Mar 12, 2018

How to renovate without burning a hole in your wallet

It is exciting that a new milestone and achievement unlock in life, buying a house, a huge commitment. It doesn’t just stop there after buying your dream house. Before moving into your new house, pretty sure there is some renovation works to turn the ‘raw’ house turning into a house of your dream. Regardless of big or small renovation works, it still involves a sum of money whether it’s from your life savings or borrowed from family and friends. Though it may sound excited to begin the renovations when the bill is sent over, you will begin crying in your heart for overspend. It doesn’t matter if your house is Orchard’s luxury condominium or HDB unit in Woodlands, if you fail to plan for your renovations, you are planning to fail in your finances. So, how to renovate without burning a hole in your wallet?

A wish list

It’s fun to save all your wishes on Pinterest or other interior designing websites when chancing upon something that you like. But it is not fun to realize that all your wishes do not reflect your finances in reality. Thus, you will need to ask yourself, do I really need this, when you are building your wish list. If your finances are pretty limited, do buy what you NEED and not what you WANT. Let’s be realistic, you need items that are a necessity for your daily life. Do you need that fancy leather sofa? Do you really need all rooms to be air-conditioned? Do you need those high technology kitchen appliances?

Compare and contrast

We are often being called kiasu and kiasi (afraid to lose and afraid to die) for always taking extra precautions and steps to prevent anything unwanted disaster happens like comparing which hotel is cheaper, which airline is giving good deals and something similar. But, it’s nothing wrong with keeping this trait, especially when deciding to renovate. In this matter, go out and speak to three to five interior designers or firms to get multiple quotes from them. Trust me, every designer have different styles, designs and thoughts which will vary in your quotes later. Don’t be shy and tell them upfront your budget limit, dateline and your preferences, at least to keep your compare and contrast phase fewer headaches. So, ask yourself this when comparing quotes from different contractors, designers and firms, is this wall really need to be hacked? Do I want the walls to be in this color? Will I be charged extra if they can’t meet the dateline? Are they familiar with the HDB renovation guidelines?

Designer vs Contractor

If you are a creative person and enjoys designing your unit, congratulations! You can save money on the designer’s portion by being your own designer and go straight to the contractor. Besides, if you are looking at small renovation works like doors and windows grill installations or built-in wardrobe then you can skip the interior designer part. All you need is to get familiar with HDB guidelines if your house is an HDB unit as there are certain works that can be done or cannot be done. Questions that you can ask yourself is are you willing to roll up your sleeves? Are the contractors able to deliver on time?


There are some who tend to overspend their finances after moving in their newly designed house, there are some who are happy with their budgets. This is because those who overspend did not budget what they could be spending and did not see the worst-case scenarios happen. Unless your finances and bank account’s numbers are unlimited, you can spend as you please but if it’s otherwise, budgeting is all you need to keep track of your spending. From the budget you made, you will need to break down into parts for easier tracking and increase your budget by little, just in case anything happens like settling for more expensive tiles because the cheaper ones are unavailable, delivery fees are charged because you overlooked the terms and more. So, ask yourself what happens if the budget overspend? Where should I allocate most of the budget to? Do I need to take up the loan?

On track

Be sure to keep in check with your designers and contractors to ensure they are on track with your timeline. Make sure your expenses are kept under control with your timeline. You wouldn’t want both sides to be kanchiong spider (nervous and worried) to charge you last-minute fees, just because they can’t keep track to be on time. Also, do often tally and check with them to make sure you’re not shortchange or things are missing because they rush towards your timeline. Be sure to ask yourself are they on track? What’s the next phase? Is there anything else missing?

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