Condo Renovation: Finished!!

January 30, 2011 20 comments

At long last, we’ve finished with our condo renovation!  Wow, thought I’d never be able to say that.


Ceiling:  All false ceilings, with white paint.

Walls: Painted with an off-white brown tint paint.

Floors:  Real teak wood with dark walnut stain.

Windows: UV clear windows on sliding frame.

Doors:  Solid wood doors with dark frame.

Kitchen/bathroom tiles:  Solid homogenous tiles.  30mmx60mm horizontal for kitchen walls.

Kitchen addendum: We went all-out (at least within our budget) for the kitchen… my wife is a fantastic cook, so it was designed and optimized for cooking and not eating out.

Lighting:  CFLs for utility hall, Halogens for warm lighting in living areas.  ‘Big’ lights are all incandescent, but will most likely be changed out for more efficient, but warm, CFLs.  In fact, I have a plan to design my own LED lighting to replace CFLs and Halogens in the future.

Light switches and power jacks:  High quality, solid tactile feedback.

Floor plan:  I designed the floor plan to have an ‘open kitchen’ theme that was more open and allowed the great Singapore tropical winds to permeate the place.  The 45 degree angles gives it a more open feeling that the previous old boxy room look.

You can see the previous blog entries for details on how I designed the floor plan (in 2D and 3D).

Summary: It all started out because there was no shower in the guest bathroom.  That eventually led me to completely redesign everything since we had to ‘move’ one wall.  May as well move them all at that point.  I’ve always wanted to do my own home design, and this is it!


Without further ado, here are the pictures:

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Looking into the open kitchen from living area.


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The living area.  The wall has cable jacks and Ethernet built in as well as power.


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The main entrance.


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Dining area.



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A view from the dining area to the living area.


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The view of the kitchen and hall entrance from the main door.


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A view of the living area from just inside the kitchen entrance.


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The kitchen viewed from the entrance.


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The kitchen viewed from the utility hall.  It’s an open kitchen with LOTS of air flow from all of the windows.  The windows are all sliding so that they can be completely opened and all of the great tropical breeze to blow through.


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A view of the kitchen entrance.


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This is the guest bathroom… a very massive improvement from the old one.


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Another view of the guest bathroom.


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The new storage room that could double as a baby bedroom or a maid’s room.  In my place, it will most likely be an engineer’s lab.  I made sure, even though it was a ‘storage’ room, it had an air con unit and full power/cable/Ethernet installed.


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The master bedroom.


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Master bedroom showing the new closets and entrance to the master bathroom.


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Yet another lovely view of the master bedroom.


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The guest bedroom.


So here are some before/after shots.  Smile


Dining/Living area  
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Before After


Living area  
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Before After


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Before After


Master bedroom  
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Before After


Master bathroom  

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Before After


Well, that’s it for the condo renovation stuff, next pictures will be of our place after we’ve moved in.

And then this blog will be more about my projects, my wife and our cat.  Open-mouthed smile


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Categories: Condo Renovation Tags:

Renovation Part V: Tiling!

November 19, 2010 3 comments

The tiling of the kitchen, bathrooms, utility hall has started and it looks like it’s going to be a winner so far.  Also, new sliding windows are in which look a lot better than I feared initially.

The pics:

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Above:  Master bathroom.


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Above:  Guest bathroom.


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Above: Tile guy putting in the kitchen tiles.


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Above: Kitchen tiling.  Looks straight so far Smile



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Above: Coming together bit by bit!


Tiling should be finished by next week… After that, it’s time to put in the false ceilings.

Now, I need to choose a color for the walls…


Renovation Part IV: Reconstruction begins

September 4, 2010 2 comments

Now that the interior has been stripped of everything and walls that didn’t fit the new floor plan have been torn down, the first step of reconstruction is to build up the new walls.

And before we do that, we want to ensure the floor plan looks the way we designed it in the CAD program.  Because the field of view, perspective and the fact that looking through a monitor isn’t the same thing as how things look in real life, the contractor lays out the new floor plan using bricks.

This way, we can go in and get a feel for the new layout, and to confirm the room sizes will be large enough.

In our case, we made a few minor adjustments. 

Here are the pictures we took at this stage:


Main Entrance view

Above:  Standing at main entrance looking through to the kitchen on the left, hallway in center, and guest bed, storage room and living to the right.


Kitchen area

Above:  Standing in the dining/living area looking into the kitchen.


Storage and Living room

Above:  Standing at kitchen entrance looking out towards living room.  Small room is the maid/storage\utility room.


Guest bathroom and Kitchen

Above:  Standing in the guest bathroom, looking across to the kitchen and utility door and hall.

Next step:  Confirming wall locations and building up the walls.  That will happen this week.  Stay tuned!

Renovation Part III: Aftermath of de[con]struction

August 29, 2010 7 comments


Nope.  Not going for a WWII era theme.

We’ve started renovation, and the first task was to remove and discard all flooring, tile, electrics, plumbing, toilets, sinks, basins, cabinets, countertops, closets, lighting, doors, door frames, etc. 

There is still dangling electrics that will be removed.  Windows/air con units will also be replaced in the end.

You can somewhat see that all walls were made out of red brick or hollow brick with a coating of cement of about 1/2” on each side.  The new walls will be at least as strong/thick as the previous walls for excellent isolation and privacy.



From left to right, dining room, storage room, kitchen, utility hall, hallway, living room, secondary storage room, and guest bedroom all visible in the same picture.

It only took the contractor 3 days to do this ‘work’.  It will take them 3 months to rebuild everything brand new in it’s full glory.  Guess this might prove with all finality that it easier to destroy than to create!  And to think that I had to pay these contractors to have all of this fun.  Should’a just hired a bunch of kids and said “Ok kids, now don’t go tearing down stuff!”

Next phase of the renovation:  the contractor will build up the walls to about 6 inches so I can see the delineation of the rooms to ensure it has the right look/feel before they finish the structure.

Until then, see if you can match the layout in these images to the 3D mockups in “Renovation Part II.”

Big questions:  Will it look the same in real life as the design I created?  Will the sizes of the rooms ‘feel’ large enough? 

Stay tuned!

Categories: Uncategorized

Condo renovation: Part II – How to design and model a floor plan.

August 2, 2010 11 comments

I had to decide early on whether to sell my condo immediately after buying and pocket about SGD50-75K that I could have made by ‘flipping’ it.

The problem was that property prices in Singapore are back at very high prices… a ‘decent’ condo was running from 1200-1400PSF whereas if you bought during the last recession they were hovering around 800-900PSF.  A missed opportunity to buy something really nice.

So I decided to hold onto and live in this property; it is a ‘freehold’ so it won’t lose value over time.  Not only that, since I am going to live there with my wife who is an EXCELLENT cook, the kitchen has to be good.  Also, the guest bathroom lacked a shower (and a bath) which is a very bad selling point for the future.

In order to create a shower, I had to expand the room which means hacking down and old wall and moving it to a new location.   That meant the kitchen got smaller, which means I basically had to redesign the floor plan of the condo to get a good kitchen.

The ‘simple’ renovation that I had envisioned for SGD$30K turned into a full-fledged project which is costing much more.  Yes, it may not be a good financial investment, but it will improve the value of the condo somewhat; I estimate I can recoup about 30-50% of the renovation costs immediately (if I sold).

Putting your plan in place

So how do you ‘redesign’ or map out a new floor plan for your renovation project that allows you to easily edit your changes with a high degree of precision?

Buy some CAD software.

Fortunately, I had Altium Designer which I used for PCB design – it works very well as a floor plan designer as long as you are willing to translate feet into mm… PCB designers generally work with boards sizes around 12”x12”.  Here is what my proposed floor plan looks like in Altium Designer:


The floor plan is to scale of the dimensions of the condo.

2D is great for getting your floor plan ideas across.  But this doesn’t convey the feeling of it, whether it would really work out or not.  Also, you can’t see the cabinets, windows, colors of the tile and floor, beams, false ceilings, power outlets, lighting, etc.

You’d need a separate 2D drawing for all of those.

Moving to the 3rd Dimension

I needed to be able to model my condo design with a 3D editor so I could see the condo before I had my contractor start renovating.  Since I used to design 3D levels for the counter-strike game with some success, I decided to use that since I was familiar with the editor and the rendering engine is quite powerful.

Here is what the editor looks like when editing the condo in detail:


I’m not even close to being finished as I haven’t put in the wood floor design, door designs, window designs, etc., but you can see from the below rendered images that you can get a feel of what the new design will look like:





Just so you can see the bad state the condo is in right now, here is the current (untouched so far) state of the kitchen:


Looking at the rendered 3D images from my design, you can see that I’ve opened up the kitchen quite a bit, it will have a very airy feel compared to before.  I wasn’t sure the angular shape I created would work, but I feel the rendered images show that it will.

I can also walk through the rendered condo to make sure I can fit through doorways, what the feeling will be like from all angles, etc. 

Anyone can buy the Counter Strike Source game for about $40USD and download the 3D editor for free; it makes a very good and inexpensive way to plan your next renovation.


Renovating a very old condominium in Singapore

July 25, 2010 8 comments

I recently purchased a “Freehold” condominium in Singapore for a low price of SGD$880,000, about US$628K.

It’s very old for Singapore, about 25 years old located in the central west area of Singapore next to some great shopping.  25 years is ancient in Singapore where new condos/buildings are going up every hour. 

The good news is that many condos next to mine are going for 1.5 times a price premium (at the least) making this place a pretty good buy if you intend on keeping it.

Here are some pics when I took it over:

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It gets worse, trust me, so I only included the tidy pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Anyhow, I obviously need to renovate since I will be moving there soon with my wife, and she likes a clean place too.

Basically, the entire condo will be renovated.  All flooring will be pulled up, all walls retiled or repainted, new everything, etc. etc. etc.

It’ll cost a lot, around 50K USD for all of the work – then I need to buy the appliances, etc.

Kind of a waste of money, renovation is, but since the condo is a freehold, it’ll be worth it in the long run I think.


Gotta include one of the wife 🙂

Anyhow, more on this condo renovation next posting – I will show you the CAD drawings I’m creating and the software I’m using.  It’ll be cool 🙂


Moving my blog to WordPress

July 21, 2010 2 comments


I’m in the process of moving my blog (what few posts there are) to WordPress.

Windows Live Spaces was fine, but didn’t allow users to post anonymous comments.  Unfortunately, Microsoft wants the world to use their Live ID authentication system, while the rest of the world just wants to leave a simple comment without having to log in and all of that hassle.

WordPress looks good and easy to use, and it works with the best, free blogging editor I’ve been able to find… Windows Live Writer 🙂

If you know of something better, I’m all eyes.