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How Do You Hire A Good Renovation Contractor?

If you are planning on a renovation project soon, you must read this! Your dream home begins by engaging a reputable and trusted renovation contractor.

Whether you are renovating your new home, doing some repairs or remodelling your kitchen or bathroom; finding a good renovation contractor in Singapore is a given.

Not only can a project-gone-wrong cost you a good deal of money; it will also cause you agonising and emotional stress, among other things. Trust us, you’ll wish it never happens to you. Ever.

In this guide, we are going to share with you important pointers to help you evaluate and choose a reliable renovation contractor.

Where Do You Start Looking for Good Renovation Contractors?

1. You can visit the website of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) which provides a list of registered renovation contractors in Singapore here. This will give you the names of many certified renovation contractors in Singapore.

2. Alternatively, you can visit specialised web portals such as TheBigPlans which is extremely rich in content and has a huge list of reputed renovation contractors, interior designers and craftsmen.

3. Ask your friends and family members. Most referrals coming from these sources will likely be based on personal experiences.

4. Books or magazines related to interior design and renovation.

How Should You Compare Renovation Contractors?

Once you have found those renovation contractors that suit your needs, contact the shortlisted companies and arrange a meet-up with them. The traditional way was to have them come over to survey your house, take some measurements and then give you an estimated sales quotation.

However, with the proliferation of web and smartphone technology, it is now extremely easy and fast for you to obtain sales quotations and consultations from these renovation contractors using platforms like TheBigPlans.com.

For many homeowners, this is a great way to get several quotations with just a few clicks with your mouse. The fact that ‘great way’ is in bold because you get to assess and compare different contractors at your own comfort; without strenuous legwork and spending a lot of time.

Your comparison should be done fairly using the same requirements and specifications for each of the shortlisted companies. Depending on the materials you choose; prices will also vary.

Tip: Make sure a copy of your home’s floor plan is readily available before you start sending your requirements. It helps the renovation contractors to furnish you with an accurate sales quotation.

Don’t Be Tempted With Low Price

Apart from materials used, the quality of workmanship and service level will also result in different prices.

Certified and reliable renovation contractors who produce good quality work will never quote you a ridiculously low price. That’s because they use the right materials and they don’t cut corners. Their prices are usually quite similar and will not vary more than 10% to 15% among reputed competitors.

We need to caution you against low prices. It is the most common mistake that many new homeowners will fall into, and could potentially create unforeseen problems.

It’s important to stay sensible and don’t base your buying decisions solely on the lowest price. Good things come with a price.

If you receive an offer with an unusually low price, it’s often too good to be true. Always assess each sales quotation carefully and find out if there are hidden costs or any unfavourable terms and conditions that could work against you.

Also, you need to be aware that most renovation contractors who are asked to take up urgent jobs with tight timelines, will charge a higher price compared with normal renovation projects. This is understandable because of the resources involved to finish your job on time.

Tip: Never hire a renovation contractor based on the lowest price.

Follow The Best Practices

Whenever possible, ask shortlisted renovation contractors to give you customer testimonials or ex-client references.

Another recommended practice is to ask the contractor to take you on-site and show you their completed works. That way, it allows you to examine their design and workmanship quality to determine if they fit your expectations.

Make use of useful resources from the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). Before hiring any renovation contractor, check with CASE if any consumer complaints were filed against the renovation contractor.

This helps to protect your interest and let you steer clear rogue contractors.

Warning: Avoid These Renovation Contractors

Don’t be a victim of renovation cheats! It is best to avoid renovation contractors who –

1. Knock on your door offering you discounts for home renovation projects or tell you that they are working in your neighbourhood.

2. Quote you a price without seeing or asking you detailed questions about the renovation project.

3. Are hesitant to provide you their company address, ACRA number and/or telephone number.

4. Fail to commit to start and end dates for the renovation project.

5. Refuse to give a proper sales quotation and contract in writing.

6. Demand more than 30% of the total cost as an initial down-payment.

Tip: Most reputed renovation professionals will have a proper office and a showroom. They will not hesitate to show you their completed works or give you client references.

What Should Be Inside The Sales Quotation?

1. The renovation company’s name, address, contact details, company’s registration number from Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) or Goods Services Tax (GST) registration number if you are paying a 7% GST.

2. Complete description of work to be done.

3. The quantity and type of materials to be used.

4. The start and end date of each work milestone.

5. Break down with itemised costs of renovation works.

6. Total cost of the renovation works.

7. Payment for each milestone properly documented.

8. Required/accepted payment method.

9. Statement of workmanship guarantee made by contractor.

Tip 1: Scrutinise sales quotations and contracts before you sign. When you sense something is amiss, always seek clarification.

Tip 2: Verbal contracts are difficult to verify and prove. Never accept verbal agreements. Always insist on a properly written contract.

Questions to Ask When You Interview the Renovation Contractor

Even when you have compared and shortlisted a few contractors, don’t rush into hiring one. This is because you should further narrow down your list.

Arrange to meet the renovation contractor at their office or on-site. You should equip yourself with a small notebook and prepare a list of questions such as:

1. How long have you been in business? An established business will always have a record and reputation that can be checked out.

2. How many projects similar to mine have you completed? Ask for a list, so that you can get an insight as to whether the contractor has familiarity in performing projects similar to yours.

3. Can you provide past references? Steer clear of contractors who refuse to show portfolios or client references.

4. Will you be providing me any design or perspective drawings during the consultation phase? Some firms do not provide drawings until you have accepted their quotation.

5. Do I have to pay for these drawings? These are not chargeable usually.

6. Is there a dedicated project manager assigned to handle the project? There should be.

7. I would like to meet him/ her. Allows you to evaluate the person’s work and service level.

8. Are you certified and has the capacity to handle required permits for my renovation project? This is important. Reputed contractors would be well equipped with professional knowledge and capacity to take care of these matters.

Once these details are out of the way, you can now seriously evaluate your options and decide on the best renovation contractor that fits your bill. Now is the right time to sign the contract.

Tip: Avoid comparing with more than 5 probable renovation contractors. You will be easily confused. Evaluate options with a set of criteria, be rationale and then shortlist.

After You Hire the Renovation Contractor

Make sure that you supervise and follow-up with the work progress regularly, while maintaining all details, conversations and payment records in a journal.

If, at any point, you are dissatisfied with something, make it known to the contractor or the project manager. Maintain professional and clear communications.

Remember: try and establish a cordial working relationship, as this adds up to the success of your renovation project. When necessary, let your contractor know about your opinion or idea, and have an open discussion to address them.

Avoid rushing the workers or foremen with an unreasonable timeline, but at the same time, make sure they do not slacken and that work should be completed as per the deadlines allotted.

Tip: Before declaring a job or a milestone finished, meet the contractor and inspect the work thoroughly. Ensure everything you have been promised are duly completed before releasing any payment.