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

 


 

living-bedroom-moodboard kitchen-moodboard bathroom-moodboard

Here are our mood boards.

Bear and I agreed very early on to have a cafe-inspired, rustic – industrial theme. After months of pinteresting, I spent another 4-5 weeks chiseling at our initial concept (and submitting them to the ‘art-director’ for approval every night before bedtime), until we arrived at our final theme – ‘Parisian-Chic’ in black, white and wood.

Living + Bedroom + Kitchen
Our first idea was to do a 80% white, 20% black white with wood accents. Later on, I decided to break the monotony of an all-white look, and do an opposing colour scheme instead. The final colour scheme:

Living room: Dark wood flooring + white walls + white carpentry
Kitchen: White/black flooring + white walls + dark wood carpentry

In order to soften the stark harshness of the black & white combination, we’ll be adding in lots of wooden accents, cozy fabrics, some rust/metal/glass textures, and plenty of  dried flowers. An industrial look won’t be complete without black aluminium, so we’ll be throwing in a sliding black aluminium-framed door at the kitchen entrance for good measure. And yes, craftstone bricks and track lights.

These ideas have been done to death. BUT, I believe that even something so frequently rehashed, can still be given a new breath of life, just by changing an interesting detail here and there. Lets see how things go from here :)

Bathroom
For the bathroom, I wanted to break away from all that white, and do something different from the rest of the interior. So we decided to go with a very rustic, raw look, resort-like concept. The initial idea of cement screed walls was scraped after contractor M insisted that it was an extremely bad idea, explaining to us that even in a dry areas, cement screed walls (in the bathroom) are prone to cracks and water leakage. So we relented, and decided to replace it with concrete looking tiles. We’ll also be throwing in either tiny hanging loft lights in front of the mirror, or a false ceiling with downlights.

Next up: renovation needs, requirements and details!

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

 


Immediately after booking a flat, we started on our search for an ID/Contractor. Not very fun at all!

On day 1, I used the “Get a Quote” function on Renotalk and was immediately swarmed with calls and emails from IDs. We also took a trip down to Balestier to reccy the shops there, but quickly decided that it was a waste of time because there are so many ID shops out there, it’s really a hit or miss.

Anyway, in chronological order, spanning over a period of 2 months, here is a detailed account of our intensive – sometimes fun, but usually exhausting – search for the one.  ID/Contractors listed are the more notable ones that we’ve encountered.

1. S**** from J****x Interior Design From the Renotalk quote function. First impression over the phone was pretty good, seemed knowledgable and confident. After meeting him and having our discussion, he did the quotation on the spot for us. Pretty big mistake. His quotation was full of errors, even after a second revision. Also left out many items to make it seem like it was within our budget (maybe we look really young and green to him?). I felt like a school teacher going through homework and checking for careless mistakes. We also found out that they were a really new company. Decided that I would really stress myself out worrying about whether my ID would be careless and make a major booboo. Immediate no go. Budget: 20K

2. S**** & S******** from U***n H*****t From the Renotalk quote function. S contacted me over the phone and I found her really nice. We had our appointment at their showflat and I was touched by their enthusiasm and knowledge, especially since they’re not local. They were close to being shortlisted. Unfortunately, their quotation came up to be 8-9k over our budget, even after removing/compromising some items. Also, Bear felt that they were more sales people than IDs, and I didn’t like how they tried to persuade us to remove more items to keep within the budget (and seal the deal for them). We dropped them not long after. (They were the last of the Renotalk Quotation IDs. By this point, we found it a waste of time and decided not to take on any more of those IDs.) Budget: 20-25K

3. J&E Recommended by forummers on Renotalk. By now, we had already seen quite a few IDs and were already feeling exhausted. I decided not to leave it to fate anymore, and went straight for the Renotalk referrals. I managed to get hold of his contact, and immediately called him to make an appointment for a meeting. He told me to send an email with every item listed out, which I did. However, no more news from him subsequently. He would either not pick up/reply messages, or say that he would call back but didn’t. I was annoyed, it was a waste of my time, so I decided to drop him. Budget: 20-25K

4. Nic – Renoguyz Recommended by forummers on Renotalk. Bear went down to meet him, returned, and described Nic as a pretty laid back, nonchalant guy who would frown or make a face whenever he disagreed with something we proposed. That’s quite a big deal breaker for me because I have very strong design ideas of my own. Or maybe I’m just really averse to cold people. BUT, Nic had one of the lowest quotations so far. I also know that he’s experienced, and knows his stuff well. He managed to point out quite a few ‘can’t do’s’ (but had some ‘lazy-to-dos’). He was shortlisted (reluctantly by me). Budget: 20-25K

5. P****n, D***n S******n (Sorry, long rant ahead) Recommended by a cousin with a beautifully done up home by Ms P. We had really high hopes in Ms P, but she turned out to be a huge disappointment. Met with Ms P – a kindly looking lady probably in her late 30’s-40’s. She listened very patiently and offered cost saving ideas and solutions to some problems we had, and also promised to try to keep within our budget. We left happily, discussing how motherly and kind she was, and I told Bear that I had a really good feeling about this. But we were SO wrong. Ms P returned with the highest quotation. Now…an itemized quotation might seem like a good idea at first. BUT. When every part of the quotation is broken down and itemized, and every single item is marked up, it can go sky high. This was exactly what happened with her quotation. Also, it took 2 weeks of calls and SMSes and a load of BS excuses for the quotation to finally reach us. Seeing the final quotation made me shut (slam) the door firmly behind me and never look back again. This whole incident left me kind of scarred and traumatized and I said, very resolutely to Bear, that I would no longer stand for any lateness or unresponsiveness. Budget: 20-25K

6. Mr L**, S*** Interior Design Recommended by Yakult from the Timeless Cozy Corner. After Ms P’s disappointment, we were really starting to feel down and worried. We didn’t know if we would ever meet a decent, reasonbly priced ID/contractor. I continued to dig through Renotalk for more contacts and came across Mr L. Mr L is a really trendy and young looking ‘uncle’, and he thoroughly impressed Bear with his energy, charisma, and decades of experience and knowledge. Bear was sold immediately. Although it was a different case for me – I felt that our puny voices would be drowned by his decades of experience. In any case – maybe because our budget was too low for him – he didn’t return with a quotation. We didn’t want to pursue it any further (and didn’t have the energy to do so), so we dropped him. Although I would still recommend Mr L based on his wealth of experience. Budget: 25-30K

7. B***y from A***t G***e (Recommended) Also recommended by Yakult. After the series of disappointing meetings and quotations, panic was starting to set in. It was starting to look like we’d have to drop a number of ideas that we had. And then, B appeared in front of us like a knight in shining armour! On our first meeting, he was prompt and well prepared, telling us about his company, how they run things, and showing us his portfolio without being asked. We both feel that he’s a really nice, down-to-earth and sincere guy. Special mention about how, he would get back to me with a quotation amendment almost immediately. I’m super impressed by his promptness and responsiveness. He also came back with the lowest quotation so far. I was dead set on going with B, and will still highly recommend him to anyone looking for an ID. Unfortunately, B was trumped by our final choice – M. Budget: 30-35K

8. M from Y Construction (Not Recommended. See final review here) M is a young dude working at his dad’s construction company, and recommended by a close friend. Funnily, during our first meeting, I was really skeptical. He came in a t-shirt and berms (probably just back from a job site), and seemed sloppy and ill-prepared – no printed floor plan, no note-taking, nothing. I even had to ask irritably, ‘don’t you think you should take this down?’. But M has the lowest quotation of all, and is also very responsible and responsive (we have a group whatsapp chat). His pricing is also quite unbeatable to me. For instance, all of the IDs we went to suggested overlaying everything to save cost. But M, leaning back against his chair, blithely offered (actually, he insisted) to hack off all the tiles in the kitchen and the bathroom, and still keep everything within the budget. *No longer applicable because of the final $4500 VO that he issued to us.*

The conclusion? We’re able to incorporate everything that we were prepared to forgo, and M has even generously thrown in additional items for free. M also recommended a carpenter, Ms C, for our carpentry. He told us, very candidly, that with him being a contractor with no carpenters under him, we were free to either go to Ms C, or source for our own carpenter. He was very open in pointing out that he wouldn’t be taking a cut as a middleman from the carpentry, so this would help greatly in reducing our costs. I was shocked when he first suggested this, being so used to the standard protocol that M’s modus operandi seemed really alien and unorthodox to me. Still, we went ahead with it. After 2 appointments with Ms C, and a trip down to view her project site (met the owner who’s also very pleased with her work), we were good to go!

Of course nothing is perfect. M isn’t an ID, so you do need a good, solid plan of your own before approaching him. He’ll offer suggestions here and there, but you need to have the details at your fingertips. He also doesn’t offer 3D drawings. Though I managed to work around this by engaging ZL, an interior designer who does 3D drawings. Problem solved :)) On this note, I would strongly suggest this to anyone whose contractors don’t provide any 3D drawings. To me, 3D drawings are really important. I would go as far as to say that they are crucial.

Also, coordinating between M and C will probably be a bit of a hassle, as the both of them have busy schedules and are not be able to meet up as often as we’d like. And also given that they’re both from different companies. Although they were very cooperative and obliging when we requested for a group meet up.

And lastly, M asks for weekly payments instead of the usual 10-40-40-10, so we’re really operating on a basis of trust here. Budget: 30-35K  

Conclusion 1 Along the way, Bear and I had quite a few heated arguments because of the ID search. I wanted to just settle for someone so that we could get started. Bear insisted that we kept on looking. And I’m really grateful that he did, because otherwise, I think we would have been quite miserable! Or at least, we would never have been fully satisfied. My take on this: if you still haven’t met the one, don’t just settle for any one. Do your due dilligence and press on. It might be tiring, but it’ll be all worth it in the end.

Conclusion 2 For my final review on the contractor, please view 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

 


 

So, a little introduction about our place is in order.

We’ve been having difficulties explaining this one to some folks – it’s a sale-of-balance-flat-that’s-not-a-BTO. Hahaha. To be precise, it’s a 20 year old flat that was repurchased by the Government together with a bunch of other units, and then sold as an SOBF. The SOBF is a rather extraordinary process, in that it’s lightning fast. It’s so fast that I’ve mentioned to Bear that I feel like we just had a ‘shotgun’ :P We completed the entire process in 6 months flat, starting from the flat application at the HDB website, to the collection of keys. Methinks that it’s the perfect solution for those of us who aren’t quite willing (or able) to get a resale flat, but are too impatient to wait for a BTO.

I’m quite in love with the block and unit that we chose eventually. It’s windy, bright and airy, with a little piece of open field in front, helmed by a couple of large, ancient-looking trees. It’s also located right in front of all the other blocks, so its got a really nice, unobstructed view. Even though it’s an old, old block, I love its peaceful serenity and old-school charm :) Looking forward to many happy years here!

Now, back to the flat. I know the drill, so here’s the floorplan.

floorplan
It’s a typical 3room (2 bedroom), 71sqm corner unit on a high floor.

What’s not typical about our flat is its incredibly obnoxious bathroom layout, which I had very accurately predicted, was going to give us a h*** of a headache and cost a bomb. It’s a ‘split’ bathroom, so one room is for you to do your bizness in, and the other is for you to shower in. The icing on the cake must be that there is no entrance from the master bedroom (which, technically, means that it’s no longer a master bedroom, sorry). As chinchai as we are, we couldn’t imagine living with a layout like that. So it was a unanimous decision – the obnoxious layout has to go.

On the bright side, the authorities had very helpfully taken down everything in the house, leaving it as bare as a newborn baby (save for 2 sinks), and making it an empty canvas for us to play with. So yay for that!

Here are some photos of our house in its current condition.

Our Renovation Journey

The floors were not cleaned up at all, so our very first furniture purchases are these 2 red stools, haha!

Our Renovation Journey
I love how the full width windows in our kitchen let in all the light. It’s also a good sized kitchen with ample space for cabinets on both sides. These two sinks, sadly, have got to go.

Our Renovation Journey

The two obnoxious, separate bathrooms that we will hopefully be rid of soon.

Our Renovation Journey

This old hammer (I think it’s older than me!) that was passed down to us by my dad, had the honors of ‘opening’ our house for us.

Bear then proceeded to wayang around the house, hammering (lightly) on the walls and knocking on the floor in all four corners of the house.

When all this was done, we attempted to cozy-up to our new neighbors with Bak Kwas *feeling apologetic even before starting*. Turns out, she’s a sweet little old lady who sagely advised us to lay our tiles as close as possible, and gave us a very thorough rundown on the history of our block and its surroundings. Hopefully, we won’t drive her TOO crazy during the course of our renovation.

Next up, the ID selection.