15 October 2017

The Cusm Furniture Shop Nightmare: Part I

Duped by relatives? You be the judge.

If you've read through this blog, then you know how important it was for us to avoid having furniture made with medium-density fibreboard (MDF) as it's prone to mold and very flimsy. So in 2011, when we had our cabinets done by Cusm Furniture Shop, we specified that solid wood or plyboard was to be used for our cabinets. This was also reflected in the contracts we signed with them which you can view in the following links:

Kitchen cabinets
Laundry and pantry cabinets
Bedroom cabinets, linen closet, and bookshelves

Now that we've finally moved in, we've discovered, most of the cabinets are made of MDF. I confronted the owners, and below is what they had to say about the situation.

Nicole: Hi Uncle Mel and Tita Cindy, just wondering pls what material is in the attached picture. Is it MDF? It's not plyboard or solid wood.

Cusm: Hi Nicole, MDF.

Nicole: Thanks! That picture was from one of the kitchen cabinet doors you installed.

The thing is, I specifically said no MDF. Also, no where in the papers signed and specifications agreed upon in writing stated that MDF was the material to be used.

What we paid for is supposed to be 18mm thick solid mahogany in duco painted finish.

So now I'm wondering if all the supposedly solid mahogany doors are actually MDF.

Now I'm wondering if everything is made of MDF.

A few years ago, two or three of the doors were replaced because I found out they were made of MDF (the laminate chipped). I thought at the time that maybe it was just a mistake with a few doors. It's now looking like they're all MDF.

Cusm: We only use MDF for your kitchen doors only. Sorry for the late reply.

Nicole: But I didn't pay for MDF. The contract does not state MDF - it's supposed to be solid mahogany doors.

The first thing I said to Uncle Mel was no MDF. The contract and what we paid was for solid mahogany doors.

Why did you make it MDF? I've been feeling really bad and depressed about this. All along I believed we had solid wood doors. Honestly, I feel cheated.

Cusm: We are sorry if you feel bad and depressed. And we didn't cheat you, I don't know what happened that they used MDF on doors. We will refund half of the total cost of your kitchen cabinet.

Nicole: I take it the kitchen, pantry, and laundry cabinets all have MDF doors? Actually, would it be possible to get replacement doors instead please? Meaning, the doors to be changed to what was actually stated on the conforme?

Though, if you're too busy, then we'll go with the refund.

My old contractor just passed by the house and told me even the carcass is made of MDF (not just the doors).

We recently had a case of termites that ate part of the pantry cabinets. They took a look at the hole and said everything is made of MDF.

Cusm: I will asked Mel. Will email you again.

- Five days later -

Cusm: Can I get your account number? Will deposit your November 2010 downpayment P48,320.

Nicole: Timberpro is currently here at the house. He said the following have MDF:

- Kitchen cabinets - doors, some of the shelves
- Pantry & laundry cabinets - carcass, doors and shelves (in other words, EVERYTHING)
- Linen closet - carcass, doors and shelves (in other words, EVERYTHING)
- Bedroom closet - drawers and shelves

That's almost everything. Considering that no where in the contract is MDF listed as an approved, agreed, and paid for material, how did it get there? There's too much of it to be "mistake."

I initially asked for all to be ducco finish, it was Uncle Mel who suggested everything be covered in laminate. Remember, you even got mad at me because you said you've spent so much on laminates already. Take note it wasn't even my idea. Now I'm wondering if the laminate served another purpose.

How would you feel if you were in our shoes?

05 October 2017

Short Break

The end is near for this blog as we come to the conclusion of our home renovation. I'll be posting more supplier ratings as soon as I get back from vacation.

25 September 2017

We've Moved In!

Though it's a work in progress as we're currently sorting through boxes and organizing everything. We also still have to hunt for furniture (e.g. coffee table) and other things. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of what the house looks like so far.

20 September 2017

Supplier Ratings: Woods Innovation Center

Supplier: Woods Innovation Center
Price Tag: Php 137,909
Rating: Php 6/10 (10 being the highest)

Their rates are reasonable and the workmanship, in general, isn't bad.

1. If you text or send them an email, it may take some time before they answer, if at all.

2. They don't follow measurements or instructions well. The white medicine cabinet, for example, is supposed to be brown. They delivered it covered in white laminate fully expecting me to just accept whatever they've decided on. They didn't bother to call or email to check beforehand whether white would be okay with me. They finally offered to redo it in brown after I started getting angry. I decided there was not enough time since we were planning to move-in already.

Another example is when the headboard arrived in two colors (white and brown) - it was just supposed to be one color. They insisted that they were following instructions until I showed them the signed contract. So it's very important to have everything in writing.

3. They're not great with small details. One part of the bunk bed needed paint. If I hadn't noticed, they would have left it looking dirty and unfinished. They also forgot to cover the inside of the cabinets with laminate, so it took them longer to install as they had to add it in at the last minute (they even had to make two trips to the house because of it).

4. They mess up your house. So while they did repaint the bunk bed, they splattered white paint all over the floor and didn't bother to clean it up. They also had excess adhesive on all sides of the mirror they installed and just told me to clean it up myself with paint.

5. I think they better find an alternative way to provide support. All their drawers have a wooden bar inside which I have never encountered before in any other drawer I've come across.

6. Don't expect them to be able to copy certain furniture styles. Below is what I requested (the white sofa) and what was delivered (I provided the fabric).

Here are the other items we ordered from Woods Innovation Center:

10 September 2017

Blims & Uratex

Senso Memory Original

One would think that it's cheaper at the source, but in this case, it cost us much less to buy Uratex mattresses at Blims.

Mattress Type



1 pc. Senso Memory
Original - Queen



2 pcs. Orthocare Balance -



Delivery Fee







That's a difference of Php 5,320!

We looked at other mattress brands such as Vono, Dunlopillo, Ambassador, and Salem, but it was Uratex that won out in terms of price, size, and feel.

Orthocare Balance

05 September 2017

The Rainbow Conundrum

Before & After

Rainbow Cleaners came back and they came through! Yay, right? Not really.

When they returned to the house to do upholstery cleaning, they also had someone clean both bathrooms again. This time, the toilets came out sparkling! The magic ingredient was a bit of muriatic acid which they don't normally use. But at the time, the workers at the house informed me that NOTHING could be done.

So, while I am happier about the cleanliness of the toilets, confusion about the rates made me less than pleased. When they first gave the quotation, it just stated that the total was Php 11,580. Only recently did they give me a breakdown - after I had paid them already:

- Rate for general cleaning is Php 45/sqm

84 sqm - Php 3780
Outdoor cleaning - Php 2000
Cloth lampshade - Php 800
Transportation fee - Php 3000
Total - Php 9580

Let me repeat, they charged me Php 11,580 for everything mentioned above.

- Upholstery cleaning rates:

2 wing chairs at Php 700/each - Php 1400
1 3-seater sofa - Php 1500
Transportion fee - Php 2000
Total - Php 4900

I pointed out to them that we go to Makati everyday, where their office is located, and it does not cost Php 2000. They waived the transportation fee. And since they didn't do the outdoor cleaning or the cloth lampshade (among other things), they gave me a refund for the difference.

Imagine, if everything had gone according to plan, I would have never known that they had overcharged me.

31 August 2017

Renovation Update 20

In my last post, I mentioned that our contractor was at the house to do a few repairs. Well, I now wish I had never asked them to come over.

We paid to have to the varnish redone only to have a lot of green paint splattered all over. I'm wondering why didn't anyone use masking tape and cover the shelves with newspaper before painting the wall? Take note I never asked for the green wall to be repainted. It was a nice touch, but it ruined the shelves in the process. One of the workers tried to get most of it out, but there are still green specs on all three of the shelves.

Remember the splotches of paint in different areas of the house? The white baseboard had blue paint. Again, have they never heard of painter's tape and newspaper? Oh, right! Since they don't own the house, they don't care what it looks like. It's as if we paid them a ton of money to make our house look ugly.

First, blue paint on the baseboard, then a different shade of white to cover the blue. Most of what they've done needs repairing and the repair job also has to be fixed.

Not sure which is worse - multi-colored or multi-toned. The pictures above were taken a few days after they did the "repairs." I waited for the paint to dry first to see if things would improve.

One thing that I was glad about was that the workers were around to see the roof leak. Technically, the roof leaking is bad news, but at least they've seen it firsthand.

They're also giving a refund for the cost of the shelves.

25 August 2017


This week was marked by deliveries from various suppliers - appliances from Abenson and furniture from CADI arrived today. While Woods Innovations Center brought over our orders last Saturday, but they will be back tomorrow as some of the items were done incorrectly.

Our contractors came back this morning to do a few repairs and found one part of the roof leaking (again). They will return once I've determined if the other areas of the roof also need fixing.

20 August 2017

Supplier Ratings: Rainbow Cleaners


The house hasn't been cleaned in over two years, so it was thick with dust and all sorts of other things I didn't want to deal with.


So I decided to hire Rainbow Cleaners.


The house is less dusty, but I was expecting more from professional cleaners.

Supplier: Rainbow Cleaners
Price Tag: Php 10,780
Rating: Php 6/10 (10 being the highest)

Well, thanks to them, I didn't have to get rid of most of the gunk by myself. Also, it will now be easier and faster for me to clean the place up.

Here's what I sent to them via email:

When I first inquired (in January) about having our house cleaned, I asked if you guys clean the exterior windows and windowsills - both ground and second floor due to dirt and lots of bird poop. I even called and you confirmed it could be done but only up to the second floor.

You emailed back with this reply: "Please find attached revised proposal. All you want to clean in your home is covered."

That was my main reason for hiring Rainbow Cleaners, because everything else I could do myself.

Today, they told me they don't do exteriors.

I also asked if you dry shampoo or steam clean cloth lampshades and you said yes, and added P800 to the bill. Take note I even sent a photo of the lamp.

They took one look and said no, they only vacuum cloth lampshades.

They were not very thorough. They kept telling me that it's not possible to remove the traces of lizard poop on the walls. I did it myself in front of them and it was gone.

They also were not able to get rid of the yellow stains in both toilets and bathroom floors. Another reason why I hired you. Now I have to figure out how to clean it myself.

Why did I hire you guys again? Ah, yes, the incorrect assumption that you would know what to do considering your line of work.

15 August 2017


Reach Out and Build packed up and left last week, Aug 9, and here's what our house looks like:

Banner bolt doesn't go in at all - it just ends at the top of the hole rendering it completely useless. The gate now worries me as I've seen how even a light breeze can have it slamming into one of the cars.

They really do not care how your house looks - splotches of excess paint are all over the place (too many to post here). I've told them that I'm coming over to their homes and office to give them the same paint job.

I asked them to convert one of the electrical outlets to 110v (which they did), but the electrician needed to insert a grounding wire. He assured me that insects will not enter the hole they made for said wire. Uh, okay, if you say so... Also, thanks for giving stray cats something to play with.

This is at eye level beside the front door. I'm guessing that when they took off the masking tape and newspaper used for painting the door, the paint got ripped off. It's been a few weeks since they did the door and never bothered to repair the surrounding area - that tells you that they think this is completely acceptable.

They cemented the bottom part of the wall, but never mentioned anything about coming back to paint it.

Their name should be changed to Reach Out and DESTROY. On the left is part of our garage floor, and on the right is green paint peeking out from when they fixed the exterior window frames. Also, more splotches of white paint.

I wonder what else I'll find?

Reach Out and Build has promised to come back to repair everything including a leaking faucet they installed. The dripping was rather loud, so not sure why they didn't notice...

Oh, and the leaking carport roof? Dionel, the one in charge of our house, told me that I should not be worried about a drip here or there. Only waterfall-like leaks are what I should find alarming. What I find alarming is that he thought drips are acceptable. I sent them the following text message:

"Let me ask you this, if you bought an expensive bag or shirt with a small hole in it, wouldn't you return it and have it exchanged?

I am already dealing with the wrong color roof, aforementioned hideous screen door, and incorrect shelves. Not to mention paying for a cement floor that didn't work out. Must I also put up with a dripping roof? No one told me in the beginning that I should expect dripping. If it were your roof, would you accept it?

Considering the history of being told that things have been fixed, only to find out the opposite being true, please note that I will wait for heavy rainfall to check the roof before giving the final payment. And that the gate doesn't give in to the slightest gust of wind."

10 August 2017

The Tale of the Temporary Cement Floor

At the suggestion of our landscaper, we extended the cement floor at our backyard. I thought it was a great idea - it wouldn't be muddy going to the outdoor sink, and there would be a bit more space for other things like a small grill.

Unfortunately, with just a little bit of rain, water started pooling at the newly cemented area. So with the typhoon season now in full swing, we were facing the possibility of our ground floor getting flooded before we even moved in! Our contractor's solution? Create a hole at the bottom of the wall, and have the water drain out to the neighbor's backyard... Unbelievable, but true.

The ones over at Reach Out and Build apparently did not bother to check the house plans, or look around to see if there was a storm drain nearby before constructing the cement floor. The thing is, when I once complained about how badly the carport was built, one of the founders, Sir Buddy, cut me off and told me that he was an expert.

Wouldn't an expert know how things might end up by studying the area? And if he wasn't sure, wouldn't he first consult the blueprints or ask the village management about how the house works? Well, none of that happened. They only decided to physically check and consult the village engineer after I got mad at them.

And that was how we found out that all the houses built by Avida do not have gutters, and none are connected to the village storm drains. The rain from the roof just falls to the ground and the water is not directed elsewhere. It is up to the homeowner to build a drainage system, which according to the village manager, will cost around Php 100,000.

Earl said that he's tired of all the expenses and just wants to move in, so we had the cement floor removed. Though we were warned that it won't make much of a difference as that area is lower than the rest of the property, and with the walls now bordering the house, the water will have nowhere else to go.

So that was a complete waste of time and money - all of which could have been avoided had our contractor been an actual expert. Because if he really knew what to do, he could have recommended that the cement floor would not be a good idea. Or to suggest building the storm drain along with the fence so that the yard won't collect water every time it rains.

Time to buy a submersible pump?

05 August 2017

Supplier Ratings: Landscaper

Supplier: Cristina's Lawn & Garden
Price Tag: Php 47,400 + 12,660 = Php 60,060
Rating: Php 8/10 (10 being the highest)

The owner, Ms. Celia Castro, was very easy to deal with and it took them about three days to finish everything.

Nothing major. Some of the stepping stones were not positioned correctly in that the gaps are not uniform. For example, 13 inches at one end, 8 inches on the other end, and 10 inches in the middle.

The garden looks a bit scraggly, but that's because I decided to go with young plants as they're cheaper. I'm also debating whether or not to wait a few months for the plants to grow before adding more.


For an additional Php 12,660, we had the following done to the garden:
- fix the incline of the soil near the garage so that water won't pool
- add more plants
- add more stepping stones
- place pebbles in the area that used to be covered in cement

Here are the results:

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