23 Feb 14 Sun
Yes, we have selected our interior designer! Prior to the wedding, we went ID hopping at IMM to ask about the general pricing of a 5-room BTO reno. We went to big names like Weiken, North West interior design as we thought that since they are big names, they would be afraid to tarnish their own reputation should there be an unhappy customer. But after reading many bad reviews on the big names at renotalk, we decided to give them a miss. They are also more expensive as we have to bear their advertising costs. The shopping prior to the wedding wasn't very useful as our flats weren't ready soon and the IDs at IMM didn't seem sincere in wanting to serve us. We also didn't really know what we wanted and only had the standard package prices which weren't useful as everybody's package is about the same. But it gave us the experience of gauging one's sincerity and how the industry brings you through what they offer.
After the wedding, we didnt have any more things to plan, and the reno is the next big thing on our minds. Actually good to have things spaced out. I looked through renotalk and found that there were many firms with good review, but those shops are located in the east. There was also a legendary Mr K online but being so busy, I'm not sure how much commitment he would give to our project. So, feeling that the east is on the other side of the world, we decided to be contented with the IDs at Tradehub. It's near hence convenient, and there's free parking haha. We didn't shop around extensively, don't know how many you would go to, but we shopped at 5 firms before deciding on our ID. We spaced out the shopping. Went to any one random IM on a sunday.
1) 2form Interior Design, Tradehub
It has a large high ceiling showroom and you are able to have a firsthand feel of what they could do for you from their own reno. We were served by Jeff, who was very sincere throughout the discussions. We went back to him to and fro for 3 times before he finalised a quote for us. He was also able to suggest creative solutions and layout. He's nice, but somehow we didn't really develop feelings for him. There just isn't an x-factor, it felt like he was doing things very commercially (but professionally of course) but there is no chemistry. It is important that you feel that you can click with your ID. There is no online review about their company and we couldn't ascertain their quality. He quoted us about $43,500. Because of all the above reasons, we axed them.
2) Grandview Design and Build, Tradehub
Our shopping was really random. Hence on one Sunday night when we were at Tradehub, we just went into Grandview on seeing that nobody else was opened. We were served by John. The discussion was very fast and he didn't take down any notes when we told him what we wanted. He also asked a lot of irrelevant questions which which was totally unnecessary. e.g. how many shelving we want in the wardrobe, what coloured tiles we want - which he went on to promote his white tiles extensively as we found out later that he has a huge stock which he wanted to clear. 5 minutes into the discussion I knew that I didn't want him at all. He felt more like a contractor and not an ID. One thing about them is that they do the building themselves, so by right, carpentry and all would be cheaper. So we still waited for his quote to see how cheap it would be. In the end, he quoted $51,000 which excluded things that we want and included things that we didn't want. Clearly out.
3) Absolook Interior Design, Tradehub
It was also a random chance that we went into his shop as he was the only one who was open at 8.30pm on a sunday night. The shop is not in the front row of tradehub. The shopfront is a lot smaller than 2form and Grandview but they managed to still come up with a showflat which could showcase the basis works. His approach is more different from the others. Instead of going through the standard package with us on paper, he brought us through what they would do by showing us the actual reno in their showflat. I thought it was quite refreshing. The feel that we got from the discussion was that they would be able to provide a lot of things within our budget, but darling felt that it was because he would only give subwater materials. We asked him to give us a quote, but he said that it would be more practical to do so after our fengshui master looked at the layout. Yes we are getting a fengshui master. And because of that, his quote never came in and we lost them in our radar.
4) Renzz Interior Design, Geylang
Why did we go to Geylang? Cos this ID is darling's good friend's uncle. His friend used to work for his uncle, James, for a short while and recommends his uncle for his level of attention given to detail and his personal supervision on all the projects he take on. And so, we decided to travel out to meet him. His shop is very small, probably one-tenth of those at tradehub. So, you cant really expect to see a lot in the shop. But once we started talking to him, we knew that he is very knowledgeable, and he makes people feel at ease. We could click with him. He emphasizes a lot on quality, does his own carpentary work and has a factory in Malaysia to store all his supplies. He hence said that his carpentary work would be cheaper than the rest. He was also upfront that a 5-room flat would usually cost $50k and he would not lower the cost as he uses quality material. James was bold in his ideas and could tell us what he could do for us when we said we wanted X and Y. We liked him a lot and waited for his quote. Checked online and also found good reviews about him. After 3 working days, he submitted a quote of $44,000. We decided to KIV him.
5) Home Concepts, Tradehub
We actually went to Home Concepts in Jul 2013 randomly, the only one we had a detailed discussion with before the wedding. We were served by Ian. He did up a quote, but when we told him what we wanted revised, he didn't get back to us. We later found out that he is actually darling's another good friend's good friend. So when we were in the midst of shopping for ID, we asked to meet him again. He is our age, been in the trade after graduation. So in terms of our ideas and concepts, he knows what we are looking out for. Ian is also a very honest man. He told us that he was very tied up in the past month, and because we were not getting our house keys soon in July, he didn't put our project as a priority. Tsk tsk. Their shop is in the same stretch as 2form and Grandview and is spacious. In terms of chemistry, we could click. We also appreciated his sincerity and honesty which is important in this trade. We went to his shop to and fro for about 3 more times as we wanted him to revise the quote. In the end, he quoted us $38,500, an offer that would only last for a week. Thereafter, it would go up to $41,000. The price was enticing and there were also good validation about their company online. We were debating between him and Renzz and in the end, decided to go with Home Concepts for its lower pricing and Ian's personality.
Great, settled our first step in building our home! Will post about what we are planning to do to our house next.