Should I engage a Contractor or Interior Designer to renovate my flat? - Seedly
 

SG Budget Babe

Property

Asked by Joyce

Asked on 02 Dec 2019

Should I engage a Contractor or Interior Designer to renovate my flat?

Would be renovating my flat next year :) Appreciate any advice!

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Answers (19)

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Choon Yuan Chan
Choon Yuan Chan
Top Contributor

Top Contributor (Dec)

Level 9. God of Wisdom
Answered on 22 Dec 2019

Interior design will be better in my view as they have all the contacts to provide you the full suite of home furnishings

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Dawn Fiona
Dawn Fiona
Level 7. Grand Master
Updated on 03 Dec 2019

I hired an ID and no regrets. Here's what I realised why one was necessary after engaging them:

  • We don't have time to source and liaise with each of the contractors. And there's so many! Tiling, carpentry, electrical wiring, painters, etc.

  • There were so many things we didn't think about, like corners and functionality, wiring, etc. If not for our ID, we would have overlooked many of these.

  • It was tough to visualize and match colours, furniture, etc

  • Our ID also guided us through the steps for getting our utilities and internet setup (Netlink Trust)

  • We barely even knew the difference between many materials until our ID educated us on it, such as compressed vs pure wood (I would have gone pure IKEA otherwise!), laminates, granite vs stainless steel sinks, quartz kitchentops vs. EDL compact, etc

  • There was a LOT of dust and grime accumulated during the hacking and rebuilding process. I wouldn't have enjoyed being onsite all the time for sure.

  • Our ID also helped us with our furniture sourcing and brought us to JB for cheaper quotes!

All in all, really no regrets. I was like you and contemplated simply engaging contractors to renovate my flat and save the usual ID markup fees, but after embarking on the renovation...trust me, if you have a full-time job it will be close to impossible for you to manage the whole renovation process on your own. Just get an ID - it'll be worth the fee and headaches saved.​​​

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Bjorn Ng
Bjorn Ng

22 Dec 2019

Hey Budget Babe! Could I request if you can share your ID contact with me please? :)
Dawn Fiona
Dawn Fiona

24 Dec 2019

Hi Bjorn! can you PM me? I don't think it's nice for me to put his name and mobile number here on the public web due to privacy guidelines :)
Junus Eu
Junus Eu
Top Contributor

Top Contributor (Dec)

Level 9. God of Wisdom
Answered on 02 Dec 2019

So.. one thing my friend did was to speak to a few IDs and get their different opinions, before implementing the best of the ideas in his own design. (For those who are in the ID business here, not nice to hear, I know).

It depends on how confident you are on your ID skills! I do agree that some good interior designers really do a good job of transforming the space.

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I used to own a renvoation firm. So I am aware of the different marketing angles different firms and personals project in the market.

To add on to the confusion, there are many contractors now advertising themselves as "Interior Designers" when all they have is some additional interior design experience over the years, not certified or train. And some of them are good though.

And there are interior designers out there who call themselves contractors to attract people to their lower costs "images".

So my advice is to get to know the person, be it contractor or interior designer. Google him if possible.

Make sure you are comfortable with his designs and explanations. No amount of good experience and skills is enouhg if his design does not match your expectations and preferences.

Get to know him and check his past works, photos and testimonials.

Work carefully and be sure to check on his work FREQUENTLY.

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Hwee Kian
Hwee Kian
Level 7. Grand Master
Answered on 03 Dec 2019

Personally, I uses a ID because I think I want to incorporate elements of aesthetics + functionality in my house. Most importantly, a house has to be a home. In terms of contractor, I have spoken to a few before and I think it's mostly pragmatism and functionality on their end, of course we might be able to save quite a fair bit with contractor so I think it needs to be a delicate balance.

I think a rule of thumb that works for me is, always have a buffer of a good 10 to 15% from your total budget, i.e. if your budget is $40k then always be prepared that the total cost of renovation might shoot up to $45-50k in total.

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VC
Vicki Chng
Level 6. Master
Answered on 24 Dec 2019

I went with a contractor cos money was tight and the works I required for quite clear and I had a specific vision. No regrets, though I could have chosen a better contractor as mine wasn't fantastic. If you know exactly what you want, and don't mind overseeing it, contractor is the way to go.

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Harry Specter
Harry Specter
Level 4. Prodigy
Answered on 23 Dec 2019

My preference is for Interior designer because he has more knowledge of "dead space", pairing of colours with designs, maximising storage space, maximising outlook and overall theme of the entire unit.

I could be wrong, but my own experiene with interior designers are very positive

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Isabel Wong
Isabel Wong
Level 6. Master
Answered on 22 Dec 2019

ID if its a major renovation. They have contacts which make it a lot less time consuming.

But speak to different IDs and find one that can incorporate the design you desire within your budget!

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Soh Yew Wei
Soh Yew Wei
Level 4. Prodigy
Answered on 22 Dec 2019

If you know your own design and is capable of taking short break from work to visit your work , a contractor can be a lot cheaper than ID.

however a contractor is not as detailed as a ID and is more gross in his work (my own experience plus my siblings)

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Bjorn Ng
Bjorn Ng
Top Contributor

Top Contributor (Dec)

Level 9. God of Wisdom
Updated on 22 Dec 2019

Well, 2 school of thoughts, and both are okay. To summarize:

1) Contractor - Take this like ala-carte planning for your wedding. You have to manage individual contractor, and plan yourself what comes first followed by what. Might be daunting for a new home owner.

2) ID - Take this like engaging a bridal studio. Bao ka liao. Main coordinator and designer. Give you an idea (based on what you want) and help you to manage the contractor. Any issues etc, you can look for your ID.

With that said, I am going for ID as I am honestly clueless as to how to start! Budget Babe wrote damn solid pointers too :)​​​

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Hi Joyce,

Most of my friends have engaged an ID, and they generally find that the added peace of mind that an experienced ID brings to the table is worth the additional cost. This is akin to hiring a wedding organizer to help keep things running smoothly and coordinate all vendors involved in a wedding; a good ID will be able to point out things that might be overlooked if you had planned to do the planning yourself and then coordinate the different contractors.

Me....I'm still trying to get a flat. Will probably go for an ID when it is time.

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Eveline Lau
Eveline Lau
Level 6. Master
Answered on 03 Dec 2019

Depends -

Hire an ID if,

  • you have an idea for the interior design but you have problem sketching it out

  • not familiar with colours, furniture, materials etc

  • no idea about wiring, wall and tile hacking, carpentry work

  • too busy to manage the contractors yourself

  • can afford the money for it

Hire a contractor if,

  • you know exactly what you want, from the colors, to the carpentry works to the wiring

  • have the time to spare to manage the contractor

  • cannot afford an ID

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Yanisa Koh
Yanisa Koh
Level 6. Master
Answered on 02 Dec 2019

It really depends on your budget, and what you want out of your renovation. There are pros and cons to both. With a contractor you would need to be more handson and have a clear direction of what you are planning for the house. An ID may be costlier but a good one should be able to put your high level ideas into reality and even manage your project for you.

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Shin Ling
Shin Ling
Level 2. Rookie
Answered on 02 Dec 2019

If you have an idea of what design you want, you may wish to get contractor to save costs (:

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If you have time to source and oversee everything yourself, then consider a contractor - you can save a significant amount of money.

If you don't have time or have someone who you trust, then consider a ID - give you a peace of mind while getting the work done.

Here is everything about me and what I do best.

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Claudia Yip
Claudia Yip
Level 2. Rookie
Answered on 02 Dec 2019

For quality of work wise.. go for ID

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B
Belinda
Level 2. Rookie
Answered on 02 Dec 2019

A trustworthy I.D for sure. Contractors are usually uncle sorts who always promise more than they deliver and take 2-3 times the time they promise to finish the work.

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YC
Yh Chee
Level 3. Wonderkid
Answered on 02 Dec 2019

ID

  • If you have no idea what type of design you want.

  • You don’t want to project manage.

Contractor

  • You have an idea what you want to do.

  • you have the time to project manage and coordinate between the different parties such as electrician, plumber.

Qanvast do a good guarantee for ID if you go through them.​​​

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Lynette Faith
Lynette Faith
Level 3. Wonderkid
Answered on 02 Dec 2019

ID provides design services and oversee the quality of work for you... of course at a higher price. It really depends on your priority(cost, design,quality, timelibe). If you only need minor renovation, going with a trusted contractor recommended by people you know is the way to go. If you want design, have spare cash and wants someone to oversee the Reno, go for ID!

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