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Hiring a contractor to renovate your house? Here are 7 tips to get exactly what you want.


Everything you should do and ask to get the best renovation works from your contractors. 

Here are 7 tips to get exactly what you want. | Kurhan

Renovating a home or an office can be daunting, especially without prior experience. That was how I felt when my husband and I were about to renovate our home. It felt like such a monumental task but luckily my husband had some expertise in the area.

So here I am, detailing this crucial process for all of you to read, and hopefully make life a little easier for all those about to start renovating their homes. You can treat this as a ‘hiring a contractor’ checklist to help you communicate better and get exactly what you have in mind.

1. Get the right designers /contractors

Should i get a designer or contractor
© gettyimages | Naphat Rojanarangsiman;

The first step is to source for designers. You can engage design companies that also offer integrated renovation services. These companies are usually called design-and-build companies that make your life easier with one-stop services.  Instead of hiring separate designers and contractors for your renovations, you get everything conveniently packaged together.

If you are clueless where to start when vetting for a contractor, there are a couple of ways to go about doing this such as referrals from friends (like I did) or social media. Social media is a good platform to find qualified design companies. The best part is that you are able to see their previous work on their social media sites before making the decision to hire the contractor for your home renovations. 

Once you have shortlisted at least three companies, ask for quotations. This would allow you to compare pricing and deliverable based on the spaces that you are renovating.

2. Let your creativity flow with colours and themes

Let your creativity flow with colours and themes
©Choo Mei Sze | My feature wall is one example of blue elements infused into my minimalist design

After selecting the designers, you will be asked a lot of questions, such as your preferred colour tones – and if you prefer minimalist, traditional, woody tones and etc. Mine was a simple, clean look with hues of blue. I like a homey yet airy and bright look. My home must definitely have hues of blue as that is our favourite colour. 

You can also search in Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook for design ideas to provide your designers with some visual assistance.

3. Bring your vision to life!

bring your designs to life
© gettyimages | Victor Zastol`skiy

With the basic ideas in place, your designers would then start work on 3-D visuals based on your home’s layout and spaces. Once you have finalised the design for the house, it’s time for renovations!

But bear in mind that if you skip the designing process and go straight to searching for contractors, things might get tricky. Not all contractors will be able to construct exactly what you want.

For example, designers may create the ambience and symmetrical designs that you want for all your rooms and spaces. However, if you are showing photos of your designs directly to the contractors, you would need to give very specific instructions on your renovation requirements. It would be advisable to source all materials in advance – such as tiles, paint, lighting and other fixtures.

My feature wall is one example of blue elements infused into my minimalist design

4. Clarify tasks in advance

©Choo Mei Sze | We sourced the lights shown in the photo above while the bar stools were from the designer.

Before renovations begin, clarify and communicate what materials and fittings that you and your contractors will be buying respectively. Division of labour is important to organise work.

Design-and-build companies, like the one I engaged, also furnish homes based on finalised drawings. However, my husband and I opted to go furniture hunting based on our design instead because we wanted to experience the whole process. Sometimes, this process may prove difficult for couples, especially when husband and wife are not on the same page in terms of what they want and like. We bought most of the big ticket items such as couch, dining table and beds, but left the loose furniture such as bar stools to our designers.

We sourced the lights shown in the photo above while the bar stools were from the designer.

 5. Be firm on deadlines

Set specific deadlines for the completion of your renovations. On the other hand, it would be practical to have at least a two-week buffer as most contractors are likely to drag beyond their deadlines.

My friend’s contractors dragged for an additional 6 months! Luckily, she was smart enough to negotiate a discount on the final price due to the delays, but not everyone knows his or her rights on this matter. I had a buffer of only 2 to 3 weeks as I was concurrently renting a place.

When we went to check on our renovations, we realised that the contractors definitely couldn’t hand over on time and might be delayed longer than expected. After that, my husband made it a point to check on the renovations’ progress at least once in 4 days to hasten the process, and they finally delivered 20 days later.

6. Keep close tabs on renovation progress

© Andy Lewis| gettyimages

It would be advisable to check on the progress of the renovations from time to time. If you engage a design-and-build company, the project manager usually monitors the work-in-progress. If you deal directly with the contractors, please check-in at least once a week to track the progress of the renovations, to see whether your home is turning out how you imagined it to be. 

Towards the end of the renovations, check-in more often. If the contractors can’t hand over on time, remember that it is your prerogative to voice your grievances. In some cases, they would give you a discount for a late handover. These cases often involve extreme delays of more than 1 month beyond the initial deadline. If you check-in more often, you will get a good indication whether or not your contractors are on track.

7. Handover inspection and warranty period for defects

© gettyimages | Lucas Muro

Upon handover, inspect your house thoroughly for any defects in the renovations. If there are any, the contractors are obliged to fix them. Even if you have been staying at the newly renovated home for 1 month, and problems NOT related to your own negligence arise, do let the contractors know so that they can come and fix them as well.

Many people don’t know that and pay extra to fix defects when it is in fact related to  the renovation work. Usually, there is a warranty period given by the contractors for the renovations. So, find out how long your warranty lasts upon handover. Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the whole experience of renovating your home and putting it together. The final result of living in your dream home will be your ultimate reward!

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