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5 ways to choose a contractor wisely when renovating your home
Published on: Saturday, November 05, 2022
By: recommend, FMT
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Transparent and reliable contractors are key to any successful renovation project. (Envato Elements pic)
Embarking on a renovation project can be exciting, but it could also be a nightmarish experience if you don’t do your due diligence and exercise caution when choosing your contractor.

Depending on the size and scale of the work, this could be the start of months, or even years, of headaches and worries. To avoid this sort of stress, here are five ways to ensure a smooth-sailing and successful renovation.

1. Get the right type of expertise

Identify who you would need to plan, kickstart, oversee and complete the project. Each person has different skills and capabilities, and will contribute differently to your renovation needs.


Use an architect if you’re building something from scratch, or if your project includes major structural changes. Architects are better at designing external aspects compared with interior spaces.

They are also familiar with housing regulations, and will need to sign off on the architectural plans you will need for approvals.


Draftsmen are essentially mini architects who are not qualified to sign off on plans. Use them if your project is a small or simple one, as they are more cost efficient.

Most draftsmen have affiliations with accredited architects who trust and work well with them, and will check and sign off on their plans.

Structural engineer

If you need an architect, you will probably need an engineer who focuses on the structural integrity of your house, making sure key supports are built. They will also need to sign off on structural-engineering plans.

Mechanical and electrical engineer

These experts provide advice, drawings and requirements for all electrical, mechanical, plumbing and wiring aspects of your project. This engineer will need to coordinate with your interior designer closely, as mechanical and electrical points are closely affected by how the space is used.

A good interior designer can fulfill your vision and help you think outside the box. (Envato Elements pic)

Quantity surveyor

When building a house from scratch, a quantity surveyor will do all the calculations to ensure the materials used or purchased by your contractor is in line with requirements specified in the tender document.

Hiring a quantity surveyor is a small price to pay knowing you have not been taken for a ride by your contractor.

Interior designer

These are the experts in how a space looks, feels, and is used. Hire them if you intend to change the way you wish to live in and experience your space, or if you are looking for something new and fresh.

Colours, textures, style and more are your interior designer’s forte.

Project manager

Project managers, as the name suggests, are responsible for ensuring the renovation work is carried out according to plan and timelines. They also know who the best service providers are, and are tasked with checking on the renovation site regularly to ensure things are completed and up to code.

Renovators or contractors

Renovators and contractors are the ones who understand your requirements, confirm the dimensions and materials, order the parts, and ask their team of workers to build.

2. Know how many people will be involved

In Malaysia, it is not uncommon for service providers to loosely get together, barely discuss, do what they need to do separately, get paid, and never see each other again. Many of them do not have direct or long-term working relationships with one another, and consequently do not have control over how many people they work with.

It’s important to get a sense of how big a contractor’s team is, whether they will be bringing in sub-contractors or other personnel, and who else beyond the scope of their expertise they might need to collaborate with to get the project done expediently. You don’t want a contractor who has no idea of their colleague’s whereabouts or responsibilities.

3. Know how long they have been in business

A good contractor is one who has been in business for more than five years, with team members who have been loyal to them throughout. This gives you a reasonable assurance that they pay their workers on time, provide good after-sales support, and have a solid network of craftspeople to call on.

Home renovation can be exciting but could become a nightmare if you don’t plan properly or end up with the wrong personnel. (Envato Elements pic)

4. Get recommendations and check their portfolio

If you do not have a trusted list of contractors for your renovation project, consult with family members or friends for their suggestions, or turn to online directories such as, where you can read testimonials and reviews.

Also be sure to check your service providers’ credentials and portfolio. Some of them might specialise in landed property, others in high-rise units; some might prefer to work with concrete, while others with wood. It’s important to get the right person for the job you want.

5. Compare multiple quotes

Online directories may be able to offer you a quote when you provide details of the size and scope of your project. Follow these tips to get the most accurate figures possible:

Give clear requirements by writing down all the aspects of the work you want done. Provide photos of your home or space, and measurements if you have them.

Make sure they do a site visit: Meet with at least three service providers, give them your requirements list, and ask them to drop by the site so you can talk them through it. Never accept a quote from someone who is too lazy to check out the property – there are many things they will need to inspect for themselves spouting numbers at you.

Identify specific line items to use as a benchmark: If one contractor quotes RM50 per metre run for your kitchen countertop and another quotes RM250, they have either misunderstood your requirements or have hidden profit margins in this line item. Get them to itemise materials, workmanship and margins so you know what to retain and what to drop.

Pay attention to the specifics: When you go through the quotes, consider all the elements to the best of your ability. The more professional the service provider is, the less you would have to do this, but being detail-oriented can only help you.

Take note of how they charge, whether it’s by work-scope lump sum, by the hour, by materials and service, or by the percentage of the final contract.

Good luck with your renovation project!

This article originally appeared on – Malaysia’s #1 Home Improvement Services Platform, offering a safer and more convenient way to hire the best home improvement and home maintenance professionals. From flooring to interior design to air-conditioner servicing, get access to thousands of the best local contractors and professionals at your fingertips.

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