9 Most popular questions on renovation answered

Renovating your home for the first time can be bombarding. You have to get the keys to your new home, do defects checking, design your new home, select renovator, plan your finances and monitor the renovation.

If you’re absolutely new to renovation, deciphering all these tasks can prove to be way too time consuming and headache-inducing.

But fret not! To get you started and make things easier for you, here are the 9 most popular questions homeowners, like you, ask on renovation, and the answers to them!

Qn 1: My house is brand new. Should I hire a defects checker to check my house?

Doing defects checking is important, regardless of whether it is for a new or a resale home. Otherwise, you might end up bearing the cost of fixing the defects that were already in existence, even before you takeover the new home.

However, hiring a defects checker will set you back by at least S$400. This is quite an unnecessary cost, because, many interior designers and even contractors offer free defects checking if you sign up for a renovation package with them. And if your selected renovator does not offer such freemium, you can still do your own defects checking. Here’s a checklist and a guide to get you started with.

Qn 2: Should I engage an Interior Designer (ID) or a contractor?

Interior designers are like the wedding bridal studios. They provide the full package – from designing your house to hiring the right contractors and workers to execute the renovation. They are like the consultants and project managers rolled into one.

Contractors, on the other hand, do not focus so much on the design aspect. They know what the popular design features in the market are and they are equipped to execute the renovation based on these common design templates.

So, when should you opt for which?

Interior Designer: Mahinaz Soliman

Go for an interior designer if:

  • You have a unique renovation design in mind. Since your design is unique, you need an ID to draw out a 3D mock up of your new home design. This is to avoid any discrepancies between what you envisioned versus what the designer understood.
  • You have no design idea on mind, but you don’t want to settle for a plain and common design.

Go for a contractor if:

  • You’re tight on budget, and you just want a basic, fuss-free design.

Qn 3: Do I really need a 3D design mock up?

Design mock ups are meant to give you a visualization of how your home will look like with your new design. It is useful in:

  • helping you visualize the look and feel of the space as a whole and decide if that’s really what you want
  • giving you an idea of how you can furnish your home after renovation
  • avoiding miscommunications in renovation scope, by ensuring your renovator really understands the exact design you want.

It is always recommended that you opt for a design mock up. Mainly because it will be cheaper to have everything communicated and sorted out, and even make changes to your renovation scope, before the start of renovation. However, if your renovation scope is really small, and there’s little customization, or you’re just renovating a small section of your home, then you could perhaps go without a design mock-up.

3D design mock up by: Mahinaz Soliman

Qn 4: How do I choose my renovator?

A common question preceding this is “how many renovators should I have consulted before I select one?” There is no hard and fast rule on this. Some homeowners select the very first renovator they’ve met. Some consult as many as 25 renovators before finally settling down on one.

But what really matters is not about the number of renovators you’ve consulted before. Neither is it about choosing the cheapest renovator. Instead, it’s more about how confident you feel of each renovator, and how much rapport you have with them. Go for someone that isn’t too pushy about his sales. Someone whom you feel you can readily ask questions, without triggering them. Someone who has the relevant experience and is able to help you achieve the best result at the best value.

To find that someone, ask yourself these 5 questions when you consult your renovators.

Qn 5: How much will my renovation cost?

Although there are many online sources that will say a house of this size should cost this much to renovate, it’s not really accurate to follow a blanket estimate. This is because your renovation costing will depend on a few factors like your existing house condition. For instance, a resale home usually requires more work and hence costs more to renovate.

Another factor is your renovation scope. These are the common big ticket items for renovation:

  • Flooring for the entire home
  • Renovation of wet areas e.g. changing flooring of bathroom
  • Customized carpentry designs
  • Building of half-walls (they usually require the full wall to be hacked and then a half-wall to be re-erected)
  • Glass partitions (glass walls are expensive!)

And of course, besides the cost of renovation works, there’s also the cost of furnishing the place that we should consider. This can set you back by S$10-20K even for a 4-room flat.

Qn 6: How can I save on my renovation?

Since renovation is expensive, it’s always good to know some cost-cutting tips e.g.

  • If your home already comes with an existing flooring, avoid redoing it, unless really necessary. When choosing your flooring, choose one that’s both fit for use and value for money. Here’s a guide to help you select such a flooring.
  • Where possible, avoid redoing the walls / floors of your kitchen and bathroom. The walls and floors of these wet areas require special waterproofing which is expensive.
  • Instead of customizing your carpentry design, why not opt for off-the-shelf products. They are non-permanent, cheaper and comes in varying designs.

For more tips on how to save on your renovation, find out here!

Interior Designer: Phuoc Cong Truong

Qn 7: How do I finance my renovation?

Many homeowners choose to opt for a bank loan to finance their renovation. However, do note that such reno loans come with some terms and conditions. For instance, there’s usually a maximum amount that you can loan. And that you have to have signed the renovation contract before you can loan anything. For more info on how you can finance your renovation better, find out here!

Qn 8: Am I getting quoted fairly for my renovation?

It is natural for us to wonder if we are ever being overcharged. While there are many online sources that share about how much each renovation work should cost, it is hardly a fair comparison. After all, the prices depend largely on the exact scope of renovation. Also, sometimes, the renovator might quote you cheaper for a certain reno work, and charge you more for another work, so as to balance out his profit margin.

A better way to find out if you are getting overcharged is to consult at least 3 renovators and compare their price quotations as a overall. Of course, in your comparisons, you should also take into account the materials used and the quality of the renovation work. Some renovators may charge you more, merely because they have more experience handling your kind of projects, and use better quality materials and workmanship.

Qn 9: What should I check in my renovation contract?

Your signature on the contract represents that you are legally liable to pay for the renovation, according to the terms stated on it. And since renovation is considerably a large ticket item, it’s understandable why most of us tend to be extra cautious and anxious about signing on the dotted line. 

As a broad overview, these are the 5 things you should check in your contract:

  • Ensure there is no double counting
  • Check if the costs are before or after GST
  • Check that the reno details are correct
  • Confirm what’s not included in the contract
  • Be sure of the payment terms

Find out more about each of these checks here!

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