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Should You Engage An Interior Designer Or A Renovation Contractor For Your New Home?



There’s an old english saying : “A man’s home is his castle”, so it’s no wonder that one will spare no effort when it comes to making his/her home the best place to live. After all, a home is a sanctuary where one return to after a hard day at work. It is also a place to enjoy with the family, rest and rejuvenate and a place to make memories with your loved ones.


With the escalating prices of HDB resale flats, it might difficult to set aside a big budget for renovation and decoration. In 2020, there were 82 HDB resale flats that were sold for at least $1 million compared with 64 units in 2019. As at May this year, there are already 87 flats sold above the million mark. In fact, HDB resale prices have gone up for four consecutive quarter despite the COVID-19 pandemic.


So it begs the question - “should you engage an interior designer or a renovation contractor?” In today’s article, we will look at the difference between the two and their roles.


(i) Interior Designer


Interior designers not only provide design ideas and concepts, they will also co-ordinate and manage the entire renovation project. They will consult with you and listen to your wish list and provide a design that is based on your preference and wishes. They will also identify and liaise with renovation contractors in addition to furniture and materials sourcing, unless you prefer to look for these items yourself.


Interior designers are also more knowledgeable when it comes to the sequence of renovation work. They will arrange the renovation work in such a way that it flows smoothly i.e. storage cabinets, kitchens toilet fittings to be installed only after the flooring is completed.


Price-wise, it will definitely cost more when engaging interior designers. A check with several interior design firms revealed that for a typical 3-room flat, prices start from $30,000, for 4-room flats, it can easily cost at least $50,000 and for 5-room flats, the cost starts from at least $70,000.


Of course the price will differ depending on the intricacy of the design and the extend of the renovation work to be done.


Source: Giphy


(ii) Contractor


On the other hand, a renovation contractor is solely responsible for the renovation work and not the design part. They will carry out the work according to your plan, instructions and ideas. They do not offer design ideas or advice and they do not go furniture or fitting shopping for you. However, they will install fixtures and fittings etc.


More often than not, a contractor will work with sub-contractors i.e. electricians, carpenters, painters, plumbers etc, so you will have to deal with different people for different things. This may not be workable if you are not able to spare the time to talk to and deal with numerous people.


If you have a tight budget and you have an idea of how you want your home to look like, use a renovation contractor as it will definitely cost less than engaging an interior designer. But you will need to have ample time to look for furniture, fittings, fixtures and get them ready for the contractors to install. Again, this situation may not be for you if you cannot spare the time going around to look for the furniture and fittings to match your design concept.


For those with financial constraint and on a really small budget, it will work better with a contractor as you can do the renovation first and the fittings later when you have more budget. You could furnish the rooms that are in use immediately and finish up the rest of the house later.


You will not be able to do this with an interior designer.


Source: Giphy


Few Factors You Need To Consider


Ultimately, the decision to hire an interior designer or a contractor boils down to your budget as the key difference between an interior designer and renovation contractor is the price. Consider your budget carefully and see if you are able to afford the higher fees for the complete services offered by interior designers.


You should also consider the type of design you want. If you already have a concept, then it would wise to use a contractor because you do not have to pay the design fees.


Another point to consider is the extent of the renovation. If you are happy with the existing interior and just need minor fixes or to have new storage cabinets and wardrobe, you probably would not want to pay extra for an interior designer. However, if you are doing a major renovation of the place, it may be better to hire an interior designer for the design aspect and expertise.


Also if you are press for time, an interior designer will be a better option so that you do not need to spend time co-ordinating between contractors and sub-contractors.


Source: Giphy


Whichever option you choose, bear in mind your financial situation and also the fact that once the renovation is completed, you will have to live with it for at leas the next few years. So consider the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.



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