Dear readers, thanks for dropping by. Kindly note that I have migrated all these posts to my new blog All Things Cozy and Homely . I will blog at the new site from Jan 15 onwards.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hidden Costs in Renovation Quotes

Obtaining and comparing the quotes from various Contractors/IDs is just the 1st step in deciding which party to award your renovation project.

Next is the arduous step of uncovering the hidden costs that are not apparent in the quotations.

Hence, these are the few areas that you should check with the respective Contractors/IDs:

Make sure that every dimension and measurement is stated clearly. Check what are the extra charges like if there is any change in the dimension and measurement.

Make sure that the material used is stated and find out what is the country of Origin. A graphite top from China is obviously cheap than the one from Japan. Some types of laminate are cheaper than the metal ones. Does the proposed cabinets comes with anti-slam and ABS trims? Are cabinet plastic rollers being used or metal ones?

Find out whether if you are allowed to choose unlimited choices of color for your painting works. Also make sure you know the brand and the type of Paint is being proposed in the quotation (i.e. waterproof, odorless etc). If a limited color palette is given, find out what is the additional cost if you decide on some other color. For cabinets, how much do you need to top up if you decide upon other kinds of handles?

Scope of Work
Most Contractor and IDs do not specify the cost of electrical works. They usually recommend or insist upon using their "electrical guy" and mentioned that costs are quoted by the electrician. Find out from the the cost of rewiring, shifting and adding electrical points.

In addition, many people are unaware that most IDs get commission from Furniture and Lighting shops. Therefore, be mindful if your ID insist on doing Furniture or Lights shopping with you, the odds are the prices they supposedly "haggled" for you are still more expensive (since they are also earning commission). Its best to do furniture and lights shopping without them. :)

Please refer to this post on Common Renovation FAQs for related information too. :)

P/S: I chanced upon this link (contributed by a renotalk member) which gives a more detailed compilation of possible areas for hidden costs:


1.Charge for each additional electrical power point

*** Take note each additional electrical power point in the market nowadays is between $60-$70. Pls be ensure 2 way switch installation only costs $40 for lighting and pls ensure that the contractor has indicated everything clearly.

*** Take note also each installation of new lighting point is between $30-$40, some contractor may quoted more than $50 per point. Also pls do not ask the contractor to disconnect the power point when it has been done, as this also incurred costs and losses.

2. Cost of aircon wiring, re-wiring

*** The cost of aircon wiring and rewiring is always inclusive together with the air con equipment depends on the model you buy. For instance, a standard LG model costs around $1600 with installation. Pls do not be happy with the free gift the contractor provided together with the air con as the free gift is also one of the hidden costs in it. Nothing is free, pls bear in mind.


3. Quotation at time of signing does not included detailed specs of all materials used eg. acceptable price range for floor tiles given budget

**** You must always ask your contractor to state everything as clear as possible. The dimension as well as the type of floor tiles given. This is important.

4. Cost of clearing of debris and haulage

**** As per conversation with HDB council, the standard cost for clearing of debris and haulage is always at the cost of $215 inclusive of GST. Do not be surprised when contractor quote you more than $500 and do not get convinced by them when they told you the reason why it is so expensive. Some contractor will tends to tell you that they have rented a lorry to collect debris, this is not true. The lorry is provided by HDB who will do the clearing up. The contractor only needs to pay them $215 and everything will be done properly. Reason: HDB pay outsiders to do the clearing and this is liaise with the contractor and the HDB third party, when only a single receipt will be given. Best is to check with your HDB branch office. HDB only collect debris fees on behalf of the town council cost won't be more than $250. you can get the print out copy by HDB from your contractor .The haulage and buying of sand from the appointed contractor ( you can find their contact pasted at the lift lobby for new flats )should be paid by the contractor or the ID firm engaged .Some contractor or so call " ID " firm will say the haulage fees is home owner should pay ( bout $ 800 or more )Don get CON . All these should be quote inside the contract under the tiling works .Resale flats Town concil don't charge haulage fees as there is no more haulage contractor appointed by HDB station there.HDB bay contractors will tends to quote more in their hauluge fees, pls take note.

5. Renovation permit costs

*** Renovation permit costs is always provided free when the contractor apply to HDB. There is no costs at all. You may check with HDB itself. Last time HDB used to charge around $200 for permit fees but not now. Policy has changed.

6. Cost of chemical wash

*** Pls take note chemical wash also can be called acid wash is between the cost of $95-$150. This done once or twice depends between contractor and owner. This only done after painting and flooring has completed and before the completion of kitchen cabinet.

7. Remember to check all water holes for any cement or sand. Some contractors may just throw the cement onto the pipe, which in the long run will cause leakage.

8. Cost of gas piping.

The contractor will liaise with City gas contractor for work to be done and this only incurred the cost of $70 per trip. As for the connection of gas piping to the cooker hood will be done separately on another day. The billing of gas piping will be send to your house by the PUB people and not the contractor .

9. Cost of painting.

The cost of painting is between $1100 - $1500. It normally consists of 5 colors Nippon or equivalent. Colours can be selected and adjustable.

10. Installation of bathroom accessories & electrical point.

*** This can be negotiable. You can discuss with the contractor to install these items FOC at your house. When the contractors said they will bring you to the shop to buy bathroom items, do not agree and follow them. This is another way of hidden costs appearing, as contractors may earn commission from there. Take note. The same goes with the lighting points and bulb. However if price difference is not much, its really more convenient to let the ID settle all the delivery plus installation. That’s what I did. You may buy direct and get your contractor to install also can.

For bathroom accessories and lighting, you may go to Jalan Besar or Geylang area to get it. Balestier can be considered but not all. Some places in Balestier tends to quote higher. I personally bought from

11. When hacking walls, make sure contractors include touching up with tiles i.e. on the area that is being left exposed by the wall that is being hacked off.... otherwise some will charge u separately for those tiles.

12. Low price for kitchen cabinets can mean no frills like stainless steel dish racks etc. So you've to ask them to give you EVERY detail.

13. If you are installing ceiling fan, contractor will charge you around $25- $35 but can be negotiated.

14. If you are installing instant heater, contractor will charge you around $60 each. But can be negotiated.

15. Cabinet is treated wood or not.

16. Tell your ID you are getting your own switches and door knobs/lever handles, minus off the cost of those from the quote. If not, they must let you choose, they don't suka suka install some cheap ugly ones for you. For switches, you can buy nice clipsal ones at wholesale prices at Choo Chiang (Veerasamy Road). For me, as I did complete rewiring, the nice switches were given to me foc.

17. Open concept walk in wardrobe, this can be a nightmare for maintenance. I didn't do this, but some of my friends did, it was right outside their toilet, moisture attack, dust attack. I had my close door walk in wardrobe outside my toilet also. Some of my things turn mouldy. One tub of hungry hippo once a week is not economical.

18. If on budget, dont really need kitchen sliding door actually. I cooked often, i didnt have any kitchen sliding door. My living room is not affect at all

19. Above all, its important to select a reliable ID/contractor that has proven track record based on recommendation. That’s what I did when I visited my friend’s newly renovated home and she shared with me her pleasant reno experience. So I went for the same ID and my renovation was a breeze as ID was very responsive and check on site very often, sometimes mms pictures for us to see as updates as well. Avoid those popular ones on the forum as they often get overloaded with work and quality becomes poor. There are also horrible experiences of cheap contractor going mia with money as well. Its impt to be cost conscious but at least get a ID or contractor with HDB license. I did shop around and met many ID and after a while I realize that the pricing is roughly the same. i also avoid those at expo as they tend to be inexperience and after all I do not want to be paying for their rental at expo exhibition.


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JimiT said...

Some services are cheaper if hired at an hourly rate. Be sure to find out.

For example, having my new gas stove installed was quoted to me at $700. However, I have another quote from a different plumber that says that if I move the stove into place myself he will only bill me for 4 hours of labor and $100 in parts. That works out to quite a bit less than $700.

Andrew said...

hi came cross your blog. I would liket to know the ID you have engaged. Can email me contact at


AR Mirza said...

Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging!
Edmonton Painters
Painters Edmonton

Steven said...


Nice article.
Possbile to email me the ID you engaged too?

Email Address :



Sharon said...

Hi, thanks for your write-up. Very informative! I've had quotes from an ID which looks overpriced. Wondering if you could share your ID's contact with me. My email is thanks.

Diva said...

Thanks for your comments. Have responded to your enquires. :)

tcs said...


U mentioned no charge for hacking permit. Does it apply to resale hdb flat as well? Some charge me 300 for tat.

Justranoff said...

Hello, able to PM me your contractor too? :) Thanks for the amazing tips.
I went to the Expo to start my scouting for IDs as most of my friends have not done any renovations yet. If not from Expo, where should I start my scouting work?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the useful tips. Could you send me your ID's contacts. My email:

Diva said...


There were no additional charges. I have checked the HDB website and it did not state that additional charges will be levied.

su said...

Hey, I'm interested in engaging him too. Do you mind emailing me the ID's contact please?

Sumathi said...


Very nice write-up, very informative. Please send me your ID details to


Sumathi said...


Very nice write-up, very informative. Please send me your ID details to


Sumathi said...


Very nice write-up, very informative. Please send me your ID details to


Sumathi said...

Hi Diva,

Nice blog!!! very informative... Please send me the ID you engaged to


Priti said...

Hi Diva,
Thaks for sharing your experience and valuable tips!
May I request you to share the contact of ID you have engaged.

my email:

It would be great if possible to share some pics of rennovation work.
Thanks in advance

Unknown said...

Hi diva.. mind giving me your ID information??

Anonymous said...

Hi would like to know more from your ID.... renovating soon...

Thanks in advance.

Buida said...


Thanks for e useful tips. Learnt a lot from your write-up. Are you able to send me your ID contacts @

Diva said...

Dear All,

Many thanks for leaving your contacts here.

Unfortunately I do not have recommendations for any ID or Contractor right now. In fact, I did a check and realise that my ID had aleady left the industry.

Nonetheless I will definitely update you guys again if I manage to complete another home improvement works with a contactor/ID.

Do have a great day ahead!

heli said...

Hi diva, can you provide me with your id details? Thanks!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the sharing of such information. we will pass it on to our readers. This is a great reading. Thanking you.

Home Renovation Singapore