What are Singaporeans' biggest home renovation regrets?
We asked seven homeowners for their stories – and it's not always about cost.
Here's the thing with renovating your home: It can cost anywhere from S$10,000 to S$200,000, depending on the size of your property and the complexity of the job. Which makes it important to make yourself heard and get things rectified if you don't like something.
However, most renovation regrets come from – apart from the shoddy work by the contractors and interior designers (IDs) – clients not speaking up or being firm about what they want.
Just read these stories from Singaporeans who have renovation regrets.
1. USING AN INTERIOR DESIGNER WITH LITTLE EXPERIENCE
“My biggest regret was taking a chance on an ID who didn’t have much experience, was not meticulous in the layout drawings and actually got the measurements wrong. This resulted in my kitchen not having the look I wanted and a very stressful experience.
Don’t get swayed by people who are very good at reassuring your worries and doubts, especially if they are constantly doing it. In the end, those are just words and you need someone who is a do-er, not a talker.”
- Addie, who lives in a five-room BTO flat in Sengkang
2. NOT SUPERVISING THE RENOVATION FROM THE START
“My family and I were still living in Australia and no one was around to supervise the ID and contractor working on our Singapore house. We discovered their shoddy workmanship several years later when rainwater kept leaking into the circuit board. Turns out they did not waterproof the roof and several walls. They also gave us windows that were not certified for high-rise buildings and would rattle in the wind.
We had a mini renovation to rectify things. This involved peeling off the paint, scraping away mould caused by humidity and reinforcing the walls. We also replaced the windows for fear they would shatter. If we were there to supervise, they wouldn’t have taken shortcuts.”
- Hannah, who lives in a penthouse unit in Holland Village
3. NOT ASKING FOR MORE RENDERINGS
“We weren’t given renderings of the entire flat, only the parts with customised carpentry such as my wardrobe. And we didn't insist on the renderings. The wardrobe looks good, but a complete rendering would have shown us that the colour combination in the bedroom was too dark for my liking.
I saved money by not going ahead with a platform bed, but we are now struggling with storage issues. On hindsight, I should have just gone with it as I had already taken a renovation loan.”
- Dawn, who lives in a four-room BTO flat in Bedok
4. RUSHING THE RENOVATION
“It’s not terrible but I don't like the colour of my kitchen's laminate. We had not been notified earlier but one day, the contractor came over to take some measurements and told us it was the final day to choose the colours. We only had one catalogue with limited options to choose from. We felt rushed into making a decision. When I wanted to change the colours later, they said it would cost an additional S$1,000. I wish I hadn’t gone along with something I wasn’t comfortable with.”
- Nina, who lives in a four-room BTO flat in Hougang
5. NOT BUILDING MORE STORAGE SPACE AND NOT ASKING FOR MORE RENDERINGS
“We wanted to save money and opted for IKEA’s open-shelving system. I should have gotten my ID to build the shelves as they would have been more customised and specific to our storage needs. IKEA's modular solution is great but very limited.
Also, we only received renderings for the kitchen. But for my bathroom, where we installed a vanity and shower screen, a rendering would have confirmed the height and style of the screen that we wanted. And we wouldn’t have had to pay extra to have it redone.”
- Amanda, who lives in four-room BTO flat in Punggol
6. GETTING A THEMED ROOM
“I thought it would be cool to have a galaxy-themed room with dark-coloured walls and flashing blue neon strips hanging from the ceiling. It turned out looking like a cheap topless bar instead. As cool as novelty rooms may sound, you will soon start wishing for a more practical space. For instance, your 13-year old daughter will grow out of a bedroom with pink wallpaper and cotton candy floss lamps.
Customised spaces, like an in-wall aquarium, is also difficult to upkeep. Removing it means you’ll have a weird hole in the wall, making it difficult to sell the house later on. It’s also additional cost.”
- Ryan, who lives in a five-room condominium apartment in Bayshore
7. NOT USING MY BEDROOM SPACE MORE WISELY
“This is a small regret but I should have installed more storage space instead of a bay window seat. My wife and I don’t even sit there. We first saw the seat in an HDB showroom and it seemed like a good idea at that time. As bay window seats are common, it didn’t even cross our mind to discuss it. Also, it was our first home and we didn’t know what works and what doesn’t.”
- Eugene, who lives in a five-room BTO flat in Hougang
This story first appeared in 99.co.