Now that you have purchased a new home, it is time you turn it into a sweet home. Renovation and redesigning the interiors of a property take up major finances. The complete overhaul or makeover of a 5 room flat could easily run into amounts of $40K-50K. Apart from these money matters, you also need to be aware of rogue contractors and designers who are known to scam innocent Singaporeans of their hard earned money. So, you must take all possible measures to ensure that the work is up to the mark and that you are indeed getting value for money you spend.

A major question to consider here is: what are the differences between an interior designer and a contractor? Would you be better off hiring one or the other?

Who to hire: Interior designer or renovation contractor

These days, there are no significant differences between a renovation contractor and an interior designer, at least as far as their capabilities are concerned. Naturally, if you need an illustration or a computer aided design (CAD) of your home interiors, then it makes more sense to work with an interior designer.

On the other hand, if a design-to-scale is not needed, you can approach a renovation contractor. He would likely show you his portfolio or photographs of designs and projects he has done in the past. Using these photographs as reference and based on ex-client testimonials, you can judge the ability of the contractor in question. An interior designer, on the other hand, will have credentials and qualifications to show you apart from a sturdy portfolio depending upon the number of years s/he has been in the field. Also, an interior designing firm will have their own team of renovation contractors to do the job for you. Some designers might also outsource the work to external renovation contractors.

differences between an interior designer and a renovation contractor.

Responsibilities of contractors and designers

Renovation is an art and science and you must choose either a designer or a contractor with great care. As soon as you conduct an in-person interview with these professionals, you will be shown a range of photographs and/or designs or drawings of work they have done in the past.  These designs and photos might seem flawless, but you must not let them trick you. First of all, it is imperative that you shortlist multiple design firms/contractors. You must try to even visit the projects or call up the clients to get an idea about the work done. Try and get an insight whether the contractor has applied adequate cement and other such details.

Another important point when choosing a renovation contractor to work on your home is ensuring he is responsible and licensed. You might think you are saving money by hiring an unlicensed contractor but if yours is a HDB flat, you might incur heavy fines when the renovation results in leakages or other serious defects that are found out by the HDB. Such cases have actually ended with the renovation contractor and/or interior designer having their licenses revoked or suspended.

Another important difference between contractors and designers is that where the HDB accredits renovation contractors, an organization called the RADAC or the Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre accredits the interior designers and interior design firms. This organization makes sure that all those registered and licensed designers abide by the code of conduct. Also, if you happen to have major disagreement with the contractor or designer, the RADAC would mediate on your behalf.

differences between an interior designer and a renovation contractor.

Here is a summary of differences between Interior designer and renovation contractor

  • Interior designers tend to charge for quotations and consultations. Most renovation contractors would not charge for these services.
  • Typically, the designer is involved from designing projects from start to finish. S/he might also help with other aspects like colour coordination, colour palette selection, considerations of light and sound and so on. The designer has educational qualifications and official training and licensing for this. The contractor on the other hand, might not have official training in these areas.

These are the major points you should know when considering differences between an interior designer and a renovation contractor.