Some Singapore Home Renovation Terms to Learn Today

Some Singapore Home Renovation Terms to Learn Today

Carrying out a home renovation project in Singapore can be confusing, depending on the scope of the work that needs to be done and whether you’ve gone through the process in the past.

If you want to stay on top of important processes, you’ll have to learn some of the Singapore home interior design key terms and jargon professionals and home renovation contractors use. Here’s a quick vocabulary that will acquaint you with the essentials.

Singapore interior designers have gotten really, really tired of certain home décor ideas that remain popular with the public. Here are a few of these interior design trends and the reasons why you should probably seek an alternative over these ideas.

Contractors and Sub-Contractors

Do you know what the difference between an interior designer and a contractor is?

A Singapore interior designer is someone who carries a design degree and who can conceptualise a functional, usable space. Interior designers typically have space planning, optimisation, decorating and structural change skills.

A renovation contractor, on the other hand, is the professional or the team hired to handle specific aspects of the project execution. Contractors can deal with wall demolishing, wiring, plumbing, painting, flooring, etc.

Apart from these two main categories of professionals involved in interior design projects, there are also sub-contractors. Sub-contractors deal with very specific parts of the project that contractors cannot handle. In essence, these specific elements get outsourced to a third party that specialises in the exact kind of work.

Renovation and Restoration

What’s the difference between home renovation and home restoration?

Renovation, as the linguistic roots of the word suggest, means to make something new again.

In the case of a renovation, the contractors will be freshening up the home by improving on what’s already in it. Fixing what’s already there and could have been damaged with the passage of time is an important part of renovation.

Restoration, on the other hand, is the process of returning a flat or a building to its original condition.

Restoration projects could involve enforcing walls, dealing with old fixtures, refinishing and cleaning old carpets. Changing the appearance of the space or modernising it aren’t a part of restoration (this is why the term’s often linked to historical buildings and architectural landmarks).


To make things even clearer, let’s take a look at a third term on top of renovation and restoration. How is remodelling different from these two?

Remodelling is the process of changing the interior and/or the exterior of an apartment or a building.

It’s typically a much more demanding project than renovation and restoration. Apart from fixing old issues, remodelling could also involve expansion of the available space through the demolition of walls, gutting, raising ceilings, adding heating and cooling, changing the shape of a room, etc.

Of all three concepts, remodelling is the most expensive one to carry out.

Optional Component Scheme

Optional Component Scheme or OCS is an HDB opt-in initiative. It allows owners to install numerous basic finishing and fitting varieties in their flat.

The OCS will typically include the installation of internal doors for bedrooms and bathrooms, floor finishes and bathroom fittings like shower sets and sinks.

Defects Liability Period

Reputable interior designers and contractors will usually offer their clients some kind of warranty. The aim of the warranty is to offer a free of charge fix or a financial compensation if something goes wrong with the renovated apartment within a fixed timeframe.

This fixed timeframe is called defects liability period (DLP). The typical DLP in Singapore for residential renovations is one year but some contractors could offer extended coverage whenever they’re confident in the quality of the work that they do.

HDB and the Building & Construction Authority

In Singapore, you will need to obtain certain permits to carry out a home renovation. In addition, there are specific guidelines that the interior designers and contractors have to follow.

These guidelines are formulated by the Housing and Development Board (HDB). The HDB is a statutory Ministry of National Development board responsible for public housing. Typically, HDB flat owners have to contact the board and get a permission for extensive structural work like the demolition of walls, for example.

The Building and Construction Authority is another statutory board under the Ministry of National Development. Its primary purpose is to regulate the construction industry. Home owners may have to turn to the authority whenever major renovations are being planned and are to be carried out in private properties.


The board running along the base of a wall in a home are called skirting.

Many homeowners believe that the skirting at the base of the wall is decorative. This is one of the added benefits but not the primary purpose.

The aim of skirting is to keep the walls protected from bumps and scratches whenever furniture or accessories get placed too close to the walls. Thus, if your home is currently missing skirting, you may want to consider its addition when carrying out a home renovation project.


All vertically-mounted windows in a Singapore home are collectively called casement. This is the second big category of windows, the other one being sliding.

Sliding windows move on rails in order to open and close. Casement windows are attached on hinges. Instead of sliding left or right, casement windows open outwards.

Choosing sliding or casement windows depends on the size of the window itself, the size of the room and which option is going to be more functional. Interior designers typically take their customer preferences in consideration but they tend to make a professional suggestion on the basis of practical considerations.

The home improvement and renovation vocabulary is massive and we may continue exploring important terms in a second publication.

Right now, ask your interior designer or home contractor questions whenever you feel that you don’t understand because of the terminology.

Home Guide is an interior design company that has worked on dozens of residential renovations over its years of existence. Clear and concise communication is one of our primary goals because we believe in the importance of client input and collaboration.

If you’re ready to get started with a home renovation project today, contact Home Guide immediately.

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