6 renovation mistakes that you are going to regret

For most Singaporeans, the first thing they do after buying a house is to splurge on renovations. And if it’s their first property, they’re probably going to overboard. Landlords may be inclined to count dollars and cents (they’re not going to live in the house), but a home owner is easily suckered into buying a S$3,000 wall lamp. Here are some renovations to avoid, no matter what your designer says:

renovation contractor
Finding a renovation contractor

Image Credits: Floor plan for renovation, Elasticcomputefarm, Pixabay

1. Shrinking or removing bedrooms

If you’re going to live in the house for the rest of your life – and you’re 100 per cent sure of it – then go ahead and remove the bedroom, or shrink it. But if you hold out hopes for a good resale price, or you want to rent it out someday, leave the bedrooms alone.

There’s a reason why, on property listings, the description is usually “x bedrooms, x bathrooms”. Bedrooms are part of crucial living space – a billiards room or study isn’t, no matter how elegant you think it makes the house look. As for tenants, it’s common sense that more bedrooms = capacity for more tenants.

Another common issue is the trend toward walk-in wardrobes. This became a fad sometime in 2010, when everyone – even HDB dwellers with limited space – became fascinated with the idea. Before you go in this direction, remember that walk-in wardrobes seriously reduce the floor space of a bedroom.

The effect is hard to visualise when it’s only on paper – designers and contractors may persuade you that “very little” space is taken up; but chances are you’ll be shocked at how much tinier your master bedroom feels. This will have an impact on future buyers or tenants, who generally prefer more space to a fancy wardrobe.

2. Using “unofficial” contractors

You may be aware that there are many “unofficial” contractors in Singapore’s property market. They operate almost like handymen, moving power sockets, fixing pipes, or even hacking up floors and installing tiles. They may have the know-how, even if they have no paper qualfiications or registered company.

For some purposes, such as fixing the occasional door or unblocking pipes, there may be no harm in using these contractors. However, you should be extra careful when it comes to major renovations, and here’s why: damages to your house during renovations are claimed from the contractors’ insurance, not yours.

If the contractor puts a hole where there shouldn’t be, your insurance is not going to pay out. You’ll just have to take the contractor to court; and even if you win, you don’t know if your unofficial handyman has the money to pay you.

For renovations that cost $2,000 or more, you’re better off getting a properly licensed (and insured) contractor.

3. Extensive use of wallpaper

Wallpapering isn’t cost-effective, as it’s much more expensive than painting; but that’s the least of the problems.

The main issue with wallpaper is that manufacturers don’t always continue production of the same design. This means that, if your wallpaper is somehow damaged 10 or 15 years down the road, there may be no way to replace it. Then you either live with the rips and holes (which make your property look like the set of a low budget horror movie), or replace the entire wallpaper (which is expensive).

Most of the time, you’ll end up doing what most families do: after the first few tears, all the wallpaper comes off and the wall gets painted. You may as well save your money the first time around, and just paint the walls.

As an aside, using wallpaper in a large, air-conditioned space, like a living room, tends to cause it to warp and rip. That’s because Singapore’s humidity, coupled with turning the air-conditioner on and off, will destroy most wallpapers that aren’t moisture-resistant. If you insist on using it, you’d better make sure your designer / contractor picked the proper material.

4. Not monitoring the waste disposal process

It always pays to drop by, when your home is being renovated. This keeps the contractors on their toes. More importantly however, you need to make sure they dispose of the waste properly – otherwise you could end up with a massive fine.

The most common example of this is when carpentry’s involved – some contractors are happy to stuff waste wood into the garbage chute, as it’s easier than carrying it to the communal dump. But this can jam the entire chute for the block, and you’ll soon hear the management council screaming at you on the phone. Otherwise, the contractors may decide to dump a mountain of waste at the carpark, and then wander off assuming the management will clear it (they will, and they’ll fine you to pay for it).

Most condos require a security deposit of $1,000 before work begins – if you want to see this back, you’d better make sure your contractor doesn’t cause irritation.

5. Paying big bucks for a themed nursery

If your interior designer is nice, they’ll warn you away from specially themed nurseries and children’s rooms (even though it’s easy money for them).

Themed nurseries and children’s rooms are usually a waste of money. The reason is that the occupants outgrow them quick, and almost always insist on having their room redecorated. The wallpaper with dancing fairies might be adorable, but when your child is 14 he may not want to come home to such a “kiddy” room.

The same goes for custom furniture, such as magic-castle shaped beds – remember that your children will outgrow these expensive furnishings, and they’re a nightmare to dispose of.

When renovating, try to spend on design themes and features that will last throughout the years.

6. Using personal loans before renovation loans

Personal loans are much more expensive than renovation loans. The interest rate is around six to nine per cent per annum. On the other hand, renovation loans can have interest rates of five per cent per annum or lower. You should always use the renovation loan first, and use personal loans only after it runs out.

Renovation loans are capped at $30,000, or six times your monthly income (whichever is lower). This is usually enough to furnish a five-room flat or smaller, if you don’t get overly lavish. To find the cheapest renovation loans, speak to one of our expert mortgage consultants at iCompareLoan.

Alternatively you can source for a renovation contractor here with us.

Written by Ryan ONG

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