I’ve got my keys, what now?

You’ve probably landed on this article because you’ve gotten a new house. You’ve finally gotten the keys and now, you’re on your way to building the dream home you’ve always wanted.

However, this is just the beginning of all that needs to be done before you can call your new house home sweet home.

The first and most crucial thing you should do before diving into any renovations or buying furniture is to inspect the house for any defects. Mark them out with post-its or masking tapes, take clear photographs of the defects and get the developer to rectify the issues. For BTO flat owners, you have 7 days after collecting your keys to submit your completed defects form to the Building Service Centre.

1. Doors & Windows

Nobody wants to move into a house and put with up with the daily struggle of opening and shutting the doors and windows. Open and close each door and window to ensure all of them are fully functioning. Inspect the frames to ensure that they are free of rust. You might even want to bring an extendable mirror to check for areas that are out of reach (think of the top of windows and protruding door frames). 

Alternatively, a trusty selfie stick with a front camera on the phone might do the trick as well. If you want to be extra careful, bring a ladder to inspect high areas in close detail. Don’t forget to test if the window locks and the keys to the doors are working properly.

2. Walls
Scrutinise the walls for any cracks and use a spirit level to check for unevenness.

Don’t forget to check for water seepage as well. It’s good if you can conduct your check after a heavy rain so that you may identify any damp ceilings or water seepage through the windows. You do not want to incur extra costs for fixing those nasty issues later.

3. Wall and Floor Tiles
Keep an eye out for any chipped tiles. Besides being unsightly, they can pose as a hazard as you walk around barefooted.

Check for any hollow wall and floor tiles (don’t forget the skirting!) by dropping a marble or lightly knocking on it with a small hammer. Use a spirit level to ensure that the surface of the floor is horizontal.

4. Electrical & Water Supply
Test the daily necessities such as electrical and water supply for any faults as these will really affect your comfort at home.

5. Stairs
If there are stairs in your house, check if the handles are stable and firm. The last thing you want in your own home is to feel unsafe.

For your easy reference, we have prepared a simple defects checklist at the end of this article. So, get ready, gear up and inspect away!

Of course, some homeowners prefer to engage a professional for a more comprehensive defects checking. With their expertise and equipment, they will likely be able to spot the defects that might slip by the eyes of a layman. After all, a few hundred dollars seem to be a worthwhile investment for the comfort and security of a place that you might be staying for a long time.

What’s next after inspecting your house?

Design & Renovations

1. Work with only HDB-approved Interior Designers
Only HDB licensed contractors are allowed to carry out renovations for your HDB flat. Therefore, ensure that you work with only HDB-approved interior design companies to avoid facing any repercussions. They are veterans in this field of work and will provide a strong sense of security as they know the rules and regulations of renovating HDBs.

If you have yet to choose an interior designer who will likely determine how your house will look like for at least the next few years, it’s time to do some research! Talk to at least 2 or 3 interior designers/companies to make a better-informed decision. It is probably unwise to just pick the one with the lowest quote as you might want to compare the design and quality of materials that are used as well.

2. Supervise the Contractors
Keep an eye on the contractors during renovations and check in on their progress on a regular basis. It’s good to hang around in case they have any doubts to clarify to prevent any renovation errors. You don’t want to come home to a wall or cabinet that you weren’t counting on do you?

3. Check before you hack
The HDB has strict rules for any demolition works wall as it may affect the structural stability of the entire building. Therefore, don’t forget to get the written approval from HDB before you knock those walls off! Otherwise, consult your interior designer or contractor as they would know it best.

4. Change the Locks
Once the renovation works is completed, it’s best to change the locks. You never know if the previous owners, realtors or anyone else has the keys to your home. Therefore, ensure that your house is safe, secure, and you’re the only person who has access to it by investing in a new lock or getting a locksmith to change them.

5. Protection & Insurance
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Insurance exists to “shield” you from adversities and protect all that is precious to you. So why not invest it and prepare yourself in the case of any adversity? Your future self will thank you.



  1. Portable fan (to make your job easier as it can get stuffy)
  2. Hammer/ marbles
  3. Post-its
  4. Writing materials
  5. Clipboard
  6. Copies of your floor plan (for marking out locations of defects)
  7. Mobile phone/camera
  8. Phone charger (in case your phone runs out of juice, and you may also use it to do a simple test for the sockets)
  9. Spirit level
  10. Mirror/selfie stick (for areas that are hard to reach)
  11. Ladder (to access high areas if needed)
  12. Torchlight (to inspect the dark areas)
  13. HDB issued defect form (Snap a photo of the form submitted for your own reference)





Defect location(s)

Can all doors and windows be opened and closed smoothly?

Are there gaps when the windows are closed?

Do the window locks work?

Are the window handles loose?

Any cracks/scratches/chipped areas on the window glass panel?

Any rust on the hinges and frames?

Any cracks/scratches/chipped areas on the doors?

Is the handle/knob of the doors loose?

Do the keys to all the doors work?






 PASSFAILDefect location(s)

Are there any cracks?

Are there any unevenness? Use spirit level to check.

Are there any signs of dampness or water seepage on the ceilings and walls? (May want to check after rain)



 PASSFAILDefect location(s)

Are the floors hollow? Knock on it lightly to check

Are the floors levelled properly?

Any cracks or chips?






Defect location(s)

Are the electrical and water supply functioning properly?

Is the water clean? Fill up a clear drinking glass to check for any foreign particles.




STAIRS (If applicable)




Defect location(s)

Are the handles loose?

Do the stairs have ample space for your footing?




Contact us for a free quote!

Looking to design and renovate your home? Call us @ 6553 3500 and let us make your dream home a reality!

Tips for a pet-friendly home

They might be our favourite furry companion, but sometimes pets can be a
hassle when they snoop around and make a mess. Pets may potentially hurt
themselves in the process of snooping around. Therefore, pet proofing your home
is a necessity in order to protect your beloved pets and also to lessen your
burden of cleaning up their mess. With that in mind, here are some tips to keep
your home pet friendly.

Acquire the Right Fabrics
Avoid fabrics such as velvet, chenille, mohair; they attract tons of pet hair which may be unsightly and hard to clean up. Stay away from frail materials such as silk that could be easily ruined by your furry companion. Opt for pet friendly fabrics such as denim, microfiber or canvas which still looks great even when your pets make themselves at home on it.

Cut the Cords
Ensure that all wires and electrical cords are steadily attached to the walls and not dangling. They might become your pet’s newest plaything, much to their delight and your horror. Invest in some electrical socket covers as they prevent electric shock to a curious pet.

Shred-Proof Your Furniture
It’s not a secret that Cats LOVE to scratch. Calling all cat owners, unless you like your walls and furniture damaged, get a cat scratching post. Set the post near your cat’s favourite perch and discourage scratching on the furniture by covering the spot with aluminum foil or tape until she shifts her habit to the scratching post.

 Skip the Carpet
Avoid carpets even if your pet is potty-trained. The carpet will collect hair, critters and bacteria. They absorb odors and pet-related stains like a sponge and it is chore to maintain the cleanliness of the carpet. Instead, opt for easy-to-clean tiles such as vinyl, stone or hardwoods.

Hardy Flooring
Active pets can go about the house and leave many unwanted scratches and marks on your house flooring which may be very unsightly. Therefore, utilize impact-resistant flooring to prevent any damages to your flooring. Opt for high end vinyl flooring (HEVF) as they are more affordable and maintenance friendly.

Put away any fragile or dangerous items
Store your precious ornaments in places that are safe from those itchy paws of your cats and dogs. If you’re thinking of an open shelving for your ornaments, you may consider glass cabinets. They allow you to display your ornaments and prevent your pets from reaching those fragile and dangerous ornaments that might fall on them. Furthermore, less dust, less cleaning up to do, more playtime with your furry friend!

Contact us for a free quote!

Looking to design and renovate your home? Call us @ 6553 3500 and let us make your dream home a reality!

Switch up your wall design with a snap of your fingers!

Don’t you wish changing up the looks of your walls can be as easy as changing out of your clothes? The reality isn’t far from your dreams. Wanna know how you can change the design or your wall, or in fact any surface in your home, without having to tear down wallpapers or decals?

Now you can print any artwork or photographs you like, make it part of your wall, and change it up anytime you wish. No dismantling, no tearing, no repainting! Have I got you interested yet?

Image of a magnetic wallpaper

The magnetic solution

The secret lies in simple science. The printed wall system makes use of the properties of magnets and steel to install a versatile design for any surface.

For the first layer, a 0.85mm magnet-based sheet is glued onto literally any flat surface you wish to have your designs on – your painted walls, doors, cabinets, anything you can think of. This magnet base will be where your customisable designs can be mounted on.

Left: Magnet-based sheet; Right: Steel-based wallpaper mounted on magnetic base

Your designs will then be printed on a steel-based sheet as thin as 0.2 to 0.38mm to be mounted onto the base. The best part is that it’s totally customisable! You may provide us a high-definition photograph to be printed or have our creative graphic designers come up with something you’d love!

Feature wall between 2 cabinets

Tired of that design? Roll it up and lay a new printed design! No residue, no damage and no wastage – The prints are reusable! Nowhere to keep that old design? Just overlay your new design on top of the existing one. The magnetic base can hold up to 3 layers of prints, so you can roll them off and reinstall them as you please.

Make use of existing metallic surface

If you stay in an HDB flat, the bomb shelter door would be a familiar sight to you and we all know it’s something that everyone tries to conceal. Why not embrace and beautify it with a mural or your favourite photograph?

If you have a metallic surface, your customised magnet-coated mural can be mounted directly onto it! Again, it’s removable without residue and reusable, how eco-friendly is that? You can also have it in all shapes and cut-outs for the door handle or other fixtures! There, your unattractive door just had a 180-degree transformation!


Display your creativity

If you’d rather be able to create a new artwork on your walls as and when you like, fret not, we have a solution for that too! Why not create a chalkboard or whiteboard wall? Notice that we didn’t say blackboard, because there is a total of THREE colours from the chalkboard to choose from! Depending on your preference and colours of our existing walls, you can have black, grey or even pink wall that you can write on! Best part is, they are erasable so put your worries aside and draw to your heart’s content! Oh, and did I mention it’s magnetic? You can even place decorative magnets or light shelves on your walls directly!

Chalkboard wall with magnetic photo frames and shelves – no nails and drilling needed!

Hold on! There are already existing whiteboard and chalkboard paints available in the market, so what’s so special about this new product, you may ask? Those who have experience with whiteboard paint might realise that it gets increasing harder to erase the markings, but with this 0.5mm thick magnetic whiteboard or chalkboard sheet, your writings can be easily erased even after prolonged usage, just like a regular whiteboard or chalkboard. Each sheet runs a maximum of 2.5m but even if your walls are longer than that, the joints are nearly seamless!

Best of THREE worlds

If a plain chalkboard or whiteboard bores you and you want to be able to write on your walls as well, why not have the best of not both but three worlds? Opt for a 3-layer system that makes up a magnetic writable wall mural! You can have a background design able to hold up magnets and even write on! Perfect!


While it is possible to roll out your new printed wall murals by yourself, we strongly advise against it. It takes skill for the sheet to be laid smoothly on the base, so it would be best to get the specialist to do it for you, especially for large areas.

Swish Design Works now collaborates with Metcol to integrate their technology into your home design. If you’re interested in renovating your space and/or designing any surfaces of your home or office with the printed wall system, call us at 6553 3500 or drop us a message on our Facebook page! Images in this article with courtesy of Metcol.

Choosing the right interior designer for your dream home

Hurray, you are getting the keys to your new house in a few months’ time! You have been scrolling through images of your ideal home on Pinterest and Instagram the past few months and excitedly sharing them with your loved ones. There are so many ideas and hundreds of interior design firms out there for you to choose from but you’re not sure who to engage!

Sounds familiar? Many new homeowners encounter such dilemma and we have summarised some pointers you may want to consider when choosing the perfect interior designer for your home.

Consider only HDB-licensed interior designers

We’ve all read horror stories about interior design firms performing a disappearing act after making grand promises and receiving payment from homeowners. You do not want to fall prey to those scammers.

Only HDB-licensed contractors can perform renovations on your home. They have also undergone training and should know the rules and regulations of renovating an HDB flat. Do some background check on your interior design firms and make sure that they are listed on HDB’s site.

Budget management

Check if your designer can work within your budget. Set a reasonable range for your budget and ensure that your designer stays within the range. You wouldn’t want to shoulder loans that are too heavy for your comfort post renovation.

However, besides the price, the quality of materials used and the workmanship are important factors to consider too. You may not want to go for the lowest quote and risk having to redo the work in the near future, possibly incurring a greater cost. Find out more from the company about the materials used and as the saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it probably is!

Work with the interior designer you trust and work well with

Do your research on the interior design companies you have shortlisted the first round. Are you comfortable with the amount of experience they have in the field? Are you satisfied with the quality of results of their past projects? If possible, meet up with 2-3 interior designers to get a feel of how they work and how well you think you can work with them. If the renovation works are managed by a project manager and not by the designer himself/herself, talk to the person who is the most involved in your project. If there is mutual understanding and effective communication between you and the company, it is more likely that your renovation journey will be a smooth and enjoyable one.

You might have friends who have engaged interior designers before. Ask them for their experiences and recommendations. A designer recommended by a friend is more likely to be trustworthy.

Do they have enough experience?

An experienced interior designer has been in the industry for many years and is more likely to be well-equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge. They would have also seen enough to foresee any difficulties or downfall of some of your ideas, and thus more likely to propose practical solutions for your living space.

Pick the interior designer with the right expertise

Not all interior designers specialise in the same theme.

Although conceptualising and designing a home is the job of an interior designer, it would be good if you have some idea of what you would like to see, or what aspects are important to you. Find out more from your interior designer on their expertise and browse through some of their past works to see if they match your preference.

Start off your renovation journey by talking to us! Swish Design Works is a BCA accredited and HDB-licensed renovation contractor that specialise in one-stop interior service for HDB flats, condos, landed property and commercial spaces. We have more than 15 years of experience in the industry dedicated to making your dream home a reality.

Get a free quote from us today by calling 6553 3500 or drop us a message on Facebook or Instagram! Don’t forget to like and follow us too!

8 Ways to Add Your Personality to Your Home

Not a fan of having a house that looks like everyone else’s? Sick of seeing the same interior designs? Want a home that screams ‘YOU’? You can create a unique home experience too and it doesn’t have to break the bank! Where else to show off your bold taste and fun personality than your abode? You would love to stay home too!

Show off your collectibles

Fan of collecting action figures? Antiques? Books? Get them out of the cabinets and show them off to your guests! Admire your prized possessions at your free time.

Create a gallery wall

Skillfully arrange your photographs on a wall to make it a gallery. You can showcase your favourite artwork or some of your memorable moments captured on frame. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Make a wall your canvas

Transform a wall or part of it into a blackboard and get those creative juice flowing as you decorate your wall with some chalks! No need to worry about mistakes as it can be easily cleaned and redone.

Play with the lights

Light fixtures can act as a centre piece. It can turn into a point of conversation between you and your guests too. Take your time to choose a pendant light that connects with you and let it do its magic!

Introduce unique furniture/accessories

Be it a peculiar clock or a coffee table that can double up as an art piece, display them to add some character to your home interior. Time for some serious shopping!


Add bold colours

Add a splash of your favourite colour that pops in a room. A simple yellow cushion can brighten up a room and make it less boring.

Add artwork or decorative items you love

Go on a shopping spree and pick out artsy decorative items that you love! Install some shelves with concealed lighting to show off your awesome taste in art!

Display your hobbies

Love growing plants and making your own terrarium? Loving knitting scarves for your loved ones? Display your favourite works around your home to add a personal touch.

Bottomline – Do what you like 😉

Just do what works for you, make your own rules! After all, you know yourself best!

For more ideas on creating a unique home experience, contact us and find out more!

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Choosing the right kitchen worktop

Kitchen cabinets are arguably the most expensive carpentry works for home renovations. However, it is unwise to save on this aspect of your renovation and risk having to replace them after a few years. Bearing in mind that the kitchen is a place that is more prone to stains and wear, especially if heavy cooking for whole family is a daily chore, it is very important to choose the right materials for your cabinets and worktop. In this article, we have listed some pros and cons of common worktop materials.

Some standard dimensions

Based on a standard HDB flat height of about 2500 to 2700mm, the top hung cabinet is usually hung 1500 to 1600mm from the ground so it may have a height of 900 to 1200mm. Top cabinets have a depth of 300 – 350mm & usually it is used to keep lighter weight stuff.

The average height for bottom cabinet is about 860mm, but this can be adjusted to ensure a better fit according to the user’s height. Bottom cabinets usually have a depth of 600mm which is wider than the top hung to prevent accidental head injuries when working on the worktop.

Do ensure that there is at least a distance of 500mm between the top cabinets and your counter top, especially if you have a smoke extractor installed.

Common kitchen work top materials

Solid surface

A popular choice among young home owners, this is a more affordable material for a kitchen work top compare to natural stone. Solid surfaces are basically man-made stone made of acrylic or polyester and have a matt finish which can come with different profiles. Some are even made to look like marble!

Pros Cons
Relatively affordable

Seamless joints

No sealing required (non-porous)

Low maintenance

Bacteria resistant

Customisable colours


Prone to scratches but can be sanded

Heat resistance is not high

Suitable for: Regular home usage


Quartz worktops are partially man-made. It consists mainly of natural quartz, one of the hardest mineral available, while small amounts of glass or metallic flecks are added to beautify it. It has a polished finish and consistent colour and pattern.

Pros Cons
High resistance to stains and chipping

Scratch resistant

No sealing required (non-porous)

Low maintenance

Consistent colour and pattern

Heat resistant up to about 205°C

Bacteria resistant

More costly than solid surface top

Suitable for: Heavy cookers who do not mind spending a little more


Granite is a 100% natural material and is heavier and denser compared to its man-made counterparts. Due to it being a natural rock, there is less variety in terms of colour options and each slab of granite would have a different pattern. Its porosity will require high maintenance for periodic sealing.

Pros Cons
High polish finish

Scratch resistant

High resistance to heat

Most expensive out of the three

Less resistant to stains and chipping compared to man-made materials

Requires periodic sealing (porous)

High maintenance

Suitable for: Fans of natural stone and have a higher budget

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