Time Tracking

By | November 9, 2014

Renovating your new house has many benefits, most significant of which is that it allows you to customise your space in a way that makes it more enjoyable and useful to you.

Transform a spare bedroom into a walk-in closet; tear down that wall and build that dream open-concept kitchen; go all-out and turn your living room into a home theatre; or build that hobby-room-slash-studio you’ve always wanted. When a space is catered specifically to your needs and your lifestyle, it’s one step closer to becoming your home.

So now that you’ve set your budget, chosen your ID firm, gotten your design concept down, and selected all your tiles and paint swatches, how much time do you need to set aside for the actual renovation process? We consulted the pros at Studio Abby and Story of Us, and as a basic guide, you should set aside a minimum of 6 weeks if you’re looking to renovate your entire home.

Here are some of the main factors that will affect your renovation timeline and while you are taking down notes, pick up our downloadable guide with essential questions that will help you estimate your renovation timeline.

How To Estimate Your Renovation Timeline Guide

i. Type of Property

The most popular and common housing in Singapore is the Housing Development Board (HDB) properties. The Build-To-Order (BTO) flats by HDB are usually the most straightforward in the sense that they’re like painting on a blank canvas – there’s no need to strip any existing installations so work can start almost immediately. Applying for any necessary HDB renovation permits are also pretty standard, and HDB-approved contractors would already be familiar with the process, so that streamlines things. When upgrading your garden or front yard you can save a lot of time and budget by using quality artificial turf.


On the other hand, renovation permits for private properties like condos are overseen and approved by their respective Management Corporation Strata Titles (MCSTs). Some managements are stricter with their regulations, or may have a different set of processes and paperwork to be filled. Depending on how quickly you get these permits approved, your timeline may be affected.

ii. Extent of Renovation

It seems a no-brainer that the more you want done, the more time you should set aside. However, some homeowners still have unrealistic expectations about how much time is really required.

“We’ve had clients who request extensive work on their homes, and then expect everything to be completed within 4 weeks,” shares Audrey Tan, founder and head creative of Studio Abby. “In reality, a complete overhaul takes around 8 to 10 weeks, depending on how much wet works are required.” Wet works include any hacking, tiling, and masonry work. Smaller-scale projects may take between six to eight weeks.

iii. Unforeseen Circumstances

The most common wrench that’s thrown in the works of any renovation process is the dreaded “unforeseen circumstances” but how you deal with them goes a long way to keeping your timeline as close to the original as possible.

An inevitable fact with resale flats or condos is that with age comes deterioration. Audrey shared an anecdote about an incident where the contractor only realised after they had started work on the ceiling that the main water pipes were badly corroded. They advised the homeowners and gave them options – fix them and take a chunk out of your budget for other things, or leave them and risk them bursting any time. As the client made a quick decision, it only took an extra couple of days to fix the issue and everything could proceed on schedule.


Other unforeseen circumstances include requests made by your neighbours. For instance, you could be renovating your new condo unit. Even though the official renovation hours indicated are 9am to 5pm on weekdays, the condo management can ask you to stop renovations at 3pm if one of the neighbours complains that their baby needs to sleep at 3pm every day. That’s two hours per day of renovation time lost. How you handle or pre-empt your neighbours, and seek their understanding about the process, may make all the difference.

iv. Changes

It’s understandable that you might want to make changes – perhaps that colour you liked as a paint chip looks different once it’s been magnified onto your wall, or you realised that the bedroom looks too cramped with that built-in cupboard. Whatever the case, changes take time and money.


One of the most time-consuming changes is with custom carpentry. It takes about three weeks to complete a custom carpentry job. Depending on how far along the project is at the point of change, you should be prepared to extend your timeline by another 2 weeks.

v. Renovation Period

Festive periods are some of the worst times to have your renovations scheduled. This is especially the case in Singapore, when most contractors close for extended periods during Chinese New Year and Hari Raya. Even if they do work through the holidays, their workers will be stretched thin, which means slower progress for you. Be prepared to add up to another two weeks to your timeline if your renovations are scheduled too close to festive periods.

Other important considerations

From the first consultation with an ID to the final handover, four months is a comfortable and realistic time frame. “A good time-frame would be 4 to 6 weeks for us to finalise your design before actual renovations start,” advises Mei Teh, founder of Story of Us. “This gives enough time for you to pick all the little details like lighting, tiles, custom counter-tops, and all the other finishings that will make your home yours.”

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