As you flesh out your home renovation plan, there are some practical matters to consider to ensure it goes according to schedule and budget. Here's a primer on what to expect:
- Your renovation timeline may be longer than you thought
Many homeowners end up spending more time and money on renovations than they anticipated — sometimes double or even triple their original estimates. (See also: Beware 'devaluation' of your house) Renovations tend to get complex when permits and approvals from authorities such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Housing Development Board (HDB), Fire Department, etc., fall behind schedule or get held up for other reasons such as holiday season or lack of manpower. This often leads to a domino effect that results in a longer renovation period.
2) Renovation costs may be higher than you thought
Construction costs have been going up for the past few years, and this will continue as a result of various factors including increased manpower costs, due to fewer foreign workers coming into Singapore. These cost hikes are also partly caused by an increase in construction materials such as cement and steel, which were affected by the floods in Australia last year. To make matters worse, certain construction activities such as blasting works now require you to put up security deposits with the authorities under new regulations introduced recently. In fact, some large renovation companies claim they might end up charging more if they cannot manage their contractors well enough to complete projects on time due to permit-related issues.
- Be prepared for noise and inconvenience
You may have to cope with a lot more noise and inconvenience at your home during the renovation period, especially if you are living there while the work is going on. As a rule of thumb, it will probably be a good idea to make other living arrangements for this duration if possible. If not, you can expect loud drilling sounds from power tools as masonry or concrete walls are being cut, or hammering from carpenters as they assemble new furniture or install wall partitions. In some cases, workers might even be installing new equipment such as air-conditioning units that require holes to be drilled into walls and ceilings — which means you'll have to put up with streaks of dust and debris all over the place. (See also: 7 steps to surviving renovation)
- Coordinate renovations with home insurance coverage
Renovations may require you to purchase additional contents or home insurance coverage for specific items, or increase your existing contents coverage in the event of theft during construction. For example, if you are installing a new glass sliding door in place of an old one, this will warrant higher insurance protection because it is more valuable than the original door. (See also: Home Insurance 101) In addition, certain renovation activities such as blasting works now require homeowners to get separate disposal coverage from their insurers, even for small-scale renovations such as redecoration or repainting which used to be covered by standard contents policies.
- Renovation loans might be hard to come by
Renovation funds have become a lot harder to obtain since the housing market slumped, and home prices have been going up accordingly. In fact, some banks have recently tightened their lending criteria for renovation purposes following a string of cases of homeowners getting themselves into debt over borrowed money for renovations. So if you do need financing, it would probably pay to look around for competitively priced deals from other financial services providers such as insurers or even CPF Life insurers who sometimes offer special discounts on lump sum premiums when customers apply them towards a renovation loan covering specific items such as furniture and electrical appliances.