Designers Share Their Post-Circuit Breaker Renovation Advice
Plans, precautions, and what you should do to get prepared.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that food takeaways, social distancing, and working from home became the norm, but we’re well on the way to two (long) months since enhanced measures have been put in place to combat COVID-19.
And while some of homeowners were lucky enough to have completed their renovation prior to the Circuit Breaker’s (CB) start on April 7, others weren’t as fortunate and have had to either push back their plans or even move into half-finished flats.
So, how is the situation going to change with the lifting of the Circuit Breaker from June 2 onwards? We asked two interior designers – Ming Hui from Luova Project Services and Zoey Lok from Briey Interior – on what homeowners can expect as well as the steps that design firms will be taking moving forward.
Are interior design firms ready to resume work after the CB ends?
Ming Hui (MH): For Luova, yes, we’re ready to start. If you recall, most businesses were scrambling to make preparations for the CB after the announcement, we were definitely shocked as well, but we managed to create a ‘save point’ by contacting all of our clients and project partners, like suppliers and contractors; this allows us to know how and what to start on once we’re given the green light.
However, do note that based on the latest announcement from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), renovations that were paused prior to the CB will be prioritised over new projects when June 2 comes around. We’re also required to apply for approval from BCA before we can begin any work on any project, so that might take some time too.
Zoey Lok (ZL): Yes, we’re able to resume work. We’re lucky that we have been working closely with fantastic suppliers, contractors and other partners over the years, so that puts us in the fortunate position of being able to mobilise our resources for almost any project that was paused prior to the CB.
As a matter of fact, we’ve been in constant communication with almost all of our supply chain partners during this entire time, and we’ve kept ourselves up to date on the latest information about the materials and labour situation across Singapore as well.
However, I believe the process of re-starting renovations in Singapore is going to be gradual, because there are still applications to be made and approved by the authorities as well as safety precautions to be followed. It’s not for sure, but it might only be in July or August before we’re able to reach a steady pace of work again.
What are some renovation challenges that you foresee arising? And what plans do you have?
MH: Personally, I think there will be challenges in sourcing for materials – it’s something that I am concerned about.
There’s no news from my suppliers about price changes and materials supply at the moment, but I believe that there could be a price hike for materials, like pre-packed screed and plaster, depending on how much pent-up demand there is. That said, we can only really know after a month or two later, or after renovation work resumes at a steady pace.
Time is another issue as well, because it’s going to take longer than usual to complete projects with staggered work teams. For example, if the carpentry team is on-site, the plumbing team will have to wait, so we can’t have different jobs going on simultaneously.
ZL: For some firms, manpower might be an issue, but Briey has a team of contractors who are willing to prioritise our projects, it’s just a matter of when they are able to start work legally.
As for materials, our suppliers have reassured us that they have stockpiles ready and we’re fairly confident that there’s enough for the projects that went on pause during the CB. Still, I would remain cautious because this is a new situation for all of us.
Also, even though Europe is slowly lifting some of its measures like us, most areas are still under lockdown, and that might pose an issue for homeowners who wish to get Western furniture, fabrics, wall coverings and other home products.
I’d recommend getting alternatives in Singapore or from other Asian countries instead because it’s going to be easier to acquire what’s needed for your home. So, yes, #supportlocal!
What safety precautions will you be taking once work resumes?
MH: On top of the measures that the Government and BCA has mandated, like contact tracing and SafeEntry check-ins, we'll be putting an emphasis on personal hygiene and protection as well. Also, even if the CB measures ease to a point where homeowners are allowed to meet with designers face-to-face again, we’re still going to implement staggered sessions and safe distancing. It might still be too early for such preparations now, but it never hurts to be safe.
Until then, we’ll still be relying on telecommuting to keep our clients in the loop, both for discussions as well as progress updates.
ZL: We’ll definitely be following any government directives strictly, and we’re in the midst of re-working our health and safety protocols so that we’re fully aligned with the COVID-Safe restart criteria.
As for keeping homeowners updated on progress, using WhatsApp and video conferencing isn’t something that’s new to the interior design industry and we’ll continue to do so because that’s how we’ve been staying in touch with busy clients even prior to COVID-19.
What’s your advice to homeowners about the immediate and/or foreseeable future?
MH: For homeowners who need to renovate, but still haven’t found an interior designer, I’d recommend them to start finding one now as this will save them about 2 to 3 weeks of preparation and design time – by firming up your design plans, 3D drawings, and quotations in advance, your interior designer will be able to get started on your renovation and secure the necessary materials once it’s possible to do so.
Otherwise, if you aren’t in a rush, explore more ideas as well as design themes and details, because that’ll help you firm up the concept for your new home.
ZL: If you’re a homeowner who has concerns about your renovation plans, I’d recommend speaking to an interior designer if you haven’t already met one. Our job isn’t just to help clients bring their visions and aspirations into reality, it’s also about giving them a clearer picture of the home renovation process.
We’re still providing our full range of design and consultation services, like coming up with technical drawings, 3D models, and fully costed proposals. So, don’t hesitate to talk to us if you need help figuring out your renovation.
Now's a good time as any to get started on your renovation plans!
Many Singapore homeowners have had to put their renovations on hold due to COVID-19 BUT that doesn't mean you can't start planning for yours now.
Ironing out the kinks in your home makeover plan will enable it to proceed smoothly once circumstances improve, so if you’d like some professional help let us know and we'll link you up with local interior firms that offer virtual consultations!