I will start off by admitting that I am a typical Singaporean guy brought up in the ways of kiasuism. I started to look for interior designers more than a year prior to the probable collection date (keys collection from HDB) and was downloading ideas and designs every now and then.
There are plenty of mediums where one can source for inspirations and ideas but I’ve gotten mine all from the internet, mixed from a couple of platforms being trusty Google, Facebook and forums. Fret not for lack of sources as the cookies from the sites you visited will probably translate into more advertisements and sponsored posts in your social media. Here are some renovation platforms where you can explore if you are looking for interior designers or renovation tips and ideas in Singapore:
Tip #1: I will advise new homeowners to do up a mood board and collect all inspirational designs and pieces that you come across. Do not worry about your ideas being put down by your partner, after all a home is shared by both parties. After being exposed to many themes you will get a feel on what you are actually looking for. There are plenty of themes out there such as the trending scandinavian and industrial theme, a minimalistic or even a modern theme.
Coming back to what was the driver behind the decision of engaging an interior designer instead of a contractor, it was easy for me as I had absolutely no idea on space planning and just thinking about coordinating all the different contractors gave me a headache. Designers come with a premium price tag for their designs (some of them anyway, we will get to that in a bit) and their work as the middle man liaising with all the sub-contractors, electrician etc. However, you will need to do your homework as some items of work might be provided at a cheaper price point with the designer as compared to a contractor.
Thus, this leads to Tip #2: Set a budget. It is advisable that you set aside an additional 20% in case of variation orders. Of course, making sure that everything is penned down in black and white will help in ensuring that the payment does not deviate too much from the initial plan.
Anyway, my initial plan was to identify at least 50 companies (yes 50!) and to visit 20 of them before making any decision. However as soon as I started the visits I also started to gain clarity on what we want, be it design or material. Spending 2 to 3 hours on each visit to get our thoughts across and exploring options from the various design firms also made us pretty tired and we found ourselves repeating towards the end of our search. It is a clear indication that we’ve found our direction and it’s time to decide. So… instead of the 20 firms that I shortlisted, in the end I only went to 5 ID firms.
Tip #3: Deciding factors to engage the ID. I will not mention portfolio here as it will be the basis of you visiting their showroom/office anyway. Instead, you will be able to judge the ID’s character and the rapport built in the short 2 to 3 hours of discussion.
– Is the ID being very pushy?
– Is he/she is just trying to push you to place a deposit or to buy their 3D modelling or are they not interested in your business all together?
– Do you have this uncanny feeling that they are just salesmen with a copy and paste template and not sharing their expertise/experience on what kind of design or furnishing works?
– Finishing and quality of their work. Are they able to show you their finished works with the quality that they proclaim to have? i.e. Blum fittings on all carpentry, skirting for the tiles and internal pvc/external laminates are but just some of the qualities you should be looking out for.
– Price. Finally you can do a comparison of prices across the selected IDs and bargain your way to a better deal. Do note that there are over 2000 ID firms in Singapore and this is a very competitive industry so have an expectation that prices will vary due to materials selected instead of other factors. (usually)
And finally Design Chapterz (ID: Mr N***) is the firm that I have decided to engage.