For the superstitious, it's anathema to renovate (and also marry, swim, or hang wet laundry overnight) during the 7th month of the Lunar calendar, and that's because of the 'Hungry Ghost Festival' - a yearly period between 1st -29th August when it's believed that hordes of wandering spirits will emerge from hell to haunt the world of the living.
However, does that make the 7th lunar month a bad time to get started on building your new home?
Well, not according to the interior designers whom we spoke to about common myths surrounding the matter and Singapore's renovation industry. Here's what we found out from them.
MYTH 1: THE HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL IS A BAD TIME TO START RENOVATING
False. We have all heard someone say that getting a new start during the Hungry Ghost Festival will invite bad luck into your home or that the noisy work will disturb the spirits but if you aren't into these beliefs, there's actually a significant advantage to starting your renovation in August.
According to Ben Teo, the founding designer of 19EightyThree, one of the biggest benefits is that your home will be ready just in time for the year-end festivities, "It's a good time to get started actually, especially if you're renovating a resale home, which takes about two to three months to finish. Beginning your renovation now means it'll be completed by November or December."
MYTH 2: FEVER SINGAPOREAN HOMEOWNERS RENOVATE DURING THE 7TH MONTH
True, but only somewhat. The idea that Singapore's renovation industry slows down during the 7th month bears some truth, but it's mostly business as usual. Black N White Haus Director Vincent Ang says, "I have seen a minor drop in clients during this period, but it isn't a significant decrease. About 5 to 10 per cent maybe?"
James Lim, who heads Charlotte's Carpentry, also expressed similar thoughts. "Based on my observations, in recent years, new homeowners, who are couples born in the 80s and 90s, are less likely to be concerned about these beliefs," he says.
"It's mainly the older generations who are more pantang (Malay for superstitious), and even some of them have warmed to the idea of renovating throughout the 7th month, so long as the process starts before that and they move in after the Hungry Ghost Festival is over, it's fine."
MYTH 3: IT'S HARD TO FIND DESIGNERS/CONTRACTORS WHO ARE WILLING TO START WORK
False. If you're on the hunt for a design firm to renovate your home during the Hungry Ghost Festival period, you'll be pleased to know that it's not going to be any harder to find someone as compared to any other time of the year.
In fact, according to James, the most difficult time is "during Chinese New Year, which is when everyone wants to take a break." He also has this to say: "Even if it's the 7th month, bills have to be paid and life goes on, so most design firms are still in business."
MYTH 4: YOU CAN GET A DISCOUNT OR BETTER DEAL ON YOUR RENOVATION
False. While it's possible to get a better deal by starting your renovation in August (due to National Day promotions), it's unlikely that you'll get a discount just because it's the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Vincent has two main reasons why, one being that "it isn't exactly a period when competition is high and firms are competing for clients," and the other being that "most top interior design firms have their schedules fully packed all year round, even during the 7th month," i.e. most Singapore homeowners are keen on renovating in August, 7th month or not.
So, should you renovate during the 7th month?
If you believe in avoiding contact with "dirty things", the answer is no. But on the other hand, if you don't, starting your renovation in August is a great way to ensure that your home will be ready ASAP.