Sunday, January 2, 2011

Year-end sees renovation boom

Renovation contractors are hacking up a storm as residents in Singapore rush to make over their homes for the New Year.

With the economy sailing along and the promise of big year-end bonuses, home owners have wasted no time in calling in the contractors, who say their businesses have spiked as much as 40 per cent in the past three months.

Some renovation companies are booked till the Chinese New Year early next month.

Contractor Ronald Ng, 45, said he has seen a 40 per cent increase in business between December and February, compared to about 10 per cent for the same period in previous years.

The most common works he has done are repainting, repairing cracked floors and leaks.

Madam Tan Swee Choon, 57, who heads Yong Hon Renovation Trading, said her business has gone up by 10 per cent at the end of the year, compared to barely any increase for the same period in 2009.

'We have to hire more sub-contractors and labourers to help us with the projects,' she said. 'The economy was better last year. We only managed to scrape by the year before when there were fewer projects.'

The company handles a variety of projects for customers during this busy period, from room interiors to overhauling entire houses.

Ko Hong Construction & Woodworks' director Dave Ng said the company is being kept very busy now, with up to 20 per cent more customers than in previous years.

He attributed the growth to the booming economy, and stronger spending power on the part of home owners.

'People renovate their homes to increase the value and marketability of the property and also as a way of showing off their wealth,' he said, adding that renovated properties tend to fetch better prices.

Some home owners even had to plan their renovations months in advance in order to secure a contractor.

Mrs Kelsy Loo, 36, a music teacher, got the keys to her flat early last month, but she had already mapped out her renovation works two months before that.She knew the contractors would be busy during the year-end and decided to scout for them early to overhaul her five-room flat in Tampines.

Mrs Loo is spending over $40,000 to spruce up the 25-year-old flat - $10,000 more than what she had budgeted at the beginning of last year - and plans to get her home ready by Jan 9.

'If we had renovated during the downturn, I might have skipped on buying new appliances and furniture,' she said.

Sales executive Andy Chin, 27, said he had been shopping for a contractor in November even before he got a new four-room flat in Sengkang early last month because he wanted to get his home ready by Chinese New Year.

The $20,000 renovation works will include installing new fixtures in the flat, such as a false ceiling, a new wardrobe and kitchen cabinets.

'If I had the renovation work done in 2008, my budget would probably have been a little more constrained,' he said.

'This year I've more spending power, so if I can afford it, I'll definitely get the best for the home I'm living in.'

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