1. Take Advantage Of A Renovation Loan First
It might be tempting to take a personal loan for home renovations, but you should try to get a reno loan first. Most personal loans have an interest rate of six to nine per cent per annum in Singapore. On the other hand, a renovation loan (reno loan) typically has a rate of around five per cent per annum.
Also, if you just took a mortgage from the same bank, you can sometimes bargain for special deals such as six months interest free on a reno loan (speak to the mortgage banker who arranged your home loan).
Reno loans in Singapore are usually capped at $30,000, so if you are renovating a large flat you may go over this amount. In such a situation you might also have to take a personal loan, but do that only after using the reno loan.
2. Request For Custom Furniture
Love a designer piece you saw in a magazine or online? These days, most interior design firms in Singapore have their own workshop. This means if you see a particular piece of furniture that you like, you can ask them to craft something similar. There’s no need to pay huge sums for the original designer piece, which can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Another upside to this is that you can add personal touches. For example, you can pick a coffee table from a magazine, but ask for personalised touches such as a glass top instead of a wooden one.
3. Opt For A Carpet Or Rug Instead Of Fancy Flooring
Barring collector pieces, carpets are more affordable in Singapore these days. Most of the time, it will be more cost-effective to buy a large carpet than to put in parquet flooring or marble tiles. Even a plain vinyl floor can look quite attractive with the right sort of carpeting.
READ MORE: The One Thing Missing From Your Living Room Decor
The downside is that you will need to do more vacuuming, but the financial upsides are clear. Carpets are not only cheaper at the outset, they are also cheaper to replace; damaged flooring or cracked tiles will cost you a lot more to fix up.
4. Skip The False Ceiling
False ceilings are almost guaranteed to bust your budget. Even a false ceiling on a 70 square foot room can end up running a bill of over $20,000+, depending on the details needed. And after paying for this, maintenance is a headache; air-conditioner ducts leak and electrical wiring gets faulty, and they often require someone to punch a hole in the false ceiling to fix things. So as far as possible, just don’t.
5. Use Paint Or Decals Instead of Wallpaper
You can paint a four-room flat for around $1,500 these days. But that probably won’t cover the cost of wallpapering just your living room. Apart from being more expensive and time-consuming to put into place, wallpaper has problems in Singapore’s humid conditions (turning the air conditioner on and off will make things worse). The moisture often causes peels and cracks in the wallpaper, which is expensive to replace. In some cases, the design of wallpaper you require will no longer be in production. This will necessitate buying a new design, and wallpapering everything all over again.
Paint is a tried-and-true way of cutting cost, while removable wall stickers or decals add a bit of personality and fun!
READ MORE: 8 Modern And Beautiful Wall Paint Colours For Your Home
6. Seek Out Deals At Warehouse Sales
Two Words: Warehouse Sales. At these amazing annual events, usually held at warehouses or convention centres like the Expo, you can find incredible bargain buys as retailers work to clear their inventories to make way for new season items. Some retailers that do this include Harvey Norman, Philips and Courts Megastore. Look out for the dates on their websites, and be sure to mark them down in your calendar!
7. Renting Out? Aim to Break Even in Six Months
If you are renovating the living room as a form of asset enhancement, consider how much you are raising the rent by (rentability is a whole other topic, do speak to an agent for more advice). In any case, the raised rental income should be sufficient to cover the cost of renovations within six months; otherwise, save the money for something else.
Also, keep in mind the demographic of your tenant. Renovations have a big impact if you are renting out a district 9 or 10 property to expatriates with a big housing allowance. If you are renting out a mass market unit or an HDB unit, more budget-conscious tenants generally won’t pay much more for aesthetic reasons.
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Text: Ryan Ong / Additional Reporting: Elizabeth Liew
This article first appeared on Singsaver, Singapore’s #1 personal finance comparison platform by transaction volume, provides consumers with timely money insights and aggregates the latest credit card offers and up-to-date personal loan deals.