Can engaging your own sub contractors save you money for your renovation?

I have answer many readers regarding this question and I think I might as well share with you the pros and cons about engaging your own sub contractors. At the end, I will also conclude for you whether engaging your own sub contractors helps to save you money for your renovation. This topic that I am going to talk about only applies to homeowners who have engaged a Interior Designer or main contractor for their renovation.

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You might be in this situations

  1. You have engaged a really good Interior Designer for your renovation. However, your friends or relatives are sub contractors themselves. Your friends or relatives told you that they can help you to save some money by giving you a lower price for their services (for example electrician, etc). You thought that you are going to save some money and at the same time engaged the services of a professional Interior Design. Its best of both world!
  2. You saw an advertisement or recommendation from your friends that this particular sub contractor provide his services at very cheap price and can help you to save money. The quotation from your Interior Designer for the service (for example electician services) is $300 more expensive. You decide to use the sub contractor (in this case the electrician) instead of your Interior Designer’s electrician. You think you have save $300 for your renovation!

The truth

This is what is going to happen when you engaged your own sub contractors when you already have your own Interior Designer. The following are situations which you might face. Some of the examples listed did happened in real life. I shall not mentioned any names but the purpose of the illustration is to make it a learning experiences for all the readers.

What will happened when you engage your sub contractor (Using electrician as an example)

You engaged your own electrician for a discount price of $300 as compared to your Interior Designer’s electrician. After the  initial rewiring works, your Interior Designer found that:

  • the wires could have laid differently which will look nicer.
  • the concealing work for the wiring are not done properly and need touch up.
  • the wire needed for the lighting is too short, which affects the location of the light.
  • a switch was fixed at the wrong location, which need some shifting works.
  • there are some conflicts between the wiring and the carpentry works which need some adjustments.

Your Interior Designer informed the electrician but he refused to change. Your Interior Designer informed you about the mistakes or what your electrician should have done.

The following are some of the issues you will face:

  • your electrician want to charge you more for any changes.
  • you have to do the coordination between the electrician and your Interior Designer.
  • your electrician told you that thats the way he works and you did not mention anything specific before the agreement.
  • you will be confused whether to listen to your electrician’s or your Interior Designer’s advises.
  • your electrician refused to listen to the Interior Designer and make decision for you based on his convenience.

Why does all these happen?

  • you do not have the necessary technical knowledge to list your specifications to your electrician.
  • you have no idea how the industry works and the rulings that determine how your wirings are to be laid.
  • the electrician’s pay master is you and not the Interior Designer. Therefore he is usually not corporative with the Interior Designer nor will he seek his advises.
  • your electrician may take advantage of your limited knowledge and inexperience to work at his convenience and lower his cost.
  • your Interior Designer is not obligated to check on the electrician’s work because the electrician does not work for the him

Reasons for using your Interior Designer’s electrician or sub contractor?

  • save you the headache of coordinating which is supposed to be the Interior Designer’s job. That is why you pay good money to the Interior Designer
  • when you have any problems, you only need to go to your Interior Designer and not many parties.
  • your little saving will most likely disappear when problems pop up and you need to pay extra charges.
  • your Interior Designer will always look out for the best way to lay the wirings especially when it comes to looking good and functionality.
  • end products of your own sub contractors will alway look horrible or function incorrectly.
  • when you have problem after moving in, you can bet that your own sub contractors will not appear (its only a one time job for them)
  • because the Interior Designer is the pay master, his electrician will always do whatever the Interior Designer says
  • there are mutual understand between the Interior Designer and his electrician which improves the quality of work


Its is not worth it to save a couple of hundreds or even a thousand dollars to get your own sub contractors. Even you managed to save a few hundreds, you will not get the satisfaction from the renovation because of the headache you will need to face. You might not even save a single cents but spend more if not handled properly. ASk yourself this question, is it worth it to risk your $30,000 of dollars to save $1,000? Do reconsider engaging your own sub contractors unless it is really necessary.

Sub contractors that you are advised to use from your Interior Designers:

  • electrical works
  • plumbing works
  • false ceiling
  • windows and grilles installation
  • doors installation
  • flooring: laminate, parquet, engineered flooring, etc
  • painting works
  • carpentry works

Blog about Interior Design, renovation and home improvement.


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