- Value for Money5
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Renovating your new house – Don’t just look at design portfolios
There was no intention to renovate my newly bought resale, until an advice to have a full renovation was essential after a fengshui site assessment. Dates were provided on when to start renovation and when to move-in. Hence, finding an ID/contractor was challenging as they had to start work in one month time (Mid-Jul 21) and complete in the next 1.5 months.
The urgency to start renovation in one month time, made it difficult to select an ID/contactor of choice (inclu. my past ID) due to their busy schedule during this pandemic period. Mr. Designer Studio, who was among the few I contacted, assigned Estelle with whom provided a main contract, digital drawings, and scheduled dates for completion in end-Aug 21.
Electrical costing was unspecified in the main contract until I requested the costing to be provided to me. I decided to engage another electrical co. with a fairer price quoted. This action could have been the triggering point to a series of subsequent communication breakdown:
- Accusation that bathrooms’ subway tiles’ grout color had been discussed and agreed by me. I had been showing photos of dark grey grout color, but the final grout was off-white and done up without my knowledge, till I checked with the tiler.
- Proposed shoe cabinet behind bomb shelter feature wall was notified to me in the midst of renovation that they could not do up this shoe cabinet. No rooms for discussion or suggestion to where another shoe cabinet could be planned.
Lewis took over after complaints were made on the above.
- It might be due to cost cutting and manpower shortage, an inexperienced foreign worker tiler was assigned to change out the bathrooms’ subway tiles’ grout color to grey. The grout lines were uneven and with some tiles chipped off their edges.
- Bomb shelter ventilation cover was removed without my knowledge. I was made to believe that the bomb shelter ventilation cover was hidden inside the bomb shelter feature wall till I took a photo to prove him wrong. If I had known the ventilation cover had to be dismantled to make room for the feature wall, I would not have gone ahead with the bomb shelter feature wall design.
- The contractor could not install a wall-mount water heater storage tank that I had bought. He insisted the piping could only be installed with a ceiling mount type. Nobody had advised me that I should buy a ceiling mount water heater storage tank. In the end, I had to source out myself to engage a plumber, who could install the wall-mount water heater storage tank that I had bought. Basically, it was a tweak to the existing piping and the wall-mount storage tank could be installed.
- Rubbish from the renovation were left near the main gate, along the corridor. Town council personnel took photos of the rubbish. As the rubbish were still along the corridor even after 3 days of notifying Lewis, my family and I cleared away the rubbish ourselves.
Renovation was not fully completed in Sep 21, when I moved in. I had to remove some paper cartons from the renovation myself. A dirty broom, left in the kitchen, was conveyed to me that it was a gift for me. Bits of remaining renovation and rectifications went on, till it was eventually completed during early Nov 21.
I can fully understand that going through renovation, during this pandemic period, can be extremely challenging. In addition, in my case, additional challenges include a tight timeline with renovation start date and move-in date. I appreciated Mr. Designer Studio for taking up this project with renovation start date and move-in date in accordance to plan. The minor uncompleted renovation and rectifications (particularly kitchen backsplash and countertop, kitchen carpentry, uneven bathroom’s wall subway tiles’ grout lines) proceeded inconveniently on Saturdays after I moved in. Each of the bathroom cost doubled than the usual market price because it was overlayed entirely with wall subway tiles and floor mosaic tiles. I had high expectations on the two bathrooms; a lot of effort was done to rectify the unevenness of the wall subway tiles’ grout lines, to the extent that the tiler could not salvage the unevenness as what’s done was already done. I had put up with the inconveniences, excuses, hiccups, communication issues along the way. Despite having these troubled issues, rectifications and subsequent repairs were done up. It is after all a young company; having insufficient experiences to handle complex situations with a lot more projects as usual in the pandemic period!
If you are looking for an ID to renovate your new house, some advice based on this experience:
- Renovation should never be an urgent decision.
- Look out and find a most suitable ID. It should NOT be based on their design portfolios, but on their interaction with you and their attitude. Particularly for ladies renovating your house, be aware of ID that is a bully. He can resort to accusing, scolding, and treating you unreasonably. Be smart to identify ‘smoke’, facts versus excuses and/or situations created by them but nonfactual.
- Look out for workmanship. Repair works called in after staying for a few months with toilet bowl choked by cement from renovation works, window started to slant and could not be closed properly, water leaks etc.
P.S. See attached snapshots - fixing appointment timings could be smoked till the issue resolved with myself as owner liaising with the contractors directly.