$$$ KPO and CZM $$$: Renovation Cost for Our New House

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Renovation Cost for Our New House

After about 4/5 months of renovation, we decided to move in on the last week of October before the final phase of the renovation was completed (touching up). We told the ID (interior designer) at the start that we are in no rush because we did not want to rush him/the renovation and compromise on the quality. Wrong move man, the ID really took his own sweet time and there were still a few major screw up -.-

We decided to look for an ID for our renovation instead of taking things into our own hands and go the contractors route because we felt that we lack the knowledge and time to handle it ourselves. Hence, we started looking for ID even before collecting the key to our BTO HDB back in March 2019. We approached > 10 different ID companies (most were "recommended" by Renopedia, HomeRenoGuru and Qanvast while a few were from friends/relatives recommendation as well as what we saw on social media).

We sort of already knew the design we wanted (e.g. hacking one room to make the living room bigger, platform bed, etc.) but the quotations we received from them varies greatly! It ranges from $50k to $90k! We shortlisted down to 2 IDs, they were not the cheapest and definitely not the most expensive with quotations around $60k - 1 of them was recommended by a relative and he seems like a pretty honest guy while the other has a bit of "ah beng" feel who has nice designs similar to what we wanted. We met up with them 2/3 more times to discuss more in details (payment terms, materials, etc.) and even went down to their house/previous project. We also told both of them that we will be engaging professional to check the renovation before releasing the final payment and the honest guy told us that we cannot expect 100% perfection, got to close one eye. At the back of our minds, we were thinking how can one close one eye after paying $60k, confirm both eyes open big big. Eventually, we decided to choose the ah beng over the honest guy (maybe too honest).

Most IDs were asking for 5% for final payment but we wanted to hold more and split the payment. His initial payment terms were 10%, 40%, 45% and 5% but we negotiated till something like the above.

We were using what CASE proposed/recommended previously as justification. You will not find the percentages in the updated document. We signed the $62,888 contract in early June and these are the dates when we made the remaining payment. You will be able to see how slow it was as compared to the 2 months timeline he gave us initially.

10% - June 2019
40% - July 2019
20% - August 2019
20% - September 2019
10% - December 2019

Around August, he told us that he did not account for one portion of the cabinet and we will have to top up and gave us the below revised quotation - $65,658. My friends were suggesting that I get him to tank half of it because it was his fault for missing it but we just wanted everything to finish ASAP so we just agreed to it.

The above does not include the electrician cost which is $3,006. Our electrician cost might be slightly higher because I requested for all the light/fan switches to have the neutral wire/point which is necessary for our Xiaomi smart home setup (will blog about this next time) and we moved/added quite a few power points.

Let me share some photos of those screw up:

1. My "favourite". We have an open kitchen concept (no wall) but both our mum said the kitchen cannot be open. lol. So we added glass panel to "close" the kitchen. Below is the fixed glass panel and there will be a sliding glass panel on the other side.

As you can see, the fixed panel was installed over the cabinet and when the sliding glass panel closes, we will not be able to open the kitchen drawers =.=" We usually see this kind of design on social media or 9gag. Definitely did not expect to see it in our own home. Imagine the frustration... This happened because the ID did not leave additional space on the side for our fridge when we gave the fridge dimensions.

2. He installed 3 sliding panels and 1 tiny fixed panel for our service yard windows and insisted that it has to be done this way because there is a pipe (top right corner) blocking it. In the end, I told him to remove it (not paying (-$580) for it too) and found another contractor to install it properly for us at $380. See the 50% markup just for the windows?!

3. Lots of hollow tiles. Not visible to the eyes but can be heard clearly with the correct equipment/coin. The higher tiles are a risk as it may fall off in the future. According to the standards/recommendations defined by BCA (Building and Construction Authority), any hollowness or cracks need to be rectified. This was highlighted by the professional defect inspector we engaged (will blog about this next time too). Imagine the mess created when they were replacing it...

Total Cost: $65,658 + $3,006 - $580 + $380 = $‭68,464‬

In all fairness, he was still responsible enough (or for the remaining 10% payment) to arrange for the various contractors to come down to fix/touch up whatever that was flagged. Comparing our experience with some of the horror stories in the Budget Reno (Singapore) Facebook group, it was just a small case of poor project management.

Would we have engaged him again if we can turn back time? Definitely not, we would/should have followed our gut feeling and went with the honest guy. Will we engage ID or contractors the next time? Hopefully, there wouldn't be a next time since we do not have plans on getting a second property but we will definitely be engaging contractors, managing everything ourselves and saving some money. If both ID and contractors are going to give me headaches, I might as well save some money.

No naming/shaming individual but I will leave the company name here :)

Honest Feel: Length & Breadth
Ah Beng Feel: Mons Interior (previously known as Mons Werk Interior Design)

Renovation Costs Breakdown

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