Huat Ah! Your Ultimate Guide to Renovation Budgeting in Singapore

prdt home interior design

Hello there, kiasu homeowners-to-be! So you’ve finally gotten your keys to your very own HDB flat, private condo, or landed property (psst, feeling atas yet?). You’ve dreamt about this day for ages, and now it’s time to unleash your inner interior designer and create your dream home. But wait! Let’s not get carried away and spend all your piggy bank money in one go. We’ve got your back! In this article, we’ll go through some practical tips for budgeting for your renovation in true Singapore style. Ready, set, budget!

Part 1: Setting Your Renovation Budget

 Know your limits: Cash + Loan

First things first, lah. You need to know how much money you have available to spend on your renovation. Generally, your budget can come from two sources: your personal savings (cash) and a renovation loan.

Consider your personal savings. A general rule of thumb is to set aside about 3-6 months of your monthly expenses for emergencies. Subtract this amount from your savings, and the remainder is your budget for renovation.

If you still need more money, consider taking out a renovation loan. Banks in Singapore offer loans of up to six times your monthly income or $30,000, whichever is lower. Just remember that loans come with interest, so you’ll end up paying more in the long run.

Do your homework: Researching costs

Now that you’ve got a rough idea of your budget, it’s time to find out how much your dream renovation will cost. Do some research online, talk to friends who’ve gone through renovations, and visit interior design (ID) firms to get a ballpark figure. Renovation costs can vary widely depending on your preferences, so be prepared for some sticker shock!

The 3-3-3 rule: Prioritizing your renovation

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the endless possibilities for your renovation, try using the 3-3-3 rule. This simple rule means that you should prioritize your renovation into three categories:

  1. Must-haves (e.g., a functional kitchen, new flooring)
  2. Nice-to-haves (e.g., built-in cabinets, feature walls)
  3. Luxuries (e.g., walk-in wardrobe, smart home features)
Part 2: Understanding the Costs of Renovation

Breaking it down: Common renovation costs

Here’s a breakdown of some common renovation costs in Singapore:

  1. Hacking and demolition: $3,000 – $6,000
  2. Masonry and tiling: $4,000 – $12,000
  3. Carpentry: $6,000 – $20,000
  4. Plumbing and electrical works: $2,000 – $6,000
  5. Painting: $800 – $3,000
  6. Air-conditioning: $2,500 – $7,000
  7. Windows and grilles: $1,000 – $5,000
  8. Miscellaneous (e.g., cleaning, permits): $500 – $3,000

These costs are just a rough guide and can vary depending on your preferences and the size of your home.

Interior design vs. contractor: Making the choice

One of the major decisions you’ll need to make is whether to engage an interior designer or a contractor. An interior designer will handle everything from concept to execution, providing you with a comprehensive design plan and managing the renovation process. This option is great for busy homeowners who want a stress-free experience, but it comes with a higher price tag – typically between $12,000 and $50,000, depending on the scope of work.

On the other hand, a contractor will focus on the technical aspects of the renovation, such as hacking, plumbing, and electrical works. They may not provide design services, which means you’ll need to have a clear vision of what you want for your home. However, this option can save you a significant amount of money – contractors’ fees usually range between $8,000 and $35,000.

 Hidden costs: What to watch out for

Just like a hawker center’s “special” dish, renovation projects may come with some hidden costs that can catch you off guard. Keep an eye out for these sneaky expenses:

  1. GST: Remember that Goods and Services Tax (GST) is not always included in the initial quote. Check with your ID firm or contractor if GST is factored into their pricing.
  2. Additional works: Sometimes, unexpected issues may arise during the renovation, such as water damage or faulty wiring. These additional works can increase your overall costs.
  3. Furniture and appliances: Don’t forget to budget for furniture, appliances, and other home accessories, which can quickly add up.
Part 3: Saving Money on Your Renovation

Timing is everything: Look for promotions

If you’re looking to save some money on your renovation, try to time it right. Keep an eye out for promotions and discounts, especially during festive seasons like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, and Christmas. Some ID firms and contractors may offer special packages or discounts during these periods.

Go local: Support local businesses

Local carpenters and suppliers often offer better prices than their international counterparts. Plus, you’ll be supporting local businesses and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time. Win-win!

Be flexible: Compromise on materials and designs

Lastly, be open to making some compromises on materials and designs. Instead of going for high-end, branded materials, opt for more budget-friendly alternatives that still offer good quality. This can save you a significant amount of money without sacrificing style or functionality.


And there you have it, folks – your ultimate guide to renovation budgeting in Singapore! Just remember to keep your renovation goals realistic and make smart choices based on your budget. After all, a beautifully renovated home doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. So go forth, plan wisely, and may your renovation journey be as smooth as tau huay! Huat ah!

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