How to Plan and Reduce Your Renovation Cost in Singapore?

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
How to Plan and Reduce Your Renovation Cost in Singapore?
A common grievance of homeowners in Singapore is the huge amount they usually spend on remodelling or renovating their home, whether it’s an HDB flat or a private condo. Many struggle to control their expenses during the process and let them balloon significantly.
But there are really many ways of carrying out your renovation without burning holes in your wallet. To help you achieve this, we compiled 10 invaluable tips on how to slash your expenditure and enjoy some savings when renovating your flat.

1. Set a Realistic Budget and Don’t Overspend

Before starting a renovation, the first thing you must do is to determine how much you can spend and have the discipline not to breach that budget. It’s vital to set some room for additional or unexpected expenditures due to potential changes that may need to be done.
Create a simple spending plan and earmark amounts to different categories, like furnishings, electronics and appliances, as well as fittings (e.g. lights, sanitary ware and switches).
When the renovation begins, you need to track the amount spent per category, on top of making estimates for the renovation cost over the next few months as well so you don’t exceed your budget.
Also, consider the ramifications of the renovation work. For instance, take into account all of the costs you’ll need for long-term upkeep and the possible increase in electricity bills if you add more lights.

2. Focus on What is Truly Essential

After creating a budget, you need to make a list of things that should be installed and specific renovation works to be carried out. However, prioritise what is truly important.
For instance, having a sturdy door is paramount to secure your home as well as keep your possessions and family safe. But installing a fancy-looking door is not necessary. Changing your lighting to energy-efficient lights is also more advisable than adding posh chandeliers.
By focusing on what is truly needed and functional, you will be able to not only control your expenses during the renovation but also strike a good balance between aesthetics and functional upgrade works.

3. Be Practical With Your Expectations

After creating a budget and spending plan, be realistic with what you can attain and purchase with such an amount. With a limited budget, the renovation firm you hired is unlikely to install high-end fixtures and fittings.
Even with a small budget, you can still make your home look impressive, but you need to understand your limitations before you can improvise and work around them.

4. Research and Compare Prices

We cannot stress this more than enough. You’ll be surprised at the plethora of choices at your fingertips when you start comparing item prices as well as quotes from renovation firms and professionals.
For instance, that beautiful wall job can be done at a lower price by another interior designer. Ornate lighting at an expensive shop can be bought elsewhere at a more affordable rate.
If you devote ample time to look up the decorations you want, the fittings you fancy and the pieces of furniture you like to add to your home, you are more likely to find most of these at affordable prices at some places, such as thrift stores, online shops and people that sell used fixtures.
Aside from prices, check product quality and reviews. While it’s important to save, it’s also paramount that the items you will use are durable and can last long.

5. Do Some Renovation Works Yourself or Let Other Family Members Help

Thoroughly examine the scope of renovation works, and determine the portions that can be done by yourself or other family members like your spouse or adult child.
For example, you and a family member can take up simple tasks like painting the walls, or assembling do it yourself (DIY) cabinets and furniture. But be warned that you may make mistakes if you’re not good at doing such things and end up spending more money to fix them.
As such, we advise you to check video instructions on YouTube and DIY websites. Also, leave to qualified professionals the more complicated tasks, such as those involving gas, structural, plumbing and electrical works.

6. Say No to Wastage

Instead of throwing things and tearing down structural parts that are still in good condition, opt to give them a brand new look through a revamp, as this is significantly less expensive than rebuilding or replacing them.
For instance, refurbishing concrete floors and brick walks will cost less than demolishing and reconstructing them. But if you really want to do away with some fittings and fixtures, like an ugly abstract painting, resell them instead.
Many property owners make the error of treating such stuff as garbage instead of getting some value out of them one last time. You can recover the money spent on these things by disposing of them via garage sales, second-hand stores, rag-and-bone man and websites like Carousell.
The amount you can get by selling such things can also be added to your renovation budget.

7. Engage an Expert or Reputable Firm

By hiring an expert or reputable renovation or interior design firm, you can get insights on designs that are not only beautiful but also functional. Aside from providing detailed plans to guide you, they can also ensure that your vision for your home or a room is carried out properly.
But do remember to compare the prices of various renovation firms and professionals. By doing, there is a good possibility that you will be able to save a substantial amount.
More importantly, check around for reviews, especially complaints and negative feedback.

8. Buy Your Own Supplies, Materials and Fittings

It’s advisable to engage a professional or renovation firm that allows you to buy the materials that they will use, like paint, lights, switch covers and sanitary ware. This is because they typically increase the prices of such items if they buy such by themselves.
By using utilizing your own fittings and fixtures, you will retain oversight on the amount that will be spent on such. You can also save a lot if you bought such items from thrift stores, online shops and places that sell used fixtures.

9. Live Elsewhere While Renovation is Ongoing

Lots of people make the error of living in their home while the renovation works are ongoing. The loud sounds and sight of the mess can increase your stress levels, which you don’t need. Hence, consider residing temporarily with friends or family members to avoid such hassle.

10. Create a Housewarming Gift Registry

To celebrate your newly renovated home, hold a housewarming party. But before that, make a gift registry to let family members and other guests know what you need.
Rather than troubling them to think of what items to bring, or giving you something you already have, a gift registry will inform your visitors about the things your home still doesn’t have.
These include affordable tableware, containers, cooking ware, appliances like a sound system.

Prices of Fittings, Fixture and Furnishings

To help you plan your renovation budget, we have created a list of estimated costs on various kinds of renovation works, in addition to the itemized prices of fittings, fixtures and furnishings courtesy of Qanvast.

1. Choosing The Right Flooring

The flooring should be removed if some parts are already damaged or worn out. For instance, there are tattered vinyl and linoleum.
Typically, labour costs range from $3 to $10 per square foot (psf), while the cost for adding flooring and tiles to an HDB flat with three to five rooms is between $6,000 to $9,000 on average.
Please take note that the cost will depend on what kind of flooring or tiles you want to install and the amount of space that needs to be covered.
$3.50 to $4.50 psf
$6 to $7.50 psf
Ceramic/Homogenous tiles
$3 to $15 psf
$7 to $14 psf
$10 to $15 psf
$10 to $20 psf
Source: Qanvast

2. Tearing Down Walls

Sometimes you need to demolish walls in a renovation in order to free up space, fuse two rooms together or replace an existing wall with another kind of partition like metal or glass. Expenditure varies based on the area and thickness of the wall that should be torn down.
Demolishing a wall panel usually costs $40 to $60 per foot run (pfr). You can get the pfr by adding the length of the top and bottom. For example, if the top is 30 ft and the bottom measures 30 ft, then that’s equal to a 60 ft run. So if the renovation firm charges 50 pfr, you need to pay $500 if they need to hack a wall spanning 100 ft run.
Important: Please don’t forget to verify with the renovation firm if the price includes the removal of debris. Also, demolishing particular walls requires getting a permit and approval in advance, so ask the Housing Board if you live in an HDB flat or your private condo’s managing council.
On average, multiple wall hacking work at an HDB flat costs about $2,000 to $5,000.

3. Adding a False Ceiling

Installing false ceilings is an excellent way to boost the appeal of your home, on top of hiding cables and wirings. Prices differ based on the amount of space to be covered by the false ceiling and its design.
For HDB flats, where false ceilings will be installed at a height of 8.5 ft, the cost of installation ranges from $4 to $10 psf.
For private condominiums and landed housing, where the height surpasses 8.5 ft, prices are between $6 to $12 psf.
In addition, lots of property owners set up recessed light fixtures in their bedrooms and living rooms for energy efficiency and to conceal the light source. However, please avoid installing many, as such fixtures can be expensive due to the holes that need to be opened in the false ceiling and the addition of insulation.
Important: Before adding lights, maximize first the amount of natural illumination that gets through your windows to save on electricity costs.

4. Cabinets and Wooden Furniture

Cabinets and other wooden furniture are important components of a home from the living room, kitchen to the bathroom. They not only make your house aesthetically pleasing but also help you to organise your stuff and make it free from clutter.
To spend less on cabinets and wooden furniture, you can purchase storages that can be assembled or take advantage of thrift shops. You can also make one yourself from recycled materials.
The price of such things depends on the quality of workmanship and the materials utilized. To help you, below are some cost estimates.
Living Room
Settee with storage
$120 to $160 pfr
TV console
$150 to $300 pfr
Display cabinet
$220 to $500 pfr
Shoe cabinet:
$250 to $350 pfr
Source: Qanvast
Vanity table
$120 to $150 pfr
Bedside table
$200 to $350 per set
$200 to $350 pfr
Bed Frame
$700 to $2,000 per set
Source: Qanvast
Kitchen top
$75 to $180 pfr
Kitchen cabinet
$110 to $180 pfr
Source: Qanvast
Study Room
Suspended table w/o drawers
$90 to $150 pfr
Study table w/ drawers
$150 to $300 pfr
Book cabinet
$220 to $500 pfr
Source: Qanvast

5. A Fresh Coat of Paint

A well-done paint job not only makes your home more appealing to look at, but it also brightens the mood of the residents, as well as complement your furniture and furnishings.
Similar to flooring and tiling, the cost depends on the amount of area that needs a fresh coat of paint. The paint brand selected also impacts the price.
For HDB flats, a three colour paint job and painting your ceiling white costs from $1,000 to $1,700.
For private condo units, a similar kind of paint job ranges from $1,100 to $1,900. But unlike HDB flats, this excludes primer and sealer, which helps the colour last a long time.
Important: Colours can appear differently based on the amount of light it receives. One critical tip when considering repainting your home is to select a colour in a well-lit room to confirm how they will look during the daytime.

6. Erecting a Feature Wall

A feature wall can draw the attention of your guests and highlight the appliances installed on it, like a flat-screen TV. While craft stone walls are trendy in Singapore, there are some other materials you can try. However, pricing is based on the material used and the area of the wall.
Feature Wall
Wood/Stone Looking Tiles
$15 to $30 psf
Solid Core Wood and High-Quality Laminate
$20 to $40 psf
$60 to $80 psf
Source: Qanvast

7. Revamping your Home’s Electrical Wiring

The amount you will be spending on electrical renovation will mainly depend on the amount of work that needs to be done in your home.
Factors to be considered include the number of lighting, power and cable points that should be installed. Another is whether the wiring would be hidden and plastered over. As such, please confirm with the electrician if their quotation already includes plastering work and concealment.
Please note that it’s advisable to work with existing electrical configurations, as renovation works that require transferring such components are more costly.
Item/ Electrical Work
Light Installation
$8 to $20 per pc
Installation of Pendant Lights
$15 to $30 per pc
Ceiling Fan Installation
$40 to $55 per fan
Installation of Telephone Point
$80 to $140 per point
Install Water Heater Point
$120 to $150 per point
Installation of Cable/TV Point
$130 to $180 per point
Source: Qanvast
Item/ Electrical Work
13amp Power Point (single)
$80 to $90 per point
15amp Power Point (double)
$70 to $160 per point
Lighting Point
$45 to $70 per point
Two-Way Switch
$100 to $150 per pc
Source: Qanvast

8. Changing your Home’s Plumbing

When upgrading your bathroom, plumbing is among the costliest, so we included typical costs associated with such works. Prices vary based on the sanitary ware’s (e.g. basin and toilet bowl) brand, size and model.
Similar to electrical renovation, it’s recommended to work with existing plumbing configurations, as works that require transferring such components are more costly.
Plumbing Work
Installation of Wash Basin and Tap
$50 to $100
Installation of Water Heater
$100 to $150
Installation of Toilet Bowl
$120 to $150
Source: Qanvast
Disclaimer: All the aforementioned prices for renovation works as well as fittings, fixtures and furnishings are merely estimates. Costs vary depending on where the items are bought and their brand, in addition to remodelling works that will be carried out.
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