My Renovation Journey Part II: Defects checks and cost-saving tips

*Psk… read part one of the renovation journey here, if you haven’t

The day we received our keys from HDB, we immediately headed back home to do the defects check. Armed with our tools – masking tape, a marker and coins – we did a first sweep of inspections. This included:

    • Tapping tiles with a coin to test for hollowness
    • Visual checks for cracks, rust, stains on surfaces
    • Checking electrical outlets

We meticulous noted these imperfections with a masking tape. We then showed these to our ID who came by on a separate occasion. Most of the issues we noted, he assured us that they were not major. He also flagged some other minor imperfections and poured water into the drain catches to test for issues. 

Our new home passed the preliminary tests. Some of the more notable issues we had was a broken drain filter and some chipped surfaces. But that was nothing compared to the horror of what was to come next, after we switched on the water supply.

Fixing the problems

We submitted the defects form to the Building Service Centre (BSC) within one week of receiving our keys – that’s the duration set. Coincidentally, the project inspector was on site when we submitted the form and graciously went up to our place to go through the defects line-by-line. 

Within days, we got a call from BSC but it was not good news. Service men who came to fix some defects found that one of our walls was wet. There was an internal leak. I received the news from my wife while I was work, and I had goosebumps. What does this mean? Did we have to stall our renovation works? What cost are we looking at?

Our only consolation was that we discovered this before our ID commenced renovation, which means we save a bundle. The repair was immediate and by the time we visited our home, the wall that had to be broken into was back in place.

Starting the renovation proper

We started renovation end December, about a month after we got our keys. This meant kicking off a shopping blitz to purchase:

    • Lights
    • Hood and hob
    • Fridge, washing machine
    • Kitchen tap and sink
    • Toilet cabinets, taps (x2)
    • Shower sets (x2)
    • Towel racks
    • Aircon system
    • Furniture

I never spent so much time shopping in my life before, but I must say this was quite fun. It was thrilling because we were building a home.

Cost saving tips!

Keep cost down by:

  1. Shopping around and comparing prices (duh)
  2. Avoid built-in or custom furniture because that’s the bulk of the cost. 

We went to several furniture and hardware stores to check prices; never committing on the first visit (with the exception of the lights). And usually, we found that there were deals or better prices on subsequently visits elsewhere. 

For the lights, my wife did her homework online and found this vendor Northstar Lights  ( at Geylang area. It was love at first sight and we purchase all the lights in bulk from that store. This was after we did up the electrical works in our house.

IMG_0504.jpg Cutting down 2 rows of spot lights to 1 (top); Pricing for the different types of spotlights (right) Northstar Spotlights

Our hood and hob, we got it at an electrical appliance fair at the Expo. This gave us credits for use retailer Audio House, where we bought a lot more appliances such as the fridge and washing machine.

Our kitchen sink and tap we bought it from Genova. Now, this item we got it a lot pricier compared to subsequent vendors we saw in the market. But we rationalised that we needed good quality items for the kitchen. Nevertheless, we still ran into a lot of problems with the installation and with fitting a water filter onto the tap, although that has been resolved now.

Our toilet fittings were purchased from Hoe Kee hardware and Sim Siang Choon. A lesson on the taps – avoid those with water saving ones as the power from the water pressure can be quite low.

The aircon system was purchased from Gain City. We took awhile to get to one with a good price and we settled on the Mitsubishi ones, which we felt was a steal at the time. We aren’t frequent aircon users, so we figured we didn’t have to get one that was too energy saving.

Finally, the furniture was sourced from Castlery, Namu, Muji and Ikea, but that’s a post for a separate post. We highly recommend buying furniture instead of customising them, so that we have the option of rearranging the items. A lot of IDs will pressure their clients to get built-in because that is where the money is made. 

Our built-in was limited to:

    • Kitchen, but that’s a must-do
    • Shoe cabinet to hide the DB box
    • Wardrobe

Overall, the major cost was the flooring because HDB did not do screeding for those who opt out of the standard flooring. Hence, we had to get a vendor to do it at around $4K, before we got to putting in the vinyl floor which cost around $3K.

Now, after all that reading, check out our house tour video!

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