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Guide: Interior Designers or Contractors?

You may have just landed your first house in a new town or you may have simply grown tired of the current layout of a home you’ve been living in for some time now. Either way, you’re ready for a change. Before you start, it’s worth knowing that renovation can be trickier than you think. A lot can go wrong if you’re doing it all on your own, especially if you have zero knowledge on how to go about doing it. You’ll probably be in need of some assistance and the decision you’re facing may boil down to one of the two choices; interior designers or contractors.

Project by: Versaform

While both may be considered experts and equally well-equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to bring your dream home to reality, the question is, which one of them will best suit your needs?

There are quite a few people that will tell you to get a contractor as they are generally thought of as cheaper, more knowledgeable on structure and easier to handle. In Singapore, the lines between what contractors and what interior designers do can be seen as blurry with many locals assuming that the only difference between the two is that “interior designers are expensive”. However, there is more than meets the eye.

Project by: Design Neu

Contractors may be efficient at planning how to go about renovating your home in an orderly fashion, following instructions based on the ideas you already have in place. However, they may not provide you with that added dose of personalization or sit down with you to run through the themes and ideas that can be conceptualized. They may not spend time sourcing for the right materials and those extra special furnishings needed to achieve your objectives. Interior designers, on the other hand, will do exactly that and more.

Through interior designers, you may be able gain an access to an extensive network of professionals that are every bit as credible as they are. You may also find that a good interior designer has the ability to truly fine tune and adjust the concepts floating around in your head, making your dream home a tangible reality. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here’s a basic guide that compares these two choices in order to help you fully understand what you’re about to get into before making any big decisions.

Project by: Lemonfridge


Before we take a look at the key differences between them, let’s run through their basic job scopes first.

These can be defined as individuals or organizations that have all the necessary licenses and requirements to conduct safe and reliable renovations. In Singapore, it’s worth taking note that you should check if the firm has been registered with HDB and has undergone training for the renovation of HDB flats. They tend to charge by cost price and sometimes can be cheaper than other alternatives simply because they might not include any miscellaneous designs or project management fees.

On the other hand, they are also not obliged to provide any consultation or creative inputs that can be vital to achieving your dream space. You may have to produce finalized designs and detail what their job scope will be before the contractors will carry these out according to your instructions.

The name may be quite self-explanatory but the depth of an interior designer’s function goes well beyond just what the name represents. These experts are individuals or organizations that are equipped with the knowledge and experience to help translate your raw ideas and concepts into workable, feasible designs fit for real-world application.

Project by: Joey Khu

These days, interior designers don’t just finalize ideas into concrete plans and visuals, almost all of them have the ability to take on the role of a project management unit that deals with sub-contractors. Their holistic offerings can ease their clients’ burdens and result in support from a professional team that knows their stuff inside and out. HDB registration for interior design firms is also important for safety purposes.

Project by: Prozfile


For the most part, there may be a very obvious price difference between the two options and for good reason too. Costing can be a key difference and may be subject to different clients’ preferences. However, like many initiatives, higher quality comes at a higher price.

Project by: Mr Shopper Studio

Interior designers’ rates are usually clearly justified as they generally provide floor plans, 3D drawings and a whole host of extensive tools in preparation for the renovation. They will take time to truly comprehend the personalities, lifestyles and preferences of individual clients before proposing plans. Most of the additional costs of interior designers go into planning and management as well as the time and effort that goes into the well-rounded attention given. In addition, many interior designers help home owners tackle a significant issue – home décor.

Project by: Museum Homes

Contractors, on the other hand, tend to function on the specific instructions that you give them. If you don’t have a very clear idea of how you want your home to turn out, you may be in for a rather unpleasant surprise.

This is likely the most important thing to take into consideration when deciding between engaging an interior designer or a contractor. The answer will, of course, be determined by the course of action you have in mind – what you intend to delegate as well as the level of depth you want your renovation to have. Are you planning to overhaul the entire apartment or are you only focusing on carpentry adjustments for one room? What does your budget allow for and how particular are you on the final result? These are questions you’ll have to answer yourself but in many instances, people would like to know that what they’re paying for is going to be worth it.

Project by: Space Define

If you’re a first-time homeowner that’s feeling a little overwhelmed by the entire renovation process or if you’re a perfectionist, an interior designer may give you that extra edge by providing you with experience and guidance to help customize your home to your liking. In addition, interior designers are usually very methodical in their approach when handling a client’s project. They know that it’s your baby that you’re trusting them with and they intend to take it very seriously.

Project by: D’ Initial Concept

Project by: Kdot Associates

In light of this, interior designers may establish Whatsapp group chats or other channels of communication, updating you every step of the way through amendments of work in progress, 3D drawings and after sales service along with suggestions for the use of tiles, furnishings, accessories, fittings and more. Post-renovation services are also usually bundled in with the package.

Project by: Joey Khu

Where contractors tend to carry out work based on very specific instructions that you provide them with, interior designers can be found relishing the opportunity to put their creativity to good use. Contractors may only make suggestions on structure or layout at a functional level while interior designers should be expected to delve into design specifications such as the best height for cabinetry or the suitable fusion of colors. They should also typically share some of this valuable knowledge with you so you can learn a thing or two about renovation.

Project by: Design Chapterz

Many interior designers also provide customisations for furnishings or decorations in order to add a personal touch to your home that contractors usually do not have.

Project by: Third Ave


Ultimately, it boils down to specific factors and individual preferences. If your budget is tight, and you are not too picky about the end result, then contractors may suffice. However, for those who are looking for a holistic service that covers every step of the renovation process, then an interior designer may be more suitable.

As a lifestyle online portal, Dezainn provides the best design-centric interior designers in Singapore that can provide you with high standards of services and amazing designs in your renovation process. Click here for a free design consultation today!

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