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Renovation 101: What’s The Difference Between An Interior Designer And A Contractor?

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

We know how renovating your house can be stressful (trust us, we’ve seen it all), which is why it is important that you hire the right people and firm to work with. Interior designers and contractors may appear to offer similar services but there are nonetheless differences between the two. So who should you hire for your renovation project – the creative interior designer or the resourceful contractor? Let us explain their various roles in this blog post so you’ll know how to differentiate and choose between the two.

Their roles

An interior designer is someone who specialises in spatial planning and design. As their title suggests, they will help you to design your interior based on your personal preferences and lifestyles using sketches and 3D drawings. Apart from that, they coordinate with contractors on site and provide updates to you during construction. A contractor on the other hand, provide construction services as the Builder. They do not help you with the planning and design of your house. Rather, they help to execute the plans drawn up by the Designer, turning ideas into reality as the Builder. They’re the go-to person for the carpentry and the construction work for your renovation.

Their pros and cons


The services provided by interior designers are more comprehensive as compared to those of mainstream contractors. They will help create design proposals and monitor the construction progress on your behalf, resolving any issues on site. Designers will also help you outsource the construction work to building contractors and provide additional services and or advice post-renovation.


Interior design firms tend to command a higher professional fee, due to their additional design and project management services which the contractor is not able to provide. Most firms also outsource the entire project to a third-party building contractor, which means that the construction work might not be up to quality.

Advantages Compared to interior design firms, contractors’ fees are easier on your pocket as they offer basic services at base cost price. They’re great for people who already have an idea of what they want and can afford to manage their renovation on their own time. Disadvantages Contractors are less accountable for any error and inconsistencies. They are likely to transfer all liability to their clients, claiming that they are just following instructions. Additionally, they provide only marginal customization options and tend to only perform what was agreed in contract. They also require greater client involvement as you’ll be the one overseeing the renovation process.

Who should I approach?

With so many things to take note of, how do you decide who to approach? The choice of an ID or a contractor is ultimately up to your renovation needs and budget at hand. Firstly, consider your budget, are you willing to pay more for the personalized services offered by interior designers, or are you on a tighter budget and can only afford a contractor? You should also consider the type and extent of renovation you are planning. Do you already have a design in your mind? Great! Then contractors are your best bet as they will do what you ask them to according to a design that you’ve provided them. You should steer clear of contractors if you’re unsure about your design, as they rarely offer consultations on your plans. And small renovations like installing a new cabinet or adding a new flooring to a single room may not call for an interior designer. But if you are doing an entire overhaul on your house, then an interior designer can help oversee the entire renovation process for you, saving you the headache in the long run.

Design and Build: The best of both worlds

Ever heard of the term Design and Build consultancies? These are interior design firms who will not only do up the design for you, but also handle all the technical aspects of the renovation on your behalf (you know, rather just outsourcing the construction to contractors). This method of operation is efficient and convenient as you won’t have to engage with an interior designer and building contractor separately for the same renovation. They’re essentially your Designer and Builder combined into one single entity. Want to find out more about how Design and Build consultancies like us operate? Then click here!


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