How To Save on Your Home Renovation?

Paying for the house has left you to work within a tight budget. How can you strike a balance between spending reasonably while allowing yourself to splurge on luxury touches?

To aid you on this journey, we will be walking you through some of the common works done during a renovation. In addition, we’ll be introducing a simple cost breakdown and some tips that will help you cut down on your spending.

Types of work during a home renovation

Before you start any home improvement projects, it’s crucial to know what the common types of renovation are. You should also keep in mind the extent of the work to better allocate your budget.


Carpentry includes your customised desk, built-in wardrobe, kitchen cabinet, etc. This generally takes up the bulk of a renovation budget. The cost in this aspect depends on the amount of workmanship required and the material used.


Masonry refers to work that involves cement. Some examples are flooring, tiling, patching up an old wall, etc. Costs are dependent on the amount of raw material, surface area covered and labour.


Hacking mainly revolves around tearing down, rebuilding, and touching up walls. The cost of hacking is made up of labour, endorsement and hauling costs.

Labour cost depends on the thickness and size of the wall, as well as the amount of hacking required. An endorsement from a professional is needed to obtain approval from HDB before you can start hacking any walls. Hauling cost refers to the funds needed to clear the debris.

Other common works:

Apart from the above-stated renovation works, remember to set aside a budget for:

  • Electrical works: this includes installation of lights, power outlets, heater etc.
  • Plumbing works: this covers basins, taps, toilet bowls etc.
  • Ceiling, partition, windows, doors and grilles
  • Painting of walls and ceiling
  • Clean up works: this covers post-renovation clean up and debris disposal

Breakdown of renovation cost for a 4-room HDB Flat

Renovation work
Light RenovationModerate Renovation
Extensive Renovation
Glass & Aluminium
Cleaning and Polishing

*Data obtained from Qanvast’s renovation calculator

This is a rough breakdown of the renovation cost for a 4-room HDB flat (90 sqm/ 968.7 sqft) based on the market average. While the average renovation cost fluctuates around S$46,050, it varies between households and is heavily dependent on the respective budgets and personal preferences.

If you’re looking for a more detailed breakdown of your renovation costs, you can check out Qanvast’s renovation calculator.

Ways to save on your renovation costs

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what makes up your total renovation cost, here are some tips on how you can stay within budget:

  1. Opt for fewer built-ins

One of the best ways to cut down on your renovation cost is to have fewer built-ins. Having a built-in wardrobe or customised furniture may seem like a great way to increase storage space given the small size of our current HDB. However, it is often pricey due to the workmanship that goes into creating a personalised piece.

Furthermore, some carpentry work requires hacking which may result in a more premium price. Moderate carpentry work can cost up to S$10,000.

Prioritise the small handful of carpentry must-haves like kitchen cabinets for example. This list of carpentry should be custom solutions that require design work from professionals. The rest can be loose pieces of furniture or small organisation products that can be easily purchased to fully utilise the space within your home.

  1. Choosing vinyl flooring over tiles

Another quick way to save is to overlay existing floor tiling with vinyl instead of tile replacement. The cost of flooring materials like hardwood and marble can easily cost up to S$20 per square foot. On top of the cost of materials, hacking may be required. This can easily take up a significant portion of your budget.

On the contrary, vinyl or laminate flooring generally costs around $5 per square foot. For an average 4-room flat with 90 sqm, this difference in cost adds up. Modern vinyl flooring looks as realistic as tile finishes and if taken care of can last up to 25 years.

  1. Paint your walls

Painting your walls instead of using wallpapers or building a feature wall is also a great way to save on renovation costs. You can even save on labour costs if you paint the walls yourself or get the help of your friends or family members. Buying them a meal is still cheaper than hiring someone to get your walls painted.

Painting your walls is also a practical choice as you can easily change the look of your home by giving it a fresh coat of paint. This is much more cost-efficient when compared to using wallpaper or a feature wall that needs new materials and another set of renovations.

  1. Plan your electricity plugs

While this may not reduce your initial renovation cost, it minimises the need to engage in rewiring in the future. Planning out the placement of electricity plugs is often overlooked during home renovations.

Homeowners often find themselves having to deal with obstructed power plugs or limited electrical outlets in rooms that have more electric appliances. Installing new or separated electrical outlets after the initial home renovation would cost a few hundred dollars of unnecessary spending.

  1. Source for your materials

If you have engaged an Interior Designer, they usually have a list of preferred contractors for required materials. This means that they will charge you a sourcing and purchasing fee on top of the cost of the materials.

To cut down this cost, you can ask if the materials or accessories such as handles, and doorknobs are included in the final renovation quote. If they are, you can request to source for them yourself by purchasing directly from industrial warehouses. Likewise, you can find online suppliers from Taobao or EZBuy.

  1. Setup a housewarming registry

Most housewarming party guests would not turn up empty-handed. To prevent getting the same gift from multiple guests, you can set up a gift registry to let your family or friends know what your home is lacking.

Not only does this save your guests from thinking too much, it also allows you to save on furbishing costs or allocate more budget towards the renovation itself.


Renovating a house will come with setbacks and challenges. However, it should be a fun and fulfilling process where homeowners get to customise their homes and add personalised touches.

Bonus tip: work within 85% of your total initial budget allocated for renovation, the remaining 15% is set aside for any unexpected payments. This forces you to be resourceful to work within limits. Worst-case scenario: you use up all 100% of your budget. Best-case scenario: you save 15%.

Having a clear goal and a robust budget for any unforeseen circumstances goes a long way in making this process less stressful and much more enjoyable.

Read more: Are Renovation Loans Worth Taking Up?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *