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 five 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.
- HDB Renovation Cost 2023 (Summary)
- HDB Renovation: What is included?
- HDB Renovation: Living room cost
- HDB Renovation: Kitchen cost
- HDB Renovation: Bedroom cost
- HDB Renovation: Bathroom cost
- HDB Renovation: Miscellaneous costs
- Home Renovation: What affects the cost?
- HDB Renovation Rules
- Interior Designer vs Contractor
- Contractor: How to find a legit one?
- 6 Best Renovation Loans in Singapore
- Reduce renovation cost: 10 Tips & tricks
HDB Renovation Cost 2023
You can expect to pay more for renovating a larger home. Meanwhile, resale flats will also cost more to renovate.
|HDB Flat||Renovation Cost (Avg.)||Renovation for Resale (Avg.)|
|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|
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.
Now. let’s drill down for a deeper look into the various types of renovation work typically involved, using a 3-room HDB resale flat with floorspace of 65 sqm for example.
HDB Renovation: What is typically included?
- Hacking: which include labour to hack, rebuild and touch-up walls
- Masonry: which covers flooring, tiling and works, often determined by area size and labour
- Carpentry: which concerns wardrobe, cupboards and other customised storage solutions
- Ceiling and partition: including box-ups, false ceilings, partition walls and the like
- Plumbing works: which covers water fixtures like washbasins, taps, toilet bowls and shower sets
- Electrical works: for electrical outlets such as lighting, data, heater and power points
- Painting: for walls and ceiling
- Glass and aluminium: for window panes, mirrors, glass partitions, window and door grilles
- Cleaning and polishing: including cleaning of entire house, haulage and disposal of debris, polishing marble floor and, etc.
HDB Renovation: Living Room Cost
Depending on your interior design and theme, your living room’s renovation could range from a low of $5,900 to a high of $52,800.
If you were to notice, most of the living room renovation cost comes from masonry (floor) and carpentry such as built-in TV console, cabinets, shoe shelves and more.
|Living Room Reno||Light||Moderate||Extensive|
|Hacking||$400||$400 to $700||$700 to $3,900|
|Masonry||$1,300||$1,300 to $3,000||$3,000 to $22,000|
|Carpentry||$3,400||$3,400 to $6,100||$6,100 to $23,700|
|Ceiling, Partition||$800||$800 to $1,200||$1,200 to $3,200|
When it comes to flooring, the cheapest material is cement screed, which starts from $9 psf for the basic, old-school type, to $15psf for the glossy and coloured variety.
Laminate flooring starts from $4 psf.
Vinyl flooring starts from $6, parquet easily from $30, ceramic tiles from $10, homogeneous tiles from $12, and timber floor from $16.
The prices of marble (from $15 psf) and granite (from $20 psf) can vary widely, depending on quality. Expect to pay between $5 and $12 psf for the installation as well.
HDB Renovation: Kitchen Cost
If you’re going budget on your HDB renovation, you’ll tend to end up spending most of your budget on the kitchen. Well, the carpentry and cabinets are necessary – unless you don’t cook and tend to eat out – and these things tend to cost the most.
Kitchen renovations can easily range from $6,300 up to a high of $34,100.
|Hacking||$500||$500 to $900||$900 to $3,200|
|Masonry||$1,300||$1,300 to $3,900||$3,900 to $11,300|
|Carpentry||$4,300||$4,300 to $6,900||$6,900 to $17,900|
|Plumbing||$200||$200 to $500||$500 to $1,700|
If you want to plaster over the old wall tiles, plastering ranges around $1,000 per room.
Wallpaper can be as cheap as $2psf. Set aside at least $1,300 for painting for a four-room flat.
For a fancy feature wall, timber wall panels or marble feature wall can cost you from $25 psf.
HDB Renovation: Bedroom Cost
If you want to shave some cost from your renovation budget, the bedroom is perhaps the best place. You can stick to your original HDB tiles, give the walls a fresh coat of paint, and buy flat-packed wardrobe and bed frames.
Bedroom renovation cost ranges from a low of $6,900 to a high of $52,700.
|Hacking||$600||$600 to $1,000||$1,000 to $5,200|
|Masonry||$1,300||$1,300 to $2,800||$2,800 to $8,800|
|Carpentry||$4,400||$4,400 to $7,500||$7,500 to $33,700|
|Ceiling and partition||$600||$600 to $1,100||$1,100 to $5,000|
Is a carpentry built-in wardrobe going to be expensive? Depending on the complexity of the design,yoru bedroom wardrobes can cost from $310 per foot run. A customized bed frame and side tables cost $2,000 upwards, while a study table fit for a professional executive can cost $1,000.
HDB Renovation: Bathroom Cost
Here’s another spot in the house where you can save a lot of renovation cost on. For new HDB BTOs, you practically don’t have to change anything, save for a nicer mirror and vanity, and some lights.
However, for resale HDB flats, the bathroom renovation will be hefty and will cost you a bomb. Keep to the cheaper bathroom accessories, since the bathroom requires proper waterproofing, anti-mould paint, and proper tiles – all of which will cost.
Your bathroom renovation will cost you anywhere from $3,600 to a high of $37,200.
|Hacking||$500||$500 to $1,000||$1,000 to $6,800|
|Masonry||$1,500||$1,500 to $5,700||$5,700 to $17,500|
|Carpentry||$1,200||$1,200 to $2,100||$2,100 to $9,000|
|Plumbing||$400||$400 to $800||$800 to $3,900|
Changing out your HDB bathroom door? Doors are not cheap.
For toilet doors, they start from $500; bi-fold aluminium doors cost about $550 onwards but they save space compared to a full swing door. A shower screen will set you back at least $650, but it will keep the rest of your toilet nice and dry!
As for other doors – a good wooden bedroom door starts from $800 onwards, or from $1,200 for pivot doors. Tempered glass doors for a study or kitchen start from $750, and from $1,000 for sliding doors. A fire-rated front door costs at least $1,400.
HDB Renovation: Miscellaneous Costs
If you have ever done a home renovation, you would know that there are so many miscellaneous costs that you’ll have to fork out cash for.
These miscellaneous costs are seldom reflected in the interior design firm’s quotations, and your project manager may WhatsApp you here and there to ask you to fork out cash.
It’s frustrating, but even if you were to try to get them to give you a ballpark from the get-go, it can’t be done. These miscellaneous fees are often not included in the quotation since they involved other contractors.
|Miscellaneous Reno Cost||Light||Moderate||Extensive|
|Electrical||$300 to $1,700||$1,700 to $3,200||$3,200 to $7,700|
|Painting||$200 to $1,400||$1,400 to $1,800||$1,800 to $4,100|
|Glass and aluminium||$400 to $2,600||$2,600 to $5,100||$5,100 to $13,800|
|Cleaning and polishing||$300 to $1,100||$1,100 to $1,700||$1,700 to $13,900|
Hacking down several wall in a HDB flat costs minimally $4,500. This includes the cleaning, making good, labour, and plastering costs. Overhauling the wiring and lighting starts from $6,000 for a good electrician.
Plumbing costs between $1,000 and $4,000, depending on the complexity of your kitchen and toilet works.
Home Renovation: What affects the cost?
When calculating the cost of your home renovation, several factors come into play. The main ones to look out for are:
- Size and type of your property (HDB, condo or landed, etc.)
- Brand new or resale
- Type and extent of work required
- Materials you want to use
- Interior designer or contractor
1. 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.
2. Brand new or Resale
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.
3. Type and extent of renovation
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.
4. 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 and labour costs for shipping, transporting and installing your gorgeous but pricey Amazonian heartwood coffee table.
5. Interior designer or Contractor
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
- Design & build services
As their service levels, expertise, experience, and involvement varies, so will your final bill.
HDB Renovation Rules
Before you renovate your HDB flat, you should know that the flat owner(s) is ultimately responsible for any renovation works. Therefore is it helpful to familiarise yourself with the many rules and regulations involved.
1. Contractors should be licensed
Engage only contractors from the Directory of Renovation Contractor (DRC) to carry out the renovation, including those works that do not require HDB’s approval.
2. Hacking requires HDB approval
All demolition and hacking of walls (be it partial or complete) require HDB’s prior written approval. The approval ensures that any proposed demolition or hacking work will not affect the structural integrity of the building and compromise public safety.
If the structural integrity of the building is affected, it may potentially endanger the safety of your household and your neighbours.
Do not instruct workers or any person to carry out demolition or hacking works that have not been approved by HDB in writing.
3. Hacking and drilling can only be done from 9am to 5pm
Comply strictly with the permitted time stipulated by HDB so as not to inconvenience your neighbours.
Noisy work or those requiring excessive drilling can only be performed between 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
General works may be carried out between 9am to 6pm, excluding Sundays and Public Holidays.
4. You must paste a HDB Notice of Renovation at your door/ lift
A Notice of Renovation from HDB must be displayed at the entrance of your unit throughout the duration of your renovation period.
5. You can be charged if you engage illegal contractors, flouted HDB rules
You may face prosecution for failure to engage contractors from Directory of Renovation Contractor (DRC) or if you are found to have contravened any of the Housing and Development (Renovation Control) Rules, such as carrying out unauthorised demolition or hacking works.
Interior Designer vs Contractor: Which is better?
What do Interior Designer (IDs) do?
Interior designers 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.
While this will no doubt inflate your renovation budget, hiring an ID is also the best way to realise a dream home built to your specifications and fancies, or to create a themed living space according to established design principles.
What do Contractors do?
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 are Design & Build Services?
A design & build service straddles the middle ground between IDs and contractors.
For the most part, these providers are simply contractors 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.
Think a copycat IKEA kitchen but with more generic fittings and finishings.
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.
Renovation Contractor: How to find a legit one?
Home renovations in Singapore used to kinda be a Wild West-type situation, rife with hold-ups, scams and ugly sights (sometimes literally and figuratively).
Years of regulation and advocacy for consumer rights has gone a long way in improving the situation. When choosing a renovation contractor, take note of the following.
Only use HDB-approved contractors
Before you sign any contracts, be sure to verify that your contractor is indeed HDB approved. This ensures that your contractor will know how to avoid serious structural damage to the building or the surrounding units, which can result in a hefty fine and expensive repair charges.
However, do note that HDB does not endorse the quality of the contractor’s work, and any contract agreement entered into is strictly between you and the contractor.
Do your research
You should also look into the background of any renovation firms you are interested in. You’ll want to establish that they have a good track record not only in delivering quality work, but also in rectifying complaints quickly and fairly.
Watch out for any vague phrasings in the quotation. If you have requested for branded items, make sure they are stipulated in the contract. This is to avoid unscrupulous contractors from sticking you with low quality fittings and skimming the difference.
Verify all cost upfront in black & white
Also, be sure to verify all costs so as to avoid any hidden charges.
Renovation Loan: 6 Best Reno Loans in Singapore
By far, the best way to finance your renovation in Singapore is to get a renovation loan from a bank.
This is because of the highly competitive interest rates and flexible loan tenures on offer, which makes it easier to get the loan amount you need.
|Renovation Loan||Interest rate (per annum)||Processing fee|
|Citi Quick Cash Loan||3.99%||$0 (loan amount min $20,000)|
|DBS Renovation loan||3.88%||$600|
|OCBC Renovation loan||4.18%||$450|
|CIMB Renovation i-Financing||4.33%||$300|
|Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan||3.48%||$0|
|HSBC Personal Loan||3.7%||$0|
Personal loans are useful after the reno loan runs out
There is a type of loan called a renovation loan or reno loan, which is typically used to fund a home renovation. Reno loans are often bundled with home loans: if you take a home loan from a bank, you might be offered the reno loan from the same bank at a super low rate.
Most reno loans have a maximum cap of $30,000. Should the reno loan prove insufficient – and it probably will in today’s climate – you can take a personal loan to make up the difference.
10 Ways to Reduce Renovation Cost
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 $30,000. 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 $50,000 to $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. Budget extra 20 per cent above budget as buffer
Most renovations go over budget. A safe margin to plan for is 20% over – if this would be a price you can’t afford, scale back the available budget. You don’t want to end up with a half completed house because you can’t afford to finish a kitchen and a bedroom.
3. Overlay tiles, instead of hacking
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.
4. Mix premium and economical materials
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 $50 to $60 psf for hardwood down to $5.50 to $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. Buy ready-made, instead of built-in
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.
6. 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 per cent 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.
7. Custom make replicas of designer furniture
Ever wondered how some people afford Eames chairs or designer desks that cost hundred of thousands of dollars per piece?
They don’t. Just like those office buildings that appear to have a few million worth of designer furniture, most of it is copied. You don’t actually need to buy a $7,000 Eames egg chair, because your interior designer or contractor has a workshop (probably in Tuas) that can make one.
The catch is, you have to ask them to do it. If you tell them to purchase it, that’s exactly what they’ll do. But if you point at a picture in a magazine and tell them to make something like that, they can do it for a fraction of the cost.
8. Refurbish old furniture 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.
9. Avoid interior design themes – especially nurseries
If you are doing up a theme room for children, try to make it something they will grow into. Otherwise, you’re faced with future renovation costs. This is especially true for nurseries catered to boys.
A baby blue room filled with teddy bears may be a cute idea now–but if it’s your son’s room, you can expect some major repainting and wallpapering when he turns 13. There is also no guarantee that your daughter will tolerate the pink wall with bunnies when she’s a teenager (although girls’ themes tend to last longer.)
Always rethink extreme themes. You may think it’s cool to have a French cottage look; but once you’ve spent nine hours every weekend cleaning between the pebble stones and wood joints, you may end up wasting money renovating again. Or hiring two maids.
10. Avoid using wallpapers
Singapore’s tropical climate makes wallpaper curl and discolour. Replacing the wallpaper is expensive, but it gets worse after a few years – you will find that the wallpaper you used is no longer in production. You will then have to tolerate mismatched walls, or bear the costs of wallpapering all over again.
Also, for comparison:
You can paint an entire four room flat for around $1,200 to $1,500. But wallpapering just the living room of that flat would cost $900 for the materials (about three rolls). And then you can start paying someone to apply it (it’s more expensive than painting).
We hate to take away from the fun of home renovations, and everyone should have the home they deserve. But practicality needs to enter into some things. If you just bought your first home, remember that you’ve already made a major commitment with the mortgage. Don’t stress yourself with further debt this early on.
This article first appeared on SingSaver.