Home Renovations in Singapore — How You Can Budget For It

The Standard Chartered (SCB) CashOne Personal Loan could be an option for those looking to renovate their home.

editorial guidelines MoneySmartRenovating a home is a big project to undertake, and the process can be complicated — even if you’ve done it before.

In addition, home renovation can be expensive. The cost varies on what works you want done, what materials are used, whether there’s hacking involved, and if your flat is a new Build To Order (BTO) or a resale property.

How do we budget for our home renovation? Here’s some help:


How do I budget for my renovation, what are the key costs?

According to renovation portal Qanvast, HDB renovation prices range from S$4,888 to S$110,000, or an average of S$53,000. Here are the average costs of renovating different types of flats:

3-room HDB BTO S$32,000
3-room HDB resale S$42,600
4-room HDB BTO S$42,600
4-room HDB resale S$58,500
5-room HDB BTO S$52,100
5-room HDB resale S$65,200
Private property > S$56,000

While we are on the subject of renovation, here’s a summary of the key costs you need to take note of:

Hacking (wall) From S$400 to S$900 per wall, depending on thickness, height, etc
Hacking (flooring) S$2,000 and above
Masonry (anything involving cement) From S$100 to over S$15,400
Carpentry (anything involving wood) From S$100 to over S$22,000
Ceiling and partitions(s) From S$200 to over S$2,300
Plumbing From S$100 to over S$1,300
Electrical wiring From S$300 to over S$3,200
Painting From S$200 to over S$1,800
Windows, doors & grilles From S$400 to over S$5,000
Disposal and cleanup From S$300 to over S$1,700

Tip: Always try to minimise or do away with unnecessary works to stay within budget.

Do note that these costs don’t yet factor in your furnishings and appliances, as well as other miscellaneous items such as electronics, digital lock, smart home, decor items and so on — costs that aren’t typically provided for by your contractor/interior designer (ID).

In short, anything that is not included in your renovation quotation from your contractor or ID firm (even if it is within your loan limit) will not be covered by a renovation loan.

You may want to consider getting a personal loan such as Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan to help you with these additional costs, which brings us to the next point…


Sometimes you need more than the basic renovation loan

Yes, you can definitely take a renovation loan to help you manage some of the costs, but sometimes you need a little more financial leeway in the form of a personal loan.

1) Although the interest rates for renovation loans are competitive, the money is typically disbursed directly to your contractor/ID firm, so you don’t have much flexibility. This means that the renovation loan only covers what’s included in your quotation from the contractor/ID firm. If you don’t have spare cash for furnishings and other items, the renovation can’t help.     

2) The maximum limit for a renovation loan is up to 6 times your monthly salary, or up to S$30,000, whichever is lower. Renovations can be expensive, especially if you want to renovate a larger, resale flat that needs extensive hacking, flooring, carpentry, plumbing and electrical works. If you need that bit of extra funds for a successful renovation, having the financial support of a personal loan, such as Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan, can help.

3) With a personal loan, you can use the funds on whatever you want, which can help in your home renovation. You can use the money to buy lighting or bathroom fixtures, accessories for your new home, bedding, a dining set, or even to make up a portion of the renovation costs.

Granted, some stores allow you to put your purchases on a credit card, with a 0% interest instalment plan. However, this is subject to the type of credit card you have, the item you buy, and if your preferred store even has this plan.

And you don’t want to put your big-ticket furniture/appliance/electronics purchases on a credit card, only to rack up the credit card interest if you’re unable to pay your bill on time. Credit card interest rate is typically over 20% p.a., while that of the Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan applied rate is significantly lower, from 3.48% p.a. (EIR* from 6.95% p.a.).


4 ways to cut back on renovation expenses

If you’re running a tight budget, here are some tips to help you cut back on renovation expenses:

1. Always shop around for the best quotes
Don’t settle for the first renovation contractor or interior design firm you see. Get at least 3 quotes. Even if prices are low, you’ll need to check if there are any exclusions, if you can communicate well with the point of contact, and if the company is reputable with good reviews.

2. Scale down your grand plans
I dreamt of living in a Japanese-inspired home, but that meant a lot of wood and carpentry, which I didn’t have the budget for. Instead, I settled for furniture in wooden tones, while keeping the colours of my tiles and walls light. Here’s another example: If you’re looking at a feature wall in your living room and hacking works to expand your kitchen, decide which is more important to you. If your priority is more space, perhaps drop the feature wall for practicality’s sake.

3. Balancing the must-haves and nice-to-haves
As an extension of the point above, prioritise all the key renovation works first before looking at additional works for aesthetic purposes. For example, you need to do your flooring so don’t compromise on that. However, you can always opt for homogenous tiles or vinyl instead of marble/parquet. Another scenario: Do you really need cove lights when a normal light fixture will suffice? Eliminating this nice-to-have feature can not only lower costs, but also lessen the amount of cleaning you may need to do next time.

4. Do the math
How much can you actually afford to pay based on your monthly salary and/or savings? If you need S$20,000 in cash and can afford to make repayments of up to S$400 a month, adjust your budget/loan amount to fit.

Assuming that you have already taken out a renovation loan to tackle the costs payable to your contractor/ID firm, but need more funds to furnish your new home, and you plan to get the Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan.

Here’s a quick illustration:

  • Cash needed: S$20,000
  • Budget for repayments: S$400/month 

By taking out a Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan of S$20,000 over 5 years loan tenure at an interest rate of 3.48% p.a. (EIR* 6.95% p.a.), your loan monthly instalment amount would be S$391. 

Total funds available for furnishing your new home: S$20,000 – S$199 (upfront annual fee deduction) = S$19,801.


Potential pitfalls that waste money

When renovating our new home, we also need to look out for potential pitfalls that waste money. Here are some examples:

1. Going against regulations
Your new home may have high ceilings, but do you know that we’re not allowed to build a mezzanine floor in our HDB flat? Also, if you’re moving into a new BTO, you cannot change flooring with waterproofing. All hacking works must also be approved by HDB before commencement. Read all the rules and guidelines here.

In the worst case scenario, you will need to “undo” the works that flout regulations and/or pay a fine or even pay for repairs to your neighbours’ homes.

2. Not knowing what you want
If you can’t make up your mind and keep adding or making changes to your design, especially last-minute ones, this could add to your total cost.

3. Leaving everything to your contractor/ID
Always make sure you check on what your contractor/ID is doing. Are they opting for subpar materials/paint that was not agreed on in the contract? Or instead of getting you the best deal, they are instead referring you to companies (for bathroom fixtures, lighting, etc) that can pay them the highest commission?

In addition, you also need to check on your contractor/ID before engaging them. Read the reviews, check that they are properly accredited and licenced. If they don’t apply for the required permits on time, damage public property like the HDB lift, or carry out noisy works outside of the stipulated times, you may need to pay for damages, forfeit deposits or incur other fees/complaints from your future neighbours.

4. Hacking — do you really need to do it?
You shouldn’t hack a wall unless you have a specific design or purpose in mind, as hacking is expensive. Do also think about your future plans: Do you really want to hack down the wall for a bigger living room? Have you thought about your elderly mother, or if you want to have children next time?

5. Bad planning/lack of communication
I started shopping for furniture a year before I received the keys to my flat. Was I being over-enthusiastic? But it’s common practice to recce ahead for your new home. Just make sure that you ensure the items can fit in your home — bring along a measuring tape when you go shopping, and do communicate with your contractor/ID on the measurements.

6. Splurging on aesthetics
For example, you may want to purchase a leather loveseat that costs S$3,000 because it matches the decor of your home. However, cracks may develop after just a few years and it may not be that comfortable for Netflix marathons. Or you may want to buy a gold showerhead or a bling-bling princess bed — without first checking on quality or comfort.


Consider Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan

SCB CashOne Personal Loan - cash disbursed in 15 minutesIf you have yet to scout for a personal loan, consider Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan.

Benefits include:
– Competitive interest rate from 3.48% p.a. (EIR* from 6.95% p.a.)
– Allows for a change of loan tenure (for a fee of S$50 per change)
– Fixed monthly repayment
– Get cash disbursed into any existing bank account of your choice within 15 minutes1 when you apply online1

Get S$20 cashback2 when you apply via MyInfo and 50% off your first month instalment3 with Standard Chartered CashOne Personal Loan. Apply here.
*EIR is calculated taking into consideration the first-year annual fee of S$199; and is based on average loan amount of S$20,000.

1Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Limited’s CashOne Personal Loan / Credit Card Instalment Loan Disbursement Terms and Conditions is applicable if an applicant makes an application for a CashOne Personal Loan (“CashOne”) or a Credit Card Instalment Loan (“Application”), successfully submits a completed Application to the Bank and the Bank approves such an Application. The transfer of funds to the applicant’s designated Standard Chartered Current/Cheque & Save Account(s) or non-Standard Chartered Current or Savings Account (each account a “Designated Account”) (“Loan Disbursement”) is subject to (a) the applicant successfully submitting a completed Application to the Bank; and (b) the Bank approving the Application which must satisfy the Bank’s eligibility criteria, including our credit and risk management policies, as well as prevailing laws and regulations. The Bank reserves the right to reject any Application which does not fulfil our criteria at our discretion. If the Bank is unable to process the Application or the Loan Disbursement due to system failure, system outage, malfunction, delay or any other circumstances whatsoever, whether within our reasonable control or otherwise, the Bank is not able to provide Loan Disbursement within the time periods (as stated in clauses 3 to 5 of the CashOne Personal Loan / Credit Card Instalment Loan Disbursement terms and conditions), and the Bank disclaims all liability arising for any such delay including any loss, damage or inconvenience caused to/incurred by you the applicant, or any third party arising from or in connection therewith. Click here for the full CashOne Personal Loan / Credit Card Instalment Loan Disbursement Terms and Conditions which apply.

2Click here for CashOne Personal Loan MyInfo Cashback Promotion Terms and Conditions.

3Click here for CashOne Personal Loan Cashback Online Promotion. 

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article are the independent opinions of MoneySmart Singapore Pte. Ltd. All information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as advice or an offer for any product or service. Standard Chartered is not liable for any informational errors, incompleteness, delays, or for any actions taken in reliance on information contained herein.