Home Renovation Hacks
That Will Save You
Covid19? Financial downturn? Do not let these deter you from building your dream home. After all, you have finally purchased your new home, so it is important to plan and learn how you can renovate your house without tearing a hole in your pocket. While average renovation costs for a full makeover in a BTO HDB flat can go upwards of S$40,000 and resale flats towards the north of S$70,000, we are here with tips on how to save on costs without compromising much on the design.
*Hello condo owners, we did not forget you, average condo renovation costs are often below that of HDB’s due to certain interior works already done by developer. Still, it depends on various other factors such as the size of the unit, the amount of works, materials, and other factors like resale.
Friendly Tip: Budget Planning
Before jumping straight to interior design or renovation firms, it is important to spend some time planning and researching on how you would like your future home to look and work out the amount of money you can spare on your home renovation. The amount of money will indicate if you should split up your renovation project into phases or have a complete makeover. Always allocate 20% of that amount to prepare for unexpected project costs that may arise due to various unforeseen circumstances. E.g. If you have $70,000 to spare for renovation works, you should be planning renovation works of approximately $56,000, while the $14,000 (20%) is to prepare for flexibility during renovation. These costs may arise from dismantling existing built-ins, changing of incompatible components from piping to conduits, etc. More often than not, these works are often neglected, creating the false impression of “hidden cost”. If everything is accounted for, the remaining amount may be a small bonus that can be used to purchase other stuff such as furniture or decorations. When planning out your budget, we would recommend creating a spreadsheet that lists out the furniture or decorations that you need to buy and include them into your considerations.
Upon knowing your budget, next will be to engage in interior designers (Please have a thorough research on the interior firms you are engaging. Rule of thumb: If a deal is too good to be true, it probably isn’t) and discuss with them about your dream home. Obtain quotations from different firms and if you plan to renovate in phases, always prioritise renovation works that are essential for living, followed by those that have the most impact in overall aesthetics. We highly advise heading back to the original interior design firm if renovating in phases, as they would be much more familiar with their own design and often will provide you with a slight discount as a returning customer!
Budget Hack #1:
Flooring works take up a large portion of your renovation budget and is definitive of the aesthetics in a home. While it may seem to be an obvious choice depending on your design, I encourage you to think again. The flooring determines the resale value of your unit, and this is definitely something to consider for those who might want to move or renovate in the future.
For homeowners thinking of renovating again in the future:
Assuming that the flooring will be changed in the near future, choose glazed porcelain tiles for the most cost-effective, the flooring option is cheap while providing uncountable designs that can replicate even marble, granite looks. For those that plan to retain the flooring, choose vinyl flooring. Despite its plastic feel, it is durable and waterproof, and is a suitable flooring for homes with elderlies and children.
For homeowners thinking of selling their homes in the future:
Choose glazed porcelain tiles, it is the most value-for-dollar while not decreasing the property value. Whilst choosing natural stone tiles may increase your home’s resale value, it might not be worth the initial hole it will burn in your pocket.
Due to the thinness of vinyl planks ~2-4mm, cement screed must be topped up to level the floor which increases in labour costs and other material costs. The increase in height for the structural finished level also means that future floor renovations using other flooring options may result in a decreased headroom (lower ceiling). This will severely limit future flooring renovation options, and therefore negatively impact the resale value of the house.
Budget Hack #2:
Overlay existing flooring instead of hacking.
Flooring is often one of the biggest emphasis in renovation works and the previous owner of your resale home probably spent considerable time thinking about this. Instead of hacking existing flooring and incurring additional downtime to recreate a flooring of your choice, it is more advisable to overlay vinyl flooring (~2-4mm). Why? Well, you save the cost of labour from dismantling and hacking the floor, the removal of debris and many other costs that may not be obvious at first sight but sum up to be aplenty. Furthermore, you will likely only have to pay for the overlaying and material cost for the vinyl, while still retaining the resale value of the house (Technically, the next owner can remove the vinyl and base flooring and retain the original structural finishing level. Three birds with one stone!). If you were to hack and rebuild any other flooring, you have to bail into the additional charges alongside tiresome distress over water-levelling, scratch-resistance, waterproofing and anti-slip coatings.
Disclaimer: However, please do consult the experts or BCA if a risk had been identified in your original flooring which warrants the need of hacking to rectify.
Budget Hack #3:
Repair, refurbish and redesign
old built-ins instead of rebuilding.
While it is tempting for first-time homeowners to indulge in the idea of new built-in carpentry in the house, one must understand that they are not able to carry these carpentries along if they plan to move to a new house in the future. Refurbish and redesigning built-ins that are in a relatively good condition is a much cheaper option. Do these instead, have a paint over or replace a portion of the built-ins. Who knows if you might actually be surprised with the outcome?
Budget Hack #4:
Plan your power sockets strategically.
Covid19 has brought about a new age in digitalisation and further heighten our dependence on electronic devices. Desktops/laptops, television, treadmills, cookers are electronics that are placed in different parts of the house, and the commonalities they share? Power supply!
Strategic planning of power sockets will potentially prevent undesired obstruction of furniture and competition for power sockets in the house while bringing convenience to your daily life. Do not be too stingy with the number of power sockets. We recommended the following number of outlets displayed in the table below. Feel free to add more outlets if you need to and remember to avoid cluttering them together unnecessarily.
More often than not, homeowners complain about the lack of foresight when planning for power socket and having to install new electrical outlets during or after the renovation. And mind you, these rewiring of electrical outlets or worse still, installing entirely separate outlets come at a hefty price!
Budget Hack #5:
Say no to feature walls.
Having a feature wall may give your living unit an air of opulence and exhibit your personality, but at what cost? Thousands of dollars for wallpapers or craft stones that require extra loving and care. Is it worth the trouble? Alternatively, we’d like to suggest hiring a mural painter for a unique piece of art on your wall at a fraction of the price. For an even cheaper alternative, get a multi-colour graphic wall that uses only paint, or put your creativity to test and create your own feature wall with decor and accessories! Seek inspiration from books and the Internet and create a unique wall of your own.
Budget Hack #6:
Go minimalistic or Scandinavian.
In this “less is more” trend, Minimalistic style brings about an enhanced sense of space with a clean, flowing, open-concept look. A style advocating in simplicity in form exuberates a personality with uncomplicated use of industrial materials and black and white colour schemes, is all but breaking the bank. Without unnecessary built-ins and adopting simplicity with functionality, you will see yourself stashing away cash that would have been taken away from you. For those preferring the use of natural materials, Scandinavian design will be a perfect fit. Think long term, house chores will be much easier with these two designs, and should you want to renovate your house again the costs are likely lower (Also, that does mean that you have more bargaining power if you do intend to sell your flat).
Budget Hack #7:
Natural lighting > lighting points.
Aiming for the bright and airy look, homeowners have the option of installing more lighting points or to bring in natural lighting. Inserting new lighting points such as recessed and cove lights, are not as simple as it sounds, costs amounting from workmanship for wiring, installation and lighting elements can seriously ruin your budget plans. Instead, try placing a mirror in a position adjacent to a window that allows you to optimise natural light. Not only does it brighten your house, it also creates an illusion of space that seemingly enlarges your home. Lighting indeed plays an important role in setting a tone or mood of a home, but why spend a bomb when you can easily recreate the lighting, right?
Budget Hack #8:
Save on furnishing by using second-hand furniture. Or else, buy display sets.
Furnishings these days do not come cheap, without a careful book-keeping of your expenses, you will see yourself running low on cash before getting your hands on all the necessities. Purchase off old furnishings from the previous owner or bring in your old furniture. The former will probably only cost you a fraction of its original retail price, while the latter only requires a home moving contractor. Oftentimes good condition second-hand furnishings are wrongfully thrown away. Tapping onto the mindset that many owners may want to have a fresh look in their new home, these second-hand furnishings may be sold to you at an ostensibly low price. Their second-hand furniture is a new look for you, saves you the trouble of searching and comparing prices for the same pieces of furnishings, and does not cost you an arm or a leg. A win, win and win again for you. For furniture from your old home, you can replace its handle, laminate, or paint over it to give it a fresh new look. But if either of these options is not available for you, the next best alternative will be to purchase display sets. These display sets are carefully taken care of by the store employees and therefore kept in a really good condition (Afterall, reputation in these stores are paramount, damaged, or dirtied goods will never be displayed).
Budget Hack #9:
Avoid circular, angular or odd-shaped carpentry.
Custom built-ins do exude a sense of uniqueness, but how much custom built-ins should you do? This depends on your budget.
Amongst custom built-ins, circular, angular, and odd-shaped carpentries are the priciest. These carpentries require quality craftsmanship and these specialists do not charge low. Get the budget-friendly designs that are simple and linear.
Budget Hack #10:
Say no to half-hacked walls
While it may be aesthetically pleasing to have a half glass wall or half walls in your home, it may just be the next big-ticket item in your list of “hidden cost”. Half walls are often misunderstood to be the original wall hacked to the preferred height. In fact, it is rebuilt after hacking away the entire wall. Hence, there are additional labour and material costs incurred compared to fully hacking a wall.
Beware: Cost of hacking a home includes: hacking of wall, dismantling of original works, removal of debris, etc. While installation of a wall panel may incur these items: haulage, installation of wall panel, rewiring of pipes or conduits, etc. The more the work, or the tougher the job, the pricier it gets.