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

 


 

Since there’s just way too much backlog to catch up on, I’ve decided to change my posting format and do shorter, more bite-sized updates.

So today, Bear went down to the house and finally managed to catch our dear friend, the head tiler. The last time we saw him was 2 weeks, just before CNY. Because of the lack of contact, I had been feeling SO jittery these past two weeks. Honestly, after reading so many horror stories, I couldn’t help but imagine tha the same would happen to us (ok lah, I’m also a kanchiong spider). So I was SO RELIEVED today to find out that most of the craftstone bricks in our living room has been laid (I hesitate to phrase is like this, but have no other way of saying it LOL).

However, we found out today that our ceiling is slanted *horrors*. The difference from one end to another is actually 30cm! We would either have to stick the wire trunking on to the ceiling, or have a row of gradually widening brick. Fortunately, our clever head tiler came up with a solution – to tile and do the trunking as per usual, then use plaster to seal up the gaps above the trunking. Just brilliant and I effing love him!

Anyways, two main issues cropped up over the past few weeks. Or rather, two issues that we had been unable to tell head tiler about.

Issue 1
This bathroom shower seat.

bathroom-seat_zpsddgo4ujz.jpg

In fact I was really quite unhappy, even though he probably had our best intentions at heart. So this was what happened.

As much as I don’t want to be a nitpicky homeowner, this seat really got me quite depressed. My inital request was for a simple, rectangular block of seat. And when I say rectangular, I mean rectangular! Not odd shaped, with some parts sticking out, or a rounded corner. Even the rounded edge, that he must have done with our safety in mind. And I appreciate that, but it just looks….:(

So after communicating all this to head tiler today, I’m still not satisfied with his suggestion of (merely) adding on a square corner so that it isn’t rounded anymore. I have already given Bear instructions and we will see how it goes tomorrow.

Meanwhile, off-topic a little. All of this sparked a new idea in me…a concrete bathroom vanity! See images below:

concrete-sink1_zpsvpvfniox.jpg
(taken from pinterest)

concrete-sink2_zpsjqnr3uir.jpg
(taken from pinterest)

Don’t ask me how I managed to link a bathroom seat to a concrete sink. Anyway, I’m super excited about this new idea. But also very nervous because I don’t know if it can be done or not. Keeping fingers crossed!

Issue 2
The grout colour.

Notice how WHITE it is in the picture…I actually asked for dark grey – black grout that would blend in with the tiles. And head tiler agreed with me. So I was REALLY VERY upset when I saw how the grout had turned out. I actually asked Bear many times if the grout was already in or not, hoping against hope that MAYBE the grout wasn’t in yet. But of course, it was lah. Sigh :( Knowing how difficult it is to change grout colour, I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this as well.

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

 


 

Quite a lot has happened over the last few weeks, and given how busy I am right now, it seems almost impossible to catch up on everything! However, since this has been the most problematic area of our house, so I wanted to go into more detail on this. I also hope that other 3-roomers who have the same layout, and are facing the same problem as I am, might be able to find something to take home from this post. So here goes nothing.

Our bathroom was initially a split one, with the WC on one side, and shower on the other side.

KM_554e-20150610114038

See floorplan above for a clearer picture.

Restrictions
Our first priority was to hack down the middle wall and combine both the toilets. However, the problems we faced seemed to pile on one after another.

  • The middle wall could not be hacked entirely because of the two pipes running down the middle. That meant there is a 1 ft deep wall protruding out from the center.
  • One of the corners in the allocated shower area is curved, so we can only have our rainshower on one side of the wall. This has restricted the spots where our sink could be located.
  • We want to have a sink inside the bathroom (previously the sink was located outside, like all old 3 room flat designs), and also a decently sized vanity table. But because of the lack of space, there can only be one spot for the sink.

Non-negotiables
Before starting, we had already set in place my non-negotiables – things that we (or rather mostly I, Owl. Haha) would not be willing to do without or compromise. These are:

  • A ‘combined’ bathroom with sink, shower and WC
  • A vanity table with storage space
  • A separate dry and wet area
  • A rainshower
  • Comfortable walking and standing space

Options
Because of all these restrictions, the entire space is quite severely constricted. We spent (and are still spending) long, tiring hours planning and replanning. At one point, we even visited an interior designer friend of mine for (free :D) help. Being the awesome person and even awesomer ID that she is (I would have totally engaged her if I could afford it), she explored other options with us.

  • Shifting our vanity and sink into the bedroom, which we eventually decided not to do, because we just felt uncomfortable with having a wet area inside the bedroom. We would also have to expand the bedroom so that the sink can be fit in, which would cost more money.
  • Getting a semi-recessed sink to free up more space. But because I’ve never fancied semi-recessed sinks, I very quickly rejected this option. Same goes for sink without a vanity table. which is a non-negotiable.
  • Leaving the sink in the kitchen. Probably the most practical. After all, the sink was originally designed to be in the kitchen, and not the bathroom. But this would mean that our (master) bathroom would be without a sink. This was also very unsettling because we would have to make our way to the kitchen every morning to wash up, which would be too much of a hassle for us.
  • Shifting the sink to the front of the WC. But then the WC would be just…1-2 steps behind us *SCREAMS* Bear didn’t seem to find this a problem (and I can’t for the life of me, fathom why!), but it was totally a no-go for me. I don’t want to accidentally slip, fall backwards, and into the toilet bowl, HORKAY???
  • Shifting the sink to the left side of the pipes, under window 1. But this would mean that the rainshower would have to be in line with it, which isn’t possible because there of window 1 being there. We could plaster and straighten the rounded corner, but that would place the rainshower diagonally, and there’s no space for that either.
  • Shifting the sink right to the far top-left corner. A very very close viable option. But that would make it inaccessible and a long walk from the WC / bedroom. Imagine using the loo, then walking all the way to the end to wash your hands. Every single time (ok, to be honest, at home, I don’t wash my hands EVERY single time lah…but still…). Again, a hassle, so no.

sketchup-wc-floorplan

Finally, after many days of discussion, the above is the bathroom layout that we settled on.

It’s as close to scale as possible (except for the vanity table, which is actually much smaller than this). Initially done in sketchup, it looked fine. But it was only after stepping into the bathroom did we realize how cramped everything would be.

Number one thing we decided to compromise on was the vanity table size. Any wider, and there would be no way to enter the shower area from the dry area. We whittled it down to a very small 2.5ft wide by 1.5ft deep one. 1.5ft (or appx 45cm) is as deep as we can go while still allowing walking space between the vanity and the middle wall. It’s a really tight squeeze, but that’s really the best that we can do. We also had to do without a sliding glass shower door, in order to have a wider entrance to the shower.

Even though it seems like a very simple solution, it took us a really long time to come to this conclusion. Being new to renovation, we didn’t want to miss out on a single option that we could explore. Of course there might have been something even better, but I’m willing to bet it would cost a whole lot more, and we aren’t willing to do so. And while it isn’t perfect, I’m proud to say that we had put in a huge ton of effort brainstorming and problem solving, when we could have haphazardly left it to our contractor, or compromise on our non-negotiables :)

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

 


 

Our search for kitchen appliances began shortly after the first week of reno, and we settled everything in 3 days, over 1 weekend. Although we had a budget to keep to, we also didn’t want to spend too much time travelling and sourcing for the lowest prices. So we kept our selection relatively small and only went to Hoe Kee, GainCity, Bathroom Warehouse, Hupfarri and 2 aircon stores in IMM (but eventually dropped them because of the terrible reviews).

(Oh, this isn’t a biggie, but I have an experience to share about Hoe Kee at Katong. So we were attended by a slimey(!) salesman (I forgot his name) who gave me really bad vibes. He actually badmouthed his colleagues from another Hoe Kee branch to us. And while we were deciding on what hob to get, I showed Bear an image on my phone, and I actually caught him sneaking a peek to see what it was. I was seriously turned off! Smh.)

Anyway, here are the items that we’ve finally purchased.

GainCity

GainCity was the first and also the last place that we went to. After going around comparing prices, we felt that GainCity had reasonable prices. We went to the Sungei Kadut branch and found the salesmen to be pretty top notch. Attentive, patient, knowledgeable, and also offered us attractive discounts. To top it off, we also received a free Hitachi Cordless Kettle, and an Electrolux Stacking Kit, so yay!

ELECTROLUX FRONT LOAD WASHER, 7.5KG
$530 (after discount)

 ELECTROLUX FRONT LOAD CONDERSER DRYER, 7KG
$799

 

Our initial choice was a different Electrolux washer + dryer package. However, the loads are 7kg and 6kg respectively. I intend to use my dryer to dry bedsheets, which require a 7kg load, so those don’t cut it for me. Furthermore, we found out that the dryer comes with a side vent, and a big vent hose that looks like this. We were taken aback because none of the other sales people had told us about this. We were not willing to have this hose sticking out from the side of the dryer, so misfortune averted! What we actually needed to get (and did get eventually) was a condenser dryer (shown above), that has a small, neat tray at the top for the steam to condense into.

HITACHI 3 DOOR FRIDGE (365L)
$969 (after discount)

My mum actually bought this fridge a few years back and it’s in my 娘家 right now. It’s a skinny fridge, not too big, which is fine for us because we don’t cook much. This might seem strange to some, but what caught my eye is the ice-making function in this fridge. You fill in the small water tank at the top section. After the ice has formed, it will be collected at the bottom section, ready to be scooped out. Easy peasy, and, to me, super convenient. For some reason though, very few fridges at this price range have this function.

ELECTROLUX BUILT-IN OVEN
$619 (after discount)

I’m NOT a cooking sort of person. But now that I’ll be having a kitchen all to myself, I think it would be a waste not to at least try. After much deliberation, we decided to get an oven as well. Although Electrolux is a decent brand, I haven’t seen any much reviews on it. Though I have seen some good reviews in Renotalk on Elba built-in ovens, so I might be switching to this instead (GainCity allows for item swaps, as long as the item has not been delivered).

TOSHIBA INVERTER SYS3
$3239

The AC selection was a really long and tedious process. For us, there were many things to take into consideration. Because an AC requires maintenance long after it has been purchased, we feel that the reliability of the company / salesperson is just as important. After much doing research on AC supplier companies and much time spent talking to aircon sales people, our hearts were finally won over by Lennon, a Sungei Kadut GainCity sales rep.

Here’s the ‘long story short’.

We had already shortlisted 2 brands, Mitsubishi and Toshiba, with our main priority being price and functionality. The Toshiba (which, we were told, has only one Sys 3 model) has a slightly lower BTU than the Mitsubishi models. However, because there are only two of us, our consumption is going to be lesser than that of a family with 3-4 members. This would make Toshiba the more suitable choice for us. Also, because of the $150 capital mall voucher thrown in, this evened out the prices, making Toshiba our final choice.

We also upgraded to:

  • Premium 4 years extended warranty that comes without a cap on the amount ($129)
  •  1/2″ Armaflex insulation (forgot the amount)

Bathroom Warehouse

CARYSIL LARGE BOWL GRANITE SINK,
$195.68 (after discount)

Initially, we wanted a double sink but decided to settle on a single one instead, to save on countertop space. A single bowl is also larger than either side of a double bowl, and would fit a large pot or pan more easily. We’ll just pop in a dish-drying rack at the side in future to dry our dishes.


KOHL SINGLE LEVER SINK MIXER(SQUARE)
$216.38 (after discount)

Nothing much to say about this mixer except that it’s nice and matte (the above picture is the chrome model). Our initial choice for taps/sinks was Grohe (because Hansgrohe is too pricey). However after realizing that Grohe is made in Thailand, we decided that we aren’t ready to shell out that amount of money. Also, we’re also not avid kitchen users, so this is an area where we put in the least amount of research.

RINNAI HORIZONTAL INDUCTION HOB
$720 (after discount)

An induction cooker runs on electricity instead of gas. Energy consumption wise, both are equal. Because this has the sleek, modern look that we want (and because I have phobia of a toppling my pots over while using a gas stove), this is naturally our first and only choice.

For those who are not aware, note that there are 2 very similar looking cookers – induction and ceramic. Here are some difference that I learned about:

  1. Induction hobs heat up quicker than ceramic hobs.
  2. Induction hobs are heated by electricity. Ceramic hobs are heated by coiled metal elements underneath.
  3. Induction hobs will only work on materials that are magnetic in nature (eg. stainless steel). Ceramic hobs can be used to heat up any material.
  4. Induction hobs are cool to the touch, and only the area under the pan is heated up. For ceramic hobs the entire surface will be heated up.