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Tuesday 26 July 2016

Top Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

Top Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

Getting a home improvement contractor can either realize or break your dream house. Therefore it is important to choose the right contractor. This article will guide you how to choose, assuming the below:

  • You purchased your first home and not sure where to begin.

  • You want to find the right home improvement contractor to do the job.

  • You are looking for quality workmanship.

Review projects that the builder has completed that are similar to yours in scope and size.

(Photo courtesy of One Roof Design Sdn Bhd)

Renovation and design tips

1. Find a contractor. 

Find a few home improvement contractors based on your requirements. Determine their capabilities and gathered user feedback. Rely on different sources and methods of finding home contractors.

2. Design fee.

Ideally, it is best to engage a designer for a mock up design. This way you will have an idea the final product and you may avoid any surprises. Design fee normally isn’t cheap but it’s worth it.

(Photo courtesy of A&A Group)

Qualifying home improvement contractors

Follow below guides to gauge and qualify home improvement contractors. This will reduce any potential risks.

1. Check their portfolio for similar work.

Review projects that the builder has completed that are similar to scope and size to yours.

2. Visit site work in progress.

Ask to visit projects currently under construction or recently completed.

3. Talk to references with similar projects.

Refrain from only depending on a reference list of past clients and ask to speak with projects mentioned above. This narrows the reference qualifications.

4. Past project timeline.

Request to review the construction schedule for the referral projects.

(Photo courtesy of Lora Kitchen Design)

5. Exclusions. 

Review exclusion clause carefully. Clarify any exclusions should you think are included.

6. Get specific. 

Review contract project carefully. Compare the contract to other home improvement contractor proposals.

7. Project timeline.

Before awarding the contract, request to view a detailed schedule of your project. The schedule should include the following but not limited to; project timeframe, progress payment, dates for materials procurement under your responsibility. This will demonstrate due diligence and substantiate scheduling capabilities.

(Photo courtesy of Apple Interior Design)

Avoid these common mistakes

Unfortunately, at some point things may turn wrong although you have taken precaution steps above. Keep an eye to avoid these common mistakes:

1. Go cheap.

If you accept the cheapest contract, you may end up with inferior materials or additional cost for improvement area in the later stage.

2. Rushing the design.

If you rush through the design process, you may miss out on the important information and details. This could lead to project delay, wrong materials or worse the end result is not what you after.

3. DIY

If you are not a handy man, don’t get too involve. You may delay the project by not performing on time or acceptable quality. If you’re not qualified, don’t attempt to act as your own contractor.

4. Unplanned coordination

If material procurement falls under your responsibility, avoid missing the right material and deadlines. Materials can vary from tiles, decorative hardware, home appliances and lighting.

Saturday 23 July 2016

Dos and Don’ts of Home Renovation

Dos and Don’ts of Home Renovation

1.Do – Get to know your home contractor

Understand your home contractor company more; their background, past projects and user review. This will give you an idea of what to expect from them before engaging your contractor.

2.Do – Measure everything

Take accurate measurement of area for renovation. Floor plan works great as well. This information can make you and your contractor work easier.

3.Do – Be realistic on budget and time line

Keep an open mind that everything will cost more and takes longer time for completion on what you have budgeted.

4.Do – Be organized

You may end up feeling insane dealing with different home contractors; from general works to cabinetry and painting. Keep yourself organized to ensure a smooth process.

5.Do – Take photos

Take photos of before, during and after completion for job tracking. You will find these photos useful should you go into dispute with your home contractor. It also helps to remember the good and bad times and serve as a reference for future.

6.Do – Renovate floor first

If your renovation involves the floor, renovate the floor first. You can’t install cabinets or paint the wall with the floor job incomplete.

7.Do – Hack and conceal everything

Perform all hacking and conceal jobs during renovation, leave no rooms for future. You do not want to perform any cement job after moving in. This includes:

i)Air conditioner concealed piping

ii)Concealed wiring for alarm system

iii)Additional wall sockets

iv)Room extension

v)Utility lines such as water piping and internet provider cable

8.Do – Mimic your purchase

If you are buying a large piece of furniture or home appliances such as couch or washing machine, create a template or mimic its size and lay on the area. This will give you a good idea how much space it consumes or whether it fits in the area.

9.Don’t – Forget to clean, clean and clean

After your renovation is completed, remember to perform a thorough cleaning. Everything must be clean from dust; wall, grills and windows.

10.Don’t – Paint first

Wall painting is the last task you should perform after everything is completed.

11.Don’t – Discard your receipts

Keep your receipts for future reference. You may need them for warranty claims.

12.Don’t – Use the wrong tool for a job

Always use the right tool for the right job. If you perform any simple DIY task such as painting, get the necessary and right tools. A simple job could turn into nightmare with the wrong tools.

13.Don’t – Go cheap

Don’t skimp on budget and go for cheapest material. Most cheap materials don’t last long and in the long run cost you more on maintenance and services.

Wednesday 20 July 2016

Things to Consider Before Renting a Home

Advantage and Disadvantage of Renting A Home

At some point in your life you are faced with the dilemma to either rent or buy a home. Living away from family, one has to really decide carefully depending on the situation, financial status and comfort level. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of owning and renting before taking the leap.




The main responsibility in renting a home is to pay the advanced deposit for first months of rent and utilities, followed by monthly rental. Simple and clear cut, this is the main advantage for the majority to option for renting.


Since you are renting, you will not be enjoying any appreciation value of the home. Simply put, you will never get your money back to you when renting.



The landlord holds the responsibility of maintaining the appliances, repairs and home maintenance. Report to your landlord in case of any breakdown, this makes renting a home much more appealing than owning a home.


There are good and bad landlords. If you are unlucky, your landlord may be the bad ones, leaving you with unattended breakdown reports.



If a tenant requires to perform any alteration to the rent home; painting, installation of major appliances like air conditioning, consent must be gathered from landlord to avoid any future misunderstanding. Most good landlords allow alterations as long as the home is well kept by tenant.


Many landlords prefer no alteration as the tenant turn over rate is high and there are restoration costs before securing a new tenant. Discuss over alteration with your landlord before taking any actions.

Make your decision to either rent or buy a home with careful considerations. Weigh your options carefully to avoid getting into financial difficulties. 

Saturday 16 July 2016

Deciding Between Buying a New or Pre-owned Home

Deciding Between Buying a New or Pre-owned Home

The experience of choosing and buying a home can be very exciting and scary at the same time. Weighing between the advantages and disadvantages of buying a complete new or pre-owned home is a tedious task. If you are lucky, you may find a home that suits you best, or you may end up moving around several homes before settling on the right one that makes you happy in years to come. You have every right to choose the right one before settling, and here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of buying new or pre-owned home.

a) Warranty:

New Home


Warranty for new home starts running from the date of issuance of key collection. Most of the time the warranties are applied for 2 years, for every item in your home except appliances if any. Warranty included items built by the developer such as wiring, piping, walls, flooring, tiles, doors, cabinets and etc. It is always advisable to check thoroughly for any defected items and report to the developer for rectification before moving in. If appliances were supplied part of the home package, make sure you have all the warranty cards stored in case of any items broke. Different appliances offering different warranty packages; the electrical board of a washing machine may have warranty coverage of 1 year, and the motor unit for 2 years, make sure you read the warranty cards carefully.


As all warranty goes, it usually does not cover improper usage, wear & tear or modifications. Make sure you obtained consent from developer before proceeding for any home remodeling.

Pre-owned Home


During negotiation a deal between seller and buyer, the buyer has the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the house for any defect and if found, can negotiate for rectification before proceeding. To further safe guard the buyer, a warranty period could be discussed between buyer and seller during transaction period before key possession by buyer. Items to consider could be internal wall piping, flooring, etc.


The seller could be covering imperfection of the home; for example cosmetically covering of mold condition due to water seepage from either internal wall piping or external source.

b) Financial:

New Home


Buying a complete new unit from developer saves you money in the form of free items bundled with the home. Developer may attract buyers by offering freebies such as free lawyer fees or appliances. Also during construction period you have the opportunity to save money.


If your new home from developer is empty without appliances and cabinets from developer, you will need to consider the following: grills, appliances, cabinetry, alarm system, furniture and so on.

Pre-owned Home


Main advantage of buying a pre-owned home is the home either comes fully or partly furnished with grills, major appliances and cabinetry installed. The seller may decide to include the items in the sales contract. Major advantage if you are looking for move in condition home.


The initial cost of down payment, lawyer and other fees when added up could eat up your entire life saving. Some of the items you inherited from previous owner could be not in satisfactory condition which requires more maintenance.

Whichever your decision; it is upmost important to take your time and weigh the advantages and disadvantages either new or pre-owned home.

Tuesday 12 July 2016

Painting vs Wallpaper

Deciding Between Painting & Wallpaper

Undecided whether to wallpaper or paint your newly purchased home? The following guide will assist you in determining the advantages and disadvantages of each selection. It is always important to keep an open mind that there is no written rules to just pick one; you may mix and match both. Most importantly is that you decide on the theme, colour, budget and design that suits your liking for either option.

With the help of wallpaper you have the advantage to change your room atmosphere; a dramatic room can instantly be made soft and airy with the application of light pale paint color. A room that feels too big can instantly feel cozy with darker wallpaper with a striking pattern. Factors to consider when selecting either wallpaper or paint are ease of application, cost, and versatility to your space.

Preparation: Take into consideration of wall preparation either to paint or wallpaper. Skip this step if you are starting from a bare wall.


Disadvantage: If you are removing existing wallpaper, patience and right tools are needed to get the work done. Use of stripping tools or chemical on existing wallpaper but care must be taken to avoid any damage to the wall. Alternatively you may hire home improvement expert to do the job.


Advantage: Apply spackle on uneven or damaged wall to prepare imperfection, followed by applying primer, let dry and finally apply your finishing paint. Painting requires considerably less preparation time than wallpaper.

Selection & Application:

Both paint and wallpaper comes in unlimited varieties and colors.  Paints come in various finishes, while wallpaper comes in paper and vinyl surfaces for durability and finish variation.


Advantage: High resistance to wear and tear, scratches and durable. Comes in variety of choices and design that almost impossible to replicate by painting.

Disadvantage: High humidity area such as kitchen and bathroom may cause wallpaper to peel away from the wall since it is applied with adhesive.



Depending on application, some paints offer high resistance to weather and moisture which are not offered by wallpaper. Can be used on wide applications and suitable on many types of surface; wall, wood, metal and others. Good option for areas that need to have an inexpensive and easy application.

Disadvantage: Newly applied paint may emit unpleasant odour temporary. Chipped and damaged paint requires repairing and repainting. May leave permanent marks from scratches or wear and tear.


Wall paper: More expensive due to minimum quantity purchase in rolls regardless of your wall area size. Requires professionals for installation; wallpaper offers less tolerance for mistake.

Paint: Paint cost is cheaper and you may purchase the required quantity. DIY is possible and engaging painting services is cheaper compared to wallpaper installation as amateur can apply it. Cost can be high if you are looking for textured paint and require professional service to apply for best result.

Combination of both:

Many people applied both wallpaper and paint at their home for versatility of adding texture to their wall. One of a simpler example; you may choose to apply wallpaper on one wall of a room and remaining walls to be painted. The wonderful world of wall finishes is vast and customizable. For the appeal of both, furnish your wall with paint and wallpaper!

Saturday 9 July 2016

Hardwood or Laminate Wood Flooring

Hardwood or Laminate Wood Flooring For Your Home

Wood flooring is one of the most sought after amenities in a home; also it brings nature into your home. Besides its natural beauty, wood flooring also the preferred choice due to its natural appearance and warmth underfoot. There are 2 types of wood flooring; hardwood and laminate wood. Below article will discuss both flooring and which to choose.


There are price difference in both hardwood and laminate flooring due to availability and material cost.

  • Hardwood:

Disadvantage – Higher in price due to hardwood flooring is harvested from trees.

  • Laminate: 

Advantage – Made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures. A layer of thin laminate hardwood is then placed over the composite wood. Therefore the material and installation cost is significant cheaper compared with hardwood.


Durability comes as a priority when deciding which wood flooring for your home. Durable flooring will require less maintenance and maintain aesthetic appealing in years to come.

  • Hardwood:

Disadvantage – Prone to scratching, wear and tear over a long period of usage. Gets damage over excessive moisture exposure.

Advantage – Comes in natural unique beauty of a wood grain, depending on type of tree and wood. Add significant value to your home.

  • Laminate:

Advantage – Less maintenance compared with hardwood. More durable and provide more resistance towards ear and tear, scratches and moisture.

Disadvantage – Lack the unique beauty of natural wood grain, hence less appealing. Depending on laminate quality and production, lower grade of laminate may lack the durability element and comes with artificial wood grain texture.


All wood flooring requires maintenance and repairing from time to time. From repairing damages to maintaining flowing, laminate and hardwood both have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Hardwood:

Advantage – Can be repaired by means of sanding and refinishing of damaged area. Alternatively, refinish the hardwood surface is part of maintenance for long lasting years.


Advantage – Majority laminate flooring comes in individual boards that require only snap fit assembly. In case of damage, replace the damage piece; make sure to get the same production model from same company. Does not require refinish, cleaning with damp cloth is sufficient.

As both hardwood and laminate has its own advantage and disadvantage, one has to decide on his own which is the preferred choice. If you have children or pets, this will influence your decision. If your inner home is exposed to a lot of direct sun light, it is best to keep in mind that hardwood may fade its color over prolong direct sunlight exposure. Where else laminate wood flooring has UV protection embedded onto the surface.

Tuesday 5 July 2016

All you need to know about kitchen cabinet

All you need to know about kitchen cabinet

Kitchen cabinet is essential for each home, it’s the place where home food is prepared and sometimes it serves as a bonding place for couples to spend time together. The right cabinet choices will help make the room efficient and easy to use. As a guideline, cabinets fall into three basic categories: ready made, semi custom, and custom.

Here are some helpful tips and information to get this project started!

Ready Made Cabinets

Ready made cabinets come in a great number of styles and sizes.

Advantage: Stock cabinets are usually the most economical choice. Because they are manufactured in volume and stored in manufacturers’ warehouses, they are also readily available – usually ready made cabinets are available immediately.

Disadvantage: Because the cabinets are mass produced, therefore they don’t come in special sizes. Modifications or request for change of fittings are normally unusual.

Semi custom cabinets

These cabinets normally come in quite a number of fixed designs and themes. They are manufactured based on requirements such as size, materials, fittings and tabletop. They are easily amendable with storage units and fittings.

Advantage: Modifications and amendments are usual based on requirements. Offers a wide selection of designs and themes and easily implemented to any kitchen layout. Purchasing from chain store has the benefits of spare parts and services readily available.

Disadvantage: Higher price tag compared to ready made cabinets. Not readily available, requires fabrication time. Designs and themes are fixed.

Custom Cabinets

These cabinets are custom built by professional cabinet maker. These cabinets can be customized into any kind of configurations, themes, size, materials and fittings based on requirements. The priciest among all 3 categories.

Advantage: Your kitchen cabinets can look and function exactly the way you want. Custom cabinets can be perfectly fitted onto an oddly shaped kitchen layout. You can also accommodate specialized storage needs. The cabinets’ qualities are top notch if built perfectly by an experienced cabinet maker.

Disadvantage: Most expensive among all 3 categories. Require longer time of fabrication.


Wood – Normally only available for custom cabinets. Wood cabinets are durable and last longest

Laminate – Laminate cabinets are durable and easy to clean, and they come in a variety of colors.

Make Good Choices

Avoid buying the cheapest available cabinet as they are rarely the best choice. Drawers will soon sag or fall apart altogether, and inferior finishes wear away. Unless the cabinet surfaces are solid wood or wood veneer, painting or refinishing will be difficult or even impossible. When comparing cabinets, ask about construction details and look for signs of lasting quality.

Hardware & Fittings

  • Its norm to find soft close hinge on pull out drawers and shelves door. Make sure you cabinet comes with these.
  • Depending on preferences, you may opt for invisible handle on cabinet doors or drawers for a sleek, clean look. Doors can simply be opened on the hinges or can be fitted with spring loaded hinges that pop open the door with a gentle push.
  • If you does not fancy invisible handle, you can opt for a more conventional style; knob, handle and pull. These are normally made of plastic, polished metal or wood.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Tips in Remodeling a Bathroom

Tips in Remodeling a Bathroom

There could be a time when a homeowner decides to remodel their bathroom due to the existing one does not suit their needs or they prefer an overall layout. Whichever the case, remodeling a bathroom needs proper time for planning and budgeting.

Before starting the work, proper preparation is essential to prevent any mistake which could lead to waste of time and resources. Below guide could assist you in saving time and resources.

1. Budget

Set a budget based on your needs. If budget is limited, consider which items that essential to change and which items can still be retained. Your budget also tells you the limit of new item’s prices.

2. Refurbish existing items

Money could be saved if you decide to refurbish some of your existing items such as bowl, faucet or sink; provided these items are still functional and presentable. Makeover could restore them into new condition and give a fresh look.

3. Acquire new items first

Procure all the new items first before you start remodeling process of your bathroom. This will ensure you save time. Make sure you have done extensive research on the newly acquire items around your neighborhood stores. Make sure that it is worth the price and that it fits your budget. You should also pay attention at the quality of the materials.

4. Plumbing

Another good way to save money is to retain your plumbing. Instead of redoing the pipes and fittings, use the existing plumbing that you have. You may also let the plumber check the pipes to make sure that everything is working well and no leakages.

5. Change the hardware

One easier and cheaper solution is to change the hardware as they are obvious. Change your faucet handles, drawers, and shower heads into something different than the ones you used before. This can give a huge impact to the look of your bathroom without the need of spending too much.

6. Plan for storage

If you think you lacked storage areas before, then add some more. Wall mounted cabinets is an ideal choice as they consume less space. When your bathroom stuffs are kept, you will have a well-organized bathroom and would make it look a lot better and neater.

7. Lighting

Lights are important even for a bathroom. You can get lights that would fit into your bathroom’s theme and style. Additionally, wall lights, recessed lights and others are good additions. This would make it appear more relaxing and comforting.

8. Ventilation

A proper bathroom comes with sufficient ventilation. Install a vent fan with appropriate air flow. Be sure to look for a vent that is quiet.