How Much Should You Pay For A Home Renovation In Singapore?

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How Much Should You Pay for a Home Renovation in Singapore?

With the high levels of home ownership, undertaking a home renovation is a rite of passage for most Singaporeans.

In fact, there’s a high chance home renovation will rank among the top 5 expenditures in your lifetime. 

So how much should you expect to spend on your home renovation? What are the major costs involved, and what can you do to keep your budget under control? Here are some factors you should consider.  

What’s the average cost of HDB home renovations in Singapore? 

Type of HDB Flat Average Renovation Cost For A New Flat Average Renovation Cost For A Resale Flat
3-Room (60 to 65 sqm) $32,000 $42,600
4-Room (90 sqm) $42,600 $58,500
5-Room (110 sqm) $52.100 $65,200

As the table above shows, you can expect to pay more for renovating a larger home. Meanwhile, resale flats will also cost more to renovate, for reasons discussed further below. 

If you’re trying to find out the cost of renovating a condo apartment or landed property, you may be able to extrapolate a rough ballpark figure, using the floor areas provided. For a more detailed calculation, you may find Qanvast’s renovation calculator to be pretty handy.    

With that said, please keep in mind that your final renovation bill may end up being wildly off these averages. That’s because when it comes to home renovation, the sky is pretty much the limit. 

Now, the sheer level of detail involved in planning for an actual home renovation is beyond the purpose and scope of this article. Rather, we will attempt to explain what the major expenses involved are, and how to better control your renovation budget. 

Factors that affect the cost of home renovation

When calculating the cost of your home renovation, several factors come into play. The main ones to look out for are:

  • The size and type of your property (HDB, condo or landed, etc.)
  • The status of your property, whether brand new or resale
  • The type and extent of work required
  • The materials you want to use 
  • Who you hire to do your renovation 

Size of your property

This one is pretty straightforward. The larger your home, the more work and material has to go into your renovation works, which add towards the final bill. Private properties such as condos and landed properties could cost significantly more than HDB flats simply because of their configuration (such as double-height ceilings, or split levels).

They are also free of some of the restrictions that apply to HDB flats (such as full-height or bay windows, etc.), which give you the freedom to explore fancier, but also costlier, options.

Status of your property

Many homeowners don’t really think about this, but generally, resale flats are more expensive to renovate. This is because pre-loved flats may come with built-in furniture that would need to be dismantled and disposed of. Older HDB flats may also have less-than-ideal configurations, which might prompt you to splurge on hacking and masonry fees just to get the toilet entrance facing the right way. If you’re looking at renovating a resale flat, be prepared to spend up to 40% more, according to Qanvast.   

Type and extent of work required

Now, when it comes to renovation work, the cost comes from several different areas. Therefore, you may need to spend more (or less) on your refurbishing work, depending on what you actually want to do. 

The big items to watch out for are carpentry, hacking (including of tiles and walls), masonry, and disposal. Plumbing and electrical work can also add up depending on the designs you choose. 

Do take note that if you have a lot of space to cover, painting can add up to a hefty amount.

The materials you want to use

Another big source of expenditure can come from the material you want to use. Heavy wood doors, marbled bathrooms and granite countertops can give your home a refined look, but they could end up blowing your budget, if you’re not careful. Also consider the installation/labour costs for shipping, transporting and installing your gorgeous but pricey Amazonian heartwood coffee table. 

Who you hire to do your renovation

Who you chose to do the job can also play a factor in how much your final bill comes up to. Generally, there are three choices you can choose from. 

Interior designers (IDs) offer a full-fledged service starting from professional design works (inclusive of floor plans, and 3D previews) all the way to project scheduling and management. They usually charge a separate project fee on top of the renovation work, which can amount to several thousands. 

Contractors, on the other hand, will come in and do the work you require, but mostly on a task-by-task basis. Don’t expect any input on design or theme – the suggestions offered will mostly be functional at best. Also, you’ll have to plan and manage the entire renovation yourself, and should probably be prepared to oversee some of the more important aspects of the work. Managing contractors by yourself can be a challenge, considering that full-flat renovation takes several weeks to complete, on average.    

What if you want something in-between? Then look for a design & build service, which basically is a contractor with the ability to offer some design and conceptualisation capabilities. Don’t get too excited though, this mostly comes as a set package following a template of some sort. You may be able to find some packages that match both your taste and your budget, but don’t expect them to turn your home into the W Bangkok.

Depending on which of these three options you choose, your budget is likely to vary.

Tips for Getting Your Renovation Budget Under Control

Overlay, Rather than Hack

You may be tempted to take a sledgehammer to hack down those kitschy kitchen tiles left by the previous owner, but there may be a simpler, cheaper solution. Hacking is not only expensive, but it will also require masonry work afterwards to repair the surface before new tiles can be installed. 

Instead, check if you can overlay the offending wall with laminate or other materials – this will be much cheaper and once you drink the memory of those ugly tiles away, no one will be any wiser. 

Same thing with that outdated marble floor that now clashes so horribly with the Scandinavian look you have in mind. Overlay with laminate or tiles, instead of ripping up the entire floor.   

Balance between premium and economical finishes

As much as we would love to be surrounded by luxury, we can’t all afford taps made of pure gold. One good way to balance our renovation budget against our wants is to be smart in our application of premium materials and finishes. 

For every room, choose one or two elements as the centerpiece, allowing yourself to splurge on luxury touches. For example, having a full-sized chandelier in the living room may be impractical and expensive, but a mini one in your bedroom could be a source of delight for many years to come. 

Instead of pricey hardwood kitchen cabinets, why not splurge instead on a top-line refrigerator that the entire family will love using? Can’t afford that industrial look you love so much? How about doing up just the bathrooms, so you can still enjoy the design without going over budget. 

Buy ready-made, instead of ordering built-in

Due to the labour and skill involved, carpentry work is costly. You can bring down your budget  by reserving carpentry work for when you can’t find a suitable off-the-shelf solution. Between Ikea, Taobao, and the hundreds of indie furniture shops both online and in brick-and-mortar stores, you should be able to find everything you need, and at lower prices too. 

Also, remember that while having everything made to measure, flush with every nook and cranny might satisfy your OCD, built-in furnitures are meant to stay where they are. So think twice if you (or your spouse) is the sort that itches for a change in layout or furniture every few years or so.

Don’t forget to protect your newly renovated home

Now that you’ve spent a fortune renovating your home, the last thing you want is to lose it all in a fire or something similarly disastrous. 

Don’t forget to protect your newly renovated abode with an appropriate home insurance plan that covers accidents and other unwanted incidents. Head on over to SingSaver’s Home Insurance portal to compare and find the best home insurance plans – for free!

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Home Insurance 101: How It Works And Tips On Saving
Home Insurance 101: 4 Little-Known Facts About Home Insurance
Home Insurance: Why Is It Important And How Do You Compare The Best Plans?
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What Type of HDB Flats Can Single Singaporeans Buy?