Sunday, December 14, 2014

Renovation advice (Part 2 - Buying household fixtures)

My second part of renovation advice continues...
Household fixtures refer to anything which is mounted and not movable. The list below is not exhaustive. For a start, you may consider the following when you do your shopping. As you can see, the list is rather long, so be prepared to give yourself enough time (up to 6 months) complete your shopping.

Lighting
Do not ask your ID to buy your lights. They invariably take commission from your purchase and you will end up paying more than you should. Lights are a matter of personal taste.  But if you do go shopping on your own, do note that there are a few less reputable lighting shops along Jalan Besar and balestier who may sell you faulty or broken lights. You may google reno forums for a list of such shops. I bought most of my lights from lighting.com.sg where the price is reasonable. Whereever possible, choose LED or energy saving lights instead of halogen lights which are longer lasting and save electricity. Once your design plan is confirmed, you should start shopping for your lights. On a side note, ask your ID to what type of switches are included in the contract - MK switches give a noisy click when you switch it on. I prefer Legrand switches.

TVs
If you decide to mount your TV on the wall, you will need to buy the bracket and give the dimensions to your carpenter. You also need to discuss with your electrician where to site your powerpoint. As a rule of thumb, install more power points than you anticipate you will need - you may need to plug in your SCV,  your modem, your CCTV, your bluray player etc. You can shop around Courts, Best Denki and Harvey Norman for various models of TV. Most people buy LCD TV which consumes less electricity and produces less heat. If you use a Samsung phone then you might consider a Samsung TV which does mirror screening seamlessly.

Fans
Ceiling fans are compulsory. Do not leave it out and buy tower fans which take up extra floor space. Ceiling fans cool a living room rapidly and creates a natural breeze. Buy one for living room and one for bedroom. Do note that installation costs money and it is best to ask the fan shop to send his own electrician for their installation. If fans are not installed properly, they may cause a lot problems. Several lighting shops sell ceiling fans as well. The most expensive haiku fans are stylish to look at and costs around 1k each. Do note that you can get them cheaper at certain lighting shops.

Aircon
As mentioned earlier, most ID will insist that you to use their aircon installer. If it is not way out of your budget, I suggest to use their installer. This is because they have to coordinate the laying of the pipes with your false ceiling workers and tilers. Most will return for a separate trip to install the blowers and compressors at a later date. Some ID will not like it if you use your own aircon installer and blame you subsequently for delays in work.

Kitchen appliances
You need to get your cooker stove, chimney hob, fridge and ovens (microwave, steam and baking) for building into your kitchen carpentry. Do not wait until the last minute to purchase these items. A good place to source for discounted electronics is Goh Ah Bee (name of the shop in Hougang). However you need to shop around in the malls to get the model numbers and ask for a discount from the retail price. You may also get a washing machine and dryer at the same time.

Kitchen sinks and taps
One major mistake I made is to buy a low quality kitchen sink from Ikea. It leaves behind water stains and requires frequent cleaning. Not all grades of stainless steel are the same. Buy good quality taps. When you hold the tap it should feel solid and heavy. Kitchen sinks may be top or undermount. Most showrooms have undermount sinks because they look nicer but you cannot remove them later. Top mount sinks are replaceable, but you will see strips of silicon at the sides and water may seep into your carpenty over time. Choose a double bowl sink so you have adequate space to soak and wash your dishes. If you are getting a water filtration system (I use swisspro), you need to tell your ID early on so that they factor this in the design of your carpentry.

BLUM kitchen hinges
These hinges provide soft closing and automatic opening (some are run by powerpoints). However, not all carpenters have the skills to install BLUM hinges and it is best to look for someone who is familar with it. There are also different hinges to support different size drawers. Your ID may charge you extra for installation.

Toilet fixtures and accessories
If you buy good quality ones, you will spend a lot of money here. Not all tilers are familiar with designer floor traps - metal ones with tile inserts. You need to purchase early and let your tiler know before the actual work begins. Some of these traps require thicker cement screed so it will be too late to do a retrospect installation later. For taps, shower heads and toilet bowls, check out Toto, Grohe and Hans Grohe showrooms for inspiration. If you like a bargain, purchase the same items from shops along Jalan Besar or Balestier. Most of these shops are happy to provide you with discounts if you buy several items together.

Foldable toilet doors
PD doors are very in vogue. These doors allow you to slide and push open so that you can save space. But do note that they are prone to damage if you do not know how to use them properly. If you have kids and elderly at home, avoid PD doors. Some guests may break your doors by forcing the mechanism if they do not know how to close a PD door. But you may use them for balconies or other areas because they open fully and provide unobstructed view. Also make sure your ID includes cost of shower screens and wall niches (holes for holding your shampoos) - these are often hidden costs and can cost 1-2 k depending how many toilets you have.

Hafale wardrobe systems and lighting
These are extra nice things to have. Visit Hafale showrooms for inspiration on wardrobes. Again, the fixtures cost money and make sure you tell your ID who may charge you money for installation. The lights switch on when there is movement or when your wardrobe door opens. There are also other inbuilt smart storage designs at the showroom. Try to avoid exposed open pole systems because they look clutter over time and your clothes will be subjected to mildew if your walk in wardrobe is very near your toilet.

Mounted safes
Do not forget to ask your carpenter to install lockers for your drawers and leave a space to mount a fireproof security safe. Look for various models of Yale safe with both key and digital locks.

Curtains
If you are not fussy, buy ready made ones from Ikea and get your contractor to mount curtain rods. Custom made curtains cost quite a bit of money. An average size window will cost around $300 depending on the fabric you choose. If you decide to make both day and night curtains, it will cost more. Again, the ID will introduce you his own subcontractor to earn commission. If you have the time, shop for curtains on your own. You can even install the curtains after you have moved in.

Your main door and bedroom doors
Most quotation will not include changing these doors. However if you do want to change these doors, choose solid and fireproof wood doors for your main entrance and light veneer doors for your bedrooms. A door closer is a good add-on if you have small kids at home as this prevents the slamming of doors. However, some door closers need you to custom make your doors, especially those with hidden mechanisms. I use dorma door closer for my main and bedroom doors. You may also consider install biometric digital locks for your main door. Most of the door contractors will be able to provide you with appropriate advice when you select your doors.

So good luck on your renovation journey! If you have any queries, please feel free to drop a comment below.

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