reno woes

reno woes are real! before I go into the juicy (and somewhat scary) deetz, thought I’d document our hunt for an ID.

1. meeting with ID#1: beng who secretly disses clients

I approached this company after leeching off one of my Facebook friend’s post looking for ID recommendations. someone commented so and so from this company, so i tried contacting him. however he passed me on to another colleague (ID#1), so ok whatever. when we met him, I was like omg omg, we have met before.

you see, before NG and I got married, we were recce-ing the multi purpose hall of a new BTO project that emerged beside his block. a young-ish looking guy approached us, thinking we were residents, to introduce his ID firm. at that time I thought wah so shady seh, solicit for clients like this. the world is so small because this guy turned out to be ID#1.

back to 2016, I thought wah, macam fated eh??? so anyway, he brought us to two of his current projects for viewing. at both flats, he passed quiet comments about how he didn’t agree with the owner’s choices. first house was a cityscape wallpaper in one of the bedrooms. second house was the choice of blue paint for the living room walls. I’m wondering if he were to use our flat as a show flat, would he secretly diss our choices too?? dah lah you use my house as a means to get more business for yourself … then you want to talk bad about me behind my back some more? haiyoh.

the other problem I had with him was that the second show flat had this really high platform in the master bedroom. I’ve seen that trend before where owners build a platform in the bedroom and do away with a bed frame. the ones I’ve seen, at least, kept their platforms to ankle height. this one was knee height. which meant that 1. anyone above 1.75m (a guesstimate) could hit their heads on the ceiling fan and 2. it’s easier to jump down the windows??? ID#1 still can say “I don’t know why H_B approved this”. why did you even build it to begin with?!?! gawd. also one of the electric points was SO senget that anyone with OCD would surely curl their toes when they see it.

so we struck him off. he gave the lowest quote though. and NG liked him over ID#2. what, WHY.

2. meeting with ID#2: a quiet but eager guy; potential language barrier

we heard about this company through a Facebook ad that appeared on NG’s feed. the portfolio photos looked decent, so we gave it a go. from the first meeting I was impressed coz ID#2 took the effort to process the rough floor plan with our notes that I sent him, and re-drew it with a more professional software. he also value-added by suggesting some modifications to our layout which I really appreciated.

his company’s model is that they have a basic package with some nice frills like Blum soft closing system, and then you add on the extras you want. his quote was the highest we received but from the office show room and the photos he showed us, I was convinced that he had a good sense of aesthetics.

he brought us to one of his current projects. and hmmm, I wasn’t that wow-ed. it could be that the owners themselves opted for very simple and non-trendy touches.

I reaaally liked him (at least more than ID#1) and was keen to go with him, but NG was concerned that his not-so-great English would make communication hard. plus his quote was the highest and beyond our budget so … had to pass. boo.

3. meeting with ID#3: experienced lady

last one! after meeting the above two IDs, we didn’t know where else to turn to for suggestions. so I asked a friend, whose newly renovated house we visited last raya, on who his ID was. then I wrote to the company to request for this ID, but received a reply that he already left the company. that was how ID#3 was assigned to us.

I was lazy and perhaps a little paiseh to approach my friend again for his ID’s direct contact number, so we went along with ID#3. after all, the company should be fairly decent right? we met her with an open mind and … surpriiise, we liked her! she looked to be in her late 30s, early 40s, which is a change from ID#1 and #2 who looked around our age. she seemed a lot more experienced, plus we felt that she was easy to talk to.

her quotation was in the mid-range, and by then we felt lazy (again) to ask to see an actual project, so we went ahead to sign with her at our second appointment. plus we saw our friend’s flat anyway, so we were fairly assured of the workmanship.

after two months of working with her, the plot twisted …

our ID left the firm to pursue better prospects.

luckily she is a principled and responsible person who promised to see our project through (phew), though she gave two options. one is to stick with the old company. the catch is that her sub-contractors had “left” (I mean how do you leave when you’re not officially part of the company kan but never mind you get the gist) so she’d be working with the new sub-contractors whose work she has not seen before. side note: she reminds me of my own manager at work who’s about her age, also very conservative and unwilling to take risks. but perhaps they’ve learnt hard lessons through experience…

the second option is to try apply for a refund from the old company — apparently i just have to write an email — and then continue with her at the new company. the good thing is that her new company is not GST-registered so kaching … SAVINGS! but leceh lah, coz have to write email, tell some stories, act angry, act oblivious, be very firm, etc etc.

we went with … the second option. the GST savings were too attractive! plus we also didn’t want to take the risk with subcons whom she has not worked with before. also at that time I didn’t realise how much money was stuck/at stake with the old company. heh. after deducting for hacking works which had already been completed, I have about $4,000+ left of my initial deposit. i probably would have considered more carefully had i known that this is the amount we were looking at potentially losing.

at first it looked like there was a slight delay of a weekend for the refund, which was oookay lah. then delayed further for another 4 days. found out it’s because they’re waiting for another owner to transfer them payment before they can refund me. eeks, scary kan? so you can infer what kind of company we were trying to get out of … *shudder*

anyway, cheque was delayed further to over the weekend to monday. alhamdulillah, our ID finally collected the cheque on monday night and helped us bank in. the money has been posted in my bank account so i think we are out of the woods with this mini-ordeal?? think our nasib really baik that our ID has a lot of integrity and personal responsibility or it could have been worse.

lessons

I think it’s good to ask around friends and family for tried and tested IDs. I would try to get their direct contact numbers in case they’ve moved on to other companies, which could be common in the reno industry. you could still try some cold call approaches, but at least meet a mix of stranger and tried and tested ones to reduce your overall risks. also, an ID that worked well with one couple may not work as well with another. for example my sis also met our ID for a quotation but rejected her coz she felt her opening prices were too high.

secondly, I also happened to read an internal email between my ID and her accounts person. she referred to me as a “referred client”. I could be wrong but perhaps being a referred client means they jaga you a little better than a walk-in client.

lastly, if the firm is a private limited company, you may also want to check their compliance rating on A_RA’s website. the rating is not everything, but at least green ticks (to show that they have filed their returns etc) signals a professional company that has nothing to hide.

after what I’ve said above, I should put a disclaimer that I’m not ready to reveal who my ID or which company she’s from. at least not until the dust has settled, say 6 months aftfer we’ve moved in, when renovation has become a basi topic. heh. for now it’s our every day talk (headache, headache) and I don’t want to inadvertently jeopardise my ID’s relations with her companies. sooo in case you were thinking of asking me to refer my ID, hope you can understand where I’m coming from! ☺️☺️

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