THE GUIDE TO RENOVATE YOUR HOME

Demolition/Hacking

- Resale flat owners must take note when demolishing any wall. The demolition of walls without the replacement of flooring will result in dents in flooring. Hence flat owners must be prepared for difference of flooring. Otherwise, they must redo the flooring in order to remove the wall.

- Different kinds of wall structures exist in different types of HDB flats. Beams, Reinforced Concrete (RC) beams, RC Columns and RC slabs cannot be knocked down.

- For RC Hanger and RC Stiffener, the lintol kerb may be hacked but this is subjected to the approval of HDB. To obtain the approval, there is a need to engage a qualified person or a professional engineer to endorse the submission. These additional charges are to be borne by the client.

 

Masonry

- For tiling work, use of cement is essential. For proper laying of homogenous floor tiles, the pointing (gap in between tiles) has to be consistently less than 2mm.

- There should never be a buddjoint but at least 1mm gap. This is according to the guidelines of the Building and Construction Authority.

- This gap is to cater for expansion of tiles due to climate/temperature changes. Ciseern workers usually do a 1mm gap.

- If there is no gap, there is higher possibility of tiles popping up if the house is situated in an area affected by the afternoon sun. Also, the tile movement might be affected by renovations in the vicinity or earthquakes in nearby regions. Thirdly a gap is needed for the cement to remain intact.

- For homogenous tiles, cement is laid on just the surface of tiles.

Waterproofing

- It is necessary for all ID companies and contractors to provide warranty of waterproofing.

- When applying the permit to renovate wet areas, HDB requires IDs/Contractors to provide a 2-year warranty for the waterproofing work.

- Within the two years, if there are signs of leakage, i.e. toilet water seeping to floor downstairs, the ID/Contractor has to be responsible. This ruling is governed by HDB.

- If an unlicensed contractor is engaged, this ruling would not be in place. Any cost involved will have to be borne by homeowners.

Erection of Wall

- For any alteration of wall, especially the erection of walls, hairline cracks will definitely appear after a certain period between the joints of new and old walls, due to expansion and contraction of the cement. Simple surface cement touch ups can be done DIY by homeowners. Alternatively, you could engage contractor to do the touch up.

 

Plumbing

Heaters

- Homeowners must remember existing habits when choosing heaters. If they are used to a storage heater, they should not use instant heater for next home.

- Instant heaters: Water pressure is low.

- Storage heaters: Water enters and is heated to the maximum temperature before flowing to tap.

- The difference in pressure might need some getting used to, if homeowners are not used to it.

 

Pipes

- Ciseern used stainless steel or copper pipes. Copper is recommended because aesthetically, copper looks better. The copper pipes can also be painted, hence the colour can be close to the wall tiles and wall colour, and can be easily camouflages.

- Copper pipes: Pipe diameters range from half inch to 3/4 inch; sub pipes are half an inch in thickness while main pipes are 3/4 inch.

- Stainless steel pipes: Pipe diameters 1 inch thick and thus more bulky, cannot be bent whereas copper pipes can be bent. More joints also mean a higher possibility of leakage.

- The pricing of both types of piping are similar.

- For current new flats, concealed pipes are copper pipes. It is a must to use copper pipes for concealed piping as there are no joints hence they would not leak.

 

Electrical

- If any electrical appliances are bought overseas for example Taiwan, please check with the supplier if it is suited for Singapore voltage. The Singapore voltage is typically 220-240 volts, whereas the Taiwan voltage is typically 110 volts. Because of this difference, there could be a power trip after long usage.

- During space planning, it is very important to decide on usage of entre space for electrical appliances. For example if a home theatre system is in place, there is a need to inform the designer/contractor during the space planning stage.

 

Air-Conditioning

For Care & Maintenance

- If the room is not occupied, it is a must to switch on the air conditioner for half an hour twice a week, for both inverter and non-inverter air conditioners. This is to clear the dirt that might be trapped in the drainage pipe and unblock it.

- Servicing of air conditioners is very important and must be executed at least once a year. Hence, signing a package with an air conditioner company would lead to cost savings.

 

Ceiling

- There is no need to apply for installation of false ceilings, but there is still a need to comply with HDB rules. The false ceiling must have a minimum height of 2.4m from the finished floor.

- Normal false ceilings use fiber plasterboard, but for ceilings in wet areas, waterproof materials such as calcium and silicate board should be used.

 

Plastering

- Full plastering of wall is to smoothen the surface of walls, not to level the surface of wall.

- A 3mm coating is needed to smoothen the surface of walls.

 

Carpentry

- For cupboards in the kitchen, avoid solid wood or wood vinyl finish as these are natural products. The moisture, heat and oil in the kitchen would harm the wood. Use a laminate, glass or crystal acrylic door instead.

- Do take note of the distance between the hob and hood. The minimum distance should be 650mm. If the distance is not wide enough, the cooker hood might be on fire. The warranty of appliances would also not apply if placed too near the fire.

 

Laminate Flooring

- In Europe, laminate flooring is called floating floor system. It is cost effective and easy to maintain. However as it is not attached to the floor, air gaps are present as compared to parquet flooring.

- For laminate flooring, it is advisable to use Supreme laminates as they are one of the best in Singapore. Because of the climate differential, Malaysian made laminates which are made of tropical hardwood can withstand the tropical weather.

- For maintenance, use a damp cloth to clean the laminates. Do not use a wet cloth as this would affect the joints and stain the waterproof element. Thinner can be used to remove stubborn stains.

 

Parquet: Wood Flooring

- For parquet flooring, materials can be teak, oak, cherry or maple.

- In Singapore, majority of the flooring used is teak wood. Teakwood is found in tropical climates such as Indonesia and Myanmar hence it is suited for the humid weather here. Expansion and Contraction is also limited as compared to oak and maple imports, in which expansion gaps are easily seen.

 

Painting

- The Matte finish paint called Super Vinilex 5000 by Nippon Paint is highly recommended for the perfect finish. The reason for using matte finish is to conceal imperfections if the wall has any impurities or unlevel surfaces. If the wall is dirtied while moving in, dirtied areas can be touched up easily.

- For washable paint or other types, there are only two types: highly sheen or low sheen. For both types, it is hard to do touch ups and repainting of the whole wall is needed.

- The Paint warranty usually covers uneven tone and fading of the colour in the two-year period. This does not include cracks in wall as they are attributed by expansion and contraction. If walls crack, there are additional labour charges for mending the wall.

- The most important thing is to note when painting the house is to minimize the usage of colours for renovation. Colours from the same family should be used so that it is not too contracting. Use at most two contrasting colours. Colours should be chosen according to the theme; hence it is best to seek advice from the Ciseern Interior Designers.

 

Kitchen Workshop

- There are four kinds of materials used for kitchen worktops.

· Wood from higher pressure laminates.

· Solid surface which is actually manmade stone

· Granite

· Marble

- Out of the choices, marble would be the most aesthetically pleasing. However it is not practical to use it as it is porous. This means it will absorb impurities or water into the marble itself.

- For kitchen worktops, chances of spillage are high and the worktop absorbs many impurities. Moisture might stain the marble and the dust would trap the moisture inside the slab.

- Hence, marble worktops are more suitable for those who seldom cook or show flat conditions.

- The most practical worktops would be either solid surface or granite worktops.

- There are two types of granite. Indian granite is more expensive; China surface is almost the same price as solid surface but very durable. Granite is the second hardest stone next to diamond. Not as porous as marble hence it is still user friendly. Granite has very joints, comes in ready cut slabs.

- Solid surface has joints, but because it is manmade, a special material is sued to glue it onsite, hence joint lines cannot be seen. There are two types of solid surface; polyester based and acrylic based. Acrylic is very durable, its resistance to scratch higher and thus more expensive. Brands such as Corian, Staron and LG Hi-Mac are common ones with 100% acrylic bases. Polyestic based solid surfaces are cheaper.

- For both types of solid surfaces, scratches can be polished off every two years. However, this is a highly dusty option.

 

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