Should You Engage a Contractor or an Interior Designer For Your New Home?

Engaging an interior designer or doing it yourself by engaging contractors, which is suitable for you? Read this article to find out the three important questions you should ask yourself before deciding on one.

Joyce Chua

by Joyce Chua on May 3, 2024

kitchen renovation

Apart from turning to home loans and renovation loans, many increasingly design-savvy and budget-conscious homeowners may choose to DIY their home renovations instead of hiring an interior designer. After all, depending on your wish list, renovating your home with the help of an interior designer can cost a pretty penny these days—renovation costs for some HDB flats can even hit six digits!

But are DIY renovations the best way to go? Do they really save you a significant sum of money? And what are some budget-friendly options and tools (apart from a renovation loan calculator) that first-time homeowners can turn to if they wish to stay on track with their home financing?

DIY Or Get An Interior Designer? Consider These Factors

Before deciding whether to hire an interior designer or engage contractors on your own—from hacking to paintwork, plumbing to basic carpentry—ask yourself these questions.

1. Is My Home A New or Old Development?

hdb living room apartment interior
Source: Unsplash

This is the primary question as BTOs and resale flats come with different existing features. New BTO flats come with doors, flooring, fittings, etc, so it is possible to DIY most of your renovations. If you don’t intend to hack any walls or conceal any wiring, all you need will probably just be a few sub-contractors like a painter, carpenter and air-conditioner installer, all of whom you can engage directly.

For older apartments or resale flats, the condition of these units often prompts buyers to have them elaborately revamped. This can involve hacking down a wall or two, ripping up the flooring, re-wiring the house, and overhauling the plumbing. Having an interior designer or main contractor to coordinate all this work can save you a lot of hassle and angst. However, if your resale flat is somehow still in good condition and only requires minimal work, you can save some cost by hiring subcontractors to do only the necessary renovations.

2. What Renovations Do You Need Or Want?

What material do you want for the kitchen countertop? How many electrical outlets do you need in the house? What sort of tiles or skirting would you like? Do you need a built-in wardrobe?

These are some decisions you will need to make in a DIY renovation, which means you will have to do product research and consider your needs and preferences. Doing all this beforehand will allow the workflow to be planned out well from the start.

Also remember to factor in additional costs from unexpected changes or additions along the way. If you’re not experienced or versed in handling the nitty-gritty, having an interior designer can take the load off you.

Apart from asking questions to help you figure out your needs, an interior designer can also provide professional opinions and ideas, as well as recommend certain features for your lifestyle and preferences. They can even advise on practicalities like cleaning, upkeep, and the like, as well as lay out the pros and cons of each solution, allowing you to make appropriate choices. On the other hand, DIY can only take you as far as your own research. The contractors you engage will also only give you what you asked for, sans the professional input.

3. Do You Have The Time?

Even the coordination of basic tasks—and contractors—like air-con installation, painting and carpentry, plumbing and wiring will still require a significant amount of time. For instance, it takes between four to six hours for aircon installation and one to four days to paint a mid-sized flat or apartment, depending on the scale.

Therefore, even if you choose to DIY, you’ll still have to be at the job site regularly as contractors need your instructions and approval to proceed with any task or changes in them. And since renovation work should be carried out during the day so as not to disturb the neighbours, you might need to take leave frequently if you have a full-time job.

So while DIY renovations can help to save some money, other factors such as time and feasibility should also be considered. A renovation loan calculator can help you tabulate all your expenses but do also take note of the intangible costs.

A Handy Tool To Assist In Your Home-Planning Process

Building your dream home doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult—especially if you have the right tools at hand.

DBS Home & Living Marketplace offers a one-stop solution for current or prospective homeowners. With a host of financing tools, guides, tips and trusted renovation ID listings, as well as value-for-money utility-related promotions, it provides end-to-end services for the entire home planning process.

Here’s how it goes.

1. Browse Styles For Your Home

Looking for Minimalist, Modern, Scandinavian, or Contemporary design? Check out DBS Home & Living Marketplace for inspiration and make better renovation decisions.

2. Choose Your Preferred Style

You can view the listings under your preferred style after deciding on it. There, you can see the property type, area size, renovation duration and costs. For instance, a Contemporary-designed 79 sqm condominium unit at 1 Dundee Rd would take nine weeks to renovate and renovation costs can amount to an estimated S$30,120.

dbs home marketplace renovation listing price
Source: DBS Home & Living Marketplace

3. Search For a Professional And Reliable Interior Designer

DBS works with various interior design houses such as Livspace, Qanvast and Renonation to bring you your desired designs and features. Enjoy a free quote when you enquire with your desired designer(s).

4. Get a Renovation Loan

What if you are not able to afford the entire bill for your dream renovation with your current savings?

DBS offers affordable renovation loans for homeowners with interest rates starting from 5.68%* p.a.

Loan TypeInterest Rate
DBS Renovation LoanFrom 5.88%* p.a.
DBS Green Renovation LoanFrom 5.68%* p.a.
*Interest rates accurate as of 3 May 2024

With DBS renovation loans, you can borrow up to six times your monthly income or S$30,000, whichever is lower for a period of up to five years.

To qualify for the DBS green loan, all you need to do is to fulfil three items on the DBS’s Green Checklist to qualify.

There’s also a current campaign ongoing where Livspace customers can enjoy 0% interest rate on the first year of the loan and a loan processing handling fee waiver.

5. Search For Home Décor And Furnishings

dbs home living marketplace products
Image: DBS Home & Living Marketplace

Now that the home renovations are out of the way, you can get to sprucing up your new home.

The DBS Home and Living Marketplace doesn’t just provide home renovation, furnishing and services. You can also purchase insurance to protect your home and its contents.

In fact, DBS Home & Living Marketplace also has exciting product offerings for consumers.

Instead of purchasing appliances for your home, you can choose to subscribe to the latest home appliances on the marketplace at a monthly fixed fee and try them out for a period of as short as six months. Available home appliances include vacuum cleaners, dryers, purifiers and more.

With the subscription model, you no longer have to worry about maintenance and wear-and-tear of home appliances anymore.

Set up your broadband and electricity

After renovation, you’re almost ready to move into your cosy home. One factor you mustn’t forget, however, is the broadband and electricity provider for your new home.

After all, you wouldn’t want your residential experience to be marred by high electricity bills or insufficient network coverage, especially since more of us are working from home.

The DBS Home & Living marketplaces offer a range of broadband and electricity plans.

electricity broadband dbs
Image: DBS Home & Living Marketplace

Best of all? From air conditioning to other services, you can switch over to a green electricity provider on DBS Home & Living Marketplace to enjoy them all, guilt-free.


Whether to DIY or get an ID remains a personal choice that depends on your budget, needs, available time and energy. But the good thing for homeowners is that there are tools out there, such as the DBS Home & Living Marketplace, that can help simplify the process and provide professional services so that you don’t have to do the heavy lifting yourself.

Looking for a new home? Be sure to check out our roundup of the best home loans and renovation loans in the market today!

Compare Best Home Loans in SingaporeFind Out More

Compare Best Renovation Loans in SingaporeFind Out More


This article was written in collaboration with DBS.


Read More:

Average Cost of Home Renovation in Singapore

6 Things To Know Before You Embark On A Home Renovation Project

6 Hidden Costs of Home Renovation & How to Avoid Them

Four Costs to Consider for a Home Renovation as a Parent

Cover Image: Unsplash

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