Reviewed by DC・Submitted 15 Feb 2020・Project completed Feb 2020・Designer Steven
I needed renovations to a small, brand new condo unit, namely knocking down a wall between a bedroom and living room, installing false ceilings and a built in shoe and storage cupboard, placing Kompac Plus above my baywindows, and replacing a metal kitchen backsplash. Steven seemed experienced enough, and given the number of good reviews on his FB page which he pointed me to, I thought it would be safe to engage him. He was responsive and would usually provide his quotes / re-quotes within 3 days. He said he was not the cheapest, but his quotes were complete with no hidden costs. He explained that some other IDs might give a low quote for a job, then later tell you that you need to add on additional money to complete the job. I did not negotiate for any discounts off Steven's quote as I just wanted a proper job done. He helped perform defects checking of the condo unit during handover, which was somewhat helpful, although not as thorough as necessary so you would have to give the unit a good examination yourself. He also helped to choose marble tiles provided by the developer, which would be used to fill the gap left by my knocked down wall. Steven's workers finished the work in about 4 weeks, starting after Christmas and ending before CNY. During the renovations he bought me to a lighting shop called Azora, which also did curtains. I ordered curtains from them, but not their German lights as it was double the price of lights made in Asia. He gave me a quote for electrical works, which included 10 capacitors for the lights at $9 per piece. I had specified that I wanted a single power socket in my built in cupboard for charging my vacuum cleaner. Upon some research, I found that I could buy the capacitors from a distributor at $5 per piece. By buying the capacitors myself I saved $40. After the renovations were done, there were three leftover capacitors. No satisfactory explanation was provided as to why they had quoted me for 10 pieces when they only needed 7. (And no one wants to feel like they have been fleeced.) When discussing the built in cupboard with Steven, I made it very clear that the bottom portion would be divided into two sections - one for shoes and one for my stick vacuum, and the top section should not have any vertical dividers so that I could store large or long items. I asked for a white cupboard as my theme is white and simple, subject to the whiteness being easy to maintain, and that stains could be easily wiped off. Steven did not raise any issues or concerns about this. Steven suggested not having a white interior though, as it would get dirt marks easily. He said to trust him, he would choose a wood coloured laminate that was similar to that on my kitchen cabinets. Before CNY, Steven told me that he had completed the works and asked me to pay the balance 5%. I reminded him that we had agreed that it would be paid after defects checking and rectification. He said a few times that his Finance was "pantang" and asked me to trust him, he would fix all defects. Despite the fact that it should be the person "owing" money (me) that should be pantang and not the ID, I took a chance and decided to pay Steven. These are the acceptable things I found, upon inspection: - The tempered glass backing which replaced the metal kitchen backsplash, looked like it was cut and installed ok. - Kompac Plus installation on baywindow, lighting, and curtains looked fine. - After knocking down the dividing wall, I had asked Steven to even out the aircon trunking box between the living and bedroom. That seemed to have been done properly. The aircon piping seems fine also, when I left the aircon on for 24h there were no leaks. These were the things that I felt were not up to standard: - Some scrapes and dents to the parquet. Steven said that that is common, and that is why he had advised me to varnish the bedroom floor. My view was that if I paid for protective covering, this should not be happening. Additionally, there was a hole in the skirting (picture attached), and when I showed it to Steven he said it was the developer's defect and I should be getting the developer to fix it. I was shocked at this change in attitude, as Steven had been polite and helpful up to then. I reminded him that we had done defects checking together, and my real estate agent had also been present as a third eye. The hole was not present then, and was caused during his renovation works. - Stains, tape, and tape residue left on my marble flooring and doors. I could not get rid of them by wiping with water. When I raised this to Steven, he asked me to clean them using detergent. Again I was shocked. I do not expect a 100% clean unit, but the least the ID should do, given that I had paid a cleaning fee, was to remove all stains caused by them. Additionally, after examining the marble, I found that one of the big splotchy stains was actually a water mark which cannot be removed using detergent. I'm left on my own to figure out how to get rid of the ID's stain. - Another "trunking box" above the windows where the dividing wall was knocked down, had an unsightly uneven curve (picture attached). Steven said that it was the structure, and he could not sand the curve to smoothen it out. I do not believe that for a moment. It is a matter of adding cement / plaster, sanding it down, and then painting over it. - In the rooms where the wall was knocked down, the wall in one room was jutting out a little more than in the other room. The workers created a "step", which was a little curvy at the top and sloping inwards as if they had run out of cement / plaster. - The storage cupboard had a dual power socket instead of the single power socket I requested. I could not spot it in the quote because it was described in technical terms, and it meant that I paid for an additional socket that I will have any use for. Further, the commonsense thing to do would have been to place the power socket a couple of inches away from the edges of the cupboard, to accommodate wires sticking out on all sides. However the power socket sits flush against the edges of the top left hand corner of the cupboard preventing me from plugging my vacuum's charging plug into the socket, because the wire sticks out at the top and hits the roof of the cupboard, preventing me from plugging in the plug! This is a newbie mistake and I wonder if Steven had delegated the construction of the cupboard to an inexperienced person. - The interior laminate of the storage cupboard is dark and does not match my kitchen cabinets. The interior of my kitchen cabinets is in fact white, and there is an irritating incongruency now which I regret trusting Steven on. Without lighting within the cupboard, the interior is dark and difficult to see at night. This is not what I wanted. - Upon handover, the exterior white laminate of the storage cupboard had grubby stains all over, with scratches in the back panel, and a misaligned top door (picture attached). A massive eyesore. What made me angry was opening the top section and seeing a vertical divider, which I had explicitly told Steven not to do. Steven said that it was needed to help with the strength of the structure. However this was something he could have told me about when I told him “no dividers”. He never checked with me about the divider or notified me. So it may well be that he had delegated the work to an inexperienced person who simply did what they wanted. With regard to the stains, when I told him I could not remove them using water, he told me to clean them myself using alcohol or nail polish. - The aluminium handles on both sides of my front door were scratched, and a rubber piece between the handle and door had shifted. Steven moved it back later, but this should all have been checked and rectified before handover. - A lighting switch was removed when the dividing wall was knocked down. One of the switches controlled the sensor lighting in a wardrobe. Steven did not tell me that, and that after removing the switch I would not be able to switch off the sensor lighting. If I had known that, I might have installed the switch somewhere else and linked it to the wardrobe lighting. - White paint splatters and drips on top of my doors and cupboard doors. - Grouting is a bit messy with overspill, covering the metal piece in between and standing out starkly against my light coloured parquet. - One of the curtain rods is missing two rings, which I am waiting for the curtain salesman to rectify. I was unable to get rid of the grubby marks on the white storage cupboard using alcohol wipes, and informed Steven. Given that Steven kept repeating that these defects were “very minor” and “ no problem”, I looked into getting a professional building and renovations inspector to provide a view on whether I should accept them or not. When I mentioned this possibility to Steven, he said that it was not fair if I was going to use the inspector on his work but not the developer's work, and asked why I did not force the developer to rectify those marble tiles in my bathroom which had marks. When we had been doing defects checking together I had asked Steven if the marble should be accepted, and his view was that it was ok to accept. It seemed like he had forgotten his advice to me. In any case that was irrelevant to the issue at hand, which was the ID’s work. Moreover, the inspector is an expert who would be providing a neutral 3rd party expert opinion. There should be no cause for concern if one were confident about the quality of their work. Eventually, Steven said he would send his workers to use wood putty on the scrapes in the parquet, and send his carpenter to clean the cabinet with thinner and readjust the misaligned door. He suggested that I avoided using putty myself as his workers knew how to mix the colour so that it would blend in with the parquet. When I checked on these works, the putty was of a lighter shade than the parquet (picture attached), though most of the scrapes and dents were filled. Steven had requested me to meet his carpenter, and said that he would not be attending as he had another appointment but that I could call him if I needed help. I was not happy about that as he should be the one instructing his workers, and not me. Two of them were there, and we could not even understand each other very well as we were not fluent in each others’ languages. After some wiping of the storage cupboard by the workers with thinner, some additional grubby marks were removed but the scratches remained. The workers removed and re-attached the door, but it continued looking misaligned. They also used white paint on some areas, which was strange and indicated that the laminate had been worn down or fallen off (?). The white paint splotches on the cupboard are obvious. It may be that the door had not been cut straight, which is why no amount of adjusting the hinges can make it straight. If this were a standalone cupboard at a store, I would not buy it with the grubby marks, scratches, paint splotches, and misaligned door. What happened next was that the workers insisted that I examine a white door to my unit's electrical box, and that I stand here and there at various angles to see it, saying that there were marks on it too. They said that the developer itself could not provide a white door, and questioned me in an intimidating manner how come I did not tell the developer to rectify it. Putting aside the fact that the developer's white door was in a much better condition than the built in cupboard and had hardly any grubby marks, their behaviour was highly inappropriate and unprofessional. It made me feel uncomfortable, and to try and get them to leave I told them that I would discuss the cupboard with Steven. Steven's responsiveness throughout this journey has been good, even responding late at night and during weekends. However, it has been only talk so far with quality of work and work ethic sorely lacking. I was very surprised that Steven did not inspect the unit and correct the defects before handing it over to me, and did not inspect the rectifications either despite knowing that I was upset with his work. Till now he has not bothered to follow up on his carpenters' return to my unit. Second, the deviations and lack of communication about them were not acceptable. Neither was the carpentry, laminate, and location of the power socket. This was the only carpentry that I had asked the ID to do, and I feel that they could not even do it properly. I do not expect a perfect unit, but expect the quality of the work and rectifications to be reasonable. In my view that standard has not been met. And I was shocked that an ID would tell me to clean myself the stains that they left behind, particularly when I paid for cleaning. One big dealbreaker was Steven and his workers questioning why and complaining that I did not insist that the developer fix its defects yet asked them to fix theirs. This attitude and behaviour was outright unprofessional. It is a decision that lies solely within the owner's prerogative, and the pertinent issue was Interior Diary's work. That should be their concern. Steven has not fulfilled his promise to me to fix all the defects. I am not sure where the good reviews from FB came from, but Qanvast verified reviews may be more trustworthy. Unfortunately I trusted Steven and Interior Diary, and they let me down. The pictures below speak for themselves. I am unable to recommend this ID.
Reviewed by Kelvin・Submitted 18 Apr 2018・Project completed Apr 2018
The company that we engaged is The Interior Diary, and our chosen ID is Mr. Steven Loh. They were one of the 5 ID companies that Qanvast recommended to us based on our requirements. We decided to go with Steven and not the other 4 as he came across to us as professional, sincere and accommodating. He is able to grasp our design concept for the home and took the effort and initiative to also suggest ideas to complement our concept and design theme. Our renovation journey with Steven can be described as effortless and worry-free. He is communicative and responds fast even when we have some last minute changes to the design or colour theme. He took the time and effort to be on site at key phases of the renovation e.g. during electrical works, carpentry etc. As mentioned above, Steven has good communication and is able to contribute design ideas whilst still staying true to the scope of our design concept and theme. He is able to suggest enhancements to our base ideas and these turned out to work out very well. Steven is professional and takes his role as our ID seriously, scheduling on-site discussions with other parties such as the WPC decking contractor, the electrician, carpenter. This mitigates any mis-communication. Even during times when we have last minute ideas, he was still able to accommodate and help us expedite the changes. Working with Steven feels like he is our partner on this renovation journey, and not someone we pay to help with this. Even after our reno is completed and we've paid up the contract fully, he still attends to our downstream requests to touch up some paintwork, minor cleaning, and even getting a decking hook for us! Generally no major hiccups or problems. What impresses us is that when such minor issues or challenges crop up, e.g. we wanted the decking to double as storage, he was able to suggest innovative ideas, work together with us and the other contractor to resolve these and achieve a win-win for all parties. This is true professionalism and fantastic work ethos displayed! Keep up the good work Steven and Interior Diary!
Reviewed by Grace・Submitted 29 Nov 2017・Project completed Nov 2017
'Interior Diary' was recommended to us by Qanvast. We were grateful that we chose them as our ID. Jason Chan was the designer who was in charge of our renovation. We found him very responsive, responsible and patient. He was willing to listen and sort out the details of the project with u. Even at times we might not be 100% sure what we really want for our design, he managed to advise us according to his expertise and overall we were very satisfied with the renovation journey and atlas the final result. We will definitely recommend Jason to our friends!