Home and Decor (Part 1)–Key Collection and Defects Check

This is the start of a few blog posts I am writing to share about our new place and the renovation journey.

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View of the free form pool – the start of some regular exercise; hopefully?

It had been a really long and tedious process from collection of keys to defects check, renovation and moving. Even though my real job revolves around property, it doesn’t make the process any easier.

In fact, perhaps knowledge brings more options and as such, more headache. Confused smile

Here’s sharing the first part of our learning experience from before key collection to defect checks (what worked and what didn’t) if that help anyone.

1) Write in to expedite key collection

We bought an under construction private condo. As the husband was heading off to be based overseas for 4 months, we needed the keys as soon as possible otherwise I will be left alone with the renovation and moving madness; not to mention two jumping monkeys at home. Not ideal.

Before the project reach the Temporary Occupation Permit (T.O.P) stage, do write in to the developer directly or via your lawyer (if you have an efficient one) to ask for the keys asap. If you have a urgent need to collect the keys, you can try writing in to explain your legitimate reasons. Be persistent here if your case is urgent. But they will still tell you it’s case-by-case basis of course.

If you are in no major rush, then just let nature take its course.

We made the mistake of being (too) patient and waited for the tardy email from our lawyer. In the end, we realised that it might not happen any time soon and thus wrote in to explain the reasons why we needed the keys asap. Thankfully, the developer considered our special circumstances and gave us some priority in our key collection.

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2) Join forums/facebook groups

And the next question might be, when will you know the T.O.P date? In speed-fast Singapore, developers are normally conservative with their official T.O.P dates on paper. For most projects in Singapore, you can expect their T.O.P dates to be 6 to 9 months or even 12 months earlier than the official published date. One of the most effective way to know will be to join any Facebook Groups (most common) or forums which are dedicated to your project or even HDB precincts. If there isn’t one, you can start one and get others to join in. Smile

Unity is power. Facebook Groups are useful avenues for sharing and collecting information too. However, I find it a double-edge sword at times too; some can be offensive with their words; some really nice to share tips and some just lurkers too. Trend carefully just like using the Internet; these people are going to be your neighbours.

3) Defect checks

Hooray! When you reached this stage, it means you got the keys! Do a happy dance, roll some pineapples (some used canned ones!), pop a champagne! Smile

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On the day of key collection: A happiest Xi En at the kids’ flying fox pool

Next up will be the detailed defect checks that we went through. I am thankful that our unit didn’t have major defects. Then again, I think it really depends on how meticulous and “yim jim” (picky) you want to be. My contractor said that he once saw 300 post-it-stickers on a bedroom floor. *gasp*

If you want to be very particular, you might like to engage a proper Defects Check Specialist to assist. From my understanding, they really check everything! They have their tools such as levelling rod and bring along their accumulated experience of worming out all defects. A quick check on Google will render you results of stand-alone defect checks companies to ID and contractors who offer such services too. From my research, prices range from $300 to $500 depending on size of unit.

We did not engage one. Reason –  a) I am somewhat trained to look for defects. Smile  b) On our first check, we didn’t pick up a lot of major defects. c) We are not too bothered with small defects.

Here’s an article from Renotalk.com which might come in useful on what to look out for.

From my own experience, these are my things-to-look-out-for if you plan to D.I.Y the defect checks process:

3 simple steps:

Be Systematic. Thorough. Let Go.

You can list everything you want but pursue the ones that you think you cannot live looking at everyday. Learning to let go of the minute things will render you an easier life. That’s my (husband’s) motto. Smile

Anyway, I digress. Here’s sharing 7 main categories which we looked at during our defects check:

7 main categories:

1) Keys

Check that all keys and access cards are in working order; don’t forget any wardrobe drawer keys or DB box key. Label everything if you have time. I find buying those plastic key rings with labelling tag useful for handling multiple keys.

2) Floors

Given that most developers try to maximise profits these days, sadly, there are cases of bad finishing or rushed work. Spend some time on your all-fours to check for cracks in marble floor, bad joints, scratches on wooden flooring and pay special attention to the joints just outside bathrooms and skirting as these are wet areas.

Check for uneven floors. If you have every time in the world, you can try knocking on each tile to check for hollow tiles.

Thankfully, our floorings turned out almost alright.

There were some scratches on the marble floor in the living/dining room and timber floors in the bedrooms. The defects team readily suggested to sand down the timber and polish them. And to polish the marble floor too. Maybe it became a run-of-the-mill solution for them. I am not complaining. Smile

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Can you see all the masking tapes on the marble floor? It’s kind of a waste of time as the defects team simply acknowledged and polished the entire floor.

*Sanding of timber floor creates tons of dust. Don’t move anything in during this time and tap up the wardrobes to prevent sand dust from entering. Or just be prepared to wipe down everything after they are down; which is what we did.

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Stain marks on the timber bedroom floors.

3) Walls

The most common defect is crack lines. Personally I feel that crack lines are tough to fix; unless you knock down the whole wall and redo it. They can do cosmetic patch-and-paint over, but it is the fundamentals that might be wrong. I understood that you will need a good paint job of proper sealant and a few coats of paint in order to cover crack lines.

Nonetheless, no harm getting the defects team to fix them up and mend any chipped off corners.

*Defect teams tend to be based in the project for over a year. If you need some small amount of paint or the likes, you can look for the workers to “borrow” some. Our painter asked us to “borrow” some outdoor balcony paint to touch up the ceiling after our ceiling fan was installed. In this way, you don’t need to incur cost just to buy a separate paint for a small area.

4) Ceilings

The most important thing I will look for are signs of water seepage. If you notice any water or yellow patches, these are major defects. Otherwise, most ceilings shouldn’t come with too many defects.

5) Windows

As mentioned in the Renotalk article, try opening and closing all windows to their maximum angles. Check for any loose tracks and no visible gaps between windows frame and wall.

Poor joint works are a common complain as well. We are fortunately that our windows and balcony have no major worries.

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No problem with the windows; except maybe it be angled a little more so we can get more of the pool view. Open-mouthed smile

6) Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) fittings

This cover all power points, switches, taps, aircon, sanitary fittings and any appliances provided by the developer.

Common findings are choked pipes due to construction debris, dripping taps, bad joints around the switches, low water pressure and rusty or missing items.

We had low water pressure which was easily resolved by fine tuning the water pressure near the concealed water heater area. And a scratched kitchen hob knob which the defect team promptly found a replacement for me.

*Developer will normally supply electricity and water for a day or 2 after you collect the keys. Thereafter, remember to apply for water and electricity so you can continue more checks if needed.

7) Any other items

Anything affixed to the walls such as kitchen cabinets, built-in wardrobes, shoe cabinets, balcony and etc. Check for warped laminates or badly secured cabinets.

We had a piece of uneven surface on a kitchen shelf which I discovered only when we were cleaning up after the renovation. The defects team did not question anything and replaced a piece of new shelf.

We also found scratches on the common bathroom glass shower door and the kitchen yard window. The former, they polished away the long scratch line and the latter, they replaced the entire piece.

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Bad joint works between ledge and glass.

One last word on defects check – be nice to the defects team. Smile Human relationships are a two way traffic. I found a collaborative relationship more helpful than an angst one. If they cannot solve it at their level, they will ask you to write in to the developer directly. We closed our eyes on some defects because firstly we were running short on time and secondly, we overlooked small issues which didn’t bother us.

Even if you have hired a professional defects check specialist and they might come up with 200 to 300 “defects”; it is up to you if you want to pursue everything or not. For us, we found that we breathe better when we let go of some items and moved on. Smile

We were really grateful that the defect teams finished up with majority of the rectification in 2 weeks and our renovation was completed in 1.5 months. All just in time before the husband left for his long trip! The real headache was the packing of all our accumulated belongings for the last 8 years! It is MADNESS really. How can 5 persons (2 of us with 2 kids and my mum) have so many things! Those who went through packing with young kids will know that this stage is hard work. We ended up throwing, giving away, selling at least half of our belongings as we knew we needed to squeeze into a much smaller place.

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This is just a fraction of all the boxes we packed! In total we have about 100 boxes and more loose items which we ferried in our car. #movingmaddness

All that done, I told myself I am not moving again till the kids are at the stage of ditching their toys…..

Next up, I will be sharing more on the various parts of our small humble place (still work in progress!). Till then, have a good week ahead! Smile

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