Beginner’s Guide To Home Renovations

Renovations can be a very daunting process for many, especially if it is your first time. After all, it is a big decision that you need to commit to for the next few years, not forgetting the large financial baggage that comes along with it. But fret not, here is a dummies guide to getting started on renovations. 

Rough Renovation Plan

The first step to renovations would be to determine which are the areas that you would like to renovate. Obviously, the more areas you are renovating, the more expensive the renovations would be. 

Try to think about the essential things in your space. What are some of the things you need to have and what are your priorities? Perhaps you are a tuition teacher that holds classes at home in your living room. Maybe it would be better to convert one of the 3 rooms in your house into a larger living room to accommodate more students? 

You also need to decide on what are the specific things to keep or renovate. For instance, if there are existing flooring and tiling are you going to keep it or have it removed? Are you planning to hack down a wall or erect a new one? 

All these should be taken into account when coming up with a rough renovation plan, which brings me to the next step which is setting a budget.

planning house layout

Setting a Budget

Setting a budget first allows you to ensure that you work within your financial means and not spend above what you could realistically afford. The last thing you want is to have a beautiful house but to be buried in debt. 

There is no hard and fast rule to set a budget for your renovations because it depends on multiple factors such as the size of your house, the extensiveness of renovations, your priorities, and in general, how much you are willing to spend. 

Based on the rough renovation ideas you have in mind, you could share your requirements with a professional subsequently.  Do bear in mind that the final quote usually differs from the initial quote due to differences in the size of the actual home, floor plan as well as changes in the requirements that may arise in further discussions.

It is hence often recommended to set aside another 10 to 20% of the estimated renovation costs for contingencies during the renovation process. On top of these, there are also furnishing costs which could range between $10,000 to $30,000 depending on your needs. 


Finding Design Inspiration 

When it comes to design, the possibilities are endless. This depends on your personal style, preferences, and priorities. There are many online resources where you can draw inspiration from such as Pinterest, Houzz, or Google Images

We do like Pinterest because there is a large pool of ideas and it allows you to create Pinterest Boards of photos that you like so you can visualise things better. You can find inspiration for different spaces such as kitchens or bathrooms in many different styles and colour palettes. However, do bear in mind that many images that can be found on these platforms are from foreign countries and when it is being translated to the local context, it will not look 100% similar to the images that you see online. If you would like to narrow your search to local homes only, you can consider using the keyword “Singapore” when searching. 

Here are some common keywords that some of you may search for:

  • Types of Interior Design Styles
  • Scandinavian Inspired Homes Singapore
  • Muji Style Interior Design
  • Minimalist Homes Design Singapore
  • Cozy Home Colour Palettes

If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, you can start by taking a look in your closet. Pick out some of your favourite items and see if there are any common colours, patterns, or styles among them. The logic behind this is that you want to surround yourself with things that make you feel good (a.k.a. if you like looking at it, you would probably like living with it). 

If you are still feeling lost, you can seek help from professionals. 

Related topic: How To Get Design Inspirations Using Pinterest, Houzz and Google Images 

Finding Design Inspiration

Interior Designers or Contractors?

After you have decided on a general design and created an inspiration board, now you need to decide whether to go with an interior design firm or hiring contractors. But how do you know which option is the right one for you?

In general, interior designers are able to help you optimise the spaces by planning and designing custom furniture to maximise functionality. They do the heavy lifting in the design and building process to make your life easier, so definitely go with interior designers if you value convenience and quality in your renovation process. 

Contractors, on the other hand, are more suitable for people who are comfortable with having a  hands-on renovation process. If you have a reasonable amount of renovation knowledge and a solid plan to execute your ideas, contractors might be a possible alternative. While the general consensus is that hiring contractors is slightly cheaper as compared to hiring interior designers, that may not always be the case. There are some designers that charge at reasonable prices and also some contractors that charge approximately the same as interior designers. At the end of the day, while the price is tangible, the value that comes from it is what’s truly important. Hence, you should seek to work with someone that you have confidence in, someone who can truly value-add to your home.  

Related topic: Why Choosing Between An ID Or A Contractor Is Not Important   

 Setting Up An Appointment

After you have shortlisted some potential companies that you may like to work with, set up an appointment with them in their showroom. This is where you have the opportunity to see their designs in person and to see if it is aligned with your vision. Share your aspirations with them, and learn about the process that these professionals will take to create your dream home. Different companies have their own unique working and communication style so this is your chance to clear your queries and to see if there is a good fit between you and the company.  

Deciding On The One

After your appointment, the company typically will furnish a quotation based on what was discussed. Here’s a tip from our homeowners: You would usually be better off with a reasonably-priced to a higher-priced quotation. Quotations that are inexpensive at first glance may seem attractive, but the overall or eventual cost could possibly end up being more expensive with all the revisions and repairs that need to be done if the firm has used subpar materials or workmanship. The hard truth is that a quote that is meant to compete on price ultimately has to save on its own costs.

To sum it all up, here’s a proposition to remember — things that last are worth investing in.

Now that you have clarity on their pricing, let’s dive into the quality of their works. To make educated guesses about the level of output to expect from the company, we can glance through the reviews of these companies. This would allow you to make more informed decisions based on the price and the quality of their work based on the experiences of their clients. Get a general sense of what most of the clients say about the company. While not all reviews may be substantiated, this is a chance for you to spot any obvious red flags about the company. 

However, it is important to read reviews from unbiased sources as some sources only showcase positive reviews that skew your perception of them. Renovation forums is also a good place to find like-minded individuals and seek their advice should you have any queries or concerns about renovations. Once again, try to keep a critical mind when reading such forums as it is common practice for many of the “previous homeowners” to be interior designers in disguise. 

In short, always consider the constraints of the project management triangle- cheap, fast, and good where you can only choose 2 out of 3 constraints in any project. Picking the best workmanship and materials naturally results in a higher price. Albeit the reverse may not ring true! Being expensive doesn’t necessarily mean that they can deliver results, so do your research before engaging a firm!  

renovation guide for beginner

With these points in mind, the greatest takeaways to getting started on renovations are to know what you want out of the renovation and doing your due diligence in choosing a trustworthy firm to help you achieve your vision. We hope that this article has been helpful and we wish you all the best in your renovation endeavors!