This Ultimate Home Renovation Guide provides you with helpful solutions and help you to steer clear of renovation scams!
Empowers you to make smart decisions for your home renovation journey.
A home renovation in Singapore is a pricey affair for homeowners.
A mere mention of the ‘Renovation’ word is undoubtedly unnerving, especially for first- timers.
Undoubtedly a big decision, it’s not going to be a walk in the park either.
To build a dream home, some might even go to the extent of describing the renovation journey as arduous.
Money, time and stress, they are all part of it. But don’t let all these scare you.
So without a due, let’s begin shall we?
Table of Contents
Okay, this is the fun part of your entire renovation journey.
Bohemian, Contemporary, Eclectic, Minimalist…
There are just too many interior design styles to choose from and it could sometimes be overwhelming to decide on a particular theme or style.
Much like your sartorial preferences, the design style of your personal living space reveals a lot about you.
The rule of thumb is to have a central theme so that your home will look clean and uniform.
Unless you are the sole decision maker, both you and your spouse (or family members) may likely have differing preferences.
Hence, it is important to reach a compromise before deciding on the look of your home.
It usually begins with time spent on searching for and browsing through pictures of well-renovated homes, and then saving or bookmarking those you fancy.
To help you find inspirations easily, you will enjoy FREE access to our mammoth collection of interior design themes from hundreds of interior design and renovation professionals in Singapore.
Your choice of interior design themes would have a direct relationship with how much you need to fork out.
For example, Muji or Minimalist themes emphasize spacious and clean uncluttered looks, thus reducing the need for exaggerated furnishings or carpentry.
While deciding on the design for your home, it is important to choose one that fits your lifestyle and budget, not something that is dictated upon you by someone else.
To have a good grasp on the renovation matters and costs, you should read these Frequently Asked Questions.
Next, explore different interior design ideas with an interior design or renovation professional, before deciding on one that appeals to you and your pocket.
Leon Luo, associate director at Free Space Intent shares his view.
“Some owners worry about not finding the right style and get confused over jargons or words like minimalist and industrial.
If you have no strong preference for a particular design, it’s perfectly fine to decide on one that works for you and complements your lifestyle needs.
You can rope in the expertise and help of a design expert to incorporate or refine details during the design development phase.”
Since there are far too many pictures of good-looking homes, it may not possible for you to incorporate every single detail into your home renovation, unless you have a deep pocket.
While deciding on an interior design theme or style, first think of what you really need in your home that will help you settle in comfortably upon moving in.
Prioritising practicality is important before diving into the renovation of your new home.
Doing so will subconsciously ‘force’ you to jot down your priorities, have realistic expectations and separate the must-haves and good-to-haves.
It helps you to work within your budget and avoid over-spending for your renovation.
Apart from determining the essentials, know which part of your home you wish to spend more time in.
If you love to cook, then you may want to focus more effort in building up a functional kitchen.
Alternatively, if you love to unwind at home, then talk to your designer and give more attention to your home’s living or entertainment area.
Do not spend excessively on a room that you will rarely use.
Don’t skip this part!
It is important to plan wisely and work out your renovation budget rationally.
If you still don’t have an idea of how much you should spend on your home renovation, you are not alone.
The ‘How Deep Is Your Pocket’ bit is always a common challenge for many home owners.
Everyone wants a great-looking home like the ones you see featured in magazines.
But are you prepared to fork out at least $60,000 or more to achieve that?
Unless you are financially well off, it is not easy to come up with money like this, and for most people, that would mean getting a renovation loan from banks.
In challenging times like this, the top concerns for everyone are job stability and financial liability.
Even if you have ready cash on hand, you need to consider carefully whether it makes financial sense to splurge extravagantly on your home renovation.
Some homeowners tend to get carried away with wanting a glamorous looking home and let emotions rule them.
Never make this mistake.
Start asking yourself these real and hard questions now. And answer them truthfully!
1. How much can I afford to spend on my renovation?
2. Am I going to get a renovation loan from the bank?
3. What is the yearly interest rate for the loan?
4. What is my monthly repayment amount?
5. How many years do I have to service the loan?
6. How much of my salary goes to the monthly repayment?
7. Is my spouse sharing this financial liability with me?
8. What are your other financial liabilities? E.g. Car loan, living expenses, credit card bills etc.
9. Will I be over-stretched financially?
1. What’s the plan if I or my spouse become jobless?
2. What happens if either of us get a pay cut?
3. How will this impact the servicing of my renovation loan and other financial liabilities?
4. Do I have enough savings to pull through at least 6 months and continue the monthly loan repayment?
5. How long can my savings last until I find a new job again?
Depending on which local bank you choose, you may borrow up to 6 times of your monthly salary or up to S$30,000 whichever is lower.
The renovation loan tenure (i.e. repayment period) is usually up to 5 years for most.
Of course, taking a longer loan tenure also means having to be pay more interest.
The per annum interest rate (as of Dec 2020) differs for different financial institutions – between 2.98 percent and 4.2 percent.
If you meet the criteria, obtaining a renovation loan is quite easy.
But to fulfil your monthly repayment obligations for the next 3 to 5 years, it’s no laughing matter.
Worse, if life throws an unexpected curve ball your way. So be on the defensive when you calculate your finances.
Be rational and set aside a renovation budget you can afford.
If the cost of renovation exceeds your budget, consider the crucial renovation works first.
The not-so-essential stuff can be postponed till later when you are in a better financial position.
Avoid over-stretching yourself financially and don’t fall into a debt trap!
Note: The fees and charges vary for different banks. Such as a processing fee for approved loans, admin fee, late payment fee, partial or full repayment penalty etc. Be aware of these fees before you apply for a loan.
First, the costs of renovation will vary according to your expectations and the size of your property.
On average, homes that are below 100 square metres could range from $20,000 to $40,000.
Those with larger floor area such as 5-room HDB flats could go up to $80,000 or more.
Second, the condition of your property affects its renovation costs.
For example, a new BTO flat is less expensive to renovate compared with a resale flat (you can also read more about this here).
Have a look at the components below that would determine the outcome of your renovation costs.
1. What is your property type? HDB, EC, private condo?
2. Is it a BTO or resale unit?
3. Will it be a simple or elaborate renovation?
4. Will there be removal or hacking of flooring or walls?
5. Will there be plenty of carpentry work?
6. What is your choice of materials for flooring, walls or carpentry?
There are two main categories of BTO (Built-to-Order) flats offered by the HDB – i.e. Standard BTO and Premium BTO.
Standard BTO units come mostly in bare concrete finishing.
Whereas Premium BTO units come ready with floor and wall finishes in the living room, kitchen, household shelter, service yard and bathrooms.
Compared to a Standard BTO unit, the purchase price of a Premium BTO unit would naturally be more expensive due to its finishing.
Additionally, you save more on the renovation for Premium flats.
Renovation packages have always been a staple product offering by many local renovation companies.
Generally, a predetermined list of work scopes and items are bundled together in various renovation packages and sold at fixed prices to homeowners.
One would have to pay for extras or items that are not offered in the renovation package.
Often, renovation companies and interior design firms would promote them to homeowners at attractive prices, sometimes bundled with free gifts.
Below are the various types of renovation package that are commonly available to homeowners.
Since 80% of Singaporeans reside in HDB flats, renovation packages for HDB BTO flats are proven to be the most popular.
As Standard HDB BTO flats comes only with raw concrete flooring, unpainted walls and optional doors, more work is needed.
Hence, prices for these renovation packages are usually higher.
Comparatively, renovation package prices for Premium HDB BTO are mostly cheaper.
These premium units come ready with done up flooring, wall tiles, doors and some even with kitchen cabinets or wardrobes.
The average prices for HDB BTO renovation packages usually start from $10,000.
Compared with new built BTO flats, renovation package prices for resale flats cost 25 to 30 percent higher.
That’s because resale units could likely involve hacking and replacement of old flooring, walls, plumbing, wiring, debris removal and so on.
The average prices for HDB Resale renovation packages usually start from $15,000.
This is another popular one with owners residing in existing properties.
Kitchens and toilets experience wear and tear over time.
Years of exposure to moisture, oil and smog lead to the deterioration of kitchen cabinets and bathrooms.
Hence, homeowners opt for these renovation packages to remodel and refresh their kitchen or toilets.
The average prices for kitchen renovation packages usually range between $7,000 to $10,000.
Prices for kitchen and toilet renovation packages usually range between $10,000 to $18,000.
There are no straight answers because it pretty much depends on your needs and wants.
For those who prefers to go for a renovation package, they may own a Premium BTO flat or condominium unit with basic finishing already taken care of by the builder.
Hence, not much renovation work is needed.
Another group may be homeowners who only require simple or basic renovation work that are within their budget.
While others may simply need a modest remodelling for their kitchen or toilets.
Homeowners who do not opt for a renovation package may find limitations in the fixed list of items offered, which cannot achieve their desired end results.
They are willing to spend more money on an elaborate renovation.
Regardless of the circumstances, renovation packages do have their good points and they do help you in some form of savings.
Dig deeper on whether you should consider choosing one before renovating your HDB property.
If you are looking to enjoy cash savings of up to 30 percent, why not explore hundreds of value-for-money BTO and HDB resale renovation packages here.
There are thousands of registered renovation contractors and interior designers in Singapore.
With supply much higher than demand, competition for this industry is intense.
This leads to a small percentage of businessmen or rogue employees who resort to unethical practices.
From time to time, you may have heard or read harrowing accounts of homeowners being scammed, ripped off or their homes ruined etc. by these black sheep.
Let’s be honest about it. There will always be a small fraction of scumbags in any industry, but this sort of thing doesn’t happen often.
We can also confidently tell you that over 95% of all businesses are honest ones.
Advertisements from renovation contractors and interior design firms are frequently seen on social media and search engines.
While majority of advertisements are honest and factual, you should beware of those which are potentially misleading.
Common tactics of such misleading ads include:
‘Baiting’ consumers with lower than usual prices.
Make exaggerated claims or put up ‘awards’ (easily bought with a few hundred bucks) to portray the firm’s ‘reputable’ status.
In other instances, a company’s website may display an accreditation (e.g. CaseTrust) even though it is no longer accredited under the scheme.
Your property is the most valuable asset you own.
When you hire someone to take charge of your home renovation, you want to make sure you are getting a qualified professional who can do a good job and deliver the best results.
The more you know about a renovation professional, the easier it is for you to assess their capability and credibility.
To safeguard your interests, bestrenovation.sg do crucial background and accreditation checks on hundreds of renovation contractors and interior design firms in Singapore.
These checks are validated with government & industry governance sources to ensure accuracy.
Our goal is to empower you with technology to make smart decisions with just a few clicks.
Put simply, you’ll know if a renovation professional has a good track record and are really what they claim.
Start now and view all top-rated renovation professionals in Singapore.
Note: It’s good to go through client reviews of a renovation professional, but don’t necessarily assume that a negative review means that the contractor is no good.
You will find dishonest and unqualified contractors; but there are also homeowners with the same traits and will lodge a complaint even when the contractor was not incompetent in any way.
Once you have a list of shortlisted preferences that fit your home renovation requirements, it’s time to reach out to them and request for price quotations here.
But before you do, make sure you have these few things ready first.
Otherwise, you’ll waste more time going back and forth instead.
Have hard and soft copies of your property’s floor plan ready, so you can send it together with your price quotation requests.
This is important because the renovation professional needs to understand your property’s structural layout and floor area before they could work out costings.
It allow renovation professionals to gauge the time proximity and peak periods such as Chinese New Year or Hari Raya, before giving you a price estimate.
Have a good idea of how you want your home to look like.
It takes away any guessing when you share pictures of your intended interior design theme or style with renovation professionals.
They will clearly know what your expectations are and provide you an accurate price quotation.
Be realistic with budget against end results.
The more work required, the more expensive it will be.
Renovation professionals will tell you if an intended budget matches your expectations.
If it does not, they could recommend you alternatives.
If you require customized carpentry, structural removal and so on, write them down clearly in your quotation request(s).
This will help renovation professionals understand your requirements clearly.
They could then give you insightful advice on the amount of work needed, materials and costing.
Initial price quotations will only serve as an estimate.
By comparing three to five price different quotations, it helps you to get a better feel of the ‘market price’ for your renovation project.
In all likelihood, they will probably ask you in-depth questions and do a fair amount of ‘investigative’ work in order to provide you with the costs breakdown for your home renovation project.
You should bear in mind, prices may vary with different renovation companies due to the supply sources and sub-contractors they work with.
Always go through price quotations.
While doing so, scrutinise every item and work scope, their costs breakdown, proposed materials, work warranty and so on.
So take your time to research and make fair comparisons.
Note: If you have a lot of customized work for your home renovation, it’s best to arrange an in-person discussion.
1. The company’s name, address, contact details, company UEN number or a Goods Services Tax (GST) registration number if applicable.
2. An itemised cost breakdown with complete description of each work scope.
3. An itemised breakdown of the cost, quantity and type of materials to be supplied.
4. Sub and total cost of all items in the price quotation. There should be a separate row if GST applies.
5. Indication of work milestones.
6. Payment terms for each work milestone clearly written.
7. Workmanship warranty or Defects Liability Period and the duration (if applicable).
8. Accepted payment method (optional).
Budgets are always every homeowner’s concern.
However, it’s important to stay sensible and don’t base your decisions solely on the lowest price.
Good qualities come with a price.
Businesses need profits to survive and it doesn’t make sense for one to forego profits.
If a renovation professional claims they can do the job for a much cheaper price than others, you better exercise caution.
It could likely be a signal that they’re using unqualified cheap labour or skimping on something important.
There’s an old saying, “Penny wise, pound foolish”.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you end up paying a hefty price just to save a few hundred bucks.
Before you meet, look through their website and social media profile.
Many renovation professionals will post and showcase their projects there.
Doing so allows you to get a good sense of their work prior to meeting with them in person.
Once you have taken your picks, arrange to meet up at their office.
Some of you may ask if there is a need to do so.
Ask yourself, would you pay tens of thousands of dollars for a car without first inspecting and test driving it?
Still unconvinced? Here are another 4 more reasons why you should.
Being there physically lets you witness the scale of their business, work samples and craftsmanship etc.
See for yourself their awards and accreditation.
These accolades are usually displayed prominently for clients to view.
It is also a good opportunity for you to ask questions, assess their professionalism, knowledge and customer service.
Humans have five basic senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
Each one of them sends information to the brain to help us understand and perceive the world around us.
While there, you could see, touch and feel the proposed materials for your renovation project, which helps you to evaluate, determine and make decisions.
When you interact in person, it’s so much easier to communicate and clarify any doubts.
Both parties could quickly put ideas together and visualize them.
At the same time, you’re able to sense and judge the level of chemistry between you and the individual whom you will potentially be working with.
When discussing the budget during your meet-ups, renovation professionals can quickly tell you if it matches your expectations.
If it does not, they could recommend you alternatives.
For example, they could immediately recommend and show you cheaper materials to fit your budget.
Be realistic about your intended budget and what the end results are.
The more work required, the more expensive it will be.
Who doesn’t love a good bargain right?
There’s no better way than negotiating in person for discounts, free add-ons or bundled free gifts.
After all, that’s how most deals are done.
During the meeting with renovation professionals, be prepared to ask plenty of questions.
Note down their answers so you have a clear idea at the end of your discussion.
Here are 10 important questions you must ask:
Q1. Could you show me your past projects?
Instead of 3D drawings, ask to see actual photos of those completed projects. This gives you a real perspective of their work.
Q2. Can we arrange an on-site visit?
Nothing beats seeing the real thing.
Firms with happy clients will be proud to let you see an excellent job. Of course, this is subjected to the client’s approval for such a visit.
You could also hear how their client(s) feel about working with the team.
Q3. Will you provide me with interior design concepts and proposals?
Renovation firms will always provide these to you. After all, this is part of what you are paying for.
Professional 3D drawings or visualizations will be presented as part of their design proposals.
But this takes place only when you have accepted and signed the quotation.
Q4. How much changes can I make? How many times?
As the client, you have a right to make changes to their proposed designs.
However, renovation firms will make it known to you the number of times you are allowed to do so.
Some firms may impose a fee if you exceed the number of changes that are agreed on.
Q5. Can I meet the I.D (interior designer)?
Some firms don’t have any in-house interior designers. Their sales people ‘assume’ the role of an I.D (some might say this is a questionable practice).
In today’s business environment, it’s also rather common where a trained interior designer multitasks to handle sales consulting.
Regardless, what matters most is the individual’s work experience, skill proficiency and being able to deliver results.
Watch the video below to know more. 👇
Q6. Are you able to fit my renovation budget?
Be realistic with your expectations, please.
Responsible renovation professionals will be upfront with you when they know your budget is not aligned with your expectations.
They would also do their best to suggest alternatives.
If you have reached this far, you would have read about this topic earlier on top.
Q7. Who is the dedicated point of contact? How much is their involvement?
It’s usually the interior designer, sometimes involving a project coordinator.
They work in close coordination with the sub-contractors or workers on their respective work scopes, what and when to start, monitor timelines, ensuring jobs are properly done etc.
Ask how frequent will they provide you updates?
What is the course of action taken if you find that things are not on track?
How will communication be done? Meet in-person, phone call, text messaging?
It’s important to be clear about this so there won’t be misunderstandings later on.
Q8. What will be the project milestones and timeline?
Responsible and experienced renovation professionals provide a realistic timeline for the works of your renovation project.
They break down the scope of renovation activities and map them into achievable milestones.
This gives you a clear understanding of what should be completed at what stage.
It enables you to track whether your renovation work progress is on schedule.
Upon completion of each milestone, you could then inspect and check their work for any defects.
Q8. What are the payment terms?
This is important.
Payment terms are typically paid in various stages throughout the renovation process.
You will be asked to pay a down payment when you endorse the agreed price quotation.
Depending on the firm, it’s usually around 20 percent of the total price.
You should never work with a firm that ask you to pay more than this.
Thereafter, each instalment will be paid after completion of key project milestones stated clearly in the renovation contract.
The final instalment is only released to the firm after all work scopes of your renovation are completed and accepted by you.
Q9. What sort of work warranty do you provide?
Trustworthy renovation firms provide their clients with a workmanship warranty or Defects Liability Period (DLP).
It covers flawed workmanship and materials that are used.
To avoid future disputes, ask the firm to provide in writing, a list of exclusions that are not covered under the warranty.
If you feel the list is one-sided, you have a right to negotiate the list of exclusion.
Q10. How long is the warranty period?
Usually, it is up to 12 months.
During the warranty period, the renovation professional is liable for repair costs owing to faults that stem from defective materials or imperfect workmanship.
This is a tough one. Really.
Think of it like entering a marriage – You go through a stage of thorough evaluation of the other party before deciding to commit.
Make the right choice, good for you. Wrong one, well…let’s not go into the details.
You are paying a lot of money for a professional to take charge of your home renovation, so don’t ever take this lightly.
All businesses are required by the law to be registered with The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
Every registered company is issued with a UEN number from ACRA. This is also known as the business registration number.
Never deal with self-proclaimed ‘companies’ that are not registered.
When in doubt, you have every right to request a renovation professional to disclose their UEN number.
Note: The UEN number of every renovation professional’s profile are prominently displayed on our platform.
Always view the accreditation and accolades of any renovation professional with scrutiny.
First and foremost, to do any renovation work on HDB or private properties, the company must be HDB licensed or a BCA licensed general builder.
This is mandatory by law.
You should be on guard when a renovation professional is unable to show you proof of these accreditations under their business name.
Second, consider companies who are accredited by CaseTrust and RCMA (Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association).
Renovation professionals who are accredited by these two organizations adopt costs transparency and accountability for listed deliverables in the renovation work contract.
Additionally, your deposit payment is safeguarded against closure, winding up or liquidation of the company.
Although it gives you added consumer protection, it doesn’t mean companies without such accreditation are not reliable.
As a matter of fact, there are many renovation professionals who have delivered good workmanship and customer satisfaction even though they are not accredited under CaseTrust or RCMA.
It all boils down to making background checks on a company to be sure you don’t get cheated.
Lastly, there are a small handful of established companies who have attained these recognised accolades:
Singapore Prestige Brand Award
The Singapore Prestige Brand Award (SPBA) was inaugurated in 2002 by the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) and Lianhe Zaobao.
The SPBA recognise and honour local brands that are established household names who achieved significant branding success.
The Award also serves as a yardstick for SMEs to benchmark their brand equity against their competitors.
Super Brand Awards
With a presence in more than 85 countries, Superbrands is the world’s largest independent arbiter of branding.
The organisation pays tribute to the strongest and most valuable brands in the world through its publications and national marketing programs.
Only brands that are highly rated by the ‘Superbrands Council’ and through other research are invited to join the programme.
Attaining Superbrands status strengthens a brands position, adds prestige and reassures consumers and suppliers that they are buying the best brand in its category.
Interior Design Confederation Singapore (IDCS) Design Excellence Award
The Interior Design Confederation Singapore (IDCS) was established in 2003 to represent the interests of professional interior designers in Singapore and the interior design industry.
IDCS’ Design Excellence Awards (DEA) aims to be the platform to honour the Interior Design industry and its institutional landscapes with the highest accolades, not only in Singapore but also in the region.
Singapore Interior Design Awards (SIDA)
The Singapore Interior Design Awards aims to elevate the standards and profiles of interior designers regionally and around the globe.
It is the only leading interior design awards programme in Singapore to be recognised and endorsed by the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) and the DesignSingapore Council (DSG).
Note: Our team has also taken the effort to compile for you, the list of Singapore’s best renovation contractors and interior design firms with reviews from their clients. Go check them out.
Only renovation contractors and interior design firms registered with the Housing & Development Board (HDB) are permitted to perform renovation work on HDB residential or commercial properties.
In order to carry out renovation works under their business name, they must hold a valid licence from the HDB.
Without this licence, it is illegal for them to market their services or perform any renovation work.
Under the Housing & Development (Renovation Control) Rules 2006, you must only hire those who are duly registered with the HDB.
If you fail to comply, you could be fined up to $5,000 along with other penalties upon conviction.
Note: Always look out for the HDB licence number of HDB registered renovation professionals on our platform.
The Demerit Points System aka DPS is a transparent system operated by the HDB.
It ensures that all HDB registered renovation contractors and interior design firms, adhere to HDB’s renovation/ administrative rules and maintain good performance.
Should infringements occur, penalties are imposed including demerit points, penalty fees, suspension or disqualification.
Renovation professionals will also be delisted from the HDB if they receive a total of at least 24 demerit points within 24 months.
Always keep a look out for such infringements when you do evaluation.
Note: All DPS infringements are prominently displayed on our platform.
This is a recent case that took place at Block 467A Admiralty Drive on September 14, 2020.
The renovation firm was fined because they continued doing renovation work after 6pm.
Company will be suspended for 1 year.
For minor infringements, 3 to 12 demerit points are issued with $500 to $2,000 fine.
Company will be suspended for 1 year.
For minor infringements, 3 to 12 demerit points are issued with $500 to $2,000 fine.
Excess demerit points are carried over to the next registration period.
For serious cases, 3 to 5 years disqualification by HDB.
Penalty of $3,000 to $5,000 fine.
Applicable regardless of demerit points.
Private residential properties would generally include landed houses, apartment buildings, condominium, cluster housing and residential units in a mixed development.
Renovation works of private homes are termed as ‘Additions and Alterations’ or ‘A&A’ and they may require approval of plans from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
As there are strict renovation guidelines of private residential properties, a renovation contractor or interior design firm must be a BCA Licensed General Builder to perform such works.
Note: Renovation professionals who are BCA Licensed General Builders will have their accreditation prominently displayed on our platform.
While doing your evaluation, look through the review and ratings by clients of renovation professionals.
It’s helpful to read these opinions from other clients, even if they are complete strangers.
It gives you insights to their experiences with the company.
Client reviews not only have the power to influence your decisions but also gain trust and strengthen a company’s credibility.
The fact is, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.
And 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Note: You can view client ratings and reviews via the ‘Client Review’ tab within the profile of every renovation professional on our platform.
“An avid photographer, glutton & writer.”