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KITCHEN MATERIALS GUIDE from The Laminex Group


For homeowners who are still not sure which kitchen countertop to choose from, Laminex Group provides a very comprehensive guide for Kitchen benchtops. The following information extracted from their website should help you in making the right decision.



Laminate High Pressure Laminate (HPL) remains a popular choice for benchtops. Thanks to advances in printing technology, you can now have access to a myriad of stunning, stylish and contemporary looks in a cost-effective way compared with other benchtop surfaces. With hundreds of decors available, including solid colours, woodgrains, modern abstracts and real stone patterns, the potential to achieve your desired design style is easy. HPL is formed around a thick substrate to make a laminate benchtop, which can deliver profiles from bullnose to more contemporary slab-like stone looks. You can also enhance your look with a range of finishes from textured to high gloss.
Plus, a range of edging options including laminate, ABS and acrylic products offer the flexibility to create a colour matched square-edge without the traditional black line, to complete the look. 

Compact Laminates Compact Laminate is a thicker version of HPL. Typically around 13mm thick, it can be decorated on one or both faces. It’s thickness means that panels are strong, self-supporting, moisture resistant, and durable. When it comes to edging, compact laminate features a distinctive black core which also serves as a unique design feature particularly when a sleek modern industrial look is desired. 

Engineered Stone Engineered stone is a desirable material for many kitchen applications based on its durability, stain resistance, choice of modern colours and a variety of edge profiles. The product is a composite material made of small to medium pieces of stone bound together by resins. The main ingredient is generally natural quartz or marble that can vary depending on the brand and quality of engineered stone. It’s generally fabricated and installed by a stonemason. 

Natural Stone For a premium natural stone benchtop, there are a number of materials available including granite, marble, limestone and soapstone. You can also choose between several edge treatments including full or half bull-nosed, pencil edged or bevelled. A stonemason fabricates the benchtop with specialised cutting and finishing equipment.

Polished Concrete Concrete is a tailor-made material that’s practical and aesthetic at the same time. And the opportunities for creative expression are many. It starts as a formless, watery mixture, which you can transform into virtually any solid shape you desire. You can then grind, polish, stamp or stain it.

Acrylic Solid Surfaces Solid surfaces are manufactured from a coloured acrylic and, on occasion, polyester resin. An acrylic benchtop tradesperson fabricates the sheets, which can also be formed to create curves and organic shapes as part of the benchtop design. They can also be routered for 
functionality or design detailing. 

Solid Timber Solid timber benchtops are manufactured from blocks of natural timber and coated with several layers of clear high-gloss lacquer. You can choose from a variety of profi les including pencil round, bull-nose, and colonial. Overall the look offers a natural richness and depth with toning dependant on the timber species.

Stainless Steel Stainless steel doesn’t corrode, rust or stain like regular steel. An alloy combination of chromium and iron, it comes in various grades and types so when you’re looking to add stainless steel to your kitchen, it’s important to choose a grade that will suit the use it’s intended for.  
Glass Glass benchtops offer a unique look with a touch of class. Common glass types include crafted, tempered, etched and textured. Each can be finished with mirror gloss or frosted/sandblasted surfaces to stunning effect, but regular cleaning may be required to keep marks and fingerprints 
under control."

My Thoughts
Out of so many materials, I only have hands on experience for laminate top and acrylic solid surface.
With proper care, I realized that laminate top can last for many years. They will chip when subjected to hard knocks and and also mold if the environment is damp. As for acrylic solid surface, I would recommend using dark colored solid surfaces since light colored solid surfaces stain very easily. 
Nonetheless, for my next benchtop, I would like to try natural stones such as granite or marble.
Product Review - Homemaker Under Sink Extendable Shelf


I have been looking around for a simple flexible shelving solution for my under sink cabinet. After looking around, I decided to get the under sink extendable shelf from Homemaker. 

The extendable shelf needs to be self assembled and as the under sink shelving requires it to be adaptable, certain modules can be removed.


Mr Diva took around 5 minutes to install it.



If you have noticed, I have also installed the Philips Wireless LED Motion Sensor Light on the right cabinet wall. It is pretty handy since I no longer have to grope in the dark. :)


Tada~! 
The storage volume of my puny under sink cabinet has more doubled! I have also re-purposed my shoe boxes so that its easier to access and pull out the entire shelf of stuffs.


My Verdict?
I am very satisfied with my Homemaker Under Sink Extendable Shelf. It is flexible; its shelves can be removed, the height of the shelves can also be adjusted and thus it is ideal for under sink cabinets. However, if I am to be very fussy; the make of the product could have been more sturdy.
You can also purchase the extendable shelf at Howards Storage World at around $45 bucks.

Flexibility: 4.5 out of 5
Durability: 4 out of 5
Price: 4 out of 5

HDB Circular in Oct 2014



Some new changes been announced for HDB owners. These changes will impact homeowners who are renovating their units.

The circular which I have extracted from the HDB site is as follows: 


  (A) Installation Of Discharge Pipe For Air-Conditioners


Under the current guidelines for installation of air-conditioner, the condensation water must be properly discharged into the nearby internal floor trap. We observed that there were instances where the discharge pipe did not terminate into the floor trap resulting in water seepage to the adjacent bedroom. If the installation of air-conditioner is part of your renovation contract with the flat owners, please ensure that the air-conditioner discharge pipe is terminated into the nearby internal floor trap.  

The floor trap essentially refers to the drainage in the toilets. If possible, I would recommend for either one of the following: - 1) A hole to be cut inside the drainage cover (so that the discharge pipe points into the drainage - I hope you know what the heck I am talking about ) so that the water flows right into the drainage. This will prevent wetting the floor tiles unnecessary. 2) The discharge pipe to discharge in a big water pail. In this way, the excess water can be harnessed and recycled. 

(B) Enclosure of Balconies in Design, Build And Sell Scheme (DBSS) and Build-To-Order (BTO) Flats

The balcony space in DBSS projects and some BTO flats is offered as an outdoor space to promote sky-rise greenery. Hence, partial or full enclosure of the balcony, for example, with windows, full height glass panels is strictly not allowed. Notwithstanding this, flat owners are allowed to install grilles of approved design or “invisible grilles” at the balcony. A renovation permit is required for such work. These conditions are made known to the flat owners at various stages of the purchase such as during the flat selection and keys collection.

In the event that you are approached by the flat owners to carry out the installation of windows or full height glass panels at the balconies of these flats, please explain to the flat owners that such installation is not allowed under the HDB’s guidelines. Appropriate action will be taken against any errant RRC found to have infringed this requirement.

I have been eyeing glass curtains for balcony for the longest time. :( I feel that URA and HDB should have stipulated the reasonable size of the balcony and not allowing developers to exploit the loophole by building excessively large balcony. Now people have to resort to enclosing their balcony to make up for the lost space! 

(C) Cessation of Smooth Floor Rendering Services

We would also like to inform you that, with immediate effect, HDB will cease to provide the Smooth Floor Rendering (SFR) service that had previously been provided on a goodwill basis upon request. New flat owners who require SFR will need to engage their own renovation contractor to carry out the works. This ensures that the rendering is done to the correct thickness according to the flat owners’ preferred floor finishes, and the works are completed according to their renovation plans and schedule.

We enclosed a Chinese translation of this letter.
If you need any clarification, please contact Principal Executive (Technical), Lee Beng Hong at Tel: 6490 2312 or Principal Estate Executive, Ng Leng Leng at Tel: 6490 2302. Thank you.
If you do not know what is smooth floor rendering and how it looks like; here is a picture:
Image from my-love-n-dreams

Ikea Remixed!


I love Ikea products, they are affordable and most importantly, their unique modular design makes it fun for the creative enthusiasts to customize new designs on their own!

Every product can be dissected into its rawest most simplest form...reassembled into another completely new animal! ;)

Not convinced? Here are some of my favorite remix !


Ikea LACK side table by Abby Clawson Low, NYC designer.

 

Ikea Salad Bowl Speakers, BIANDA MATT here.


Tall planters by bradybunchremodel


Indoor herb garden from curbly.com


Laptop stand from smatch
HDB Defect Checking Revisited



I have been getting quite a fair bit of requests from my friends asking for my defect checklist and hence decided to revisit this topic again. As most of them are 1st time HDB owners, they were clueless what, where and even why bother to check!?

I have been covering what, where in many of my posts. As to WHY? I have to reiterate this again: 

Once your renovation starts, it is hard to justify to HDB that the defect is not caused by your renovation professionals! Furthermore, it will take a loooong time for HDB to entertain you. Why? In order to cater to Singaporean's calls for cheaper and cheap housing; HDB has been building non stop for the past with few years in order to get a tidal supply of HDB flats ready for owner occupation by 2016-2017. Fast construction is not good; it generally means sloppy jobs, poor inferior quality (due to escalating building costs and yet the pressure to keep things cheap) and MORE defects.


Enough of my rumblings; I will devote my time to outline what should you do to prepare yourself and what to look out for.

Here are the links to my older posts:

What Tools to Bring

Tapes and Markers 
Tapes and Markers are essential to mark out the defective areas. I prefer masking tapes since they are easy to remove without leaving sticky residue and permanent markers to write on these making tapes. I would recommend to get them in at least 2 colors; Red for the major defects and Yellow for the minor ones, so that the HDB technician will know what areas to focus on rectifying first. On top of this, I also wrongly advise numbering and scribbling notes on the description of the defects so that miscommunication can be minimized.

 Spirit Level 
 I used spirit level  to check if the walls, doors, windows are slated way too much so to determine as to see if there are any structural deviations with the room and wall measurements and that the doors and windows are properly aligned and upright.

 Torchlight and Stool or Ladder 
A torchlight is great for dark nooks. In addition, and stool or ladders for inspecting those high out of reach places. 

Coins or Marbles
I prefer marbles since they give off a distinct hollow sound when knocked against hallow tiles or timber strips.

Cameras
 I am sure most of us owns a camera smart phone and thus shouldn't be a problem. Unless you very kia su- you can consider using DSLR or SLR to take extreme closeups of the defects.  :)

Photos are meant to document the defects visually so that we can make a comparison whether anything has been done, they provide excellent evidence if there are any disputes. 

Parents or Helpful Friends
Ask them along to help to check out the defect. You will be surprised that it will take at least 2 days to check everything. But be sure to bring friends who have an excellent eye for details and not those who only want to kaypo only.

What and Were to Check

As to what to check for doors and floors, you can checkout these infographic
.




Let me add on a few more words for the following:

Parquet Floors
I know some would insist not to knock each and every of the parquet tiles for hollowness and that one should look out for are scratches and gaps in between the parquet tiles since parquet tiles do not popup. 

I have to disagree.

Hollowness is NOT okay because empty tiles means nesting grounds for insects like ants, spiders etc. And when you have to sand the parquet tiles to remove scratches in future, your hollow tiles will get even thinner...and more easily dent from knocks etc! 

Please lar, don't be lazy and yet them replaced!


Sinks, Water Pipes and so on.
Check ALL your drainage holes - sinks, toilets, etc for blockage.

Doors and Hinges
I realized that many homeowners have ditched the HDB quality, solid bathrooms for the plastic-bifold doors! These is because they felt that solid bathroom doors are bulky and take up space. Seriously, bifold doors don't last as long as the solid 1 leaf doors which HDB provide. In fact, all my relatives have sworn off bifold doors and stick with the traditional ones.

Water Leakage
Toilet bowls might leak if they are not installed properly and it is hard to detect such leaks with clear water. What you can do is to use those colored toilet cleaners such as Clorox. If there is any leak, you can see blue water forming around the toilet bowls.



Not checking every defects
You might be surprised that you shouldn't check every area in your place; IF only you have planned your renovation in advance. I mean, it doesn't make sense to waste time and energy to get the HDB to replace the hallow tiles in your bathroom when you already have plans to get them retiled with your renovation professional.

Neighbors
If you are lucky and your neighbors are also in the process of getting their HDB defects rectified as you, you should find out what kinds of defects they have. Lets say that you need your floors to be retiled and your neighbors too, the changes of getting this defect rectified earlier is higher due to economics of scales. ie. HDB will probably assign a team of tilers to perform the rectification work for you and your neighbors at the same time.

Locks!
Get a number lock to lock up your premises after you have complete your checks and have submitted the defect list to HDB. This is to deter any other intruders who may cause damage to your unit. Make sure that you only disclose the number lock combination to the technical officer in charge.

Ok...thats it for today.

Happy Deepavali everyone! 

  
Singapore Home and Decor


I have been extremely busy with work lately. Somehow over the past few years, my bosses have decided to dump tons and tons of new appointments, responsibilities, projects and so on. The same phenomenon is happening to Mr Diva! While our peers were busy watching K-drama simi love from simi stars, we are literally seeing stars after doing so much OT.  Being middle managers made our lives really....tiring, boring and BURN OUT!

As a result, my blog is now somewhat neglected. However, this doesn't mean that I have stopped browsing websites for refreshing home interior designs or halted my daily dose of freshome. In fact, I have 101 things to do but have no the time to do  them!

The list includes a complete the overhaul of this website. Somehow I couldn't get the codes right and its not working properly. By the time 80% of the codes have worked, I am so sick and tried of the layout and design. I really want to refresh and remake my home interiors; really our apartment looks so very dated! I have also been entrusted with yet another renovation project. The list goes on and on.

As a result of my very limited time, I started to turn to Home and Decor online instead of the magazines.

It is a very comprehensive site which features the following:

Blog - A very addictive read! Updated almost every day.
Q&A - Read answers or post home interior questions.
Products - Its pinterest like interface features droolicious furniture.
Home - portfolio of inspiring designs! The more I browse through the photos the more I feel I need to overhaul my place...ugh!
It also allows homeowners to login and create their very own mood boards.

Do hop over to the website and take a look!
 Whats more, there is a Home and Decor fair in September...do check it out too!


 
EXHIBITORS
• ACKERMAN & SMITH • D' PLANNER • DELPHIN • DOCTOR DOORS GALLERY • ECOHAUS • ERGOWORKS
• H M GALLERY • LEGATE • METER SQUARE • ONNA • THE WALL STORY • WO KEE HONG MARKETING
 

 


 




Renovating a Private Residential Property Part II

Renovating a Private Residential Property Part II

Depending on your property and type of renovation, you may need to obtain planning permission from URA. 
Which renovation works require approval from URA? Additions and alterations to your property require approval if they:
  • affect the external facade of the building, or
  • result in an increase of the Gross Floor Area (GFA)

DEFINITION OF ADDITIONS & ALTERATIONS (LAND-TITLED RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY)

To qualify as an “Additions & Alterations’’ to a landed-titled residential property, the following criteria must be complied with:
  1. the proposed additional gross floor area does not exceed 50% of the approved gross floor area;
  2. the external walls that are to be removed and replaced with new walls do not exceed 50% of the approved external walls;
  3. structurally changes to the existing landed dwelling house such as replacing or constructing new columns/beams and reconstructing existing floor slabs do not exceed 50% of the existing;
  4. changes/replacement of entire roof, regardless of increase in height as long as it does not involve an additional storey;
  5. addition of an attic provided the increase in GFA is less than 50%;
Proposals that do not comply with any of the above criteria are considered as “Reconstruction’’. The following works are deemed as reconstruction regardless of whether the works exceed 50% of the existing building:
  1. Increase in storey height – Changes/replacement of any part of the roof when it involves an additional storey
  2. Change in housing form – Works which result in a change to the landed dwelling house form, for example, from semi-detached house to detached house.

RENOVATING YOUR HOME (LAND-TITLED RESIDENTIAL)

Check if your renovation works are covered under the Planning Permission Exemption List. If they are not, you will need to obtain approval from URA.
Landed property owners can also use the Landed Housing e-Advisor to evaluate if your proposed works comply with Development Control Guidelines.
Landed property owners can also engage a Qualified Person (QP) to lodge the renovation works under the Plan Lodgment Scheme (Additions & Alterations) if your property is located in certain designated landed housing estate and meet certain criteria.

RENOVATING YOUR HOME (STRATA-TITLED RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY)

Generally, internal renovation works within your strata unit do not require planning permission. However, renovation works which affect the external fa├žade of the building or result in an increase in Gross Floor Area (GFA) will require approval from URA.
In particular, for proposed Additions & Alteration works within strata units which involve an increase in GFA, the applicant is required to obtain a letter signed by the Secretary or Chairperson of the council of the MC confirming that the MC has by 90% resolution authorised the carrying out of the proposed works for the strata unit.
This authorisation letter duly signed by the authorised signatory of the Council of the MC is to be submitted to URA by the applicant together with the proposal as part of the planning application.
To download the format of the authorisation letter, please click here
The above requirement is only applicable to non-conservation strata-titled residential properties.

HOW TO APPLY?

How do I apply for planning permission? Please refer to the step-by-step guide – How to Apply: Development Application via CORENET eSS.
The application fee for additions and alterations varies. Please refer to the Fees Schedule for Development Applications (PDF).
WHO TO CONTACTI need help. Who can I contact?
Contact the Development Control Group at:
Tel: (65) 6223 4811 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm)
Email:
ura_dcd@ura.gov.sg  
Reference from URA site.
Selamat Hari Raya


Selamat Hari Raya

I have been very busy lately since I am managing a renovation project on the behalf of my relative. As it is an Condominium unit, there are a lot of new things to research and understand. In the meantime, I will try my best to post what I have learnt whilst managing this project.
In the meantime, Selamat Hari Raya to all my Malay readers! :)
Renovating a Private Residential Property Part I

Image from homedsgn.com

Renovating a Private Residential Property Part I                          

Before you begin renovating your house, the following are some points or guidelines you need to know.
Renovation Work
Sanitary Work
Electrical Work
Air-conditioning Work
Fire Safety
Gas Service
Window Safety & Maintenance
Guidelines For Renovation Work
Private residential properties would generally include landed houses, apartment buildings, condominium, cluster housing and residential units in a mixed development.

Renovation works in private homes would constitute one of the following:

-additions and alterations to existing landed dwelling houses
-additions and alterations to existing apartments or existing residential units of strata-subdivided buildings
-reconstruction of existing landed dwelling houses

Not all renovation works would require approval of plans from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). There are some building works, which are minor in nature, that are exempted from approval. A list of the exempted works is given in 'The Schedule' of the Building Control Act, and is reflected herewith.
-Exemption From Approval For Minor Building Works And Alterations To Residential Buildings

Where the proposed building works are not exempted, building plans will have to be submitted by a Qualified Person to the Commissioner of Building Control for approval. The following are some information on the requirements for approval of building plans. The normal submission system applies to all sorts of renovation works for private homes, while the simplified submission system applies only to additions and alterations to landed houses.
- Works Not Requiring BCA Approval
- Application For Approval Of Building Plans Under The Normal Submission System
- Application For Approval Of Building Plans Under The Simplified Submission System


Besides submission of building plans, structural plans submission would also be necessary if there are structural works involved in the proposed renovation. The following outlines the requirements to procure approval of the structural plans.
- Application For Approval Of Structural Plans


No building works shall commence until a permit to carry out building works is obtained from the Commissioner of Building Control. The grant of this permit can only be considered after the structural plans are approved. Where there are no structural works involved, the application for a permit is based on the approval of building plans instead. The following are the requirements on the application for a permit to carry out building works.
- Application For A Permit To Carry Out Building Works


Upon completion of the renovation works, a Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) or a Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) will have to be obtained for the occupation of the completed building. The issuance of CSC by the Commissioner of Building Control would legally conclude the completion of the renovation project. The following are the requirements to procure a TOP and a CSC.
- Application For Occupation Of Completed Building Works


Whether the renovation works require approval of building plans from the BCA or not, owners should also check for the need to obtain clearances from other authorities or compliance with caveats and by-laws which may apply to their premises, including rules and regulations adopted by the management corporation.
Frequently Asked Questions On :
Here are some frequently asked questions on:
- Building Plans
- Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) / Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC)
- What are the renovation works which are allowed in the shelter?
Guidelines For Sanitary Work
A all sanitary works are required to be carried out by a Registered Sanitary Plumber (RP).

Please click here for the list of
licensed sanitary plumber.
Guidelines For Electrical Work
Before you begin your electrical work installation to your home, your are required to engage a PUB licensed electrical contractor to carry out the electrical work in your house.

Please click here for a
licensed electrical contractor.

You also required to apply the electrical work permit for certain types of electrical work if required. Please click here
for the Electrical Work Permit Form.
- Electrical Safety
Guidelines For Air-conditioning Work
All air-conditioning works do not require approval of plans or a permit to carry out the works. However, the installation of supports for air-conditioning units on the exterior of all buildings except landed houses must be carried out by a trained installer.

Please click here for a list of
trained licensed air-condition installer.
Other Useful Information
- Legislation Of Air-con Units
- Methods Of Retrofitting
-Frequently Asked Questions
Please click here for further enquiry on Installation of Aircon Brackets.
Guidelines For Fire Safety
Any person who wishes to commence or carry out any proposed fire safety works in any building shall apply in accordance with the Regulations made under the Fire Safety Act to the Fire Safety and Shelter Bureau for approval of the plans of the fire safety works. Such plans shall be prepared and submitted by Qualified Persons (QPs) which are registered architects or professional engineers.

Please click here for
detail submission procedures.
Guidelines For Gas Service
Any installation or alteration of gas piping, you are required to engage a Licensed Gas Service worker (LGSW) to carry out job.

Please click here for a list of
Licensed Gas Service worker (LGSW).
- Gas Safety
Guidelines For Window Safety
For any installation or alteration of Windows, you are required to engage a Trained Windows Contractors.

For a list of Trained Windows Contractors, please
click here.
- Frequently Asked Questions On Windows