COVID Renovation? What to Expect and How to Manage

Call it luck or bad timing, there are no two ways around your COVID renovation in 2021. Slightly over a year ago, home renovations in Singapore were finally getting back on track. However, with on and off again restrictions, many homeowners’ BTO key collection dates continue to be delayed. Worse yet are actual home renovation delays due to manpower and supply shortages arising from border restrictions. And the cherry on top? Price hikes.

In light of these COVID related renovation mayhem and madness, what’s a homeowner to do? What are the realities on the ground?

What Contractors and Building Material Suppliers Face

If honesty is the best policy, then ready yourself for some truth bombs.

Manpower Shortage

Believe us when we say we’ve tried to bring in additional workers. Until the health situation improves in Malaysia, India and Bangladesh, the manpower pool in Singapore is limited to present supply. Short of a kidnapping, contracting more labourers is an on-going “wait and see” type of situation as we await further instructions from the Ministry of Manpower. In fact, the shortage of available workmen has also meant pressure on the cost of labour. Consequently, this has a knock on effect on home renovation costs in Singapore.

Increased Cost of Supplies

In addition to the rising cost of labour, building materials cost have risen by an average of 5-7%. And in some cases, even more.

BLUM Price Adjustment 2021 BLUM Price Adjustment 2021 Sept











Two Price Revisions from Popular Fittings Company in 2021 Alone

Although the supply of incoming goods from China like tiles have stabilised, carpentry related goods and products continue to be affected by the extensive lockdown in Malaysia and Indonesia. Specifically, the price of wood related products such as vinyl flooring boards have risen.

Safe Distancing and Work From Home

Thirdly, health protection measures against the spread of COVID-19 have a significant part to play in renovation delays.

According to the latest safe distancing measures, cross-deployment of workers across dormitories and business is not allowed. In the past, different groups of workers were allowed to work at a property at the same time. Now however, with multiple dormitories identified as active clusters, mandatory quarantine orders hinder timely completion. Hence, with these control measures in Singapore, homeowners can and should expect substantial delays until measures become lax.

Additionally, as more of us work remotely, the Housing Development Board advises against prolonged noisy works. In particular, noisy works should be minimised during the period of national examinations. If you plan for extensive hacking, stand by consoling words and a gift basket to console your neighbours.

COVID Renovation Backlog. Lots of It.

Finally, the issue not many contractors are willing to own up to: over-commitment and thus an inability to deliver.

Taking into consideration the above realities, it’s not hard to imagine the number of unfinished projects on hand. The smaller the firm, the more likely to have a list of projects to handover and snail pace progress.

Nevertheless, larger and mid sized contractors and interior designers are also likely to face similar issues. As such, firms like ourselves have had to put a pause on taking on new clients (If you’d like to book an appointment, we’re opening up face to face and Zoom slots from 15 October 2021).

What can homeowners do to reduce COVID renovation frustrations?

Now that we’ve bared it all, here’s how you can mentally and financially prepared for your HDB renovation endeavour.

Delays from COVID Renovations are a Given

First, is to embrace Murphy’s Law.

If you are living in a rented unit, be sure to have a back up option in the event of major delays. Avoid ending tenancy extremely close to the handover date. After all, catering for rectification works even in normal times was the prudent thing to do (READ: How Long it Takes to Renovate in Singapore).

Prepare for a Bigger COVID Renovation Budget

Second, set aside about 10-25% more than your budget will allow. Alternatively, consider doing the minimum renovation works needed for your home to be liveable. Doing so will afford you a cheaper renovation for now (READ: How to Have a Cheap Renovation). When you have the funds to spare, splurge on the flourishes like feature walls.

Be Clear About Your Preferred Interior Design Before COVID Renovation Begins

Given the shortages and expected delays, it pays to be prepared.

As you shortlist potential IDs, come prepared to the meetings with a mood board. Granted we don’t expect homeowners to do the work for us, it does help when homeowners are able to confirm the materials needed for the renovation as soon as possible (Follow us on Pinterest and Instagram for design ideas!). Clear decision making on the homeowners part allows the interior designer to order the items ahead of time and thus in time for installation. As far as possible, try not to change your mind regarding the design or materials.

Select a Reputable ID

Finally and most importantly, choose an interior designer or contractor whom you know will see the project through.

In difficult times as these, it’s not uncommon for firms to fold or not fulfil their contractual obligations. At Juz Interior, we ask homeowners for their estimated key collection dates and intended move in date to better schedule project management flow and manage customer expectations. Consequently, we’ve had to turn away many homeowners. When selecting a contractor, ask the following.

  1. Manpower capacity
  2. A realistic handover timeframe

Be Kind, Be Patient

To the Karens of Singapore, no number of chasers or speaking to managers will hasten the renovation. As professional interior designers, trust that we will do our best to avoid unnecessary delays. We understand home renovations are extremely stressful. Unexpected events compound this stress further.

Our team at Juz Interior will advise you with timely industry updates or alternatives to suit your needs. After all, we don’t benefit from unhappy customers. So, sit tight and book a consultation today!

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