Contractor Vs Interior Designer – Who does what?

Renovation in Singapore can be relatively straightforward if you know the proper people and channels to go by to get your needs met. Some companies would advertise HDB renovation packages or BTO interior design options, and with so many choices and with so little explanation, it can be hard to understand who a contractor is and who the interior designer is, and what are their specific roles in building your home.

What to do before contacting renovation agencies

Before engaging any company for your renovation needs, it is important that you decide on the budget you have for the renovation. You need to fix the amount you can, and are willing to, spend on the entire project. This will be vital in your discussions later as the budget determines what can be done, and how the companies can work around your financial means to deliver a satisfactory product.

Who is the interior designer?

The interior designer is exactly what the title is. They help to design the interior of the house! They help you to imagine and construct the design of your house with sketches and even 3D drawings. They will work closely with you to design and furnish the house according to your lifestyle and your preferences.

Example of an interior designers 3D model of a proposed living room (Taken from http://www.decorholic.in/interior-design-blog/)

Interior designers’ jobs go further than just making up sketches and models, they will also consult you on your preferences for colours, materials and any other details of your house. The interior designer is usually more experienced in themes and settings of houses and can advise you on the entire renovation process to ensure your home looks beautiful, with nothing looking out of place, or sticking out like a sore thumb.

Interior designers can plan and design your house in different styles which fit your personality and preferences like the industrial design above.

Interior Designers not only help you to envision your home, but also continue into executing the renovations. After confirming the designs and budget with you, they will go on to contact the various contractors needed for the renovations, while you can relax with peace of mind that your dream home is being built. The interior designer remains accountable for the entire project until it is complete, meaning you just sit back and wait for everything to be completed.

With such personalized service comes a (usually) heftier fee. Some interior design companies may have special packages for renovation, but these would tend to be higher than if you went with contractors. They would usually charge designing and consultation fees, in addition to the fees from the various contractors. Be sure to clarify all costs with your designer before commencing the work to make sure it fits in your budget.

Who is the contractor

Contractors come in 2 forms, the main contractor and a subcontractor. The main contractor is usually your point of contact, they are the people you have discussed the renovation plans with, and who execute the renovation project. Subcontracts may be employed by the main contractor for various parts of the renovation, depending on their area of specialty, such as electrical wiring, piping, carpentry and others.

You can think of contractors as the executors of the plans. Whether you are engaging an interior designer, or a contractor directly, a contractor will always be involved in the renovation of your home. The main difference between a contractor and an interior designer is that the contractor does not help you to plan the renovation. They can give you advise from their experience or expertise on small things, such as which material is more durable and suitable for your needs, or suggestions on how to arrange the furniture, especially if you are building fixtures into your house.

However, they do not go to the extend of interior designers in making models and sketches for you or provide personalized service and suggestions. Hence, you should consider going to a contractor directly if you have a clear idea of how you want your house designed as contractors would follow the specified instructions on what to do, usually only offering suggestions if they foresee issues arising in your design. This also means a lower cost as they do not provide designing or consultation services.

You can approach contractors if your renovation is simple, or you have a clear picture of the design you want

Who do you approach?

With so many choices, how do you decide who to approach?

First, consider your budget, do you have enough money to hire an interior designer and pay more for personalized services, or are you on a tight budget and you can only afford a direct contractor.

You should also consider the type and extent of renovation you are planning. Small renovations like installing a new cupboard or redoing a single room may not call for an interior designer, especially if you are clear on how you want it renovated. But if you are doing an entire overhaul on your house, an interior designer can save you the headache from planning for every single room, and they will take care of the renovation process from start to finish for you.