5 things to know before you start on home renovations

1. Renovation is more expensive than you think

In general terms, BTO owners who are not looking to do an extensive job should set aside about S$20,000. The figure goes steadily upwards for resale flats; it’s not surprising to read stories of people who renovate their resale units at prices between S$60,000 and S$80,000 – or even more.

You’ll also need to buy furniture and appliances (at least the basics like a sofa, bed, fridge, washing machine, etc), which means adding on about S$10,000 on top of what you’ll already be spending for renovation works.

2. Start planning early

Start planning for your renovation in the months leading up to you getting your keys – that way, you won’t waste any time. Read widely on the subject, eyeball your floor plan, and do up moodboards of interior designs.

Things can move fast once you’re ready to sign on an Interior Designer (ID) or contractor. Knowledge is power, and being armed with all kinds of information will put you in better stead when you’re negotiating your reno contract.

Tile or vinyl flooring? If you know the terminology, you’re less likely to be overwhelmed. This also means you can be precise and request a detailed line-by-line breakdown of all the costs, which will also mitigate the issue of hidden costs.

People are very generous with information and their own experiences on reno forums, so wade right in and start asking questions.

3. Hidden costs are everywhere

You may have done extensive research and combed through every line of your quotation before committing to an ID or contracto but you should still expect hidden costs, because unless you’ve had experience renovating many homes – and most of us don’t – you can’t foresee everything.

Take for example, aircon trunking. You won’t be thinking about the trunking (which connects the indoor aircon units to the outdoor unit outside your flat) until you’re at the stage when you’re planning the route in detail, and you realise how unsightly it’s going to look.

So you end up wanting to conceal it by boxing it up or constructing a false beam. Oh hello, hidden costs, there you are…Be prepared to set aside a minimum of five per cent on top of your quotation to cover hidden costs 

4. How you can save money

Everyone knows costs are lowered when you cut out the middleman, and this is true for windows, grilles and doors. Your ID or contractor needs to sub out such work to a specialised manufacturer anyway, so what they quote you for these items has been marked up.

You can save significant dollars when you approach these manufacturers directly, only it involves a little more hassle and you need to do some coordinating of your own – but it’s nothing the average person can’t handle. Many of these manufacturers have a Facebook page, and you can always find more information on reno forums.

5. Should you go with an ID or contractor?

If you’re a hands-on type who wants to be involved in the transformation of your home and have a fairly good sense of colour coordination, proportion and style, pick a contractor. If for you, design is best left to the experts, then go for an ID.

Whoever you pick, you need to be comfortable with this person, because you’ll be working with them for at least eight to 10 weeks.

You should speak to a minimum of three companies to get a sense of the market rate. It’s a must to ask them to show you homes they’ve recently done so you can see workmanship, and the breakdown for the quotation should be as detailed as possible.

Last but not least, never pay in full at one go, as the industry standard is for payment to be made in stages.


This article was contributed by SingSaver.com.sg, Singapore’s #1 financial comparison platform and a part of the CompareAsiaGroup.