Renovating your home is a time-consuming and costly affair. Design director Alan Leo from Proverbs of Design shares a few tips to get you started on your dream home.
Decide if you want to hire an interior designer (ID) or a contractor
Working with an experienced ID who gets your brief and is able to add creative input can truly help you create the cosy nest of your dreams. More importantly, the ID will be your only contact point – you can leave him to handle all the nitty gritty details, like making sure the schedule for electricians and house painting don’t clash with the carpentry and curtains folks.
“Some home owners feel that working directly with various contractors will be cheaper. This may be so but do remember that it means you have to coordinate all the various contractors yourself,” cautions Alan. This reminds us of a horror story where a friend’s renovation was delayed for months (and almost drove her crazy!), all because she decided to hire an electrician she found on her own, who charged a few hundred dollars cheaper than her ID’s quote. It led to clashing schedules and the inconvenience and grief she suffered was simply not worth the savings.
Be realistic and honest about your budget
If you don’t intend to splurge too much on your home, that’s fine. Do let the ID firm know your magic number, instead of saying “Oh, I have no budget.” Often, this leads to the company presenting you with a luxurious design waaaay over your budget. It wastes both the company’s and your time. Working with a realistic budget also prevents you from overspending. Of course, if money isn’t an issue, feel free to let your ID go all out and build you a luxurious home!
Research on your favourite style
Flip through magazines. Look up Pinterest for ideas. Visit condo showrooms, if you must, to ‘borrow’ some ideas! Having a theme in mind, or even just your preferred colour palette, will come in handy when you discuss your renovation needs with the interior designer.
Splurge on the things that matter
Be decisive – and stick to your plans – about which areas of the house you want to splurge on, and which areas you can go for cheaper items. For example, if marble flooring is what you’ve always dreamed of, go for it now rather than later. Once you’ve moved in, renovating something as big as flooring will greatly inconvenience your family and probably require you to move out.
In comparison, going for say, cheaper doors for your bedroom wardrobes can look as nice as more costly ones if you pick simple, timeless designs. You can always update the look by changing the doors in future, and they are inexpensive to fix.
Be prepared for, and flexible about, unexpected changes
Sometimes, even the best laid plans can go awry. Specially ordered tiles can be out of stock. Hacking the toilet can lead to a leak. Should such mishaps happen, we just have to take it in our stride and move
on. Instead of stressing over your renovation woes, look at it as a rare chance to create your dream home, according to your style, and a lesson learned. When you renovate your future homes, you’ll be much more experienced!
Shop around with at least two or three interior companies
Renovating your house can easily be one of the most stressful things in your life. Take time to interview potential IDs and check out their portfolio and prices. Going for the cheapest quote may not always be ideal. Beware of companies that charge suspiciously little – there may be hidden costs that, when added up, don’t make them cheaper than the rest.
“More important than just saving a few bucks, do find a designer who understands your needs and gives you value for money, even if it is not necessarily the cheapest,” says Alan. You don’t want your cabinets to break down within a couple of years!
Get a clear renovation timeline from your ID
An experienced and responsible ID company should give you an estimated timeline of when which
item can be done, and keep you updated about the progress. You may not want to check on the progress every day – after all, that is why you hired an ID company – but there shouldn’t be radio silence for weeks either.
Complete your rectifications from HDB or developer before getting your ID to start work
If you bought a Build-to-Order (BTO) flat from the Housing Development Board (HDB) or a brand new condominium from a developer, there is a specific period for you to check and request for rectifications. Do make sure you complete all these as soon as possible, before getting your ID to commence with the renovation. Otherwise, if there are any damages or unrectified works, HDB or the developer can blame it on your ID, and refuse to fix them free of charge.