Home Renovation



So now you have flat brand new courtesy of HDB or second hand. Listed here are some tips on the process doing up your flat.

1. Walk around.
Walk around the flat and take the note differences between actual thing and the layout (if any). Usually columns and beams are not well indicated. These will affect any removal of walls and the running of the air-con trunking.

2. Theme selection.
The basic concept on how you want your place to be. Middle Eastern, American Country, Zen style, Roman etc. Flip through the various interior decor magazines to get some tips.

3. Gathering requirements.
With your theme in mind, walk through your flat and decide approximately what you want for each room. Don't worry if can't decide in detail what you want. Type out the list with your basic contact details. Here are some tips.

4. Looking for somebody to get the job done.
There are two ways of doing this. You can get an interior decorator to do all the leg work of getting painters, electricians or you can do the sourcing and coordination yourself. Alternatively, if you like to design your own place, all you need is a small outfit to do all the sourcing and coordination of the sub contractors

5. Where to look for interior decorators.
Always get these recommended. From relatives, friends, colleagues etc. The more the merrier, bearing in mind a large number of contractors have closed shop in 2002/2003. Alternatively, you can use contractors through HDBay. The HDBay accreditation scheme is suppose to sieve out the best of the contractors. If you go through HDBay, your costs will be higher, conservatively by 10%. But there is nothing to stop you from directly contacting accredited members. :)

Fairs and more fairs. The Singapore Expo usually has Home and Decor fair running every other week.

6. What to do when you meet them.
Bring along your list and an approximate budget. Be conservative, this is to prevent the ID from going overboard. S$20K for a new HDB flat without flooring is sufficient. You need to set aside approximately 2 to 3 hours per ID. It is important that you give the exact set of requirements to them, as you will need to compare their prices. It is perfectly normal to think of something new or radical changes. Just keep it on a seperate list.

Quotations are free, they are most willing to talk to you. After all they are picking your brains, just as you are picking theirs.

7. Quotations.
After a few weeks to a month, you should have all the quotations. Some might even have drawn up beautiful color sketches. Some are willing to make a copy for you FOC, most are not. You only get it after you pay the initial deposit. Do up a giant table and compare the prices. If there are missing items or discrepancies from your list, get them to requote. By now you should be appreciating your consistent work in step 6.

8. Shortlisting.
Shortlist to around three or four firms. Note if it is a large reputable firm, you should be able to get good conceptual drawings. If it is a one man shop, it is may be tough. With your shortlist and a new upated requirements list with all the new changes, ask them to requote.

9. Check their reference sites.
Most if not all are willing to show you some past examples of their work. The main idea is to take a look on their quality of work and design.

10. Choosing.
This is the hard part. Either based on a points scoring system or just by price.

11. Colors.
Choose the colors for everything. From the wall paint to the color of the custom made furniture, or even some cases matching the floor tiles. This can take several hours. If you can, spread it out to several sessions. Note some couples have huge disagreements because of this stage. Most of the time women tend to have a better sense of colors.

12. Payment schedule.
Most firms will ask for an initial deposit. This should be around 10-30%. Be wary of any firm asking for 50% deposit. Work out a schedule based on percentage or pay-as-delivered. The whole idea here is to get what you pay for. The credit crunch faced by the contractors is very true. Unless your employment status is rock solid and swimming in cash, it is a good idea to get a home renovation loan from a bank.

13. Work schedule.
This is a schedule of deliverables. When what should be completed. You need to keep both eyes on these. Most of the subcontractors, cabinet makers etc tend to slip the schedule.

Visit the work site regularly, inspect and check for the quality of construction. Feed back to your contact if there is any discrepancies. Do not tell the workers what to do. They will ignore you anyway.

14. Inspection.
Once completed, you will need to do inspection for defects and defects caused by them.

20 Aug 03

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