IMPORTANT PLEASE READ

Dear all, I apologise for not having the time to reply to every single enquiry. For those who are requesting for contact details, please see below. As for my contractor, I will not be giving out his contact because he is not on my recommended list. Thank you all for reading! 


Contacts

Due to the number of people who are requesting for contacts, I will post everything here for your easy reference. As for my contractor, I will not be giving out his contact because he is not on my recommended list.

  • Carpenter contractor: Carel, 97995666
  • 3D designer: Zhi Long 92224562 
  • ID Avant Garde Design: Billy 90298487
  • Contractor J&E: Edmund, 90186223

Table Of Contents

  1. Our Renovation Journey
  2. Introduction
  3. Selecting a Contractor
  4. The Mood Board
  5. List of Works Done
  6. Problems Encountered
  7. Hacking and Plastering
  8. Tiling
  9. Taobao Loots
  10. Kitchen Appliances
  11. Issues Encountered Part 1
  12. Issues Encountered Part 2
  13. Brick Walls
  14. Electrical Works
  15. The Finished Look + Final Review and Contacts

  Its been 4 months since our renovation journey ended, and I think we’re finally ready…world, meet house! The entire renovation process has been a long gruelling one, but the final results are really well worth it. We can’t be any happier with our cozy little nest! Lastly for those looking for contacts, please scroll to the bottom for more info.

Our sofa that has been badly ravaged by our furbabies :~ LUCKILY, it’s only $300, bought from fortytwo.sg. Will probably be changing sofas within the next few months or so.
We bought most of the soft furnishing in our entire house from Taobao (and Ikea) :) So far so good, the quality is definitely better than what we expected. Not to mention the huge amount of money we’ve saved.

Besties :D
Real wood table. Totally in love with the rawness!

Birdcage lights that I chose in loving memory of my Dad, who was a huge nature lover and used to rear birds in beautiful, intricate birdcages.
The shadows cast when I turn these lights on at night are really pretty :)
The dining area ;)

We’re really happy with how the kitchen turned out. For the record, the workmanship by my carpenter is really quite solid. Everything is nicely flushed, no unsightly holes or badly joined seams. One of my ideas for the kitchen cabinet was to have drawers that run across the entire top row, instead of a vertical column of drawers, so that we can have easy access to all the drawers. I might do a cabinet tour in future, but here’s a quick run through of what we have in our cabinet. From left to right: #1 Tall unit – Magic clean mop, short handled dustpan and broom, washing detergent, insect sprays and ant poison, thinner, plastic bag containers, rubber bands #2 Top cabinet – Snacks and dried food stuff #2 Bottom cabinet – Coffee and milo satchets, empty plastic containers, small appliance boxes, spare mugs and jugs #3 Drawer – Tea satchets and biscuits #3 Cabinet – Can’t remember lol #4 Drawer – Fake drawer #4 Cabinet  – Cleaning equipment, extra rolls of toilet paper and tissue paper, cloths and rags #5 Cabinet – Sliding metal rack that I kinda regret installing. Only holds 1 Apple Cidar Vinegar bottle and washing bowl for the cats, and a roll of toilet paper #6 Drawer – Cutlery #7 Drawer – Miscellaneous items that we regularly use eg. Small toolbox, all sorts of tape, wet wipes, ziplock bags, marker and post-it notes, scissors and penknife #7 Bottom cabinet – Plates, bowls, pots and pans, glasses

Cheap, pretty matte black knobs from Ikea.
Bought a black metal dishwashing rack, because we don’t have a dish drainer. For only the two of us, it works really well.
My FOC model. This little missy followed me around the house the entire time while I was taking these photos

Our dark, moody bathroom. Both doors open to the outside so that the bathroom won’t be so cramped. I love these black frosted glass doors that we eventually settled on after – I’m not kidding – weeks and weeks of searching for suitable bathroom doors. It was a difficult process because we needed a door to match the very different concepts used in the kitchen (industrial/village), and in the bathroom (rustic/resort). We finally chose this frosted glass door because we didn’t want the door to overpower the already complicated bathroom, but we didn’t want something plastic looking either (read: swing-slide door). Just some notes about the bathroom. Apart from the Spanish tiles behind the toilet bowl, everything else was kept to a very strict concrete grey, dark grey, chrome-with-white-accents look. Something I discovered – for those who have installed rainshower, make sure to place your rainshower as close to the ceiling as possible. The lower it is, the more cramped your shower area will look. I mentioned in previous posts that we decided to scrap the wooden bathroom cabinet for a concrete sink support and I am so in love with it now. Best thing is, no more worries about getting the vanity wet. We got our carpenter to install doors for the concrete sink support. I’m not entirely happy with the colour, but it’s the best we could find. Anyway, because it’s quite dark inside, it’s not really noticeable at all so that’s ok.

Taken from behind the shower screen, excuse the water stains
Taken from behind the shower screen, excuse the water stains

Here’s the bathroom seat that I got them to rectify . Without the rounded edges, it looks SO MUCH better now. Super happy with how this has finally turned out in the end. I made the decision very early on to use the same tiles for the floor and the walls. Later on, we made a last minute decision to add on a concrete sink support, and again went for the same tiles so that the entire bathroom would have a seamless look. The initial plan was to have cement screeding done on the floor and walls, but because of potential water leakage issues, we decided to scrape that plan. Glad we did because I love the concrete tiles anyway =)

An accent wall done with spanish tiles.
Some bathroom decor from Taobao.
Back in our bedroom. Presenting…the cat door!
Little missy isn’t allowed in the bedroom because she chews on wires :(

“How to climb an indoor tree in 5 seconds”

 


Final review on contractor

I really had a difficult time assessing my contractor, and as much as I would love to recommend him, I can’t. Honestly, at the end of the day, I’m still very pleased with the renovation. Many things that I was worried or uncertain about, turned out really well and I’m really happy with the results. Most items were delivered in a timely manner. All in all, I have little complaints on the quality of work delivered but I suspect it’s because I’m quite chinchai, not because the subcons are very good. The tiler and painter were really professional and had good workmanship. However the rest – electrician, doors (they CRACKED my door frame and blamed it on Bear), were just blah. BUT, at the very least, most of the mistakes were eventually corrected. Lastly, he also got us some really good discounts at Hupfarri, lah. So I really had him on my recommendation list, and was really happy to have engaged him. But not anymore, because towards the end of the reno, quite a few things happened that have changed my mind.

1. He was dishonest on more than one occasion. I’m sure this would be a deal breaker for many. How can you be a reliable contractor if you’re not even honest? Some of his ‘little white lies’ were just bull****. For example, when I asked why the grout colour that I asked for was not given, he told me that grout only came in 3 shades. I immediately went to the Mapei website and pulled out an entire colour chart for him :rolleyes: We were also shortchanged on items that we removed or didn’t do, but received no deduction in cost (which our carpenter did for us, very promptly). But we wanted to cut him some slack so we overlooked these, lah.

2. Delay, delay, and more delays. Like I mentioned, most of the deliverables were completed on time. MOST, but not all. If not for these delays, our renovation could have been completed more than 1 month earlier. But more than that, because his replies were frequently vague **** like “I update you again”, it was a horrible and stressful experience having to keep chasing and chasing. especially when the rest of the renovation progress hinges on those items and you don’t know when the items would be delivered.

3. Unfulfilled contract. I mentioned about the sliding door – the door that I don’t think will ever happen. It’s been more than 1 month since our renovation is ‘over’. Right from the start, the door person – or rather door PERSONS because there were 2 different subcons – came down at least 4 times to ‘take measurement’. They came down to “take measurement” 4 freaking times, but after taking measurements, there was no more news from them. There were even appointments that they failed to turn up for. Bear waited at home for hours, but NOBODY turned up. Don’t even mention the endless times we’ve chased and chased for the door to be installed. There are also numerous touchups (cracked door frame, skirting cracking open, false ceiling for a small section) that are nowhere to be seen.

4. Finally, here’s the killer – a whopping $4500 VO with the payment addressed to the contractor, and not his company, which we bargained down to 3K eventually. Look, we’re not stupid, this money is either A. Going into his own pocket or B. Used to cover his losses because he undercharged us at the start. We honestly felt that it wasn’t a bad job done, and we really wanted to just get it over with, so we paid up. And also, we trusted him because he was distant friend. BIG mistake! We can kiss our rectifications and sliding door goodbye now. 5. Little to no value-add apart from taking on a project coordinating role. Honestly, much of the advice that we got came from his sub cons. He was barely around, and only appeared for brief intervals before rushing off to some other place. Most of the time, we were left to deal with the sub cons on our own. We had to figure everything out ourselves, either by research or by talking to the sub cons. Without anyone to guide us, as first-time renovators, we were really thrown into the sea to swim on our own. It was a VERY stressful experience. So, this sums up my whole experience. As much as it was negative, it was also a very positive one. The sense of accomplishment, for one, is enormous, especially because we designed everything from scratch, and were there to overlook the project every step of the way.

Update 1. After dragging on for another 3 weeks, Contractor finally refunded the cost of the door, and quite promptly, so that’s settled.

Update 2. Kitchen door finally installed. We contacted a door supplier who gave us a very reasonable quotation and so we went ahead with him. Love the final outcome!  


Contacts

Due to the number of people who are requesting for contacts, I will post everything here for your easy reference. As for my contractor, I will not be giving out his contact because he is not on my recommended list.

  • Carpenter contractor: Carel, 97995666
  • 3D designer: Zhi Long 92224562 
  • ID Avant Garde Design: Billy 90298487
  • Contractor J&E: Edmund, 90186223

Table Of Contents

  1. Our Renovation Journey
  2. Introduction
  3. Selecting a Contractor
  4. The Mood Board
  5. List of Works Done
  6. Problems Encountered
  7. Hacking and Plastering
  8. Tiling
  9. Taobao Loots
  10. Kitchen Appliances
  11. Issues Encountered Part 1
  12. Issues Encountered Part 2
  13. Brick Walls
  14. Electrical Works
  15. The Finished Look + Final Review and Contacts

Installing of electrical wires

This was done over a span of 1 week or so (IIRC) before and after the brick walls.

Previously I mentioned that we had had a meeting with the electrician on planning how the wiring would be run. Even then with all the planning, many things went wrong, or were not what I expected.

Probably the biggest booboo was this one particular incident. My initial idea was to have EVERYTHING done in pipes. I figured since we were doing an industrial sort of look, pipes would be the best way to go. However, this meant that in the living room area where the pipes run out from the circuit board, there would be 3 pipes running along the ceiling (each pipe goes into a room). The electricians even gave me a stunned like vegetable look. Still, silly me insisted that I wanted it that way.

So I had the shock of my life when I went over one day, and saw the pipes – because of the width of the pipe hangers (I don’t remember how much it is, too traumatized), multiply that by 3, and add the pipes width, the total width was probably almost 1 foot…and SO FUGLY! Seriously, what was I thinking. So I thickened my skin, swallowed my pride and asked for it to be redone into 1 neat trunking :( It looks so much better now, but it’s an expensive mistake that cost us a few hundred to rectify. See image below for an illustration of the could-have-been disaster.

electrical4before

electrical3

Now, 3 pipes have been removed and in place is a single trunking. So much neater and tidier. Plus, it fits in snugly with the brick walls.

Because the electrical works aren’t complete yet, I’ll leave the rest to be posted in a final post.

In retrospect, I don’t think we did a very good job with this. Being a totally visual-oriented person, I know nuts about technical stuff like these. And Bear, being new to an entire house renovation, was quite clueless as well (although less so than me). Also, unlike with the rest of the house, we didn’t have a concrete plan for the electrical works and without an ID (or someone!) to sit down and plan the wiring with us, we could only rely on our own common sense, and the electrician’s expertise. Of course it’s not complete yet, so probably will see how it goes from here.

Table Of Contents

  1. Our Renovation Journey
  2. Introduction
  3. Selecting a Contractor
  4. The Mood Board
  5. List of Works Done
  6. Problems Encountered
  7. Hacking and Plastering
  8. Tiling
  9. Taobao Loots
  10. Kitchen Appliances
  11. Issues Encountered Part 1
  12. Issues Encountered Part 2
  13. Brick Walls
  14. Electrical Works
  15. The Finished Look + Final Review and Contacts

 


 

Picking up from where I last left off (before the carpentry post).

So, after the CNY week, our contractor gave himself and his workers a “nice” 2 week long “holiday”, which in turn really cost us a lot of time. Our initial plan was to have everything done by the 1st week of march, clean up by 2nd week, and move in by 3rd. But it’s already the 3rd week now, and we’ve only just started on the carpentry. Because everything is linked together, the carpentry wasn’t able to commence (carpenter didn’t want to come down until after the plumbing rectifications and electrical works were complete) and so everything came to a standstill. But that’s over now and things are starting to move again, so that’s cool. Anyway, here’s whats been going on so far. I’ll start with the brick walls first.

Brick Walls

Our brick walls are located in the living room and bedroom, and are about 6.5m in the living, and 3m in the bedroom. The walls are really not the colour that I was expecting. It’s kind of a dirty, rough grey-cream. But it’s kind of  grown on me now, and I quite like the look. We’re still deciding on this however.

 

brickwalls2

Closeup of the bricks. Bear instructed the tiler to lay it as unevenly as possible to give it that raw, rustic and unpolished look. Tiler nodded his head and told Bear that he’s been doing these forever, lol.

brickwalls1

I guess our tiler works really quickly, because these brick walls were done in about 2.5 days. Initially I felt like it looked weird, then I realized that the ‘grout’ was missing. Which resulted in a lot of ‘dark’ gaps around the walls. Bear liked the look, but I felt that it was really too raw, so I insisted that the grout had to be filled in. Plus, leaving it unfilled would have caused it to turn into a dust and insects haven. Total no go.

 

brickwalls44

Here’s the bedroom wall with the white grout filled in.

brickwalls5

And here’s the bedroom brick wall, already painted white by us. Btw, why did we have to paint it on our own? Because our contractor, apparently, did not include the cost of painting  brick walls into his quotation. Are brick walls not walls in the house? *Shrug* Go figure.

Anyway, we really love it now. Much neater and cleaner. Right now, we’re still deciding on whether to paint the living room white or not. We’ll probably be waiting till the furniture is in to see how everything looks like together.