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Maximizing your renovation budget

Knowing how much to spend is always a primary concern for many new home-owners. We examine the dilemma of deciding how best to allocate budget during renovations, with insights from interior designs.

So you have gotten the keys to your new home and the next logical step is to decide how to renovate it. It is always handy to flip through interior design magazines and browse the internet to draw inspiration, but while this does give a sense of how homes can appear aesthetically pleasing, sometimes it comes at an exorbitant price. Homeowners are brought back to reality when they realise the ideal vision for their property exceeds the amount of budget they have. And for some unfortunate few, they suffer the misfortune of having to fork out a hefty sum to foot their renovation bill as a result of mismanagement with their budget.

How can a couple ensure that they are spending within their means and still furnish their home according to how they envision it to look? It does not take an accountant to know that the first step will boil down to detailing the overall budget given the size of the unit, how extensive the renovation you are intending to undertake and most importantly — the amount of capital you are able and willing to set aside for the project.

unimax-44worthing-01Image credit to Unimax Creative

Examining the bigger picture, dividing the cost throughout thereafter

Having a rough estimate on how much you can afford to spend helps in the planning process. A prior understanding of the budget you have set aside not only helps in setting a maximum limit to your expenditure, but also opens up the option of applying for a renovation loan in event that there is a shortfall in funds. As a benchmark, the average amount a couple should aim to set aside $20,000 for an overhaul of their home. According to Wai Kong from interior design firm Unimax, the common budget for a premium 4-room BTO unit with tiling works already completed starts from $17,000 to $20,000 on average, whereas a higher budget can go beyond $25,000, depending on the amount of work required by the home owners. Of course, it is understandable that the overall monetary amount spent may vary amongst households as different home owners have different requirements for their home.

Upon establishing an appropriate budget, it is essential to go into the specifics. In other words, it is how you plan to utilise the budget throughout the house by allocating the amount to be spent per room or area of the house. As a rule of thumb, Peter from Cozy Ideas state that the bulk of the budget should be channelled towards the kitchen and master bedroom. At least 30% of total expenditure should be on the kitchen, and another 30% on the master bedroom. This is because these two areas typically experience high usage from the couple, the former where food preparation is all done and the latter where young couples spend most of their time in. 20% should be dedicated to the living room as this is the main area most visitors will see when they enter the house. The remaining 10% can go towards modelling the master bathroom while another 10% can be used for the rest of the house.

cozy-ideas-pf-01Image credit to Cozy Ideas

Paying attention to key areas

Both Wai Kong and Peter agree that the kitchen and master bedroom should be the main focus when homeowners are budgeting for renovations. Frequency of usage does play a part in singling these two areas out, but there is a utilitarian aspect to it too. A functional kitchen is one that can sustain wear-and-tear from heat, grime and water damage. As such, homeowners need to take into account costs arising from installing cabinets of good workmanship which ensures durability as well as considerations for the type of solid surfaces, either quartz or granite, for counter tops to minimise kitchen backsplash.

“Renovating the kitchen may set homeowners back at least $8,000 to $18,000, depending on how extensive the customisation is. Some common ideas include hacking of existing walls to form open-concept kitchens or alternatively, adding clear glass panels/glass doors to segregate the kitchen and living areas,” Peter mentioned.

cozy-ideas-RiverEgeCondoImage credit to Cozy Ideas

Similarly, the master bedroom represents a haven for homeowners, a place where the couple retires at the end of a long day. Designing for comfort is the objective of this section of the house; good quality materials and an aesthetically pleasing design layout that suits the lifestyle of the owners should not be compromised.

Wai Kong advised that even budgeting for items like wardrobes should be factored in. Having a wardrobe with a poor structure will result in doors that can be frustrating to open and close or begin to fall apart because of the heavy load imposed by clothes. That said, renovating the master bedroom usually ranging between $6, 000 to $10,000 on average to install personalised essentials such as the wardrobe, dressing table, bed frame and bedside tables.

The devil is in the details

While outlining the budget, homeowners must also make sense in knowing how much the various furnishings can cost. As Peter puts it, flooring and carpentry takes up most of the costs in basic renovations. “Quite a number of homeowners do not fancy the type of flooring that HDB provides, so they rather opt to spend more money and time to search for choices they prefer. This involves selecting between a variety of tiles, vinyl or laminate flooring and cement screed flooring with epoxy coating,” he said.

“Carpentry also adds personality within living spaces. It is not surprising that given the size of HDBs these days, homeowners do set aside some money on customised carpentry to maximize the potential of said spaces.TV feature walls and consoles, display cabinets, bookcase and shelves and even vanity toilet wardrobes are some of the more popular forms of carpentry which are featured in homes of today,” he adds.

umc-profilepic2Image credit to Unimax Creative

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