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:

30 July 2017

Renovation Update 19

Remember the last time our contractor, Reach Out and Build, said they were finished? Well, they've done it again.

Everyone, from the office manager to the foreman working at the house, said that they will be done by July 26. I was there the day before and things looked so promising that I scheduled the landscaper to start on July 27. I should have known better than to believe them as here's what "finished" looked like as of 4 PM on their supposedly last day:


The carport roof was leaking in more than one area. The video above shows water dripping from the back portion of the roof. There's another area in the front where the rain was coming through just as badly.

We had two air con brackets made, but the gap for both was 1.5-2 inches too large. So the workers decided to apply cement over two brand new, just removed from the box, air conditioning units.

I asked them to return the shelves they built and have them fixed at their shop. The edges were not smooth, the finish wasn't duco, and the brackets and screws were a mix of different colors and types.

Attention to the smaller details isn't their strongest point. I've been pointing out for weeks now that the paint of the gate latch needs fixing, and the cement around the gate holes needs to be repaired.

Above is what our carport floor used to look like. Below is what it looks like now. They did get rid of the excess cement, but created mini potholes in the process.

In the meantime, since the garden soil had already been loaded onto their truck, the landscaping could not be cancelled. Here's the progress of our landscaper as of Friday, July 28.

The powers that be over at Reach Out and Build have decided at this late stage to replace the workers assigned to our house. So, they will continue once the new guys have gotten their work permits.

25 July 2017

Refinancing Saga Conclusion


Last July 11, PSBank called to tell me that they had been trying for a week to contact Banco de Oro (BDO) regarding the loan transfer, but they couldn't seem to reach anyone.

I sent BDO an email to inform them of this and to ask for a rate update. They immediately replied that, "Upon checking, 5.50% rate will no longer be applicable since the promo period already ended." The new rate is now 6%, but there will be other fees to facilitate the transfer on top of the Php 30,000+ we've already paid (not including the insurance costs). Not sure how much the additional fees will cost, but I asked for an estimate the next day (July 12).

On July 16, after not getting a reply despite sending follow-up emails, we decided to cancel. We asked them how to get a refund for the fees and still no word from their end.

PSBank called again on July 17 that they still had not heard from BDO, so I decided that same day to go directly to the BDO branch where our loan officer is based. I was informed that she was not around, but to leave my name and number so that they can call me back.

Two days later, zilch, nada, nothing. I then called their office and was able to talk to someone who had such an authoritative voice, I somehow felt reassured that Carissa would indeed be getting back to me this time. And true enough, that afternoon, I finally received a reply. We are now expecting the refund by next week.

Well, so much for that refinancing idea. I don't think we'll try this again - at least not with BDO since they don't seem at all interested in getting us as clients.

20 July 2017

Landscaper: Christina's Lawn & Garden

While Marliz Driftwood Shop's labor charge was cheaper, their rates for plants (per piece) was higher. So I was thinking that I might be able to save more with Christina's Lawn & Garden especially if I decide on adding more greenery.

The village has a crew of guys who help maintain the landscaping for the public areas, and one of them offered his services for our garden. At first I was enthusiastic as he had the lowest quotation, but a closer look at his plan (which I somehow lost), showed a few plants and mostly pebbles. And looking at pictures of other gardens he has done in the area, I felt that his aesthetic didn't match mine. But the deal breaker was that he was not keen on letting me visit the garden center where he'd be getting his supplies. I asked to see the place and he has yet to reply back.

Since my knowledge of plants is almost zero, I want a supplier where I can go and actually look at my options.

15 July 2017

Window Shopping: Landscaper

The garden area is small, tiny actually at roughly 70 sqms., but I've received quotations ranging from Php 42,000 to as high as Php 271,000! The list below is in alphabetical order, though limited only to the ones I'm considering:

The Flowerbee is the landscaper for Sonya's Garden.

In case you're wondering what's included in a Php 271,000 landscaping service, here's the quotation as given by Beauty Blossoms who partnered with a landscape architect (just click to enlarge):

10 July 2017

Repairs, Etc.

We're now halfway through the process of making the house livable. The carport still isn't finished, but they've started on the other items on our to-do list:

A recent finding was that some of the exterior window frames, which are made of wood, have rotted and need to be replaced.

But since our contractor made a mistake with the polycarbonate roof, we've decided to compromise. We'll keep the lighter colored roof in exchange for four of the windows being repaired free of charge. We've also decided to have all the window frames replaced for a uniform look and we were thinking that it's just a matter of time before the others follow the rotted path.

Honestly, I would rather have the darker polycarbonate roof as it will give a little bit more shade. Earl, however, doesn't want to spend any more than we already have. Though maybe it was a good thing that they made a mistake since we're getting a discount on the window frames?

05 July 2017

Fabric Samples

One of these options will go on the sofa:

And here's what I've chosen for the curtains:


I'm not really into plaid or the color yellow, but somehow this is what will end up on one of the wing chairs:

The fabric pictured above are all from Larry's Hitex Division, Inc. (formerly Larry's Curtains) in Divisoria which is currently having a sale. They're getting rid of old inventory to make way for new stock. But even without the sale, their rates are way cheaper than the prices found in the SM Megamall branch (Php 350 versus Php 950).

According to one of the sales agents, the family that owns Larry's Curtains have divided the stores. So the Divisoria branch is owned by one brother, the SM Megamall store is owned by another brother, and the one on South Expressway is owned by yet another brother.

Note: The ones I bought range from Php 150/yard (curtains) to Php 485/yard (sofa).

30 June 2017

Custom Made Furniture: Woods Innovation Center

Why did we choose them instead of the options listed in the previous post? We didn't. Remember the last renovation update where our contractor had a different idea of what "finished" means? Well, I spoke with Dawn, the manager, to basically tell her the same thing as I still could not believe Choi's version of "finished." Then, a few minutes after we ended our phone call, she sent me this text message:

"Hi Nicole, just out of honesty & I can feel your frustration which I really understand as your contractor, you might have an alternative supplier to supply all your furniture? We can give all the furniture details for free, this is what you'll need to have custom made furniture.

I'm just filled with concern (and fear in terms of your quality standards & level of expectation) if we don't deliver exactly the way you like. Just an option, you don't need to get it from us, we can just take care of the pending & repair works. I can even give you directly the contact of our furniture fabricator & you can get it at 15-20% less across all costs (that's our mark-up)."

My reply? "My expectations aren't high. I just want that when someone says finished, it actually is. Is that too much that you want to give up already?" She then proceeded to send me the contact details of their furniture supplier along with the rates that were given directly to them.

At first, I still wanted to order the furniture through Reach Out and Build Inc, but why force the issue when they clearly do not want to do it?

I didn't bother with their offer of getting furniture details from them. Because despite giving them the specifications at least thrice, they still measured the queen bed at 59 inches wide. The measurements I sent were for a 60 inch wide mattress, so obviously, the bed won't fit. And that's just one of the many examples of how they didn't read most of the instructions I sent (a sample can be found in the last post).

It should be noted that I didn't even yell or get mad the entire time we were talking. I also have never met Dawn - all correspondence is via email or text message. I'm now baffled as to how they can claim to build a house. Doesn't that entail a lot of instructions to which they seem allergic to?












Materials: solid mahogany wood (sundry) for frame, Uratex
foam (blue) for cushion



Size: 85 cm (d) x 190 cm (w) x 90 cm (h)

1 pc


(fabric not included)



Materials: marine plywood in duco finish,
combination with solid wood


Size: 46cm (d) x 286 (w) x 206 cm (h)

1 set




Materials: pine wood



Size: 36” x 75” standard single

1 set




Materials: solid mahogany wood, combination with
marine plywood



Size: queen 60” x 75”

1 set




Materials: marine plywood combination with solid
wood - 4 doors and 2 drawers



Size: 34cm (d) x125cm (w) x 100cm (h)

1 set




Materials: solid mahogany wood



Size: 40 cm (d) x 45 cm (w) x 55 cm (h)

2 pcs





Materials: marine plywood



Size: 15 cm (d) x 40 cm (w) x 50 cm (h)

1 pc







(ground floor)

Materials: marine plywood



Size: 14cm (d) x 40 cm (w) x 30 cm (h)

1 pc




(ground floor)

Materials: mahogany wood - 4” wood frame


Size: 95cm (w) x 183 cm (h)






Materials: mahogany wood



Size: 55 cm x 60 cm (w) x 155 cm (h)

1 pc




Php 133,000

Delivery charge (including
ocular fee)


Php 3,500


Php 136,500

On the bright side, we'll get to save almost Php 29,000 with this setup.

25 June 2017

Window Shopping: Custom Made Furniture


Bunk Bed

Queen Bed Frame

Foyer Table

Delivery Fee


Antonio’s Quality Muebles






Mahogany & ¾ plywood

JB Woodcraft, Inc.






- Kiln
dried mahogany or gemelina wood

Jungle Vines Furnicraft






- Mahogany wood

Phoenix Home






Gemelina wood

Reach Out & Build Inc.






- Kiln
dried hardwood & marine plywood

Urban Abode






- Not


*TBA - To be advised.
**All rates quoted in Philippine pesos.

Here are the specifications I sent to all the furniture companies listed above:

The furniture companies were either referrals from friends or have been mentioned in articles from Real Living magazine.

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