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Insider Tips: Renovation Planning & Mistakes to Avoid

Interior Design & Decor

Renovation of your home is one of the pivotal moments in your life. Not to be dramatic here, but depending on how well-prepared you are, it can either be an enjoyable journey and memory... or it can be a total nightmare. In this article, we will reveal a few crucial tips to help you prepare and handle your home renovation project like a Pro, whether you're a first-timer or not. What we've disclosed here are not exhaustive, and we will be updating this post from time to time. Without further ado, let's dive it!


1. YOUR RENOVATION BUDGET - KNOW YOUR NUMBERS BEFORE MEETING INTERIOR DESIGNERS

It is a big mistake to NOT have a renovation budget. No matter how rich you are. And it is also unwise to have a wrong budget -- this usually happens to those who are renovating for the first time, or not doing enough market research before meeting interior designers.

Firstly, if you're not aware of this yet, on average, the interior designer's profit margin is around 20% to 30% (or more, if they are those "branded" or premium IDs). The newer (or nicer) IDs may be willing to charge lower (15% margin) to fight for some market share in this red sea industry.

But knowing this fact does not mean you should lowball your interior designer... because they also have a family to feed. And due to miscalculations and unexpected events sometimes, they may have lower profits or even lose money.

That said, knowing this information, you are in a better position to bargain for a discount on your renovation package. Depending on the amount of work required, you can usually ask for a discount ranging from 3% to 7%.

Another way you can save money is to buy the home accessories yourself. But be sure to ask for your interior designer what to buy exactly, and shop only at the vendors they frequent. This way you can get 5% to 10% discounts on the items (otherwise given to your ID as referral fees), and avoid buying the wrong sizes or types from other vendors.

Also, do be mentally prepared to spend a little more (10% - 20%) outside of your initial budget. Because it is quite common that we over-estimate what our budget can get us.

Protip: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER reveal (either verbally, in writing (your messages), or via body language) that you need the job done urgently -- and always ask for a progressive payment scheme instead of lump sum payment.


2. INTERIOR DESIGN TRENDS - YOU DON'T HAVE TO FOLLOW THEM... REALLY

As much as you want your interior design to be up-to-date, be careful not to try and blend too many trends into your home. Just like fashion, what looks good on someone else may not look the same on you. The key is to consider your interior design choices based on your personal needs and lifestyle.

As you'll be staying put for quite a while, it is important that you choose a practical interior design style that will complement your lifestyle... and better, increase the value of your property.

If you really want to incorporate a certain hot trend or style, be sure to check with an experienced interior designer on how to do it the smart way -- which means taking into consideration the option of transitioning into another style in the future without making any huge revamp.


3. YOUR RENOVATION CONTRACT - BE SURE TO CHECK THOROUGHLY

Whether your interior designer is some kind of award-winning big shot or he's highly recommended by someone, you still must carefully check (and fully understand) your renovation contract details. That means checking if your black and white includes the exhaustive list of works, materials, and all of the costs involved in the entire project.

As your renovation will go through a few different stages, be sure to see if your ID or contractor includes a comprehensive breakdown of the scope of renovation work (and costs) for each stage -- including the design and space planning fees, consultation and project management fees, coordination charges... and of course, the labour charges, materials, fixtures, and accessories for each and every part of your home.

And for the payment terms, be sure to NOT to make a large deposit (or worse, full payment) to your interior designer or contractor BEFORE the renovation even begins (or even at the early stages of the renovation).

Always check (and double check) both schedule and payment terms before (and when) you sign the contract. I'm sure you have heard of homeowners who trusted their interior designer or contractor too much and paying them off too early... ended up getting delayed completion (and even non-completion) for their renovation.

And though it sounds like common sense, please make payment ONLY to the company, and not to the designer or contractor, no matter how much you trust them.

If your interior designer or contractor promised you a discount during your consultation, check if they mentioned it in the contract too. And of course, always ensure there are clear workmanship warranty and dispute resolution clauses included. Unless you're the 100% hands-off type, you might want to include a proper variation clause which allows certain flexibility to make minor changes in the middle of your renovation project.


4. CHOOSING THE RIGHT INTERIOR DESIGNER OR RENOVATION CONTRACTOR

If you're going to spend a significant 5 or 6 figure on your renovation, it makes sense to go the extra mile to find a professional interior designer you can truly entrust your home and money to.

Firstly, resist the urge of choosing the cheapest interior designer, contractor, materials, fittings, etc. Because frankly speaking, there are very few "cheap and good" deals around. As the saying goes, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".

When choosing interior designers, emphasize quality by checking their previous interior design work thoroughly, as well as transparency (honesty) and flexibility to accommodate your design ideas. Always go for quality when it comes to choosing your materials, fittings and appliances because they will increase the value of your property... and because your family deserves the best.

Besides digging up reviews of the company, it's worth to note that you should also find someone who has "chemistry" with you. Someone who can easily understand what you want even during the first meeting. This is a crucial element you must consider BEFORE the price factor.

A great interior designer would be the one who can advise you objectively, including pointing out where your ideal design ideas can be improved and where costs can be saved.

Protip: Beware of those "everything also can" IDs. These guys will say yes to any requests or ideas you have to close the deal. But once they get your money, their attitude will change faster than you can blink!

If they're really good (or unless you're really savvy yourself), chances are, they should be able to advise better ways of implementing certain design ideas. So remember, you are not looking for a "Yes Man", but someone who'll go the extra mile to educate you while making your dream home come true.

Make it a point to visit renovation forums and really study the feedback from the users there to discover the trustworthy interior designers and renovation contractors. But be careful of "phantom users" who claim to be homeowners when in actual fact they are IDs promoting themselves.


WHAT TO DO NEXT FOR YOUR HOME RENOVATION

We hope that you've gained some useful insights so far.

The next thing to do is to make a checklist of your own and discuss with your spouse on your renovation plans, including research, sourcing of IDs and renovation contractors, planning or revising your renovation budget (and contract if you have), site inspection (yes, it is good to be present at least once at each stage of the renovation), etc.

If you wish to avoid the hassle of researching for reliable IDs yourself, then let us screen the interior designers and contractors for you. Request for up to 5 renovation packages for comparison here now.


P.S. What we've disclosed here are not exhaustive, and we will be updating this post from time to time.


Header image credit: NID Design Group


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