Why have renovation costs increased post-pandemic?

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Prices of materials have gone up following prolonged lockdowns as well as the Russia-Ukraine conflict. (Envato Elements pic)

Renovation costs have gone up noticeably since pandemic-related lockdowns ended late last year. There are several reasons behind this.

As renovation jobs resumed, there was a critical shortage of foreign workers from countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia. As construction firms shifted to a larger proportion of local workers, their running costs increased, causing prices to go up.

More pertinently, the prolonged lockdowns in Malaysia and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have resulted in supply-chain disruptions, causing prices to rise.

“Costs have gone up by 30% for steel, melamine, plywood and fittings,” says a representative from renovation firm Murasaki Design, who said the company was able to absorb the increase by manufacturing cabinets and furniture in its own factories.

Other renovation businesses do not have this luxury. “For jobs such as porch construction and kitchen extension, the costs of roof battens and laminated glass have gone up at least 20%, and metal roof decking has gone up at least 50%”, said a spokesman from Honey Bee Renovation.

“Because of this, our customers have scaled down their scope of work.”

“Even the cost of glue has gone up,” added a representative from Carpenter HL, which specialises in kitchen cabinets and carpentry. “For example, the price of Formica CA glue went from RM36.50 to RM57.50.”

With such drastic increases in renovation raw materials, homeowners may need a buffer of an additional 10-20%, compared with prices three years ago.

6 tips towards a successful renovation

It should, therefore, be clear that budgeting for a renovation project is essential, which in turn requires as much planning as possible. List down everything that is required from start to finish, with room to add items you might not initially think of, such as permit costs and post-renovation cleaning services.

Transparent and reliable contractors are key to any successful renovation project. (Envato Elements pic)

To ensure you can create a suitable renovation plan and stick to it, make sure to do the following:

1. Only hire reliable contractors

A reliable contractor not only delivers quality workmanship but is also well organised. They will be essential in making sure everything goes as planned in the given timeframe, and will work within the set budget without compromising on quality.

A reliable contractor will also be transparent in listing down the materials used, so you know exactly what will be installed.

There is no standardised certification for residential renovation contractors in Malaysia. To find out whether a potential contractor is good or not, you will need to check customer reviews and photographs of previous work in vendor directories such as Recommend.my.

2. Get a detailed quotation

A detailed quotation should include easy-to-understand information regarding the equipment, labour force, materials, finishings, and furnishings for every space being renovated. It should also ensure everything is budgeted accordingly, with little likelihood of any added cost.

3. Have an accurate floor plan

An accurate floor plan will mean no surprises during the renovation process, which is especially important in older properties. In the middle of a renovation, you don’t want to learn of a support beam that was added later, or new wiring or plumbing that isn’t updated in the plans.

Discovering these things late in a project can cause costs to climb as work may need to be reversed or dismantled.

It’s crucial to have an accurate floor plan so there are no surprises during the renovation process. (Envato Elements pic)

4. Get a delivery commitment

A delivery commitment in writing keeps contractors on track. Break it down into different phases of completion to help the project be finished on time, with minimal hiccups and within the agreed-upon budget.

5. Stick to the plan

Once the plan has been laid out and materials have been purchased, keeping to the plan is crucial. Changing anything halfway – be it the size of the extension, the material of the kitchen countertop, or the paint colour of the living room – will result in costs that have not been budgeted for.

This is why it’s important to do your research months in advance.

6. Do regular progress checks

Even with a good contractor, it’s important to do regular progress checks. Ask questions and keep the written delivery commitment and detailed quotation on hand for reference.

These checks ensure everything is going according to plan. It’s also a great way to stay on top of anything that might go wrong, thus allowing ample time to determine how to resolve issues quickly and within your budget.

This article originally appeared on Recommend.my – 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.