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Before making Renovation Decisions, Consider these four things.

Don’t forget to think about maintenance.

You’ll only buy your toilet bowl once - but assuming you own it for 10 years and wash it monthly -  you’ll scrub it down 120 times over its lifespan. Bearing that ratio in mind whenever you are making a renovation decision can save you trouble down the line.

Here's an example:

Take a look at this lovely sink, with a beautiful, swooping curve. Very aesthetic, but you might have a tough time getting into the narrow crevice between the countertop and the sink bottom if you spot signs of mold peeking out.


When you buy fixtures or order work, imagine yourself cleaning it. It’s useful to understand your own level of comfort. If you don’t mind giving the house extra care, you can opt for higher-maintenance finishes like leather, natural stone and solid wood. 


Get a quote for all the work you want, then cut back if necessary.

When you meet your contractor for a site visit or initial consultation, they will, of course, ask you what you wish to do with the place.

Some customers will only ask for part of what they want, and upon receiving a quote for that initial request, proceed to ask the price for another set of works that they wish to add, that was never mentioned in the initial discussion. This can go on and on. Early in my career, I revised a quote for a customer eleven times, and believe me when I say it’s no fun for anyone involved.

Doing this adds a lot of unnecessary complexity. Avoid it by being upfront, and let the contractor know of all the potential changes you wish to make. If two options are mutually exclusive (e.g. hacking vs not hacking, vinyl floors vs tiled floors), request a separate quote for options ‘A’ and ‘B’. Compared to revealing information to your contractor/ID piece by piece, this big-quote approach has a few advantages.

1.       Once you’ve gotten the first quote, you will immediately have a sense of how much each piece of work costs, which can help you prioritise based on dollar value.

2.       It also allows for easier comparison across different contractors’ prices.

3.       It can make the process faster since everything will be counted at once. This is especially true if the person serving you is not the one preparing the quote, which is common.

Plan with the privacy of occupants in mind.

This goes for any type of co-living arrangement, be it couples, siblings or friends. Open floor plans continue to be very popular, and many new homeowners intend to make their home feel bigger by hacking down walls.

This can go too far. While open plans do create, large uninterrupted areas, human beings need private space regardless of their relationship with their housemates.

This goes especially goes for younger couples living in a 4-room flat or smaller. For example, one of my clients wanted to hack down the wall between the home office and master bedroom and replace it with clear glass. Whoever was in the office working would be able to observe the activities of master bedroom occupants, and vice-versa. I advised them against it, and later they thanked me for the recommendation.

It may not always be possible, but do try to ensure everyone living there has an area where they can get some alone time. A little bit of absence can definitely make the heart grow fonder.


Remember the 70/30 rule when shopping

One thing I always tell my customers – your house is going to look a lot bigger after renovation but before you bring in your furniture. Without bulky objects like sofas, wardrobes, and dining tables there to take up space, even a modest three-room HDB can look pretty spacious.

Don’t let that rush of excitement get to your head. Furniture salespeople tend to be maximalist in their approach to get you to maximize your bill. My advice is stick to the basics first, and that you don’t need to buy everything upfront. Your house is not going to be perfectly finished and done from the outset. Secondary furniture purchases like display tables, sideboards, standing lamps and stools can be picked up as you go. Buying them all at once before getting used to the ergonomics of your new home can lead to brand-new clutter.

Hence the 70-30 rule: get seventy percent of the work done before move in. That covers essentials like the beds, wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, bathroom sink cabinets, and sofa. The remaining thirty percent will fill itself up as you adapt to the new environment. No need to rush, and you may be happier with less than you initially planned for.

By ensuring every item of furniture and renovation contributes to your comfort and convenience, and was chosen after careful deliberation, you’re very likely to end up with a home that not only pleases the eye, but gives you the sense of satisfaction only an well executed project can.



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