THE ST GUIDE TO... LIVING WITH AN ONGOING HOUSE RENOVATION

AskST: How to manage when your home is being done up

For those having their homes renovated under the Home Improvement Programme, a portable toilet that comes with a heated shower is installed inside the flat at night but dismantled during the day. For those who are renovating on their own, ask your co
For those having their homes renovated under the Home Improvement Programme, a portable toilet that comes with a heated shower is installed inside the flat at night but dismantled during the day. For those who are renovating on their own, ask your contractor to leave at least one working bathroom available during the renovation period. ST FILE PHOTO

The low-down, from finding temporary accommodation to toilet arrangements

Deciding how to renovate your home can be overwhelming. Throw in the actual construction and painting work needed, and many homeowners might be put off from actually going ahead with any renovation plans.

However, some do not have much choice - for example, those who live in old Housing Board flats.

Since 2007, the Housing Board's Home Improvement Programme (HIP) has been offered to such residents to take care of common problems such as spalling concrete, structural cracks and having to replace waste pipes.

These come under HDB's "essential improvements". Homeowners can also choose "optional improvements" such as upgrading their toilets.

Between last year and this year, about 100,000 households have been offered HIP. Depending on how much work needs to be done, renovations under HIP will last either four or 10 working days.

For those undergoing HIP renovations, or want to renovate their house on their own, The Straits Times offers tips on how to survive an ongoing home renovation.

FIND ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

Dirty surfaces and loud drilling can be a pain to live with, especially if the renovation process is long. And you would not want to be in the way of the contractors when they are working.

Also, you may not have running water, working toilets or electricity at times.

So, consider moving out while the work is going on.

An easy solution would be to bunk in with relatives or friends who have extra bedrooms and do not mind your company for an extended period.

Alternatively, if you can afford it, check yourself into a hotel or a serviced apartment that comes with a kitchenette.

Orchid Country Club, off Yishun Avenue 1, launched its 7-Day Refit Getaway @ Orchid Lodge promotion in January. The club noticed many homeowners in the area checking in while they carried out renovation works at home.

The $1,000 hotel package, which is open to the public, gets you a week's stay in a 44 sq m deluxe room with one queen-sized bed and a single-sized bed. Guests have complimentary use of the pool, sauna and gym, and free Internet access and parking too. You can do your laundry at the club's coin-operated laundromat, eat at its dining outlets and pick up groceries at a supermarket on-site.

Ms Joan Tay, head of marketing communications and membership, says Orchid Lodge gets bookings for an average of five packages in a month, and the promotion may be extended beyond December.

Also, consider looking at home rental sites such as Airbnb and Roomorama. With many properties listed around the island, you are bound to find a place near your flat so that you can easily return home to check on how your renovation is progressing.

MOVE WITHIN YOUR HOUSE

If you do not want to move out and are renovating multiple rooms in your home, have your contractor leave at least one room that you can occupy and keep your important belongings in. Also, consider putting locks on the doors of this room as an added safety precaution.

For HIP, at least one adult - either the homeowner or an authorised friend or relative - has to be present in the house while works are being carried out.

Dustproof this room that you will be temporarily staying in during the renovations, or rooms that are not affected by the renovation.

Aside from keeping bedroom doors closed, you can use plastic drop cloths that are easily found at hardware and paint stores to keep some of the dust out, and cover your furniture as well.

One product to check out is the Nippon Paint plastic drop cloth that measures 2.7m by 3.6m.

For those under the HIP programme, homeowners have to use a common toilet in the void deck. At night, a portable toilet that comes with a heated shower is installed inside the flat so that homeowners do not have to head to the void deck. The toilet is dismantled the next day so that it does not get in the way of construction work.

For those who are renovating on their own, ask your contractor to leave at least one working bathroom available during the renovation period.

STORAGE OPTIONS

Bulky furniture pieces can get in the way of construction work and painting. And you would not want to have precious artwork, clothes, bags or gadgets covered in dust or paint or, worse, risk them being broken.

Put these items in a self-storage facility such as StoreFriendly or Extra Space Asia. You can pick a storage unit of a suitable size to hold your belongings.

At StoreFriendly, the smallest space up for rent is a 16 sq ft locker and costs about $88 for two weeks. Prices vary depending on the location of the storage unit.

The pricing for storage units at Extra Space Asia differs, depending on how big the unit is, where the storage facility is and whether the unit you pick is air-conditioned. The smallest option is an 11 sq ft locker which can be rented for a minimum of two weeks. It costs about $60 a month for a locker of this size.

Some companies offer boxes and have pick-up services too. For example, Work+Store works on a "valet" concept. It sends over free plastic boxes which come with anti-tamper seals for regular-sized items. You can also leave odd-sized items such as luggage and sports equipment with it too.

Work+Store charges monthly rates, from $12 a month for a box, and offers free pick-up of packed boxes and bulky items.

STOCK UP ON NON-PERISHABLES

Home renovation and design platform Houzz Singapore's editor Chiquit Torrente also suggests that homeowners stock up on non-perishable food items during the renovation period as your refrigerator may be disconnected from the power supply.

Move some appliances such as toasters or microwaves out of the kitchen and to an easily accessible place so that you can still use them.

Also buy food that is easy to prepare or consider eating out during the renovation period. This lessens the hassle of having to clean cooking utensils and cutlery.

Ms Torrente says: "Disposable cutlery and plates are a good idea, too."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'How to manage when your home is being done up'. Print Edition | Subscribe