Renovation contractor or Interior designer?

Vincent Interior Blog-20
In Singapore, there are a few ways to renovate your dream home. You can engage an Interior Designer, contractor or do-it-yourself (DIY). However, DIY is not recommended unless you have some background on renovation or contractor business. Even if you have some knowledge, having the right contacts is also very important. Without reliable contacts and good relationships with the sub contractors (tiler, electrician, plumber, carpenter, etc), you will face many problems during your renovation. In another words, the more suitable choices will be engaging a renovation contractor or interior designer.

How do you know whether a renovation contractor or interior designer is suitable for you?

There are a few factors to consider when it comes to deciding on a renovation contractor or interior designer:

1) Price: Many Singapore homeowners’ decision to engage a renovation contractor is always because of price. There is no doubt their price is lower than the interior designers’. What makes the renovation contractors’ pricing so low? Contractors usually do not provide many important renovation documents, like floor plan, perspectives, ceiling plan or detail drawings. They also do not or provide limited design suggestions. By limiting or eliminating all these time consuming and effort intensive, the contractors are able to justify their low price and profit margin. In another words, the reason for the higher price charged by the interior designers is due to their time and efforts. Unless you have no choice but to use price as your decision making factor, I would recommend you to use a interior designer instead of a renovation contractor.

2) Adequate knowledge: Do you know what you want? Do you know how to plan or design your house? Do you know the appropriate size needed for your carpentry? Do you know what is the implication of hacking certain part of the wall or relocating a door? These are some of the questions you will need to answer if you decide to engage a renovation contractor. The contractor’s job is to follow your instructions and do what you want. Unless the mistake is very obvious, they usually will not advise you on any design or logic issues. Anyway, that is what a contractor does! Follow all your instruction and just do it! Therefore, it is important that you have the necessary knowledge or good planning in order to engage a contractor. For those of you who have no idea about renovation, interior designer is the choice for you. It is the Interior Designer’s responsibility and duty to advise on any design and logic issues. For example your interior designer will advise you to do two separate doors instead of one full size door because an oversize wardrobe door will tend to warp easily. In addition to that, the hinges will also get damaged easily because it is overloaded. A renovation contractor will most likely just follow your instruction. When your oversize door warped in a few months after installation, are you going to blame the contractor because they follow your instruction?

3) Worry-free renovation: After committing to a $30,000 renovation cost, do you want to worry about how your house is going to look like? Or are you going to worry whether the finished product is as what you expected? Engaging a interior designer will most likely helps you to achieve a worry-free renovation. By providing all the necessary documents (floor plan, perspectives, detailed drawings, etc), your interior designer would have already provide you with a very good details of what is going to happen and a very clear picture of what he is going to do to your house.

4) Design focus or basic renovation: Generally, renovation contractor is more suitable for very basic renovation. If you want something different or unique, interior designer is a more suitable choice. In another words, a renovation contractor will build a functional home while a interior designer will build a beautifully designed and functional home.

5) Services: Interior designer usually provide before sale, during work in progress and after sale services. Services include understand customers’ needs and wants, provide renovation documentation, advises on furniture, electronics, bath and light accessories, product warranty, etc. Renovation contractor usually try to do your renovation quickly with minimum or no service. Can you accept paying a five figures sum renovation with limited or no service?


End of the day, it is what you want that matters. You need to accept the fact that there is no cheap and good. Good things do not come cheap. Many homeowners only thought of saving a 10% (this figure will get smaller when the contract sum gets bigger) on renovation cost without realising the consequences. It is only after the renovation that they realised that the 10% saving is not worth it after all. I personally have heard it so many times and it usually happens to those homeowners who are renovating for the first time.

I am not saying that a renovation contractor cannot do a good job. The renovation by a contractor can only be good if you (homeowner) know what you are going into and have all the necessary knowledge to achieve your desirable outcome.

Blog about Interior Design, renovation and home improvement.


7 Responses to “Renovation contractor or Interior designer?”

  1. Mark

    Jun 23. 2014

    Hi Vincent,
    Do u have any good interior designer at sg to recommend? Especially those who has good connections with good contractors?



    Reply to this comment
  2. sgtopreno

    Nov 25. 2014

    However none of the contractors appeared serious or had the resources required completing the work. I required in a different way to search out contractors, and came through for us! The contractor we tend to worked with was quick and professional; simply what we tend to was hoping for!

    Reply to this comment
  3. arkhitecture1

    Apr 01. 2015

    Hi, I had a very good experience with their service was really good. They show me previous plan about renovation as they shown in the map their work was the same what they committed. When we think about renovation one thing come in our mind that which company we are giving contract are they do the work what are they saying.

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  4. The renovation industry is booming in Singapore and many are out there.

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  5. You can also look for affordable solutions too

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