Problematic Commercial Renovations To Avoid

Here are five common commercial renovation problems that occur during the course of a commercial fit-out or renovation project, be it for your F&B business, office, industrial building or retail store. Watch out for each of these and prepare yourself against them through the methods listed! Hopefully it would save you some heartache going forward. Renovation problems are particularly frustrating to resolve, because they are so costly and difficult to reverse!

This guide by e-sourcing / procurement platform ThunderQuote hopes to help you avoid and pre-empt these five most common commercial renovation problems that you might face in the course of setting up your office, factory or business presence. 

Poor Workmanship (Especially Carpentry)

It is fairly common to have issues with poor workmanship with renovation firms, especially with carpentry. The core cause of this is that often the carpenters hired in Singapore are subcontractors from overseas countries like Malaysia or China, and when engaging them, the main contractors don’t always pick the top tier firms or labour to execute their design vision.

Generally no matter how good your firm is, you’ll get some minor issues, which is fine- just be sure to follow a thorough double-check process at each stage of the renovations. However, there are sometimes major issues that occur that require rebuilding of entire sections of carpentry or furnishings, and you’d have to watch out for them and ensure that they are dealt with before the project concludes.


  1. All knobs, drawers, swinging (push / pull objects)
  2. All connecting points, nails, screws
  3. Dimensions, height and breadth of carpentry
  4. Number of internal shelves and partitions
  5. Seams of laminated wood objects

To avoid major issues or pre-empt them while you still have the right to demand repairs, make an effort to appear periodically throughout the renovation process, and be there occasionally in order to avoid major issues, when contractors are working there. Do a thorough check at the middle and end of each phase, especially if the contractors are building things in hard to reach spots, just to do at least a cursory inspection and help provide feedback if anything is wrong or missing.


Project Delays

A kitchen can take as long as a few weeks to fit-out properly. Ensure that the timelines in play are as realistic as you can make them. While it’s understandable that you only have a limited rent-free period, and you might indeed convince your interior designer or renovation contractor to do a rush job for you in under five weeks- but you’ll have to be prepared for a very high risk of poor workmanship or errors in executions, which would cause more delays for you while they fix them (or even worse, not be detected until months later when something falls apart). I

Insist on a clear set of milestones and a breakdown of the schedule of work and SOW (Scope Of Work), and immediately prompt them whenever something is overdue (unless you aren’t very particular about your opening date and rent). Leave buffer times for your staff to move in and setup the premises, as well as making sure to have a moving plan if you are relocating your office.

Project delays are very common in renovations because of the degree of complexity of the projects and communications breakdowns- so the way to deal with them is also to ensure that the contractors are 100% crystal clear on exactly what you want and what it should look like- make sure you see the 3D renders of what you want built and ensure that it actually does turn out that way at every stage of the renovation.

Unreliable Contractors

There are many nightmare cases with renovation contractors who do not deliver properly, have massive delays, or simply vanish with the project budget. You can avoid or reduce the probability of these kinds of situations in four main ways:

  1. Certifications
  2. Establishing credibility (Thunderquote Trust Profile, reviews, reference checks)
  3. Proper payment milestones
  4. Previous projects in similar style and size

Look for certified renovation contractors who can deliver the projects you want accomplished, check their provided references and pay a few visits to previous commercial projects they have completed to get a hands-on feel of the quality of work they deliver. Check that the projects were in the same or similar style and extent as the one you have for them.

You should also do an online check of their ThunderQuote Trust Profile, as well as online reviews on forums and review websites. Besides these background checks, you can also purchase a MyFinB full company status report to understand their financial strength and stability as well as productivity indicators.

Lastly, ensure proper payment milestones are in place, and that you pay the vendor according to the work done, and the phases completed. Make sure that the last 10% is contingent on fixing of all defects, and there’s a defects warranty period for 6-12 months after the completion of the project.


Buying Your Own Extra Fittings For The Commercial Space

It’s very easy to come up with ideas or see interesting fixtures or chandeliers that you feel would look great in your commercial space (retail store, office etc.), but buying these things when you have an interior designer in play is just shooting yourself in the foot. Be sure to consult them to ensure that you are not messing up the design concept you have painstakingly, and expensively put together.

Not only that, the fittings or fixtures you get could be the wrong dimensions or even the wrong proportions, destroying the look and feel of the space that your interior designer was going for. Leave the decorating decisions to the experts, or at least get approval aand their opinion before making any outside purchases. Where possible, make the suggestion and then direct them towards it to see if they feel it is a good idea, and let them help include the interesting fixture you have in mind in their own design where applicable.

Do note that they might not accept your suggestion, and if they do so it is not to spite you but to maintain the aesthetic integrity of your project and help you maintain a consistent brand image. Sometimes the fixtures and fittings we choose are nice on their own but just may not fit into the overall brand and design concept.

Check that the workspace is sufficient for the type of activity you’ll be carrying out as well (eg. kitchen work, dishwashing etc.), and consult your own staff about how the space needs to be used, and get them to speak to your commercial renovation contractors.


Under-Budgeting For Commercial Interior Design / Commercial Renovation

There’s nothing worse than heading into a project and realising midway that you can’t really afford the renovation costs- you lose whatever you’ve already invested as well as the 3-6 month rental deposit you pay the commercial landlord.

Even in cases where you under-budget and somehow manage to complete, a half-assed job on the renovation might end up chasing away customers and not achieve your desired effect on the ambience and atmosphere, in which case you might as well not have done it at all.

Do proper research on how much you would need to budget to execute the concept you have in mind, and check it against the price per square foot of your unit. Feel free to negotiate prices with your commercial renovation company or commercial interior designer, but always remember that if they don’t make a decent profit on your project, they are unlikely to spend much effort beyond the minimum to be flexible to fit your needs, or even service you at a premium level.

In the end, you get exactly what you pay for.

Hopefully, this helps shed some light on the possible pitfalls you might come across when making such a large investment as a commercial renovation project. Should you be seeking any local commercial interior designers or renovation firms, you can get free quotes from them on


For a one-size fits all software, ThunderQuote has the perfect solution for you, join our enterprise system that will allow you to easily get vendors from right within your system!

ThunderQuote is the most comprehensive business services portal in Singapore, Australia and ASEAN , where hundreds of thousands of dollars of procurement contracts are sourced every month by major companies like Singapore Press Holdings, National Trade Union Congress and more.

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