I told main con to shift waterproofing back to Tuesday. 

Lo and behold, screed/waterproofing guy shows up on Monday still. First time I met him and the guy has a **** of an attitude. Came in and ranted about how the plumber was so slow, how he was hoping to do some wall screeding work and had to wait for DAYS already. Told him that he's not supposed to be here today, today cannot do, come back tomorrow. He ranted for a good 10 minutes before leaving. 

Tomorrow (Tuesday) rolled around, guy does not show up. Main con did not have a satisfactory answer as to why. Assuming he will show up tomorrow. 


Oh, joke of the century (for my main con), we insisted for the chute to be left there, because he said the chute is usually removed with hacking with a big hole there before screeding and tiling. We insisted no way - we're living on a low floor and pests would come up etc. People throw things down, and sometimes chute gets washed and fumigated. And well, it hasn't been "just a few days", it's been a total of two weeks since our kitchen was hacked and til now not even the wall has been screed. 



Back to my plumbing work. Called our own plumber which was half the cost of my contractor's plumber. I do get the reasoning that contractor's vendors can never match the rate of freeelance workers - but when it's more than $500 difference, I would go with the alternative. Plumber took about 3 hours to replace the kitchen incoming pipe. Stainless steel with copper fittings, same as our toilets. Pretty satisfied with their work, they ran thread seal tape around all the joints. Was slightly concerned about the only little bit of pipe that was not changed - the one running from kitchen to upstairs toilet. That part is buried in the cement between both levels, and given the toilet pipes / tiles / waterproofing is already completed (HIP), we didn't want to hack out this bit of pipe and sacrifice all the nicely finished work upstairs. Fingers crossed that pipe is all fine... the last thing you want is to have changed 99% and the 1% to be the problem...


Electrical team also started work this week - 4 days in total.

Day 1 - casings / Day 2 - cablings / Day 3 - hacking / Day 4 - install DB box

Electrical team was also satisfactory - could advise on ideal placements of sockets and casings. One was more meticulous than the other (cutting casings neater, laying them in line with ceiling, being quicker with the drill etc.) Yes they could be faster, but the difference is not significant (perhaps another team could have finished in 3 days). 



Netlink guys also came over on the first day - another small hiccup here was that they assumed the casings would be ready, so they can lay the fibre optics cable in the same casing, but they weren't. So they arranged to come back 2 days later to fix the termination point. 


In the meantime, other works that proceeded were installation of aircon compressor and trunking. Windows are yet to be installed. Painting wise, Nippon came over to site survey and we've signed with them and secured a date in 2 weeks. Quite a lot to be done before then (windows, aircon, plastering, cornices, and wall screed for kitchen). BTW, is kitchen typically left out of Nippon's packages? According to the sales person "kitchen is usually not included because it's all tiled up"?? In the end we didn't have to pay because they weren't doing our toilets anyway. But HEY.. then they never reduced our cost due to toilets in the first place? These vendors... always add never remove. 


Oh, one thing I'm very frustrated about is the absence of floor protection for the parquet floors upstairs. Somehow, our bedroom floors were not fully protected (despite main con emphasising double layer protection at the beginning of reno) - the floor protection guy came a total of 1 day and actually did not return after furnitures were moved away from the walls. And the plastering team proceeded on the unprotected floors (I assume they assume we were going to redo our floors as well) and now my parquet has plaster and scratches. When confronted, main con gave several reasons - our furnitures were not shifted out earlier, lack of manpower from floor protection side, tight timeline.. all unacceptable. The least he could have done is told us about any lack of manpower/ inability to fully protect, so we can lay our own floor protection, instead of waiting for us to find out about the incomplete job.


Partly our fault also for not checking that all floors were protected. Told the team to remove the plaster stains and revert our floors to normal before Nippon comes in to do pre-painting floor protection. As for the scratches, I've done a quick Google search and found a pretty well-reviewed parquet restoration service, so I might have them come and take a look after painting is done.

May also have been complacent, given HIP's high standard of floor protection -they'd used thick PVC sheets- thought private contractor can not do worse..


In comparison, my contractor's "double floor protection" was a layer of white PVC board followed by cardboard (in the bedrooms, they didn't even put on the cardboard). I'm thinking what I could have done back then. Ask for more details about the floor protection? It's such a basic job that I didn't have to? And contractor had surveyed my house and emphasised double floor protection for our parquet flooring, so how did it come to this 😠Oh well, what's done is done.  


Edited by shiain

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Electricals progressed - they did some hacking today and I'm hoping they finish up tomorrow. On one hand the men say their boss told them to go to another job tomorrow, on the other hand the boss promised me my place will be finished by tomorrow. I can't wait to find out what happens. 

Kitchen screeding/waterproofing guy came today - did the walls and the balcony too. Pretty satisfied with the work - they did the parapets well. The balcony looks so easy on the eyes in grey ☺️. But we'll have to paint it back to white. 


Windows also arrived today - the new ones on the left and old on the right. The new ones are 1-way tinted, but the tint is darker than i expected (pretty sure I chose light tint but this looks dark tint). 





2nd kitchen screeding (post-waterproofing) happens tomorrow, as well as partition walls for the storeroom under the staircase. Contractor had to order extra screed because he didn't realise my kitchen floors were so deep. Probably the hacking went deeper than expected. 



Tilers are coming next week. I've learnt my lesson and against my contractor's wishes have asked about every little detail (grout color, trim color, and emphasised the obvious- "am sure your tiler will do this, but please lay tiles flat and even- we will be checking on this especially") to get it right the first time and pre-empt any rework on the tiles. 

Edited by shiain

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3 weeks into the reno and 2 weeks into phase 2HA... 

Basic works are almost done (hacking, screeding, plastering, rewiring) and most of the packs of cement, plaster, cables and tools are cleared, freeing up more space downstairs. Tiles will also be used up next week. 

Finally, we can start to think about the aesthetics of the place. 

We're going for simple, so actually paintwork will be mostly white - 

Living + Dining: Nippon Sail White

Bedrooms + Kitchen: Nippon Snow Flakes

Balcony: White + Newtowne Brown for the bricks

But also wondering if the entire house will be too starkly white. Tempted to paint several walls black but my parents would most certainly run me over. I do love the black and white look, but they love colours. There's several walls that we could do up as feature walls, still deciding on which and how. 





We also went down to Melmer stoneworks to select our quartz countertop (Bianco statuario) and Arova for cabinet laminates (Greige glaze gloss). Also dropped by Caesarstone's showroom and their quartz are so pretty but almost 3x the price!



Edited by shiain

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Kitchen floor and wall tiles started this week - glad that the tiler seems pretty meticulous. Have seen the subway tiles (white) up already but what I'm anxious over is the mosaic - the one we chose is not particularly easy to lay. When it came to tile laying I kept referencing our old tiles- in the old days every tile was nicely chamfered- no idea why they no longer do that for tiles nowadays. And tiles nowadays cannot compare to the quality of last time as well. They feel so easily breakable!



Partition walls of the storeroom under the stairs was also done up, along with over the kitchen countertop. They use this laser level measure to ensure the partition is straight. Ensuring anything is straight in this old HDB is honestly tough - even our ceiling beams are significantly longer on one end 🙃

For the storeroom, there's this beam that is an accident hazard everytime you back out of the storeroom, you'd most certainly hit your head. My main con says it needs to be there for the door frame. Thinking of getting foam edge protectors and nailing them on there. 




Not heading down tomorrow - but painting starts on Thursday, so I'll head down in the morning just to see that painters are all set to go. Seems like just a week ago that they were over for a site visit! Lucky to be able to secure a date relatively soon and have Nippon fit in nicely in the reno schedule. 

Edited by shiain

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PAINTING CALLED and said he overlooked that Thursday is vaccination day for his workers. 🙄 So they can only start on Friday. And that he'll make up on Sunday. Totally do not think that is a good idea -  aren't there side effects like fatigue, nausea for a couple days after the jab? BUT everything has been scheduled and too many different vendors are involved next week to mess up the schedule.. so we have no choice. 

Upcoming works:

Fri - Sun: Sealer + 1st coat paint (Nippon)

Mon- Wed: Electrical installation of switch, socket, lighting, Kitchen cabling (Electrical team)

Thurs: Clearing of debris and existing floor protection upstairs + downstairs (Floor protection team)

Fri: Moving all upstairs furniture down to prepare for parquet grinding (Freelance)

Sat: 2nd coat paint (Nippon)


There's apparently a lot of kitchen to screed, so tilers are still generating a lot of dust this two days. A little apprehensive about the paintwork proceeding but as above.. anyway, main con assured that they'll be done tomorrow. Once this week is over, the house will be in a "liveable" condition as power and lighting/ fans will be back in and most of the dusty debris is cleared. 


Kitchen subway tiles are up, including the mosaic, all from Hafary. It looks great - really happy with the tiler's work. The final look is with white grouting though - and I'm not sure how that would blend with the black mosaic. We wanted white grout for the white tiles + black grout for the mosaic, but main con advised against that as the black grout may stain the white tiles/ white grout over time and we didn't want to take that risk. 




Fridge base has also been constructed, 850mm width by 800mm depth. Should be sufficient for most single-door fridges. We don't have a washing machine base as the washing machine does not have a logical spot of it's own anywhere in the kitchen. Main con said it can't be placed in the balcony (we can't use the balcony drainage to drain washing machine, so it will be sitting up against a wall outside the kitchen toilet on a moveable base. 



Paints were also delivered for tomorrow 🙂



Edited by shiain

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Hi Shiain,

Any update on your renovation? I believe you have moved back into your newly renovated EM already?

Please share with us. 


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Hi @KFC1189 thanks for checking in and reminding me to upload all the pics to update here! Now setting aside a good hour to give closure to anyone following this blog 😅

Yes, we finally moved back on the 10th July, handed back our rental without any issues. Thankfully we didn't have to extend lease - and rental is NOT cheap this period.. 

So, the paint job by Nippon went on without a hitch (post the vaccination hiccup). The job was quite straightforward as our house is completely in Sail White, except for the Kitchen and Bedrooms in Snow Flakes, and the TV wall in Pure Gift (light grey). The difference is subtle but Sail White has a tinge of yellow in it so it's more warm, Snow Flakes has a tinge of pink in it and it's more cool. Ceiling was in Anti-mould, and it looks to me slightly grey-ish. Not a bad contrast to the walls.

If you recall, the reason we switched to Nippon over my main con's painter is due to the latter inability to paint 2-storey balcony. It's really tough, requires a lot of safety precautions and plastering the top half of the balcony is impossible (without full scaffolding). Nippon did a fantastic paint job on the balcony, very thorough with the sealant and paint coats. Our bricks are in Newtowne Brown, as the original colour since 30 years ago is no longer on the market. 






After painting, the parquet grinding guys came to work on the bedrooms. Quite anxious about this as our parquet is as old as the house, generally good condition except for scratches over the years. This kind of square parquet is also no longer available in Singapore. The last thing we want is for it to pop or deform and have to replace the entire upper flooring.. thankfully, the grinding was a success and the parquet is now smoother, gaps filled though some strange tiny bumps appeared after the grinding. I really love the differing hues of the planks and am hoping this parquet lasts for 30 more years!






Downstairs flooring was not much easier due to the unevenness of our subfloor (old HDB). There's a particular spot near the Utility area where a wall was hacked, so the vinyl installer has to apply lots of silicon there and there's an obvious darker patch. 


Otherwise, rest of the Living and Dining areas looks good. This is Evorich HERF in Amsterdam Eggshell, they delivered the planks day before for acclimatisation, and came to complete the job the next day. 

One thing I wish I had known - they had to remove our new door and shave it off for clearance as the vinyl planks are quite thick. The door isn't quite the same after hinging it back on, and a little damage was sustained too. So if you can, leave your new door installation to after flooring is done. 




The Evorich HERF planks ($6+ psf) have a little grooves in them, so they probably are going to be a bit harder to clean vs. those vinyl that are super smooth. But they are definitely sturdier and handle item drops better acoustically than some others in the $3+ psf range I've seen. 

Also, the first of our furnitures arrive with the TV console - this is the BESTA console set from IKEA. It literally just fit within the inset of our wall, just enough for a 43" TV. And Pure Gift turned out so lovely, we probably should have painted it all the way up! I am however too apprehensive of any colour other than white to over-commit too much wall to colour!



Edited by shiain

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