Kitchen Renovation

Preparing Your Singapore Home For A Kitchen Renovation

You’ve finally made the decision to give your kitchen an overhaul, but now you’re wondering what’s next.

There are a few ways to start figuring out what needs to go and what needs to stay. Many home-owners start looking at appliances that’d help them in the kitchen, while others start looking at kitchen photos for inspiration.

Whether your oven is on its last legs or simply isn’t big enough, or you like what your current kitchen offers in turns of functionality and simply need more room, doing your homework is key. Many home-owners can spend up to 12 months in this exploration stage before they start interviewing contractors and designers, so if you think you’re finished with your fact-finding you might have to think again.

Once you’re ready to start with your project, you might be at a bit of a loss. Fortunately, Hua Kwang knows how hard it can be to figure out exactly what needs to be replaced, repaired, repainted and refurbished, so we’ve prepared this guide to help you make this big transition as positive it can be.

Figure out exactly what you need

Think very carefully about what you need from your kitchen. How do you use it? How do you navigate the space? How could the layout be improved for comfort or efficiency? Gather as many resources and sources of inspiration as possible, including lifestyle guides and photos from kitchen showrooms, magazines and books.

Carefully consider your priorities, such as how many people will be cooking and eating, and the space they’ll need to get around. This will help you decide if you need an addition or can work with the existing footprint.

Start making a scrapbook or collection of inspiration photos that you can show to designers and contractors. This can help clarify your needs and ensure you’re both on the same page – literally!

The best laid plans

Once you’ve figured out what you want and are ready to start the process, your next step will be working out a preliminary budget and beginning to draw up a scope of work document. It’s important to remember that neither of these documents is expected to be final at this stage and both are subject to change.

The scope of work and the budget are intertwined and altering one will mean you’ll have to rethink the other. It’s normal as challenges arise and plans are changed during the project that these are adjusted. If you’re unsure, talk to a professional; it’s what they’re there for!

Find the right talent for the job

Even if you’re committed to doing it yourself, you’ll eventually need the help of a professional. You’re unlikely to be building your own kitchen cabinets and doing your own wiring and plumbing (if you’re qualified to do all of that, we’re impressed), so finding tradespeople you can rely on is important.

Whether it’s as little as relying on the salesperson at the store to help you select and order your fixtures or appliances, or as much as working with a professional designer to lay out the entire space, plan to work with a professional.

Talk to friends and colleagues and find out if any of them have had a kitchen renovation before. They may be able to refer you to a tradesperson who suits your needs. You might even have your own preferred builder or contractor, or would prefer to start by hiring an architect. Professionals are available to help with everything from securing contracts and permits to assisting with space planning, budgeting, finishing, procurement, project management and establishing a temporary kitchen in your home.

The importance of good, thorough design

Next is producing all the sketches, floor plans, elevations and space planning documents to show the layout of the space – including an extended footprint where applicable – and the placement and size of the kitchen cabinets. Many interior designers like to start by focusing on the layout and space planning aspects, as these will guide the project more than deciding what the kitchen will look like.

While the temptation is always there to talk the specifics of the colour scheme and the material, getting into this too early can distract from the arguably more crucial space planning phase. This will also help with budgeting, as it’s here you will decide how many square feet you’ll ultimately require in your kitchen. After this you can provide the contractor with a preliminary drawing packet and a much more accurate scope of work so you can get a ballpark construction budget.

Planning the fixtures and finishing

Now’s the time to let your creativity shine. You’ve probably already got an ideabook full of kitchens and design features you love and have probably already settled on a style for the space.

Here is where you need to make the final selection of finishes and fixtures. This usually includes:

  • Kitchen cabinet construction type, style of door, finish and colour
  • Flooring
  • Decorative hardware
  • Backsplash
  • Refrigerators, ovens and other whitegoods and appliances
  • Light fixtures
  • Countertop material

Finalising design, development and construction documents

Here is where the design will be realised and you’ll prepare final elevations, details, floor plans and – where applicable – electrical and mechanical drawings, light switch plans and exterior elevations.

Your final permit set will also come into play here. Finishes and fixtures need to be selected here as these will affect the final pricing from your contractor. You’ll submit drawings for permits, which will have a lead time and require an architect, designer or licensed contractor to finalise the paperwork and pick the permits. Submitting for permits can often be done at the same time as placing the cabinet orders as the two processes often have similar lead times.

Get quotes from contractors

If you haven’t already chosen a licensed contractor for your project, now is the latest you can start looking for quotes before finding someone. Get a minimum of three different quotes. Many interior designers like to do walk-throughs with the contractors once the schematic designs have been finalised so that the contractors can provide a more accurate quote and any changes to the design can be made before construction begins.

Preparing for demolition

Between four and eight weeks after you’ve submitted for permits, demolition is likely to begin. Get your schedule firmed up and ensure all your existing cabinets are cleaned out, storing what you don’t need and – should you be living in the house during construction – ensuring your temporary kitchen is set up.

While some homeowners move out, many choose to live in the house throughout the construction. Whatever you choose, preparation and some organisation will definitely help you survive.

Speak to your contractor ahead of time about the logistics of the operation. How often will you meet for updates? Will you need to be out of the house during certain tasks like floor installation or demolition? What will you do about construction debris and dust, and are there any allergies that’ll be affected? What is a typical work day like? Making sure both of you understand this beforehand can ensure expectations are properly set and ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

The punch list and the finishing touches

Once construction is approach completion, it’s time to deal with the list of items that have gone wrong or missing, or were simply neglected. This list – referred to as a punch list – often includes items like missing light switch plates, shrunken caulk lines, incomplete paint jobs and other small things, as well as larger problems like non-functioning range hoods or scratches on the floor.

In many cases the homeowner does the punch list, but it can also be done by the interior designer. It can be as informal as a list emailed to the contractor of items that need to be finished, addressed or fixed. Look online and see if you can find any punch list forms to the make the process easier.  

Remind yourself that the contractor will have to make a visit after the completion of the majority of the work, potentially several visits. Prepare yourself for this and approach it with a Zen attitude; things will happen and little things will get missed. Imagine it like making a trip the grocery store and forgetting a key ingredient, it’s just something that happens.

Discuss your kitchen renovation with us

Hua Kwang are the kitchen renovation specialists in Singapore. With more than 35 years of history in the construction industry, ours is a name that’s trusted across the city.

Contact us today on 9834 5461 to speak directly to our staff or send us an email at info.huakwang@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.