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5 Cheap Renovation Tips | The Coronavirus Edition

You want cheap renovation tips? We have them, but be warned.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world economy to its knees. With money tight, it’s no surpise many need a budget-friendly home renovation. More than ever, cash strapped homeowners want the biggest bang for their buck. In response, cheap renovation packages have been circulating online over the past months. Freelance interior designers and contractors online are also surfacing with no-frills home remodelling services.

the problem with cheap during an economic crisis

As attractive as these low prices are, homeowners like yourself should take extra precaution in engaging with such firms. Here’s why.

Multiple renovation contractors and interior designers have had their businesses put on hold due to Singapore’s Circuit Breaker measures to tame the volume of COVID-19 cases. Even though easing is to begin, the built environment industry is only expected to totally resume work much later in August.

Without revenue streaming in, our industry as whole is feeling the pinch.  Smaller construction firms and freelancers especially, are struggling with cashflow. As much as we empathise with their situation, we cannot ignore the inevitable mushrooming of errant firms during hard times. Countless get-rich-fast tales of renovation companies which existed pre-COVID 19 are bound to re-emerge. 

Tagged with a deceptively low price, such companies more often than not compromise building standards and service quality to bait many innocent homeowners.

The more unlucky lot of homeowners face half done renovations and a huge dent in their pockets, with no way to recover the money invested. We won’t be suprised if unethical practices fester in a desperate last ditch for businesses to stay afloat. 

cheap renovation tips for singaporean homeowners

Now that our gut wrenching public service announcement has resounded, we’ve asked our very own residential interior designer, Ben Lee, to give you some cheap renovation tips. These tips help keep your maintenance costs low even after the renovation is over.

1. REQUEST FOR ITEMISED PRICE LIST

Throw the classic inspiration quote “comparison is the thief of joy” out the window.

If you’re looking for a value for money renovation, you need to put in the time to research different firms.

If a renovation quote is too good, or too cheap for the matter, to be true, it probably is. There are a ton of firms offering super cheap renovation quotes during this time to draw a crowd. Look through the quote and be clear about what you are being charged for. Important things to compare include price and service standards pre and after sale.

Even if the interior designer or contractor is offering a package deal, it is always a safe route to ask for  itemised pricing. You don’t want to be up-sold only to make up for a product or service which your received a huge discount on.

To get a good overview of what kind of service you can expect, check online reviews. Better yet, if you know friends or family who have contracted the renovation contractor before, get them to share their experience. Remember, you don’t want to entrust thousands of dollars to a stranger who will squander or run away with your already limited pool of funds. Your chosen interior designer shouldn’t steal your joy.

expect a slight price hike

However, in an economic climate like this, you might want to take note that prices may hike. With so many of the industry’s workers being treated or quarantined for COVID-19, there is a severe labour shortage. Secondly, global supply and production chains are affected, expect inflated cost of materials. In response, many companies will have to adjust prices to account for labour and goods.

Rest assured, Juz Interior’s customers need not worry. Since almost all of our labor are not out sourced, we are largely able to maintain pre-recessionary prices and guarantee our workmanship.

2. ASK ABOUT AFTER-SALES SERVICE/WARRANTY PROGRAM

Following the first tip, if the quote seems resonable and the service good, ask about the firm’s after sales service. Time and time again, poor service is a sore point for homeowners.

Interior designer Ben Lee says, “Homeowners might be getting a home for cheap now. But after a year of living in the house, things will start to give way. Treatments and maintenance are needed to prevent the house from falling apart. The last thing you want is for your renovation contractor to go MIA or refuse to assist you as soon as the warranty is over. Worse yet, in this economic climate, the company could go out of business even before you get the chance to make good on the promised warranty.”

YIKES.

Hence, it might be worth paying a little extra for your renovation. The extra dollars go toward workmanship standards which the company is willing to guarantee.

We cannot emphasise enough the importance of this cheap renovation tip. Afterall, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.

3. SAMPLE THE MATERIALS IN PERSON

In this extraordinary time of social distancing, homeowners are unable to visit showrooms to view and touch samples in person. Skipping on these is a big a no no, warns Ben.

Request your interior designer, contractor or even the supplier to mail samples to your home. Some of our associates have online catalogues for you to browse sample images in the interim.

Don’t sign a contract without experiencing the materials first hand.

When you realise you’ve been shortchanged for a cheaper, low grade material, it’ll be too late.

4. FOCUS ON NECESSITIES FIRST, WANTS LATER

Our third cheap renovation tip is especially important for the forever home renovators and the retirement home renovators. Your focus is on quality items for high traffic areas. Do not waste your money on off-the-shelf solutions which lack structural integrity and are made of flimsy materials. Instead, spend on custom carpentry solutions which last a lifetime.

Next, Ben recommends divvying up your renovation requirements into a Needs and Wants group. Wants can be fulfilled when you’re in a better place financially.

Knowing your priorities will help you stay grounded and avoid investing money into frills. More importantly, you’ll avoid interior designers or contractors who twist your arm into signing a lavish contract.

Renovation must-haves for a new home include:

  • Built-in Wardrobe for clothes
  • Kitchen Cabinets
  • Electrical Works
  • Plumbing

Only if you have cash to spare, consider add-ons like false ceiling. Since installing a false ceiling creates a lot of dust, it might be better to do it while you are not already living in the apartment.

A want that you can skip to save money at this stage is a feature wall. This can be installed at anytime and isn’t necessary for a comfortable living. In the interim, get crafty and opt for decor pieces.

Resale homeowners? Take note of these renovation dos:

  • Hack everything

You may get away with hacking if the home was left in a relatively good condition. Keep in mind, the left behind facade may last for about 5-10 years before giving way or losing lustre.

  • DO NOT overlay with vinyl flooring

Vinyl overlays tend to pop-up within a year. You’ll end up redoing the flooring anway. So save your money later, and spend wisely now!

5. CHOOSE ACCREDITED & LICENSED CONTRACTORS

If you forget all the other cheap renovation tips, don’t forget this one. An accredited renovator ensures your money doesn’t go down the drain.

HDB and BCA licenses are the most rudimetary of expectations. They give you confidence in a firm’s workmanship and adherence to the local building laws. If you’re aiming for a cheap renovation, the last thing you want is to spend additional money for rectification.

Secondly, CaseTrust accredited firms are unlikely to run away with your deposit money. Most interior designers and renovation contractors request for a 10-15% initial deposit. Although it might sound like a small percentage, it amounts to about $4000 (the cost of doing a pretty feature wall) on average.

CaseTrust firms like Juz Interior are audited to protect consumers against unethical sales tactics. If the company were to fold, a performance bond safeguards your money. Moreover, homeowners who find fault with their renovators can expect CaseTrust’s help through their established dispute resolution system.

budget your renovation with us!

Remember to keep these cheap renovation tips at the back of mind when looking for your renovation contractor. If you need a professional you can trust whatever your budget, drop us a consultation request here. We’re happy to schedule a virtual meeting with you and take any questions you might have.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

Infographic about cheap renovation tips in 2020
Our top 5 tips for a cheap renovation!

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