From building a personalised gaming corner to featuring an indoor swing, we’ve all had mental blueprints of our future home in our teens and twenties. It can feel surreal that we’ve graduated from tiling up our homes in The Sims to scouring through interior designer lists on forums IRL – but with it comes a list of heavier responsibilities to consider.
To make sure you’re on your home-changing game, here are seven things to look out for when choosing IDs and contractors, so you don’t suffer financially and emotionally on poor reno.
1. Look at their portfolio to note the styles they specialise in
Muji vs Industrial design styles.
Image credit: Qanvast – Forefront Interior, Qanvast – Posh Home
Whether you’re gunning for an industrial pad or a Japandi home for your soon-to-be-expanding fam, picking interior designers who specialise in your chosen home concept is key. Although most firms are willing to accommodate your ideal blueprint, you’ll want to counter-check this by thumbing through their portfolio showcasing past work.
By trawling through their website for photos of previously renovated homes or checking on reviews from past clients, it paints a general idea on the styles that stand out the most.
2. Check if they are CaseTrust-accredited
After passing the initial style test, you might be set on hiring a particular designer after realising that their past work looks just like the one you saved on Pinterest. But before you jump the gun, make sure they’ve got the right credentials that’ll save you from losing a large deposit.
A quick search online on this CaseTrust web listing will reveal whether your chosen ID is CaseTrust-accredited – meaning that the company is required to purchase a deposit performance bond to protect every customer’s deposit. This bond is a type of insurance that safeguards a customer’s deposit against closure, winding up and liquidation before any renovation work commences.
It means that no matter what, you’ll not lose any downpayment laid on the table.
Protip: Look out for whether a company is HDB-registered or ISO-certified as well. The former means the company is conscious of HDB’s renovation guidelines, while the latter indicates that there’s an assurance in their quality and standard of work.
3. Ask about the payment model percentages
For folks who are wanting to start their home makeover from scratch, renovation’s undoubtedly on the pricier end depending on the size of your home and the extent of its grand transformation. Before you pay out a sizable stash of loot at one go to your chosen contractor, though, you might want to ask about their payment model percentages.
Image adapted from: Farizah Arsat
This is often stated outright in the renovation contract under “Terms of payment” so keep your eyes peeled for the percentage of payment required at each stage of renovation. This varies from company to company, with percentages pegged to stages like cleaning or carpentry installation.
Tip: We recommend looking out for payment models which have the bulk of payment (50%) at the later stages. This ensures that your ID or contractors do their best and stay responsive, as the money has yet to arrive in their pockets.
4. Stay away from roadshow deals
Discounts are almost always a dealbreaker in whatever purchase we’re making, but as they always say: quality over quantity.
Image credit: TheSmartLocal
In the housing arena, you’ll probably experience these roadshow deals in the form of sales pitches and promotions that urge you to snag a renovation package within a certain timeframe. Unrealistic timelines that promise a fresh facelift for your home “within three days flat” are also best avoided, since shorter reno durations might not always lead to good quality turnouts.
You’ll want to perform some groundwork of your own before picking up on such deals, by clarifying on materials being used or reasons for a certain interior designer to be able to afford throwing in freebies.
5. Get quotations from a few companies before settling on one
Renovation comes with a long list of monetary concerns, and that includes getting quotations from a few interior designers or contractors before settling on one. This can give you affirmation that you’re not being overcharged for a certain type of reno, or strangely underpriced to be true to quality.
Look at similar sections across quotations to compare, for instance: painting works, false ceiling works, carpentry.
Image adapted from: Yishan Yu, Valerie Sera
Instead of skimming through an overall package quote, comparing price breakdowns by item is also crucial. This ensures that you know what exactly you’re paying for your home makeover, right down from fresh coats of paint on your walls to fixtures and fittings. For example, carpentry work should specifically outline the type of wood being used, installation fees for irregular-shaped tiles and so forth.
6. Make sure your ID conveys their extent of supervision and timeline
Nobody likes being ghosted, and this means you’ll want to get constant updates from your designers or contractors. Before becoming fully invested in the chosen company, ensure that the contractor keeps you on the loop in your renovation journey. This includes responding to text messages, overseeing contractors on-site and whether including after-sales services is part of the package.
Image credit: Juz Interior
You’ll also want to check if the timeline they’ve conveyed is realistic, and whether there are compensations for delays. A rough gauge for this would be six to seven weeks for new flats and seven to eight weeks for resale HDBs respectively.
7. Quote a budget lower than what you can afford
To account for any hidden HDB reno costs that include electrical wiring, plumbing works and so forth, quoting a budget lower than what you’ve initially planned is your safest bet. In case of an undesired scenario where you end up paying more than what’s comfortable, taking this crucial step would give you that extra cushion.
If you’d rather have exact figures instead of estimations, though, clarifying all costs upfront also saves you the shock of whipping out extra.
Pro tip: Often, electrical wiring and clean-up costs are projected outside the contract, so do ask your ID if that will add additional costs. Don’t forget to factor in furnishing and appliance costs, either, as those are the final touches to making your place truly feel like home.
Choosing IDS and contractors in Singapore
Choosing the perfect interior designer can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible when you know what to look out for. From checking up their credentials to checking up their portfolio, you can prevent nasty incidents of getting kena scammed, considering that starting a new home is a blissful journey.
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