Home Renovation Hacks That Will Save You Thousands

Home Renovation Hacks
That Will Save You
Thousands !

Covid19? Financial downturn? Do not let these deter you from building your dream home. Afterall, you have finally purchased your new house, so it is important to plan and learn how you can renovate your house without tearing a hole in your pocket. Whilst 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!

let's begin!

Budget Hack #1 :  

Flooring Choices

Flooring works takes 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 to depending on your design, I beg you to think again. The flooring determines the resale value of your unit, for those that might want to change house, while affecting your renovation outlook, for those that may want to renovate the house again 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 ultimately increase your resale value in the long run, however, it may likely burn a hole in your pocket in the short term.

 

Beware:
 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 increased 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 impacting 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 your previous owner probably spent as much time considering 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 of flooring, hacking the floor, removal of debris and many other costs that may not be obvious but sums 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. One bird with three stones! 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-resistant, waterproofing, 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 avoid undesired obstruction of furniture, prevent competition for power sockets in the house and bringing convenience to your daily life. Do not be too stingy with the number of power sockets. We recommended these 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 opulence vibe and exhibit your personality, but at what cost? Thousands of dollars for wallpapers or craft stones that requires extra loving and care. Is it worth the trouble? Instead, hire 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 decors or accessories! Seek inspirations 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 furnishings by using second-hand furniture, else buy display sets.

Furnishings these days do not come cheap, without a careful bookkeeping 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.

An Introduction To 9 Common Kitchen Countertop Materials!

An Introduction To 9 Common Kitchen Countertop Materials!

If you’re due for a kitchen makeover, chances are you’d be overwhelmed with the choices that are now available on the market. There are so many options, at vastly differing price points, which can make it really difficult for you to decide which one suits you best. We list out some of the properties of each of the common materials, so you can be better informed before you make an appointment with an Interior Designer of your choice!

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Undeniably the synonym for luxury. Marble tops make quite the statement, but at a cost as well. And it’s not just on the financial side at that; marble is naturally porous, which means stains can result from seemingly minor spillage. Also note that acidic foods can dull the finish on your marble countertop as well.

Visual blemishes aside, the stone itself can take the rigours of even the most demanding of chefs, though the sealers used to make the countertop less porous may not. Repeated exposure to harsh chemicals can result in premature wearing out of said layer. Still, if individuality is something you value, know that your countertop is one of a kind, as marble is a natural stone, and no two slabs are alike! 

Granite is probably the second most reputable natural countertop material. It happens to also be the hardest, which explains its incredible scratch-resistance properties. Regular knives may not cause significant damage to such a countertop, but ceramic ones do, so take that into account when preparing food on your kitchen top.

Like Marble, Granite is porous, and most installers will coat them with a sealer to make them less susceptible to staining. It too can withstand some chemical abuse, though the itself sealer may not, and prolonged exposure to the aforementioned substances will invariably lead to shorter resealing intervals. 

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Sensa blends the exotic appeal of natural stone, with the durability of engineered surfaces. Slabs are sourced from Brazil and India, and are 20mm thick with a minimum usable slab size of 2.8m x 1.4m.

These stones are then treated with Senguard, which chemically binds to even the internal crevices to create an exclusive anti-stain protection that prevents liquids from penetrating the surface. No annual sealer reapplication is needed with Sensa, and Senguard’s other trump card against its rivals is that it allows the stone to breathe for extra durability, which is a luxury not afforded by conventional sealers. 

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Dekton is synthesised from a process that combines elements such as porcelain, glass and quartz to create a highly-resistant material. It is non-porous, is extremely durable, and has excellent stain, scratch and UV resistance. It is also heat-resistant up to 300°C, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Locally, you can find Dekton slabs in 4, 12 and 20mm thicknesses, in 50 different colours. They also offer larger, non-standard slab sizes for their newer range, which is perfect for that instagram-worthy island of your dreams! And you can be sure it will be kept pristine, as it comes with a 25 year warranty for any manufacturing defect! 

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Silestone is an engineered countertop material that has more than 90% quartzite crystals in its composition. As with most materials destined for use in the kitchen, it is resistant to liquids and scratches, and with its N-BOOST technology, boasts a special surface treatment which facilitates cleaning, maintenance and shine.

Apart from countertops, it can also be used in a wide array of interior applications, such as cladding, sinks, shower trays and flooring. Silestone can be found in more than 90 colours and comes in 2 slab sizes (306 x 140 cm and 325 x 159 cm). Unlike Dekton, Silestone is best used indoors and away from direct sunlight. It too has a 25 warranty for any manufacturing defects! 

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Cambria is an American-made Quartz Countertop. As with most quartzite composites, it is harder than its natural granite or marble counterpart, making it less likely to scratch, chip or stain.

No sealant is required, and as it is nonporous and nonabsorbent, it is certified food safe, so you don’t have to worry about bacterial growth from raw or leftover food.  

7. Terrazzo

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Terrazzo’s beginnings were humble - they were originally made with waste marble, granite, quartz and glass chips in Venetian marble factories. It was durable, and low cost, but was never really fashionable.

But Terrazzo is making a comeback! Modern Terrazzo countertops differ from their predecessors, as they are more thermally stable, and do not conduct heat. It will also not burn or be damaged should you place a hot object directly on the surface without a heat pad! 

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Laminam is a ceramic countertop. As it has to be exposed to extreme heat for it to be manufactured in the first place, hot pots and pans are of no issue should you place them directly on the surface. 

It is scratch resistant, virtually impervious to water, and the combination of both those properties mean that it is easy to maintain. It is also non-porous, so you dont have to worry about sealants failing, and unlike Quartz, it is UV resistant. 

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KompacPlus may be more affordable than the other options on this list, but it definitely punches above its weight. It is made of layers of kraft paper and resin, carefully engineered to be resilient to wear and tear despite only being 6mm thick.

Being a non-porous material, KompacPlus is durable and sterile, and also highly resistant to wear-and-tear, water and steam as well! 

In Summary...

The commonality is that all surfaces have been designed to withstand the harshness of a kitchen, all with varying levels of heat and scratch protection. Natural stones are undoubtedly the most visually appealing, though keeping them that way can be fiddlier than that of an engineered surface. Engineered surfaces, quartz, ceramic or otherwise, are harder than their natural counterparts, nonporous, and thus sterile, and require little maintenance. Compact Tops are affordable, and can be made to last, but generally will not fit into the theme of a higher-end renovation!

White Interior

white interior

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3 Wall Decor Ideas

3 Wall decor ideas

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1. Large Painting

These decorations draw a great deal of attention to themselves!
They can be a focal point of the room, adding an
abstract & artistic touch to an otherwise plain wall.

2. Collage

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Collage draw less attention to themselves and is thus best suited 
if you’re looking for a subtle addition to the wall.
They also happen to feel a little more personal and homely too!

3. mirror

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Function and striking, mirrors can be used to make a space look larger
than it really is and can also be useful if you’d like one last glance at yourself
before leaving your house.

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3 Ways To Use Pattern Tiles In Your Space

3 ways to use pattern tiles in your space

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1. geometric tiles

These most come in 2 different shapes – squares and hexagon.
They operate n the same principle, with geometric patterns printed in different shades of a similar colour lending to a 3D, cube-like illusion.
Pair this with a more minimalistic interior for a cheeky twist on a fairly pupular design trend.

2. small tiles

The most versatile of the tiles in this list, it pairs well with most interior styles. Use it to add vivid colours & textures to an otherwise muted and flat interior space. 

Avoid using these tiles excessively, as they are labour intensive thus pricier to lay and can get a little overwhelming if overused. 

 

3. Moroccan tiles

Moroccan tiles have a more subtle colour palette which makes them suitable in a wider variety of applications.

These tiles can work well in a space that has touches of some industrial cues!

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3 Interior Design Colour Myths

3 INTERIOR COLOUR MYTHS

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2. Light -coloured walls are hard to keep clean.

A myth this isn’t in some cases. 
Cheaper paints can be more difficult to maintain. 

However, with the emergence of paints such as
“Gush Cair Fresh”, you can confidently choose the brightest colours, as these have been designed for easy upkeep.

It’s party piece though, has to be its generous
list of niceties, which include Anti-Mould and
Anti-Bacterial properties!

3. Every room should have a different colour scheme. 

What you’ll end up with, should you paint every room in a different colour, is an interior that does not flow well together. 

Visual impact aside, exploring this route comes at quite an expense, as most painters charge extra should you opt for more than a set number of colours. 

Rather than choosing completely unique and different colours for each room, consider pre-selecting a set of colour palette for your home and apply the said colours on different walls to maximise impact, doing it this way ensures visual harmony, as well as reducing cost!

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