DIY Renovation with Sub-Contractors in Singapore

How much does it cost to engage sub-contractors directly?

If you are asking this question, it means you are thinking of acting as the interior designer and contractor. You have to design the whole place yourself. Then you will find, arrange and supervise the various sub-contractors. This means, you need to know the renovation process. For example you need to hack the walls and do the electrical works before tiling work can proceed.

In this way, you can save on the interior designer’s design fees, and the contractor’s coordination charges. But in exchange, you need to put in a lot of time and effort to do the work.

Best for people with no money, but lots of time and energy.

Direct pricing from various sub-contractors are definitely cheaper than the quotations you get from your interior designer (“ID”) or contractor. The ID/contractor needs to be paid for their services. Contractor earns about 20-30% of the contracted price, some might go up to 30-50%. For ID, there’s also the design fee added to the quotation.

Related Post: Should you choose an ID, Contractor or DIY?


Hacking Works


The prices for hacking works for HDB units are more or less the same, because they are more standardised than private property like condominium (“condo”). If heavy vehicles cannot go into the condo compound, the costs might be higher.

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For hacking works, contractors or ID will quote 0.5 to 1.5 times more than direct prices.

There is the risk of engaging a hacker directly. While clearing of debris, the hacker might refuse to clear the rubbish if there is more than what is expected, or so they say. That said, haulage of sand, clearing debris is one of the most profitable item in the quotation. Some include this price into the line item, some put it as a separate line. Thus, the best way to compare the demolition cost is as a lump sum and not compare item by item. Make sure all the items to be hacked are included in the lump sum.

For HDB, the contractor has to inform at least 2 neighbours three days before hacking. It is best you inform 3 to 4 neighbours, especially those below and above you, and those on your sides.

All demolition and hacking of walls (be it partial or complete) require HDB’s prior written approval. No works should be carried out until approved by HDB in writing. Adhere to HDB regulations for a smoother renovation journey!


Carpentry Works


The market pricing for carpentry is of a wide range because of the non-standardised ID/contractor mark ups and differing workmanship. Moreover, carpenters are in demand right now because of the increasing supply of BTOs. With the demand more than supply, the cost of hiring them is naturally higher now. Yet, the most expensive doesn’t necessarily give you best quality nor the cheapest the lousiest quality.

Carpentry begins in the factory before they bring the pre-fabricated carpentry to your house. So it is important to check on the goods delivered and supervise the installation before it’s too late. Make sure they got your design and material right and know where to install them at the right places. Normally, the ID/contractor will be the one checking on the workmanship and finishes.

Quality and workmanship are the two most important thing in carpentry works. The easiest way to gauge the wood quality is by the door’s weight. Solid wood is real heavy. Do note that solid wood might have warping issues at times. Other than the wood quality, it’s best to get better brands of laminate. Your ID/contractor will probably restrict you to specific range of laminates. There will be a price list in the catalog, unless they remove it.

Outsourcing carpentry works can be done very easily if the design is not complex. Even if you have an ID/contractor, you can consider outsourcing carpentry to lower your overall cost. Of course, your ID/contractor must be comfortable with it.

Most carpenters can show you simple drawings. As the dimensions of carpentry works is very important, do initial the finalised drawings with measurements and keep a copy for yourself. This is to prevent future conflicts or misunderstanding.

Extra: For chemical washing and general cleaning for whole unit after painting, the direct price is only at about $200.


What other stuff should homeowners look out for for their DIY renovation projects? Leave a comment below.



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