Archive for August, 2007

Merdeka!! Daulat Tuanku!!

Happy Independence Day Malaya!! I say Malaya because Malaysia is formed only on 16 Sept 1963. Anyway, not a history lecture here, search the internet if you want to know more about this.

Independence day this years is unlike other years. This year the online community or more specifically the bloggers are now at war with the ruling party. Being an avid fan of Raja Petra Kamarudin of Malaysia Today, this year I shall support his idea of wearing yellow as a sign of respect to our Royalty as well as a sign of Civil Disobedience to the ruling party for their incompetence. For context please read this post, Raising Our Voices. So teaming up with Caker, here’s how we look in yellow today.

Merdeka!

Merdeka!! Daulat Tuanku!!

Update: By the way, I’m on the left while Caker is on the right.

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Air Con Oh Air Con

Never did I expect deciding on air conditioning could be such a hassle. Quite a lot to think and ponder about. As you all know my place is a 4-room HDB; so there are 3 bedrooms and one living/dining room and original intention is to aircon the bedrooms and my living/dining room. Here are they 2 main things that I have to think about.

Aircon System Type
To be able to have 4 indoor aircon unit (3 bedroom, 1 living/dining), I basically have 2 options. One being to install a Multisplit System-4 or I could install a System-3 plus a Single Split Unit. Both having their pros and cons.

A System-4 unit would be easier to proceed since there’s just one Compressor Unit where it can be easily be installed on the aircon ledge for new HDBs. But I have heard from aircon installers System-4 units are typically energy guzzlers so looking at the current electricity tariff trend (basically up, up and up), doesn’t seem like quite a wise choice.

A combination of a System-3 unit plus a Single Split unit will be more energy friendly. But unfortunately the initial cost of installing 2 separate systems are more expensive, few hundred dollars more to be exact. And for those HDB with small aircon ledge that can only fit one compressor unit, you will have to purchase an additional stainless steel bracket to mount it on the wall. This typically cost an additional $100-$150 dollars.

Inverter or Non-Inverter
Inverter aircons are the new generation aircons. Touted to be more energy efficient to up to 30% compared to non-inverters. Of course the drawback is that it’s more expensive. For a system-3 aircon, the difference can go up to $1000 or more. But if you’re a moderate to heavy aircon user, inverter should be the way to go as you can usually break-even the upfront investment in about 4 years. Since aircon can last at least more than 5 years, from year 4 onwards you’ll be experiencing nett savings. The break-even point will be even sooner if the electricity tariff goes up.

I realise that the decision for the 2 above really depends on how fat the wallet is. If money is not an issue, go for the Inverters. Choice of system wise any of the combination mention is personal preference only. Since my wallet is obviously not that fat, I finally decided to just air condition my 3 bedrooms with a System-3 inverter aircon from Mitsubishi. Decided to not air condition my living/dining room to save cost and I probably won’t turn it on much as well. So the additional upfront cost does not really do justice to my usage pattern.

So final damage is $3009 for a Mitsubishi System-3 Inverter aircon from Gaincity. They will come and install next week… Another item solved!

Renovation Checkpoint

Almost three weeks have passed since I got the keys to my new home. So far I’ve only accomplished

  1. Taking down kitchen cabinets and sink
  2. Painting whole house
  3. Changing sockets and switches
  4. Bought kitchen hood & hob, sink
  5. Ordered dining table.

Still lots more either in progress or still looking…

  1. Built in kitchen cabinets, wardrobes and shoe racks (In progress)
  2. Air conditioning (Looking for quotes)
  3. Varnish parquet (Quoted, will proceed soon)
  4. Refurbish and install existing aluminium grilles (Looking for quotes)
  5. Install fixed ceiling lighting
  6. Beds
  7. Washing Machine and Fridge (Looking for quotes)
  8. Water heater (Looking for quotes)

The above are just essential items that needs to be completed before I can move in and it’s by far a comprehensive list. I’ve even omitted stuff like sofa, coffee table, big ass lcd tv, pots and pans, plates etc.

So many things to do .. so little time..

Switches And Sockets

If you remember the first post About My New Home, I kinda touched a bit about the switches being dirty. Since the picture of the switches were a bit small on that post I took the liberty to take a close up for all of you.

Kitchen Dirty Switches
Kitchen Switches And Sockets. Dirtiest of the lot.

Living Dirty Switches
Living Room Switches. Just slightly cleaner.

Before I continue rattling on, Switches and Sockets are a bit of a handful to type so from here onwards I shall refer to them as “SS”.

The SS in the picture looks darn icky right? Only about 5 years of usage and it’s in that condition (If your SS is looks like the picture above, shame on you!). I do not even wish to attempt to clean it as I think it’s gonna be a futile effort. So I’m doing what I can only do right now, change all the SS in the house.

Since I’m changing them, might as well look for some better looking SS. No point just replacing them with the exact design right? So I recall this brand Clipsal, a brand that I first came to contact with when I was doing this Home Automation project for a Condo few years back. They had this very nice looking Clipsal switch installed, so nice and elegant.

So I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now, I’m gonna be using Clipsal SS to replace the disgusting SS I have now.

Again, I’m shall DIY change the SS. I went to this shop at Ubi Industrial Estate and got all my SS there. The shops name is Nancy Quek Electrical Supplies & Service. They quoted me the lowest price for the SS so far and the guy there, William was really helpful. I highly recommend you look for this guy if you want to change your SS. I ended up paying about $200 bucks to get all the SS that I need including water heater switch, telephone port and doorbell.

It’s not really hard to change these SS. Just arm yourself with a test pen and be careful. First of all, turn off the mains. Well you don’t have to do it but since we’re amateurs, just to be safe. I tripped the power for the whole house while trying to test the the sockets with a test pen (I suspect the test pen was faulty). Then just unscrew the existing SS and remove the wires, taking a mental note of which wires go where.

Changing Socket
Taking Switches and Phone Port apart.

There are basically 3 types of wires which are colour coded.

  1. Live – Red in colour
  2. Neutral – Black in colour
  3. Earth – Green with yellow stripes in colour

These colours for my home were based on international standards before year 2004. Please do check which standards you wiring are colour coded to. For normal cases, just connect the wiring to their respective locations which is demarcated on each SS. Special case such as water heater which is a 20 amp switch are slightly more complicated.

After 3 hours, I managed to replace all the SS.

Living Room SS
Socket, Phone Port and Blank Plate.

Room SS with Heater
2 Gang Light Switch And Heater

All looks good, right?.. Not really. Made a boo boo.

 

Feature Wall SS
Feature wall 2 gang light switch. Notice the sides.

Should have changed the SS before painting. Removing the SS after painting cause some paint to peel off. Will have to patch up the paint soon. Overall, quite pleased again to have DIY the SS myself. Getting an electrician to do the job will probably cost about $4 – $5 per socket or switch from what I hear. So some savings here again whereby the money will go to good use on other parts of the house……

DIY Painting (3)

The third installment of the DIY Painting series. Today I’m finally gonna talk about how to actually go about painting.

But before that, here are some of the pictures of my preparation before painting.

Removing Ceiling Lights
Removing Ceiling Lights.Makes it easier to paint the ceilings

Window Grills Removed
Removed window grills as well.

Brooming the ceilings
Cleaning the walls and ceiling to remove dust and cobwebs.

Putty Ceiling
Putty the ceiling holes from the light. Thinking to change another light.

After doing all the preparation work as described in DIY Painting (2), we are now ready to paint.

We will first paint a coat of the sealer or more commonly known as base paint. This sealer as the name suggests contains chemicals that will help bond the paint to the wall. You can choose to omit this step but it’s recommended especially if your home is a bit humid as it will help to prevent paint from bubbling and peeling later on.

In terms of painting techniques, there isn’t really much (amateur painters here). First of all cut the sides. Meaning using a paintbrush just paint the “sides” which can be side of door frame, window frame, sockets etc. These places can’t be painted using rollers. Will be quite messy if you do so.

Paint Cutting sides
Cutting the sides with paintbrush

After cutting the sides, just go all out with the roller. Just roll on some paint on the paint tray and make sure it isn’t not dripping. Then just roll, roll and roll.

Darren Painting Ceiling
Darren my man!! Painting the ceiling.

Once you’re done with the sealer coat. Just wait for everything to dry up and then proceed to paint the colours you want. You will need 2 coats to get good results. If not you may find that the paint is uneven. Oh yeah, please paint the ceilings first, then the walls.

Darren Painting Feature Wall
Darren painting my feature wall.

Painting battlezone
Painting Battlezone.

So once you’ve got 2 coats on, we’re all done. Just clean up the battlezone and enjoy. It will take some time and effort to paint the whole house. And please do expect some aches here and there especially your arms, shoulder, neck and back. The ceilings are harder to paint as you have to kinda look up all the time. Painting the walls are probably 2-3 times faster compared to painting the ceilings.

Overall we took about 2 and half days to completely paint the whole house inclusive of preparation work, actual painting and cleaning up. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Darren whom spent 2 days to help us paint. Sob sob… really appreciate it. Without him, we would have at least needed another day to complete the task.

Finally do check out the before and after picture for the living room. Just looking at the end results will make all the aches and pains fade away. My new home is beginning to take shape…

 

Living Room Old Paint
Before

Living Room New Paint
After

 

 

Destruction

Destruction is the act of damaging something beyond use or repair.

So here goes…

Kitchen Sink Counter

Before
Kitchen Sink Counter

After
Demolished Sink Counter

Kitchen Cabinets

Before
Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinets Top

After
Kitchen Cabinets Dismantled

 

Well, come to think of it, not much destruction here. Nothing fancy like taking down a wall or two. So hope you’re not too disappointed….

DIY Painting (2)

Now that we’ve got all the tools, we need to do some preparation. You can’t just dive in and start painting right away; a little groundwork will go a long way to ensure a better results.

First off, you need to clean all the walls. Don’t have to hose your walls and ceilings down with water, just simple brushing with a nice big brush or a broom will do. We just need to remove dusts, cobwebs, lizard droppings and whatever else that may be sticking on the walls. If you don’t do this, you risk having the paint not properly bonded to the wall or if you using very light coloured paint, the dirt may actually be visible.

Secondly, look for any holes and chipped walls that you want to patch up. Just apply the hole with wall cement putty with a scraper. I recommend that you patch the hole with more putty, meaning to say you don’t have to flatten it. Somehow I realize if you flatten the putty nicely when it dries the cement will kinda contract a bit and sinks into the hole. So just apply more, make a small lump and then later when it dries, we’ll just have to sand it down with the sandpaper. It takes about 30-60 mins before the putty will dry depending on the humidity of the room.

Thirdly, we find uneven surfaces such as the putty patched holes or remnants of old double sided tapes on walls and sand them even. Don’t have to sand very hard.. just nice soft strokes will do. You don’t wanna sand it until your walls are all uneven.

Fourthly, we take masking tape and tape it around areas you don’t to be painted like skirtings, window frames, sockets and switches. Don’t be stingy with the masking take, just go all out and tape. It will make your life much easier.

Fifthly, lay newspapers or canvas on your floors so paint won’t splatter directly on your nice floors. I only had newspapers so really have to lay it all about. It would be nice if I invested in some canvas sheet, the paint shops will usually sell it as well. Would be more convenient compared to newspapers.

Lastly, fold newspaper hats to protect your hair. Okay I admit, I didn’t know how to fold that darn hat. So I didn’t bother to do it.

Next installment, we finally PAINT!.

P/S: Sorry for the lack of pictures. I realize that I’m quite the lousy blogger. I forgot to take pictures of the preparation process. I shall put up some pictures the next time I go over and take. Hehe