Renovating your first BTO (Built-To-Order) home is an exciting milestone. It is often the very first step for many couples looking to start a family, with the decisions made having the potential to shape the next 5 to 10 years of family life. That said, it can also prove to be financially challenging and a great stress to couples looking to start a new chapter in their adult lives.
Here are 5 practical tips to help you and your partner navigate the challenging task of getting the most out of your BTO renovation budget while getting your dream home.
Tip 1: Careful Budgeting with Your Partner
Before embarking on this journey together, couples should first and foremost come to a consensus on their vision for their future home. Oftentimes issues arise when both parties have vastly different ideas on how to go about spending their budgets, this can prove difficult with the sheer number of things one has to worry about. This can inadvertently lead to unexpected costs and budgetary strains.
One of the first steps in renovating your BTO is setting a realistic budget. Sit down with your partner and discuss your priorities, needs, and wants. Consider factors such as layout modifications, materials, furnishings, and any additional expenses.
Starting off can be daunting to any couple looking to make a jointly made informed decision. That’s why it’s important to take things one step at a time and carefully read up on best practices from credible sources. For instance, HDB’s MyNiceHome website comes equipped with the latest information and guides on how to best renovate your BTO, perfect to guide couples through the different application stages as well as protect against potential pitfalls.
By carefully budgeting together, you can ensure all bases are covered, avoiding unexpected costs and financial strain later.
Tip 2: Ensuring Protection Against Renovation Scams
Sadly, renovation scams and rogue contractors are a sobering reality. Within the first nine months of 2022 alone, over 1,100 complaints were lodged against home renovation contractors in Singapore—a figure that surpasses the entirety of 2021, which saw 1,300 complaints.
A quick Google search will reveal countless articles online detailing how different people have been victims of such renovation scams. Most recently, a family of 8 was allegedly scammed by a rogue contractor who made off with almost $45,000, leaving the family in unliveable conditions.
Such horror stories only reinforce the importance of protecting yourself by thoroughly researching and verifying the credibility of any contractors you consider hiring. Check for certifications, licences, and customer reviews.
Accreditations to look out for
Customers should look out for accreditations that protect consumers such as interior designers who are Casetrust Accredited and Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association(RCMA) Certified Renovation Practitioners. Such associations hold members to a high standard while advocating for ethical industry practices, with Casetrust offering a 100% deposit money-back guarantee to customers.
Additionally, you are strongly encouraged to check through HDB’s directory of approved renovation contractors to ensure that the contractor is reputable.
Performing due diligence
Whether you are going for a contractor on HDB’s list or not, you should still perform due diligence by checking out the ID firm’s physical showroom, reviews, and past projects to come to an informed decision. Assess them thoroughly by looking at the scope of their past projects and verifying the end results of those projects. Doing so can go a long way in helping you avoid costly scams and ensure your renovation journey is smooth and hassle-free.
Tip 3: Selecting the Right Contractor for Your Project
Selecting a contractor for your BTO renovation requires finding a balance between cost and quality. While finding low-cost options is a priority for many, avoid being overly focused on it. Neglecting quality for low price tags can lead to subpar results and additional expenses down the line. Instead, prioritise contractors with a proven track record, such as those who have at least 5 to 10 years of experience and a good number of BTO renovations under their belt.
To make an informed decision, request detailed quotations from multiple contractors. These quotations should consist of the following:
- This will help determine exactly how long will the kitchen cabinets or wardrobes be so you will not be blindsided by costs
- This helps both contractors and customers be more precise when it comes to quotations
- Material Pricing
- Being aligned on material costings will help alleviate any budgetary concerns
- Best to be precise so there can be no doubt and argument on cost
- Exact Itemisation
- Naming the model and brand of an item will help both parties keep track of the progress of an exact item that is to be received, preventing confusion
Balance is key
Finding a balance between having a nice, affordable, and reliable renovation can be challenging, but it is a possibility with careful planning and decision-making. Choosing a reliable contractor who understands your goals and constraints is key. By effectively communicating your expectations and budget, you can work together to find creative solutions and make informed choices that optimise both aesthetics and affordability.
Tip 4: Choosing Lasting and Environmentally Friendly Materials
When renovating your BTO home, prioritise durable and environmentally friendly materials that have a long lifespan and require minimal upkeep, such as:
Aluminium Kitchen Cabinets: They are highly durable and can withstand wear and tear over time. Unlike wooden cabinets that may require regular maintenance or replacement, aluminium cabinets offer longevity and require minimal upkeep. Additionally, aluminium is a lightweight material, making it easier to install and handle during the renovation process.
Sintered Countertops: Consider using sintered countertops. These countertops are highly resistant to heat, scratches, and stains, and possess above-average chip resistance. Their non-porous surface prevents the growth of bacteria and makes cleaning a breeze. With their long lifespan and minimal maintenance requirements, sintered countertops are an environmentally friendly choice that ensures a durable and attractive kitchen surface.
What’s the difference between sintered countertops, and say, marble or granite?
LED Lighting Fixtures: A popular choice for its energy efficiency and longevity. LED bulbs consume less energy compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, resulting in lower electricity bills. Moreover, LED bulbs have a significantly longer lifespan, reducing the frequency of replacements and maintenance costs. They are available in various styles and colours, allowing you to enhance the ambience of your home while enjoying cost savings.
In recent years, the younger generation has become more conscious of sustainable design principles and is now at the forefront of incorporating eco-friendly elements, such as using recycled or reusable materials and integrating green spaces.
Additionally, homeowners are seeking sturdier materials to ensure their designs stand the test of time, avoiding the need for expensive repairs or replacements. Choosing sustainable materials and using energy-efficient appliances can save money in the long run while creating an environmentally conscious living space.
Often homeowners get deterred by the idea that sustainable items are costlier. However, choosing environmentally-friendly materials not only benefits the planet but can also save you money in the long run. Here are 3 key points to explain the financial advantages of choosing environmentally friendly materials:
1. Energy Efficiency
Using sustainable materials and energy-efficient appliances contributes to better energy efficiency in a home. For example, using energy-efficient windows and insulation can help regulate indoor temperature, reducing reliance on air conditioning. This leads to lower energy consumption and decreased utility bills over time.
2. Durability and Maintenance
Sustainable materials are typically designed to be durable and require less maintenance. By opting for high-quality materials that can withstand wear and tear, you can avoid costly repairs or replacements in the future.
3. Water Efficiency
Water-efficient fixtures, such as low-flow toilets and faucets, can significantly reduce water consumption in your home. This, in turn, leads to lower water bills.
Tip 5: Smart Purchasing of Furniture and Integration of Fixtures
To maximise savings, consider purchasing certain furniture and fixtures yourself. When doing so, ensure that any household electrical, electronic and gas appliances have a Consumer Protection Safety Requirements(CPSR) SAFETY mark to protect you and your loved ones from harm.
Furniture items, fixtures, and certain lights can often be bought directly from online e-commerce sites such as Taobao and Ezbuy, saving you money on markup costs. However, be mindful that you may need to do due diligence in ensuring that all independent purchases are up to the task in quality.
Do also consult your contractor or interior designer to ensure compatibility and suitability with existing renovation plans.
Integrating Smart Home Fixtures
Additionally, consider integrating smart home fixtures into your BTO renovation for cost savings and convenience. Smart lighting systems, energy-efficient appliances, and automated controls help lower utility bills and enhance daily living.
By adjusting brightness, optimising power usage, and regulating temperature settings, NEA estimates that the average household can save hundreds of dollars a year.
Coupled with the convenience of controlling your home through voice commands or smartphone apps, homeowners can reap the benefits of smart technology to transform their BTO into an energy-efficient and technologically advanced living space.
Renovating your BTO home doesn’t have to break the bank. With these in mind, anyone can look forward to transforming their BTOs into a beautiful and functional space that aligns with their vision and budget. Happy renovating!
About the author
Russell Chin is the Founder and Managing Director of Inspire ID Group. Having been in the industry for more than a decade, Russell has helped young couples all over Singapore realise their dreams for the ideal home. Equipped with the knack for designing passion projects, Russell has since built for himself an impressive repertoire of iconic designs, which has given him the opportunity to be invited to speak regularly at HDB’s MyNiceHome Roadshows where he gives advice on how to renovate BTOs.
Most recently, Inspire ID Group has become SP Group’s preferred interior design firm for sustainable design as HDB launches its Tengah Eco Town BTO project, comprising a total of 5 districts and an estimated 120,000 residents.
Russell is also an elected management committee member for the Renovation Contractors & Material Suppliers Association (RCMA).
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