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How to Save on Renovation Costs in Singapore

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Buying a home is a dream come true to many, and for most first-timer buyers, it can be quite affordable. There are CPF housing grants that can ease the financial burden and leave you with enough to spend on your home renovation. Besides, that’s the fun part of buying a home: turning it into your dream space.

But home renovations are no walk in the park, and they don’t come cheap either. So how can you save on renovation costs while still allowing yourself to splurge on your heart’s truest desires, like those atas marble countertops or parquet floorings?

Types of work during a home renovation

The best way to start is by determining the scope of work you’ll need to do for your home renovation, and getting familiar with what exactly those works are.

Carpentry

Carpentry includes things like your customised desk, built-in wardrobe, kitchen cabinet, etc. This generally takes up the bulk of a renovation budget. The cost for this type of work depends on the amount of workmanship required and the material used.

Masonry

Masonry refers to work that involves cement. Some examples are flooring, tiling, patching up an old wall, etc. Costs are dependent on the amount of raw material, surface area covered and labour.

Hacking

Hacking mainly revolves around tearing down, rebuilding, and touching up walls. The cost of hacking is made up of labour, endorsement and hauling costs.

Labour cost depends on the thickness and size of the wall, as well as the amount of hacking required. An endorsement from a professional is needed to obtain approval from HDB before you can start hacking any walls. Hauling cost refers to the funds needed to clear the debris.

Other common works:

Apart from the above-stated renovation works, remember to set aside a budget for:

  • Electrical works, which includes installation of lights, power outlets, heater etc.
  • Plumbing works, which covers basins, taps, toilet bowls etc.
  • Ceiling, partition, windows, doors and grilles
  • Painting of walls and ceiling
  • Clean-up works: this covers post-renovation clean-up and debris disposal

Breakdown of renovation cost for a 4-room HDB Flat

Renovation workLight RenovationModerate RenovationExtensive Renovation
Hacking$1,200$2,800$11,350
Masonry$3,000$10,400$37,500
Carpentry$7,000$17,950$53,450
Plumbing$1,200$2,800$8,700
Electrical$1,000$2,450$5,450
Painting$800$1,600$2,950
Glass & Aluminium$1,500$3,850$9,450
Cleaning and Polishing$700$1,400$7,800
Hacking$1,200$2,800$11,350
Total$17,600$46,050$148,000
*Data obtained from Qanvast’s renovation calculator

This is a rough breakdown of the renovation cost for a 4-room HDB flat (90 sqm/ 968.7 sqft) based on the market average. While the average renovation cost fluctuates around $46,050, it varies between households and heavily depends on the respective budgets and personal preferences.

If you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown of your renovation costs, you can check out Qanvast’s renovation calculator.

6 ways to save on your renovation costs

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what makes up your total renovation cost, here are some tips on how you can stay within budget:

1. Opt for fewer built-ins

One of the best ways to cut down on your renovation cost is to have fewer built-ins. Having a built-in wardrobe or customised furniture may seem like a great way to increase storage space given the small size of HDB flats, but it’s often pricey due to the workmanship that goes into creating a personalised piece.

Furthermore, some carpentry work requires hacking which may result in a more premium price. Moderate carpentry work can cost up to $10,000.

Prioritise the small handful of your carpentry must-haves, like kitchen cabinets for example. This list of carpentry should be custom solutions that require design work from professionals. The rest can be loose pieces of furniture or small organisation products that can be easily purchased to fully utilise the space within your home.

2. Choosing vinyl flooring over tiles

Another quick way to save is to overlay existing floor tiling with vinyl instead of tile replacement. The cost of flooring materials like hardwood and marble can easily cost up to $20 per square foot. On top of the cost of materials, hacking may be required. This can easily take up a significant portion of your budget.

On the contrary, vinyl or laminate flooring generally costs around $5 per square foot. For an average 4-room flat with 90 sqm, this difference in cost adds up. Modern vinyl flooring looks as realistic as tile finishes and if taken care of can last up to 25 years.

3. Paint your walls

Painting your walls instead of using wallpapers or building a feature wall is also a great way to save on renovation costs. You can even save on labour costs if you paint the walls yourself or get the help of your friends or family members. Buying them a meal is still cheaper than hiring someone to get your walls painted.

Painting your walls is also a practical choice as you can easily change the look of your home by giving it a fresh coat of paint. This is much more cost-efficient when compared to using wallpaper or a feature wall that needs new materials and another set of renovations.

4. Plan your electricity plugs

While this may not reduce your initial renovation cost, it minimises the need to engage in rewiring in the future. Planning out the placement of electricity plugs is often overlooked during home renovations.

Homeowners often find themselves having to deal with obstructed power plugs or limited electrical outlets in rooms that have more electric appliances. Installing new or separated electrical outlets after the initial home renovation would cost a few hundred dollars of unnecessary spending.

5. Source for your materials

If you engage an Interior Designer, they will usually have a list of preferred contractors for required materials already. This means that they will charge you a sourcing and purchasing fee on top of the cost of the materials.

To cut down this cost, you can ask if the materials or accessories such as handles, and doorknobs are included in the final renovation quote. If they are, you can request to source them yourself by purchasing directly from industrial warehouses. Likewise, you can find online suppliers from Taobao or EZBuy.

6. Setup a housewarming registry

Most housewarming party guests would not turn up empty-handed. To prevent getting the same gift from multiple guests, you can set up a gift registry to let your family or friends know what your home is lacking.

Not only does this save your guests from thinking too much, but it also allows you to save on furbishing costs or allocate more budget towards the renovation itself.

Conclusion

Renovating a house may come with its own set of challenges, but it can still be a fun and fulfilling process where you get to customise your home and add your personal touch.

Bonus tip: Work within 85% of your total initial budget allocated for renovation and set aside the remaining 15% for any unexpected payments so you don’t go out of budget that soon.

Worst-case scenario: You use up 100% of your budget. Best-case scenario: You save 15%.

Having a clear goal and a robust budget for any unforeseen circumstances goes a long way in making this process less stressful and much more enjoyable.

If you’re looking to start your home renovation soon, you can speak to our experienced team of interior designers and contractors via any of the contact options below, or chat with us at the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen.

This article was originally published on Planner Bee.

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