The first round of touch-up work in our Minton renovation completed on Tuesday, which also saw our project handover from our designer back to us. He’ll still be having someone come by next week to help us fix up the very many wall fixtures (e.g. photo frames, TV-mount brackets, full-length mirror, hangers, hooks, bathroom shelving, clocks), and further down the year, we’ll probably be finding a few more minor areas where we’ll ask him to help touch-up or improve. He assured that this will be part of his service promises to us at no charges – within reason of course, against say our asking for the entire floor to be re-tiled – and we can call him back anytime to look through things.
Here’s my Report Card on specifically the various activities in our main Renovation project scope. Going with a scale of:
‘A’ – Very good, outstanding work or service rendered here
‘B’ – Good, and surpassed expectations for the most part
‘C’ – Average, met expectations but could be improved
And here is our Report Card, and being the critical person i usually am:
Project management – ‘A’
Whether the designer made regular on-site checks on work done and his ability to convey to workers instructions. Our designer did very well here, and we were impressed with his general ability to remember many things we noted to him in our frequent rounds of checking over the 6 weeks.
Project schedule/timeliness – ‘B+’
Our designer said before work commenced that the project would take 6 weeks, and it took just that – except that there were a few further-on days for touch-up, and we finished exactly just in time to move. We would have liked just a bit more buffer. That said, he was able to marshal the different subcons in the final days and at very short notice to do each touch-up area in the last couple of days – not easy!
Project cost – ‘A’
Of the thirteen designers we receive quotations for against our project scope (caveat again that the project scope often varied slightly, and also materials/workmanship affecting project costs), our designer’s proposal was routinely in the lowest pricing tier.
Design and Conception for Carpentry – ‘B’
This is where things can get very subjective, since both the wife and me can already disagree on what we think are good and less-good designs, and you also have the designer’s experience and realizations coming significantly into play. I (as in not speaking for the wife!) especially liked the designs for the children’s bedroom and our master bedroom, the worktables in our workroom, the shoe cabinet, and also the massive book shelves in the study. I’m more blasé about the two TV feature walls and accompanying consoles. They’ll serve their function well though I’ve seen better designs. Oh well. We did sign off on those designs.
Design for compliance to visual theme – ‘A’
One distinctive trait Ling observed in our designer was his ability to quickly understand the look and feel of our desired home theme (‘Scandinavian’). Based on this desired theme, our designer was able to frame the rest of the visual decisions in our home and provide us good advice on this score.
3D Renders – ‘A’
It’s not industry practice for Interior Design companies to produce 3D visualizations before home owners sign-on for renovation projects. Some will but most won’t. Our designer did, and kudos to him. He also noted that these are largely calculated decisions on the part of designers, and they routinely might prepare (some) visualizations if they sense they are very close to securing the deal.
Carpentry – ‘B+’
Of all the things that can potentially go wrong in a home renovation project, it’s in carpentry. Our assigned carpentry was experienced and he was able to implement our designer’s visualizations. The actual woodwork was very close facsimiles to the earlier renders, and credit really has to go to the carpenter for being able to realize the designs. On the other hand, we noted there were still some oversights in the actual built products – including rough edges along joint lines of wood and laminate surfaces, that the shelf layers for several cabinets needed to be strengthened, and that the carpenter had forgotten to box-up the bottom of one TV console. Our designer promptly told the carpenter to rectify these, which he did.
Electrical work – ‘B’
The lighting fixtures and wiring work was a mixed bag though still on the overall positive. Wiring was hidden, lights were placed (though lights were incorrectly fixed in the children’s room, and the light switch control in the workroom was initially incorrect done, but these were also quickly rectified) and shifted without complaint when we asked for re-positioning. We also give credit to the electrician team to be able to mount our LED downlights which were a challenge to install. We were less impressed with their fans installation though – which I’ll note in a different post.
Brick wall – ‘A’
This was done well, done quickly, and without fuss. Lots of neighbors have been interested in our wall here though it’s actually a pretty common home item.
Solid surfaces for bay windows – ‘B’
We thought hard about whether to go with wood laminate or solid surfaces, cushioned or not etc. The solid surfaces we chose were installed midway in our project, but at project conclusion, we saw that there were marks and damage spots in the surfaces for two rooms. These were buffed away during our touch-up phase, but that these marks occurred so soon left us a little worried about how well these surfaces will fare against our rough and tumble usage long-term, or we’ll have to exercise greater care in our use.
Painting – ‘C’
We were least impressed with the painting work. There were little paint spills especially in the living room tiles, rough work done in several places (e.g. painting along door frames), and along skirting. These were all rectified during the touch-up phase, but it would had been nice if the painters had done it properly the first time round.
Post-renovation touch-ups – ‘A’
The touch-up workers however were able to rectify the issues coming out of the main renovation. Very impressed. If it wasn’t for this safety net at rectification, Ling would had been quite displeased!
Honesty – ‘A’
At no point in our renovation discussions and actual execution did our designer try to sell us things that we wouldn’t need. In fact, if anything else, he would dissuade or caution us about items that were extraneous, too expensive, or would not fit well against our home theme. He also readily deducted items that we dropped from our renovation project, and also absorbed the cost of varnishing from our original proposal on account that this turned out to be necessary only because it was caused by renovation. That alone saved us quite a bit of money.
Perception to blindspots – ‘B+’
Our designer was experienced, being the co-owner of his own company and also having been in the trade for decades. For the most part, he was alert to potential problems with our preferred design ideas (especially in carpentry). However, there was one project scope item that had to be amended just before the actual renovation began after further-on site visits showed that it would not be practical. And in another case, the placement of the study room’s ceiling fan was not ideal as advised by our fan manufacturer technician, but it was too late to correct that. I’ll comment on this in the later post as well.
Accommodation to changes and added value – ‘A’
We had additional requests as we went along in our renovation e.g. additional shelving, conversion of the dry kitchen shelving into enclosed shelving, wall-hung Scandinavian-styled shelving, reinforcement of various shelf levels. Thankfully they were either all minor or did not require changes to other project aspects. Our designer readily factored them in and did all these additions for us without fuss. He also brought us to laminate factories just so we could visually see and feel the large laminate pieces to better visualize our choices. He had workers come by to do not just one general cleaning but two. And finally, he assisted us by assigning workers to do the many other home fixture items without charge.
Communication and responsiveness – ‘A’
Credit especially to our designer here; he was easy to reach on phone, always called back when asked to, did not forget arranged meetings, always alerted us if he was going to be late, and was willing to reschedule his other appointments if we had to urgently meet. Caveat though; that we had great communication with our designer isn’t to guarantee everyone else who engages him will have the same experience! As these things go, the customer really has to be able to click with the service provide, and in our case, we count ourselves blessed that we were able to.
On the overall, would we recommend our designer? Our answer – a solid and resounding ‘yes’.:)