Singaporeans Score

We Ask 11 Singaporeans One Thing They Wished They Did For Renovation, But Didn’t

13 March 2023 | BY

No one wants to renovate their home twice. So we asked some Singaporeans what their big reno regrets are so you can avoid the same mistakes.

Singaporean renovation regrets

The majority of us can agree that renovations are a tedious and overwhelming process, but the end results are often fulfilling. That said, during the chaotic planning leading up to the renovation, it’s easy to miss out on certain areas that should’ve been revamped – things that could take the end results to 110%. 

These mistakes mean that we’ll either have to live with slight inconveniences for the next few years, or go through the heartache of contacting the contractors again and sitting through extra days of torturous drilling. We asked 12 Singaporean homeowners what some of their renovation regrets are, so we can avoid them for our own renos.

1. Installing more power outlets at practical locations

Renovation regrets-insufficient power outletsUse a power track instead of individual power sockets for a sleeker look.
Image credit: Shopee

From charging our tech devices to powering vacuum cleaners, almost all of our daily needs require electricity. This means that while designing your home’s new layout, you’ll have to carefully plan where to place power outlets and how many to provide. Not doing so may mean that you’ll have to rely on messy extension cords, which will be a fire hazard if overloaded, or that you and your family will have to tussle over a power outlet.

“I regret underestimating the number of power outlets needed and their placements. The kitchen and common room could have used more outlets. Now, most electrical appliances in the living room have to be placed in the same corner.” 

Nadia, 34

“Not shifting the power outlets to a more practical place, which might constrain the way we place the furniture or appliances in the room.”

YS, 30

2. Creating shelving and storage for cleaning supplies

Renovation regrets-more service yard storageImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Kinsman

If you’re living away from your parents for the first time, you may be shocked by the array of cleaning supplies needed to keep your new home spick and span. Since these items can quickly clutter up your space, you’ll want to keep them hidden away in cabinets or neatly arranged on shelves.

“A few regrets of mine were not having proper shelving in the service yard and not having a vanity cabinet in the common toilet. Now, there’s no storage space for cleaning supplies in the toilet.” 

Nadia, 34

3. Embracing the default BTO bathroom design 

Renovation regrets- redoing bathroomImage for illustration only.
Image credit: @seventhfloorflat

Current built-to-order flats come with fully furnished bathrooms, but some homeowners decide to revamp the entire space so that it matches the design concept of their home. On one hand,  it’s rewarding to have it designed to your liking, but on the other hand, you should consider if it is worth it to redo a perfectly fine bathroom.

“I didn’t like the ugly BTO design of my toilet with white and random grey mosaic wall tiles. So, in an impulsive move, we decided to cement screed both toilets to have it fit the industrial theme of our house. Well, 2 years into that, the cement screed started peeling off the walls!” 

Nicolle, 37

4. Installing a built-in water dispenser

Renovation regrets- tankless water dispenserTankless water dispensers typically cost $1,000 to $2,000.
Image credit: @thewhitehouzz

For all you high-SES folks out there, consider installing a built-in tankless water dispenser in your kitchen – it’ll change your life. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but water dispensers that dispense hot and cold water at the touch of a button are just so convenient.

Popular tankless water dispensers on the market also purify tap water and look aesthetically pleasing. The only catch is that they come with a hefty price tag, but it’ll pay for itself in the long run.

“I regret not opting for a tankless water dispenser at the start of the renovation process as I later had to call the contractor again to re-discuss the piping and re-plan my countertop set-up.”

Edwin, 38

5. Opting for less custom furniture and built-in carpentry 

Renovation regrets-too many built in carpentryImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Laurus Design

First-time homeowners often assume that it’s more convenient to settle on a complete custom set of carpentry with built-in appliances. Even though this saves you the hassle of needing to source for a list of items initially, those fixed dimensions can cause an inconvenience in the long run.

“After living in my current home for over 10 years, my family’s built-in oven broke down and we took forever to find a replacement. The built-in storage around the existing oven made it so hard to find one that fits seamlessly instead of leaving random gaps where pests could hide.” 

Mabel, 20

6. Spending more on good-quality materials

Renovation regrets-purchasing higher quality materialsImage for illustration only.
Image credit: @cd.laraz

As Singaporeans, it’s in our DNA to always be on the lookout for bargains. However, it’s crucial that you don’t let this penny-pinching habit take the reins when you’re picking out materials and furniture for your forever home. Cheap, sub-par items may look the same as their more expensive counterparts on the surface, but they quickly break down and lose their shine.

“I should’ve spent more money on premium materials. The vinyl flooring and wooden bed frame are starting to chip off.”

Dexter, 22

7. Installing fewer lighting fixtures

Renovation regrets-excess lighting fixturesImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Qanvast

Over the past decade, recessed LED lights have secured their spot as the most popular choice of lighting among Singaporeans. Its energy efficiency and versatility easily elevates any home interior, but too much of a good thing can backfire quickly.

“I regret not stopping my dad from installing so many ambient lights that we didn’t end up using. I feel like we’ve wasted a lot of money.” 

Emily, 22

8. Creating a flexible floor plan 

Finding a perfect spot for your furniture during the layout process is challenging as changes will inevitably crop up along the way. Homeowners can avoid this by opting for a flexible floor plan or picking out multi-directional furniture that can be used to create endless configurations.

“One of the things we regretted not doing was settling on a better place to position the TV. For example, we could have placed it in front of the dining table so that we could watch TV while eating, then swivel it to face the sofa when we’re chilling. But due to space constraints, we didn’t proceed with that.” 

Joelle, 21

9. Hacking instead of overlaying flooring

Renovation regrets-overlaying flooringImage adapted from: Nadia

Not gonna lie, hacking down existing walls and flooring are two of the greatest annoyances during a renovation. Many people circumvent the hacking of floor tiles by overlaying new flooring, but sometimes, taking the easy way out may not be a good thing.

“I wished we hacked the existing tiles instead of just overlaying. Laying over vinyl makes the gap between the floor and the bottom of the main door smaller. The issue is especially obvious at the entrance of our home, where sediment can be easily trapped and scratch the vinyl surface.”

Nadia, 34

10. Using anti-mould paint 

Renovation regrets-anti mould paintGush paints prevent mould growth on walls using powerful anti-microbial agents added in its formula.
Image credit: @chouse_225

Living in this tropical climate makes it tough to maintain homes – we need to go one step further and pick out furniture or designs that are resistant to humidity, especially during monsoon seasons. But what many people forget about are the walls, which are equally susceptible to damage from moisture and can harbour mould.

“At the time, we weren’t aware of anti-mould paint. 20 years later, we discovered that mould was forming underneath layers of paint due to the humidity in Singapore” 

James, 48

11.  Choosing darker-coloured walls and furniture

Renovation regrets-white walls and furnitureImage for illustration only.
Image credit: Cedron Interior Concept

A fully white home fits the current trend of Scandinavian minimalism, but it is hard to keep everything clean especially if you have young children and pets. Instead, consider incorporating darker colours that can not just add visual interest to your home, but also hide signs of wear and tear a little better.

“The white walls at home require regular repainting and I have wiped down all the white cabinets multiple times to try to get stains out, to no avail.” 

Paige, 45

12. Sticking to a proper renovation sequence 

Coordinating an entire renovation from start to finish is tedious and time-consuming, but following a set sequence and schedule will help prevent unexpected mistakes from occurring. 

For example, you’d want to install built-in appliances, carpentry and hardware only after your walls have been painted. Otherwise, it’s easy to ruin these expensive purchases with stray flecks of paint.

“Due to poor scheduling, the renovation sequence was messed up and my newly installed hardware had paint stains and scuff marks within a week after being attached.” 

Rachel, 45

We ask: Biggest Singaporean renovation regrets

A complete renovation of your home is a huge undertaking, so make sure to plan ahead so as to save yourself unnecessary grief down the line. Hopefully, the experiences from these 11 Singaporeans will help you pre-empt possible regrets when it’s time for you to renovate your home.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

For more pre-reno tips and tricks:

Cover image adapted from: Kitty Lee Architecture, Angi, Expat Living


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