Will have to follow up this post with the post-completion pics!
Building our first home is very significant, and it is certainly not less memorable than our wedding day itself. Our wedding was one day for a life long marriage and the renovation similarly resulted in a house that we are to stay in for many years to come. It is the place that we are pouring our hard earned money into, wiping our savings. It is the place for which we chose every tile together, decided on the laminates, selected the furnitures and curated the paintings that are now hung on the walls of our love nest. It will be the place for us to eventually welcome our future baby. The place where our baby's cries will be heard and where our baby will crawl and take his/her first step. Where our baby will call us papa/mama. Where we will bicker and love, and worry together.
I want to record down these memories because i know before we know it, our renovation journey will come to an end (Another 3 weeks!). Just like our wedding preparation, we so looked forward to the day we got married, only to miss the journey thereafter. similarly i believe it will be the same for the renovation process. i mean we are enjoying it, but at the end of the day, what keeps us going is the countdown to the house we built together. We cannot wait to move in yet we already miss the furniture hunting even though it burnt so many of our weekends. Human dilemmas.
So that was our (complex) brief to the IDs we met...
Some of the pictures I saved for reference. You get the idea... that it usually looks nice because there is a pool/lake/sea outside HAHAHA.
The first ID I contacted was actually the company that did Xiaxue's renovation. I cannot remember the company's name now, but you can easily google it. I like xia xue's house for 2 (personal) reasons: firstly i am a beach lover, although i would prefer a resort theme than a beach theme. And secondly, her whole house (except her pink room) is uniform in theme. the ID whom i met from this company wasnt the one who did her house btw. This particular ID Wi***e wasn't very creative, and the ideas she gave are the standard stuff. She's the template kind of person, either lazy or can't be bothered. anyway even though the quotation was pretty close to what we eventually signed but it's just the lack of confidence that she will do a wow job for us that led us to strike her off the list.
We then met with R*x from F**e Concept, whom we signed with eventually. On the first meeting he showed us a house that he did which wasnt what we had wanted. We wanted resort theme and he showed us what he looked like scandinavian-colorful theme. at this time, you might be thinking, oh no. but strangely enough that picture sparked EVERYTHING. he used black walls in the living room and colorful chairs around an open bar top. it was nothing we have seen before. hahaha. funny thing was apparently he asked then if i could accept colors and i said NO. now R and the ID both teasing me because I am the one who keeps adding colors to our home. Somehow R*x was the one who didn't follow our resort theme brief and ended up with our money LOL! He showed his creativity and sincerity early, and we really appreciated that he took pride in his ideas and dared to think out of the box (what we call "think like an ID and not act like a contractor").
The extraordinary part was that he unearthed what we truly liked. Because we like wood and textures, we always assumed we wanted a resort theme. however he had the foresight and proposed so many 'new' ideas to us that we fell in love with, at the same time, still maintaining the wood, textures and things we wanted to build. along the way while reading lots of Square Room and Home Decor magazines, R and I also realised that resort theme just would not be achievable to the standards we think we want (no spacious hdb, no high ceilings, no sea, no balcony...). the change seems odd yet so natural. The theme we eventually settled on is a 360 degrees change from our resort theme!!!! R*x tried his best not to recycle the ideas and materials (even tho sometimes we insist at what he thinks is common. I always tell him it's common to him cuz he is an ID but to me, it's new and innovative hahaha). Most importantly, he used our budget very well. We managed to do alot of things + capentry with the limited budget we had.
Third on the list that we met was Da**el from Id*** H**se. Well we met up with him because he did the renovation for R's current house (2 toilets and 1 room). He was around our age, and thus quite easy to talk to. he has some interesting ideas here and there but needs to be pushed/encouraged to explore further. However having worked with him before, we knew that he was 'bullied' by his contractors sometimes because of his youth and minimal experience and that means as customers we may get pushed back in terms of schedule or workmanship because he cannot win them over. the good thing about him is that he's upfront about practicalities and feasabilities of designs. he would not hide the facts from you but helps you understand the pros and cons to make informed decisions. He quoted us around 30k from the first round but alot of things we wanted were not included or were compromised. We then reminded him we still have budget to play with, so pushed him to rethink his proposal and quotation. however due to unknown reasons he took a long time to come back with the revised quote, and by the time we signed with our ID he still hasn't come back to us, so naturally we dropped him. any vendors who take too long to get back to you without any updates is a bad sign in our opinion. at least a "sorry i have been busy, i will come back to you by xx xx" is better than radio silence.
Then there was this OMG and still laughable story about the 4th ID from Me**r Squ**e. His name is Ja***. For all the IDs above, the first meeting took at least 2 hours to go through our requirements in detail. however Ja*** was done with us in 20 minutes. he asked very little specific questions in terms of measurements, said he was very concerned about social media because nowadays (facebook, forums etc) have alot of influence (on consumers), and that he had read my blog before we met up because my email signature contained my blog link and thus he knew what we like and dislike. at that point, both me and R were like "what?" inside us. that's kind of stalker-ish. R said to me "stalk my wife's blog and still dare to tell us" LOL. Okay nevermind. Even though we could not really click with him, we gave him another chance to present his quotation cuz who knows maybe he can come up with something good. He proposed (or kind of insisted) that we should hack the wall between the kitchen and service yard because it will extend the kitchen and that we should do a open concept kitchen even though we did not want to. Plus he told us that our budget was more than enough!!
At the second meeting, Ja***'s quotation came up to a good 10k more than the budget we gave him and which he claimed was more than enough. He seemed to have forgotten what he claimed.. okay nevermind. his ideas were mediocre (honestly can't rmb much of what he proposed), but he wasn't well prepared. Whatever sketches or layout proposals he showed us at the second meeting was what other IDs drew on the spot during our first meetings with them. and the killer sentence was when he proposed that we have shower curtains instead for our toilets because they are so small........ followed by laughter. thereafter, he also changed his mind and said he now proposes not to hack the wall between kitchen and service yard (errr... you proposed and then you killed it without good reasons or explanation to your client). when we asked him if a PE endorsement is required to hack walls, he wasnt sure and checked with his colleague (female) who was working at the next table beside us. i thought i heard him say "dear ah"... and dismissed as my ears gone bad... after his colleague affirmed that we do not need a PE endorsement most of the time, he turned to us and said "that's my manager... cum my gf". Okay, like TMI. He then tried to arrange a third session with us but inside us we knew we were saying goodbye to him. we were not comfortable with his working style, nor his personality. totally zero chemistry.
The other innovative ID we met was Ke*** from Spa** Se**e Stu***. He is actually an ID whom we admire very much as his works are unique and daring. He did not give template solutions and he is also a furniture maker. There were many things that he DIY for his clients, like buying table legs from Ikea and customizing the table top. He gave us unconventional and unheard of ideas, like building ceiling beams, wall pipes that act as bookshelves, and leaning walls and surprisingly his quotation was not that expensive. It was a very difficult choice to choose between his creativity and R*x's. The reason we chose R*x over him was because we clicked better with R*x. Chemistry matters to us because afterall it is a long period of working relationship and we wanted to be sure we chose someone whom we could feel comfortable with, in terms of discussing and rejecting ideas. Ke*** was extremely professional and so serious such that the discussion felt a bit uptight and we were worried we may not be able to communicate our ideas to him during the process. However we would recommend him if you like loft and industrial designs, which seems to be his expertise.
Lastly we met up with J**n from The 80s S***o. She was open and easy to talk to, and was also someone who takes her job seriously with 8 years experience in the industry. Honestly I like their designs very much. They have this knick knack ability to use simple ideas or materials that you don't usually associate with home decor, to demarcate an area or transform the space. However her quotation was the most expensive at around 55k-60k. Comparing the various quotes, their carpentry costs were like at least 10% higher than the other companies. Because we have alot of carpentry requirements, we were not willing to settle. However meeting up wtih J**n actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise even though we did not work together. She gave us a brilliant suggestion to enlarge the master bedroom, which we later explored with our chosen ID. We're thankful for her help unknowingly.
So yup, this long post sums up the selection journey. I screened the names of the IDs and companies because I believe different people might have different experiences with them. Anyway one bad ID does not make the whole company bad. My best advice is to look for IDs that have experience doing the theme(s) you like.
So far so good.. i think we both feel that we made the right choice choosing R*x as our ID. =)