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

 


  taobaoloots Introducing my very first ever batch of purchased items from Taobao! The prices are in SGD, and per item. From left-right, top-bottom:

  1. Hanging caged lights for bathroom, above the sink. $15
  2. Hanging mesh lights for bedroom, above both bedsides. $20
  3. Hanging caged lights for kitchen, above the row of bottom cabinets. $10
  4. Hanging bird cage lights for living room, above both corners of the living room window. $14
  5. Track lights (20w), Track and track connector for all rooms. $4, $1 and $0.40 respectively
  6. Hanging wall lights for still unknown (lol). $40
  7. Hanging pendant lamp for study room, above study tables. $21
  8. Craftstone bricks for living room and bedroom. $6 per box (1 box has 66 tiles and covers 1 sqm)
  9. Rustic wall clock for living room. $14

With the time we took searching for the perfect pieces (1 month!!!), you’d think we would order dozens and dozens of items, lol. We spent the longest time EVER searching for these items. Because we were new to Taobao, the entire process was completely alien and stressful to us, and it took us almost a month to finally complete the entire process. Though the savings kinda make all the pain worth it! Besides, you really only need to go through it once, and then you’ll get the hang of it. The agent that I used is Oops. I was pretty lucky because a friend of mine had used their services to purchase items for her house, and so she was able to guide me along the way. Off the top of my head, here are a few things to take note of: 1. Sea Freight Vs. Air Freight

  • Sea Freight – Calculated by volume: SGD$11.11/0.1 cubic meter – Minimum requirement: 1 Cubic Meter (or pay for the same amount ie. $111.10) – Use for big and/or heavy items like furniture, craftstone bricks, etc. Also use if there you have plenty of items to ship over. – Pros: Can be used to ship a large amount of items over, including heavy and bulky items – Cons: Slower than air freight. Will arrive in 2-3 weeks time
  • Air Freight – Calculated by weight: SGD$2.22/500grams – Minimum requirement: 500grams (or pay for the same amoun ie. $4.44) – Use for light items like cloth, small containers, little items etc. and if you need them urgently – Pros: Faster than sea freight, will arrive in 1 weeks time. Don’t need to buy in a large volume quantity. – Cons: Too expensive to be used for heavy or large items

2. Place Order (Assisted Purchase Service) Vs. DIY Place Order (DIY Reship Service) Use “Place Order” if you are very unfamiliar with the Chinese Language, or are not confident in making a purchase even after translating the page. Oops (or your agent) will make the purchase for you instead. Conversely, use “DIY Place Order” if you are able to make the purchase on your own. 3. Communicating in Mandarin  Be prepared to communicate with the Taobao sellers in Mandarin. You will need to ask them about the volume or weight of the item so you can calculate the shipping fees (from China to SG). You will also sometimes need to inform them to add in shipping the charges from the seller’s location to Oops’s China warehouse. Not all, but some sellers require additional shipping charges. If you’re not sure, always ask the seller to check. 4. Taobao Item Refund Taobao has this nifty function that allows for a full refund (hurray!), as long as your item has not yet been shipped (I’m not sure if the same applies after shipping has begun). All you need to do is contact your seller and inform them of your decision, navigate to the refund page in Taobao, and request for a refund. The seller will then proceed to refund your money, no questions asked (at least in my experience).   I’ll try my best to blog about the process soon. Hopefully it’ll help out others who are equally baffled as we were.

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

 


 

It took us two trips to Lian Seng Hin to finalize our tiles. Our second visit was to confirm the tiles that we had selected previously. We also learnt that it is a must to have 30 x 30 tiles at the shower (or wet) area. This is so that the floor can be sloped, thus helping with water drainage.

The tiles were up shortly after the plastering, and masonry works are still in progress. I estimate it to be just about 60-70% complete. Also, I realized that what might seem easy, really isn’t, and I’ve developed a newfound respect for the tilers.

tiling1

These tiles come with around 9-10 different patterns, that the tilers mixed and matched themselves. I wanted to match them myself, but after our last few interactions with the head tiler, we decided that we could place some faith in him. Love how its turned out :) Best thing is, if the walls were to ever grow algae one day, nobody would realize. Lolol.

tiling2

I wanted to have a dark floor at the shower area, but the sales lady at LSH stressed repeatedly that it would stain very noticeably, and would be a b**** to maintain, so we decided not to. Also, I have a paranoid fear that a xiaoqiang would appear on the floor, and I wouldn’t be able to see it. Haha!

Also, notice the curved corner? That corner is a jerk. The head tiler (who has been really helpful and informative, and regularly goes out of his way to explain things) spent a long time discussing the tile layout with us. We wanted a 工字型 (running bond pattern) layout for the tiles, but there were some areas where this couldn’t be done. Like that corner for example, so its done using a stack bond instead. Not the first incident where it has caused much inconvenience. Still, it didn’t turn out so bad after all.

tiling4tiling3

Here’s our kitchen, and the tilers, meticulously laying out the tiles. I realized that it’s especially tedious because some of the tiles have to be cut and trimmed down to size in order to fit the area.

Also, the head tiler (the topless guy), we found, is really knowledgeable even though he looks pretty young. And from one particular incident, we realized that he genuinely takes great pride in his work. More about that later.

wrongwall1

So, here’s a wall full of subway tiles that no longer exists, and has a little story behind it.

After one of our visits, I was reviewing the photos when I realized that we had made a major booboo with the tiles and LSH had delivered the wrong subway tiles. So Bear rushed down immediately and informed the tiler, who actually lost his temper and blew up at our contractor (but he still managed to remain polite to Bear).

In order to compensate, we offered to do away with another wall that had to be tiled. HT then explained to us that it really wasn’t about the amount of work to be done. He just couldn’t help but take it personally, because it was his work, something that he had taken great pains to cut, plaster and lay. And to us, that really speaks volumes about the pride that he takes in his work.

Anyway, enough of stories. Things are starting to take shape now, and we’re really excited! Next up, a meeting with the plumber and the electrician!

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

 


 

Day 1-2, Hacking

On the first day, we made a trip down at night with my cousins to discuss how the pipes and other electrical wiring should be run, and saw that the entire place was already torn down! 2 bathroom doors taken down in the kitchen, 2 sinks removed, even the WC. We initially wanted to retain the WC because it was a brand new one, but realized that it isn’t possible when the bathroom floor is being hacked.

hacking1

It was an uneventful trip, but still exciting nonetheless. There wasn’t much to see except for a pile of rubble. I did note that after hacking down the kitchen entrance wall, the entire place seems much roomier and spacious!

hacking2

Anyone noticed the orbs in the picture? Hahaha. I was a little freaked out by them. But everyone else tells me that it’s just dust (how boring is that!).

Day 3-6, Plastering

The next day, we met the masonry dudes (two Malaysian dudes) for the first time! And found that they had sealed the wrong bathroom entrance in the kitchen :( BUT these guys work really fast. The next day, the correct entrances were already sealed and hacked respectively. Much respect for them.

This incident, however, cemented into us (no pun intended) the importance for us, as owners, to do our due dilligence and carry out checks as often as possible. You never know what might go wrong, and even a difference of one day could potentially cost you, especially as the renovation progresses.

hacking4

Holes drilled into the wall to prepare for the craftstone bricks.

plastering4
The mess was already cleared, and cement works were now in progress. Chop chop currypok.

plastering3
View of the kitchen from the bathroom. That’s some massive, massive cementing going on!

plastering2
Stacks of premix material used for the cementing.

plastering1
The workers slap on the cement, and then smoothen everything out with these long metal rods. This chap (excuse the semi-nakedness) is the swift and silent kind. The entire time we were there, he worked endlessly, wordlessly and tirelessly, slapping and smoothening the entire bathroom, all by himself. Respect!