27 September 2010

In Hindsight

Here are a few things we've learned so far about fixing up a house:

Two Variations of Brown

1. I knew that paint, when applied to different surfaces, will look slightly different. What I hadn't accounted for was just how different - we experimented on wood but once it was on cement, it looked like a completely different color!!!

The painter was able to match the brown paint color I chose (which you can view here) but when he applied it to the walls, it looked positively PINK! Turns out there is a red-based brown and a yellow-based brown. The problem is that he already did the first coat all the way up to the second floor! I actually complained that he worked too fast...

What we learned: Whether you buy ready-mixed paint from a store or have your painter mix the color you want, paint a small section of the wall first and LIVE WITH IT FOR A FEW DAYS. If you feel something is wrong, make your opinion heard RIGHT AWAY or have someone else, who is not involved in either the paint selection or the actual painting, take a look. This will save you from wasting a lot of paint.

2. More than a year before the renovation, we asked around to see just how much we would need to spend. And while we were able to save up for the estimated figure, we underestimated the cost of the miscellaneous items such as sand, cement, bathroom fixtures and the lights! Yes, I thought I had everything covered but I forgot about the lights and found out too late that they are quite expensive.

What we learned: Once you get a copy of the house plans, ask a contractor or an architect to advise just how many tiles are needed, what sizes are recommended and the amount of cement and grout you will need to buy. This will enable you to shop around at leisure instead of zooming like a chicken with her head cut off! You'll also be able to budget for the tiles you actually want.

Another thing is to start looking at light fixtures and ask your electrician what type to buy. For the bathroom, budget and measure for towel rods and mirrors - especially if you will install lights on either side of the said mirror. You will then immediately know how to answer the electrician when he asks where you want to position the wall sconces.

Same Tile, Different Layouts

3.  We opted for ceramic tiles that look like wood (see here) but when the workers first started installing them, the layout looked a bit weird to me. So I decided to experiment and the pictures above are what I came up with. The image on the left is the original layout, the one on the right is what I opted to go with as it looks less chaotic.

What we learned: Try to be at the site on a daily basis. The workers could end up doing things that you might not approve of and once the cement dries, there will be little you can do to fix it.

4. To quote Celerie Kemble from her book "To Your Taste," "No matter what a person has to spend on a project, it never seems to be enough to do everything he or she wants. They forget to allow room for errors. Inevitably, they underestimate the cost of labor. In some cases, people experience taste inflation: as they learn more about their options, they start to care more about the quality of details that previously held no interest for them. Beware! Knowledge can be the gateway to financial vice!"

We are finding this to be completely true!

What we learned: Whatever amount you have estimated for expenses, add 15-20% more for inflation or things that might come up unexpectedly.

We still have a long way to go and if you have pointers you'd like to share, please do so as we definitely want to know what to look out for!

23 September 2010


Earl and I scrimped and saved for a long time for this house. Actually, we still don't eat out as often as we used to nor do we spend as much on food as we used to.

Luckily for us, we're the type who can spend hours at the mall and not buy a thing. We also are not into buying clothes, shoes, etc. But I must admit it has come to the point where we are looking a bit like ragamuffins. My mother is so appalled at my appearance, she has taken to buying me clothes...

You now know the reason why our pictures are nowhere to be found on this blog... Kidding! Or maybe not...

But as I pointed out to both her and my sister (who tells me that there are inexpensive clothes out there - yes, I am aware of that), a shirt will still cost at least Php 400, and the cheapest pants I have ever bought here in Manila was Php 600. Now, that's around Php 1000 put together - an amount that can be used say, towards a nicer dining table or oven.

Our goal in saving was to spend for the house without borrowing money or touching our modest retirement fund. While we accomplished that for the renovation, we will need to start saving again once the contractors are done but this time for the furniture and appliances. And after our experience of buying cheap furniture that does not last too long, we've decided go for more durable pieces. All this durability though will come at a price. Doesn't it always?

Needless to say, it will be quite awhile before we are able to move into the house.

This now brings me to what Earl told me a few days ago. If he had his way, we would have used the money we saved for furniture and appliances and moved in already. With the exception of the electrical system, he was fine with the house as is - with all the white walls. This revelation came about when I asked him why he didn't really have an opinion regarding the house except to say, "anything you want hon..."

When asked, Earl will tell you whether he thinks one tile is better than the other or if he likes a certain color. Other than that, he doesn't say much. Maybe it's a guy thing because according to my mom, if it were up to my dad, our house would have been surrounded in cement (no garden).

In any case, it got me thinking. Could I have been happy with the house as is? It only took a few seconds before my forehead wrinkled and a frown popped up. I would rather wait for furniture if it means I can sit on the floor, gaze at the walls and think "ooh, nice..." Kind of like my sister with boots that pinched her toes whenever she wore them. She bought them despite the discomfort because she thought they were pretty.

21 September 2010

Renovation Update 3

Though there is still a long way to go, it's all starting to come together.  Here are the latest updates in pictures:

Tiling of the ground floor.

Installation of the additional electrical sockets.

Testing of paint colors.

Re-varnishing of the stairs.


Utility sink construction.

19 September 2010

Lights - Set A

Azcor EspaƱola SL - 5-810-12-0 - Php 6,030 - the overhead light in the lavender room. Original price was Php 6,700.

Landlite Reflector Light (Big) - Php 349.75 each - general illumination provider for the ground floor and second floor hallway.

Robles Heritage Porch Light - Php 435 - lone front porch light at the moment. Still debating whether another light is needed on the wall beside the door.

Osram Par38 Flood Light - Php 495 each - this will be positioned at each outside corner of the house.

Landlite Reflector Light (Small) - Php 249.75 each - for the closet area in the green room.

14 September 2010

Sale! Surplus House Items

Since we have a lot of surplus materials at the house, we are selling the following:

Teka Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink
Price: Php 3300

- size (whole) - 86cm x 44cm
- size (sink / drainboard only) - 36cm x 34cm
- gauge - 18
- fittings not included

- price at Wilcon and Alabang Home Depot is Php 4330 includng fittings
- fittings can be purchased at Wilcon for Php 611 (if Teka brand)

Apo Vinyl Floor Tiles - Mimicri

Price: Php 20 / pc

- color - Medium Cherry
- size - 4" x 36" inches
- gauge - 1.3mm
- 43 pcs / box / 4 sqm

- price at Wilcon and Alabang Home Depot is Php 23.75 / pc
- 25 boxes available - 9 boxes left

Mariwasa 20x20 Wall Tiles - Plain White

Price: Php 10 / pc

- color - Plain White
- size - 20cm x 20cm
- 25 pcs / box

- price at Wilcon is Php 12.12 / pc
- 12 boxes available

Mariwasa 20x20 Floor Tiles - Romana White

Price: Php 10 / pc

- color - Romana White
- size - 20cm x 20cm
- 25 pcs / box

- price at Wilcon is Php 11.74 / pc
- based on my observation, Plain White is shinier than Romana White
- 4 boxes available - SOLD!

HCG L59 Wall Hung Washbasin

Price: Php 700

- color - White
- size - 452mm x 190mm x 395mm

- price at Wilcon and Alabang Home Depot is Php 1120 / pc
- faucet, p-trap, tail piece and angle valve are not included
- 1 pc available

Lucky PVC Door

Price: Php 800 / set

- color - White
- size - 210cm x 61cm
- includes 4 inch door jamb

- price at Wilcon is Php 1400 (with jamb and door knob)
- door and jamb only (door knob not included)
- part of the house that was dismantled
- 2 sets available
- we'll lower the price to Php 1500 for both sets if purchased together

Disclaimer: I've noticed that the actual color of the items vary from the photos. They take on a yellowish tinge (it might have been due to the yellow lighting at Wilcon).

12 September 2010

Color Schemes

I recently changed the look of this blog - it used to have a yellow and green polka dot background. But when Blogger came up with new templates, I decided it was time for Two Storeys to get a make-over.

The colors chosen for this new look represent the colors that we are planning to use for the house. Here are the color schemes for each room:

Ground Floor

The picture on the left is for the living, dining and kitchen areas. We also plan to extend this scheme to the stairwell and the second floor hallway. The color shown on the right is for the bathroom in combination with the tiles shown here.

Guest Bedroom

Study Room

Master's Bedroom
The ivory color you see on the left will be used in the bathroom to be paired with the tiles shown here. The bluish green color on the right is actually the color of our current bedroom. We're going to use it again for our new bedroom as Earl says it makes him feel calm and relaxed.

Note: All images shown here were obtained online over the last three years. Thus I can no longer pinpoint the websites where the images were taken.

11 September 2010

Renovation Update 2

Tiles for the Ground Floor Bathroom

Earl and I had an extremely productive morning! We purchased all the tiles needed for the house at Wilcon today along with the baseboards, cornices and the second floor bathroom sink. The items will be delivered on Wednesday.

The tiles above were also chosen by my sister. The floor tile is actually gray with a tinge of brown but in the photo it looks more like brown. The green tile represents the paint color closest to what we're planning for the bathroom walls.

Rabacon started work on the house last Monday, September 6, and Maricel told us that they will be installing the tiles in both bathrooms by next week (thus the need to buy the tiles already).

Cornice & Baseboard

This was one of the cheaper baseboards and cornices we could find. A product of Matimco, PrimeCoat Wood is already pre-coated and pre-sanded for the same price as the unfinished version. The difference is that this finished version is finger jointed (though I'm not sure exactly what that means) and not treated against termites. According to the sales agent at Wilcon if left uncut then no problem as the coating will prevent termites. But once cut, it would be best to apply Solignum to the exposed areas.

But when I sent an email to Matimco regarding the matter, here's their reply (courtesy of Cesar Erfe):

...PCW is not treated with Solignum however, you may brush on Solignum on its surface as well as cut edges. This will give you protection against termites, wood borers and fungal decay. The only problem is that the preservative won't penetrate the wood so in cases of scratches, you will need to retouch.

You'd be happy to know that we have a brand called Matwood that offers baseboards and cornices also. This brand is treated with Solignum using the double-vacuum pressure process that ensures full penetration of the preservative in the Sapwood part of the wood. You will still need to brush on cut edges because hartwoods cannot be penetrated by any treatment regardless of the process. Although the hartwood part of the wood has a natural resistance to the said threats, it will not repell termites. It's better to not have them around. You'd be able to enjoy a 10 year fully backed local warranty with Matwood.

Well, too late as we already bought the materials and we're also cost cutting.

Tile Design for the Ground Floor

My mom didn't like it, my sister didn't like it, and my husband didn't like it. Suffice to say that this tile was subject to a lot of debate.

It was this tile and me against the world.

Unfortunately, I was not too keen on the options they were suggesting because they preferred lighter colored tiles. They think this tile is too dark and "unfinished" (also not sure what my sister meant by that). My perspective was that the lighter the tile, the more we'd have to clean up.

Well, we did agree on one tile design but it was way too out of budget.

Also, I wanted the floor to contrast with the wall - the floor would either have to be lighter or darker than the wall color. If it were lighter, I'd have to return to the cleaning argument. If it was too dark, it would make the small space even smaller. I felt that this was a good mid-way color.

But we will soon find out whether or not I made the right decision.

As to the sink, I wanted a very classic sink and faucet style from HCG (LF352 4" which you can view here). But they were Php 4000 more expensive than the Kohler sink with Englefield faucet combination that we chose instead.

Speaking of substitutions, we changed the wall tile for the second floor bathroom (which you can view here) to Mariwasa Forest Beige 20cm x 30cm. Not only was it cheaper, it also aligns with the measurements of both the border and floor tiles. This arrangement, according to Maricel, is more aesthetically pleasing.

Thanks to the changes, we saved over Php 14,000 which we will use for the lights and bathroom fixtures (the next items on our to-do list).


Ground Floor
Sol Ceramica Bynar - 60cm x 60cm

Ground Floor Bathroom
Border - Picasso Mosaic B141-1 - 30cm x 30cm
Wall - Ten Zen 3050 - 30cm x 30cm
Floor - Sol Ceramica Mack Gris - 30cm x 60cm

Second Floor Bathroom Sink
Kohler Pedestal Sink K87001-1-0

08 September 2010

Window Shopping: Laminate Flooring

Laminated Flooring for the Second Floor

As with the first set of bathroom tiles, my sister chose the design for the laminate flooring that will cover the entire second floor. Hmmm... this is turning out to be her house... I must admit that I preferred the other option (which you can see here) but she said it was too "busy".

This design is from Krono Original but here's the list of contenders:

- Kronospan

Warranty: 15 years
Branches: Home Depot (Alabang & Ortigas)
Website: http://www.kronospan.com, http://www.krono-original.com

Price: Php 1148.45/box or Php 515/sqm

Notes: The original price was Php 1671/box or Php 752/sqm but they're trying to get rid of their old stocks so it's on sale while supplies last according to the sales agent.

- Kronotex

Warranty: 15 years
Branches: Home Depot (Alabang & Ortigas), Wilcon Depot
Website: http://www.kronotexusa.com

Price: Php 1647.25/box or Php 789.35/sqm

Notes: Part of the KronoGroup.

- Pergo

Warranty: 15 years
Branches: Wilcon (Alabang & Ortigas - Design Source) and MC Home Depot (Fort & Ortigas - Design Source), Ace Hardware
Website: http://www.pergo.com

Price: Php 1816/box (no installation) or Php 2018/box (with installation)

Notes: The price above is based on Pergo Universal. If buying from Ace Hardware, please note that their prices are much higher - Php 2229.75/box (no installation) - than if purchased at Design Source which is the official Philippine distributor.

- Steiger

Warranty: 6 years
Branches: Home Depot (Alabang & Ortigas - Design Source) and MC Home Depot (Fort & Ortigas - Design Source), Ace Hardware

Price: Php 975/box (no installation) or Php 1126/box (with installation)

Notes: I read online that the higher the quality, the longer the warranty. So while it was cheaper, we decided to go with something that would be under warranty for at least 15 years.

04 September 2010

Laminate Flooring: Krono Original

This was a no-brainer - they were on sale.

Though for a few days, I was seriously considering Pergo. But as someone online pointed out, they are not the only good brand out there.

 Shortlisted Design Options

And while I'm not sure if Krono Original uses the Uniclic system (which you can read about here), it does come with a 15 year warranty.  According to my research, laminated floors should be under warranty for at least 15 years as "the lower-end lines have shorter warranties".

It also helps that the last time we purchased laminated wood, we also bought the same brand. But I can't really say how they've fared long term as our room got flooded last year during a typhoon - just two years after it was installed.

Trivia: There's another brand called "Kronotex" being sold locally. According to Joseph, the sales agent at Alabang Home Depot, the owner of Kronospan (which makes Krono Original) gave the business to one of his sons.  The other son decided to put up his own company and called it Kronotex.

He also said that Kronospan was the one who supplied all the parts to Pergo before they decided to go at it themselves.
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