10 Common Burning Questions For New Homeowners
Congratulations on getting the keys to your new home! You know you are ready to start that home renovation project but you are not sure where to begin. Home renovations is certainly a daunting task and choosing the right person to work with is often a gamble. Where should you start? What should you consider? How do you make an informed choice?
In this article, we share with you 10 common questions that homeowners often find themselves asking:
1. How many Interior Designers/Contractors should I talk to before deciding?
While there is no hard and fast rule as to how many firms you should speak to before deciding, the average homeowner speaks to at least 3 companies before deciding on The One. This is especially important for you to get a good sense of a reasonable renovation costing to ensure that items are not over priced, but instead value for money. The cheapest quote might turn out to be the most expensive one over time. Make an informed choice and once you have done so, move ahead with absolute confidence with the chosen ID or contractor.
2. When is a good time to talk to an Interior Designer/ Contractor?
A good time to start talking to an ID or contractor is when you are already prepared. Being prepared would mean that you have a rough idea of what you would like for your home and the intended budget. While it is important to take time to select the one suitable for you, but once facts are established and the chemistry is right, you may trust your instinct and take a leap of faith together. The really good ones are probably choosing their customers as much as the customers are choosing them.
3. How much does it cost to renovate my house?
When it comes to renovations, you really pay for what you need to do. In general, new BTO homeowners might require less capital outlay as compared to Resale homeowners who may need to do a major overhaul to their homes. EC and Condo owners on the other hand may only require minimal carpentry and other renovation works as their homes are usually quite furnished and in move-in condition already. You would have a better idea of the actual cost if you can provide your ID or contractor with the works required and always try to get them to quote on an itemized basis. This makes it easier for you to know which items contribute to the bulk of the total cost. While you may also wish to compare pricing of the seemingly same item between companies, do note that different companies might differ in their level of workmanship and can also provide different quality and design selections for the same quoted item, which means you can’t always do an apples-to-apples comparison.
4. Should I find an Interior Designer or a Contractor?
It is common belief that a contractor is someone who only take orders and execute them without giving much advice. On the other hand, an ID is one that may oversee the overall space planning, design conceptualization and advice you on appropriate building materials to use. It might be true in a general sense but do ask the company how would the whole renovation process be like in terms of discussion and communication channel. It is not uncommon for some IDs to assign another project manager to link up with you after the design is finalized. While some owners are alright with this, some may find it to be confusing and doing repetitive discussions.Also bear in mind that the renovation process is not just about good design in terms of aesthetics.An interior designer should also have the inner understandings of the basic renovation process and the practicality of their designs when put to the test. A rule of thumb might be that if you do not have too much time on hand or know very little about renovations, you may likely end up incurring extra cost to rework with the individual contractors, in addition to all the stress that comes along. A reliable ID might be able to allay your worries and make your home renovation process a smooth one as much as possible.Lastly, engage someone whom you can trust upon with their knowledge and skills and that you do like their personal or team portfolios of real photos. (Not rendered 3D drawings!)
5. Is the renovation contract the only amount I need to set aside in my renovation budget?
All renovation contracts will not typically include any furnishing and appliances cost. While some firms may give away some appliances as ‘free gifts’, the above are some significant additional cost that you would have to buffer for in total. Do not over spend on renovations such that you may have to scrimp on at the later stages. You would not want to be doing up a $50K renovation with only $500 left for your TV, sofa and mattress. A good advice would be to take a trip down to furniture and electronics shops to get an idea of what the average item that you require cost and tabulate all of them into an excel sheet. Prudent financial planning is an important part of the initial planning process.
6. Are package deals always better?
Do you believe that you get what you pay for or do you believe that there is always ‘free lunch’ in this world? It is always easy to settle for a ‘package’ which usually (seemingly) provides for the basic necessities. Just be mindful to ensure that there are no hidden costs or unpleasant surprises to the final bill upon actual measurements. Do not be overly enticed by ‘promotions’ and sign up to realize that what you need is not there and that the additional costs are not too much in your favor. Read the fine prints thoroughly and at what costs can you expect the potential additional works to add up to.
7. Am I assured of the same good renovation experiences that my friends/colleagues/relatives had if I choose the same company?
Your contact point of the company will probably account for 90% of the customer experience. You can expect a whole new different experience even by different designers from the same company. This is why some companies prefer to have a lean team to ensure a consistent quality output. The same designer that has good chemistry and understanding with your friends/relatives might also not mean the same to you too. Testimonials and reviews are good for reference but always talk to them in person to see if there is a good fit. Lastly, good customer service relies also on good customer behavior. Set realistic expectations and try to create a respectful working environment for everyone involved.
8. How long will the renovation process take?
The average actual renovation duration should be about two months but it all depends on the extensiveness of works required. The planning stage might be done before the commencement or happen concurrently depending on the project requirements. It is important that everyone works towards having a reasonable progress within a reasonable time frame and if there are any deadlines to be met, to be highlighted at the start.
9. Are bigger companies always better?
There should be no sweeping statements as to whether a bigger or smaller firm is better. The chosen firm should be one that is able to understand your needs, provide personalized solutions and execute it well. Look at how the company is run and its business philosophy. You may begin to see that some are run more like a marketing firm or operations management company rather than an interior design or renovation firm. When firms have different motivations, the final products will show.
10. Why do some companies require a deposit before commencing any actual drawings while others can do a ‘proposed design’ without a fee?
Some companies may require a token of deposit before commencing any actual drawings. There are also some others that will provide you designs ‘specially’ done up for you without any deposit. To put it fairly, every customer and every firm has the right to set their own expectations. Simply go for that arrangement that matches your needs.
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The Minimalist Society is a brand that focuses deeply on purpose and social good for our society at large. We do so by crafting experiences that makes people’s lives simple through interior design. We have been featured extensively by renowned online portals, in print and on screen, such as The Straits Times, Business Insider, Lianhe Zaobao, The Business Times, Singapore Home and Decor, Lookbox Living, Houzz, Cromly, Qanvast, Vulcan Post, Yahoo and MM2 Entertainment Singapore. At Team Minimalist, simplicity is a goal, a work style, and a measuring stick. By leading a life of purpose, our home owners can embrace only on the things that will add to the mission of significance and ultimately living their best story.