5 money saving tips on renovation

Jes , 0 Comments

I have not blogged much about renovation and wedding preparations mainly because I started this blog after I was married. So there is a big chunk of information missing and I would like to catch up on that. This post comes because many of my friends kept asking me these questions and so, I think sharing this will benefit more people in time to come.
I really did paint my own house

1) Go with a contractor
The hardworking me set off to find a good price for renovation. I went to 5 Interior Designers (ID) and hear what they have got to say. It's pretty standard where they ask you if you have a theme in mind. They will then suggest a layout, followed by built-in furniture, false ceilings, well known names and materials for flooring. A quote will be sent to you which should be around the range of $50,000, depending on the size of your flat and the work that you need done. The price is not conclusive though, more will be added with more changes made. From a survey of my friends, most of them paid around $50,000 just for renovation.

I am not willing to pay $50,000.

After hearing from 5 of them, from well known names to neighbourhood shops, I decided that I know exactly what I am going for. Minimalist! Yes, I know how to design my own house so I went with a no-fuss contractor. I do not want to pay $50,000. So, I even did my own painting, saving $1,000 in the process. PM me if you want my contractor's number and get a reasonable quote. My final quote was half that of ID.

2) Stop the hacking
If you bought a resale flat, you may have to do some hacking of certain pillars. I bought a new flat so I do not have to do any hacking. Granted, many of my neighbours hacked off a part of the kitchen to get an open kitchen concept or the walk-in wardrobe. Hacking adds much more cost than you can imagine. In some cases, you will also need a professional engineer to approve the structure. I have heard this will add at least $5,000.

3) Buy online or go word-of-mouth
I have a personal bad experience with Nova furniture where their full leather sofa actually corrodes within 6 months of usage. I would recommend Star Living instead. Or even those neighbourhood furniture shops where you order from a catalogue. Their direct imports are sometimes much cheaper and even better than those showrooms. I got my shoe cabinet ($350), wardrobe ($1150) and book shelf ($660) from there.

Ikea's furniture always look so nice. But if you are going for the particle board material (Billy range) for cabinets, just take note that it is not able to withstand heavy load, like my study table. Solid pine wood (Hemnes range) might be more suitable for book shelves.

For tiles, instead of Hafary, thanks to word-of-mouth, I went direct to a tiles supplier called Les Tech. They do not advertise to end customers but only go through contractors due to their good price and workmanship. After 3 years now, I still think my flooring and kitchen were done nicely and have referred their contacts to others. As compared to my friends who have had many arguments and even complaints that had to be resolved in small claims court, I think I am indeed lucky.

For lights, I went with Lightings.com.sg but I know many savvy Singaporeans bought furniture, accessories and even lights online from Taobao. Shipping them directly bypass many retailers and thus, going online is definitely cheaper.

4) Say No to Built-in
It always looks so good when we see built-in furniture in showrooms. Definitely they are useful when you are living in a big space. For small spaces, they are not as practical. The cost is slightly higher for built-in compared to a store-bought range.Your layout and design will also be fixed. Some people informed me that they actually regretted their built-in wardrobe, cabinet, or oven after a few years. Reason is it's difficult to replace them or change their design when they are outdated. Consider this carefully before you make any decisions.

5) Pay for quality and practicality
False ceilings - It looks good but cleaning is a headache. Your room will also look smaller than normal due to the smaller space.
Complicated and beautiful chandeliers - Definitely good in accumulating dust too.
Thick expensive carpets - Are you sure you will wash them regularly?
Posh, pricey dustbin - You will definitely prefer the standard open top dustbin in the end.
Solid surface kitchen top - Don't complain when you get a lot of scratches or scars on the solid surface. Quality marble and glass always prove themselves worthy of the price, and easier to maintain too. Some things you just got to pay as they are more practical in the long run.

What looks good will not always look good in a few years' time when you need to clean them. Think about their practical uses, or you can just hire a cleaner to do them for you.

What I spent on
I went with Poh Joo on most of my toilet accessories. I think they are pretty reasonable and cheaper than Sim Siang Choon. I bought my rain shower and sink from Sim Siang Choon.

Jovan heater 35L - $250 from Poh Joo
Fujioh glass hob and hood (FX792 and FX900) - $680 from Alexandra Hong Liang.
Samsung RT63 refrigerator - $980 from Mega Discount store
Samsung washer + dryer - $880
LG 47' TV - $1399
Sharp oven + microwave  - $350
Kitchen utensils and wares - Sia Huat's warehouse sale every June
Dining glass table and chairs - $1100
Half leather Sofa - $1650

The final answer you are interested in, is definitely the cost of my renovation. They cost less than $15,000, for a 100 sqm flat, 4 room. I used marble for my living room floor and kitchen, tiles for my bedrooms. Toilets do not need to be done. Including furniture, I think I stayed within budget and spent around $30,000.

What I would change after 3 years of using them
I will definitely not buy my rain shower from Sim Siang Choon again. Too used to hotel rain showers, I might look for Hans Grohe or Grohe next, depending on the price. I will also go for a different set of dining table and chairs. PU leather chairs peel off easily which is a problem for me. My sofa is fine though with the half leather. I am also not too happy with the look of my book shelf bought from the neighbourhood furniture store although it's really sturdy. I might consider the Billy book shelf from Ikea instead.

You can only save money if you put in the effort. How much did you spent?
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Jes

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