Renovation on a Budget

Getting away with renovation for $30,000 or less

You've been scrimping, scraping, and saving for the renovation of your dream home for a bit now. Maybe longer than a bit. But long enough. That said, how much IS enough? The honest truth is that at the bare minimum, probably about $40,000 whether or not you're working with a BTO HDB flat or resale HDB flat. However, with a little bit of homework, patience, and ingenuity, you could probably get away with $30,000. Lets get thrifty!

1. Don't Budge the Budget

Budget is not about being cheap. It’s knowing how much you can afford to spend. Since we’ve already established a $30,000 ceiling, let’s stick with that. No squeezing in a little extra for that fancy cabinet you saw just the other day. If you get all loosey goosey with the cash, your spending will easily get out of hand real quick. Remember, you need to budget 10% just in case of unpleasant surprises. Can’t budget you say? Do a trial run with your daily meals. Start at $20 a day. You’ll be surprised how quickly you get at controlling yourself.


2. To DIY, or not to DIY

You could be good with a little DIY. Heck, you might even be awesome at it. Hold your horses though! Singapore’s got a whole slew of building and renovation laws; break the law, and you’ll break the bank. Better off leaving it to the pros who do it for a living.


3. Carpentry Schmarpentry

Sure, they squeeze every last centimeter of space into use but at what cost? Just the kitchen alone will set you back $3,000. Five-foot wardrobe; $1,000. Add sliding doors? $1,300. TV console and feature wall; $1,600. You get the idea. Built-ins are budget-killers. Or are they? Don’t be afraid to work with your carpenter on what he can or can’t do with the budget. If all else fails, open shelving in the kitchen and loose furniture elsewhere are great options too.  


4. (Don’t) Hit the Floor

If carpentry sounded bad, this one will really floor you (pun intended). In the world of renovations, this will single-handedly eat most of your budget up. Most flooring will set you back $10,000; a third of our humble $30,000 budget. The answer: vinyl flooring. It’s half the price. Or better still, if you got a BTO HDB unit, just work with the existing floor. This costs nothing, and you can spend the extra cash elsewhere.


5. Keep the Same Footprint

Embarking on a renovation doesn’t mean you’ve got to change EVERYTHING. Keep the footprint of the home the same, and you could be in for huge savings. The more you hack, the more needs to be rebuilt. And hacking starts at $2,000. Moving the pipes just an inch will spell thousands of dollars in workmanship, materials, and permits. Not to mention that the more big things you move around, the bigger the chance you’ll get an unpleasant surprise that’ll add to the cost.

6. Material Swap

Getting creative with material needs could be more worthwhile than you think. I mean, seriously, do you really need marble to get that classic kopitiam tabletop look? Laminate would look and work all the same. Collaborate with your designer, share your ideas, and you might surprise each other with solutions to the problem. Who knows? You may even discover some use for recycled or second-hand materials to get what you need. But cheaper!



If nothing else, remember one thing: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Renovations can still transform homes with minimal large-scale changes. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest splashes. 


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