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Stikwood




I have been crawling through the intranet to look for ways to inject natural wood in home interiors in the simplest and easiest way. 

By a stroke of luck, I stumbled upon Stikwood; which retails authentic real natural reclaimed wood for modern wood wall d├ęcor,. and its the worlds first peel & stick solid wood planking which comes in a variety of finishing from contemporary to rustic!





With Stikwood, it makes room transformation to an artisanal bespoke work of art with reclaimed wood. Stickwood products are supposedly VOC free. Hence, its safe, environmental friendly and comes in a variety of different design.





Prices range from $8 – $12.50 per square foot and best part; it is shipped directly to Singapore from US!

Here are some of my favorite inspiring photos from tumblr.

Stikwood on ceiling in Block Butcher Bar. Sacramento, CA




With so many possible DIY applications and a fairly reasonable price, I cant wait to get my hands on them to try out for my next home renovation project. :)

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I have been looking at bread recipe for quite sometime. I finally came across the No-Knead Bread recipe, which is very easy to do. It is so ridiculously easy and fun. The biggest effort is the time taken to bake. Here is what I have used...

No-Knead Chocolate Wholemeal Bread

Ingredients:
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Wholemeal Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar Powder
1 Teaspoon Instant yeast
1½ cups warm water
All-Purpose flour for dusting

Here is a simple vid which shows you how its done.

My 1st attempt at bread making turns up reasonably well; aroma of freshly made bread really made my day. I started baking 2.5 hours after letting the dough to proof.

However, the bread tastes the best when it was left overnight to proof. Many original Artisan Bread recipe didn't include sugar. But I realized that adding sugar makes the bread tastier and softer. :)


Open House organised by Interior Design firms


Image from challenge.gov.sg

I attended a few open houses hosted by a few Interior Companies lately. Not that we are renovating our place...which we would if  we have the spare cash to do so! 

Well, Mr Diva and myself has been entrusted with a renovation project by our loved one...and thus we have been arming ourselves with the latest renovation news and happenings. Hopefully, we can help to make the renovation journey a smooth one for her.

The last few rounds were very useful and insightful. I would strongly encourage homeowners to attend these open houses because you get to:
1. See the actual workmanship and quality of the material provided by the Interior Company;
2. Mingle and talk to different Interior Designers at the same time;
3. Be inspired by the various different design themes;
4. Find out more on the prices, especially on the special Packages are usually offered.*

* However, I strongly advise not to sign up on the spot. Remember to do your homework and compare different packages offered before making any decisions. Try to bargain before signing anything.

Nonetheless, the open house could have been better:

1. Spread the number of people attending the Open House in different batches; this is mainly for crowd control as the flat is usually too small to fit in so many people!
2. Brief and detail what was done to the homeowners upfront instead of waiting to be asked; this helps to cut down the time spent in the flat;
3. Some Interior Designers in their haste to get the Open House ready simply forgot to prepare the unit properly; examples include leaving behind ugly stickers, unfinished silicons and this will affect the homeowners impression of their workmanship. Hummm....This really defects the purpose of "putting their best foot forward" isn't it?

Well, have you attended any Open House lately? Do share your thoughts!



When things are not built to last

I was at my relative's place over the last weekend and in the middle of our dinner, there a loud distinctive water splashing sound emitting from his common bathroom; it sounded like someone is pouring a huge bucket of water right into the shower area.

Instinctively, we rushed over and lo and behold; we were shocked to see water streaming rapidly down from the false ceiling.



Upon further investigation at the manufacturer's website, we realized that apparently, the "aggressive"water (another word for acidic water) has corroded the pipes, leading to the water leakage from the storage heater.


We scrutinized the water heater's warranty card issued by the developer and realised that unfortunately, the 5 year warranty just lapsed a few weeks ago!


Similarly, the residents of The Peak @ Toa Payoh and newly TOP Vacanza private condominium face a host of defects after the liability period. Every now and then, the residents will post photos or accounts of defects that occurred right after the warranty period.


What do these mean for Homeowners?My relative could have preempt the situation by paying more attention to the water heater in the last few months. I guess one of the biggest lesson learnt is that gone is the era when things are built to last. We have to especially keep a vigilant watch over the appliances which are nearing their end of the warranty period.

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!

And....please keep an eye on the parquet! Unfortunately for the DBSS residents from City View and The Peak, the developer seemed to use inappropriate material for the parquet flooring and results in the parquet turning dark with "moisture-like" stains...






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!