From avoiding built-in furniture like a plaque to substituting premium materials with more affordable ones, here’s how you can save on renovation costs so it doesn’t cost you an arm or leg (or both).
It’s the quintessential journey for almost every Singaporean couple - apply for a BTO flat, get engaged, get married, get a house and then have kids. So if you’re reading this, congratulations on checking off those milestones! But that also means that you’ve recently had to pay your remaining downpayment for your house and probably a wedding, which is not exactly small expenses, to say the least.
It is an open secret that renovation costs in Singapore don’t come cheap. Doing minimal renovation works like replacing floors and fixing some old electrical systems can cost you less than S$20,000. But if you’re looking to design your whole unit into an inspired theme or aesthetic that requires extravagant reno works, the bill can go upwards from S$30,000 to S$100,000 and beyond.
Now, after getting the keys to your house, you’re probably scrambling to find ways to lower your renovation costs, after creating a massive hole in your wallet. Here are some ways you can easily cut down on renovation costs without having to sacrifice too much on creating your dream home.
1. Set a realistic budget and stick to it
Though this has been said many times before, there is merit in that it can be applied to almost anything, especially for large purchases such as a renovation. Many often overlook the importance of having a budget that you can strictly adhere to.
When we say budget, we don’t mean just plucking a random figure and then calling it a day. Researching and creating a checklist on what you need and the costs that come with it is key to setting a realistic budget.
For starters, note down exactly what kind of renovation works you need. Replacing the floors? Hacking down walls? Creating built-in furniture or a walk-in wardrobe? Do some desktop research or ask around to get a ballpark estimate on how much each of these costs, and remember to compare prices from different contractors.
If you want to go a step further, allocate your budget to each area too. Perhaps more work needs to be done in the kitchen so you set aside a higher budget as compared to the toilets which have recently undergone a Home Improvement Project. Do up an excel spreadsheet and note down exactly how much you’re expecting to spend for each area of your house and provide some additional buffer to accommodate unexpected extra costs.
2. Reduce built-in furniture
It’s no secret that built-in furniture ranks as one of the most expensive costs for any renovation project. Anything that is made-to-order will definitely cost more since they are custom made to fit your space to a T. While they definitely help to maximise space, especially for oddly-shaped areas where regular furniture cannot fit, it will form a huge part of your renovation cost.
On top of that, built-in-furniture doesn't give you any flexibility in the future. If your needs or wants change, there is no way you can move that built-in closet to another part of your room. And once the design is out-to-date, you have no choice but to either live with it or have a contractor hack it down and redo it.
That being said, it's important to weigh your options. If having a built-in cabinet will help you make room for precious storage space that you dearly need, it might be worth spending the extra dollars for convenience.
3. Hunt for cheaper prices for big-ticket items
One way to save on your big-ticket items like furniture and electronics is to look out for stock clearances during the festive season or during seasonal sales. When retailers want to clear existing stock for newer models to come in, their discounts are usually quite huge at about a 50% slash. You can even request to buy a display set for an even bigger discount.
If you can’t wait for any seasonal sales to happen, you can also opt to purchase your furniture online from websites like Shopee, Taobao or Ezbuy. A tip is to choose an international seller as the prices are usually cheaper than local retailers in Singapore. Though it may take more time for the goods to arrive, you’ll be able to save loads of money.
Be sure to check the reviews before purchasing to ensure that the quality is somewhat decent or the piece actually looks like the pictures shown. Since they come at a cheaper price, you shouldn’t expect them to be of exceptional quality.
With that said, you shouldn’t be blindly purchasing all your household items online. It may make sense to invest in quality products for certain furniture pieces like your mattress, sofa and dining tables where quality and durability is of priority. If purchasing a cheap mattress may potentially give you bad body aches and sleepless nights, then you shouldn’t risk getting a cheap one just to save that money.
4. Substitute premium materials with more affordable ones
There are some things you absolutely cannot compromise on when it comes to renovations. Things like hacking down a wall if you need more room space or fixing up the whole toilet due to its poor condition. But one thing you can cut back on is the materials used.
Some materials can cost you a bomb, but they can easily be replaced by cheaper materials if you don’t need such premium materials. For example, stone or hardwood flooring might be very expensive, but you can use vinyl instead. This can help you cut costs from about S$50 to S$60 psf for hardwood down to S$5.50 to S$6.50 psf. Instead of wallpapers for your walls, opt for paint instead as they are much cheaper to maintain.
However, you’ll have to decide which areas you want to splurge and save on based on your lifestyle needs. If you’re always in the kitchen, you can choose to have your countertops made of granite since they are durable and heat-resistant. Though expensive, you wouldn’t want to compromise on the area where you’ll spend most of your time in.
5. Refurbish or DIY
Moving into a new home doesn’t mean that the house has to be entirely brand new. If you’re cash-strapped, a useful way to reduce costs would be to refurbish old furniture that the previous owner had left behind or from your previous home.
If they are still in relatively good condition, you can always choose to spruce it up at a shop that offers refurbishing services that mainly do things like sanding, repainting and polishing.
To go even more hardcore on saving money, you can turn it into a little DIY project with your spouse and children. There are many online tutorials out there that teach you how to salvage old furniture and make them look brand new again. Some tutorials even show you how to completely transform it into something completely different.
Some trendy examples are the DIY mirror wall that you can easily do with items that you can purchase from IKEA, or making a retro-looking bedside table with cement and store-bought tiles.
6. Choose renovation loans over other loans
If you’re thinking about getting a loan to finance your renovation, we suggest choosing a renovation loan over other loans because they typically charge a lower interest rate. On average, renovation loans are currently charging an interest rate of about 4% p.a., while other loans like personal loans usually have an average interest of 6% to 9% p.a.
Before settling for a renovation loan, be sure to take your time and shop around to find the loan with the lowest interest. Though the interest rate may only differ slightly from one another, it can actually help you a ton in terms of savings, depending on how the loan amount you’re taking up.
However, if you can, it’s best not to take a loan if you want to skip out on the interest completely. If your finances allow, use up your savings first before resorting to a renovation loan. This way, you won’t have to take up a loan for the full amount, saving you a few hundred to thousands in interest.
7. Maximise cashback and miles by using credit cards
If there’s no way to further cut down on costs, you can always take advantage of the cashback and miles that you can earn if you pay for your renovation with your credit card. Depending on what kind of rewards you prefer, there are a ton of credit cards offering cash back, miles, discounts and rebates when you use your card to pay.
Don’t overlook the power of points or miles accumulation. You might be surprised at just how fast you’ll be able to save up on enough miles for free flight tickets to your next travel destination!
Read these next:
Ultimate Guide To Home Renovation In Singapore
Average Cost Of Home Renovations In Singapore 2022
How To Do Up Your Home Without Taking A Renovation Loan
Cost Guide to Weddings in Singapore 2022
How To Earn Miles From A Wedding